INCITE
Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, March 31, 2005

 
An accident...
Written by: Goemagog

A factory explodes, and Red Green weeps.

Goe, sometimes uses the handyman's secret weapon.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 
The world today
Written by: Goemagog

Mugabe wants a landslide, which his goon squads will provide.

Chavez wants a civil war, with no Pinochet to stop him.

Reynolds wants to drink a blended puppy with a dash of paprika, although people don't seem to realize that the true source of his evil is that he's a lawyer.

Goe, not a genocidal communist fucktard.


 
Britain to the rescue!
Written by: Goemagog

Britain wants to save the world. Why do I think that they'll find a standard solution to every problem?

Step 1: Blame the United States for not finding it faster.

Step 2: Blame the United States for causing it.

Step 3: Demand that the United States stop acting unilaterally and let the UN fix the problem.

Step 4: Demand that the United States 'take the lead' and fix the problem under 'UN auspices'.

Step 5: Claim that the only problem was the United States acting unilaterally to undermine the United Nations.

Goe, could probably pad it out to a 12-step program.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

 
Bored...
Written by: Goemagog

I was bored, so I popped over to the Democratic Underground, a haven for genocidal fucktards. They're again asserting that disagreeing with them is proof of participation in some criminal conspiracy. Usual genocidal fucktard propaganda.

In other semi-boring stuff, Smash said:

I understand the implication of your statement, but I don't fear for America's future. The USA will not last forever, but I'm certain that the legacy of America will echo through the millenia.

I just hope that it's a positive legacy.


Emphasis his. Considering that we didn't participate in any of the socialist genocides thus far, I think our forefathers have secured a pretty good place in history. Smash was replying to someone who wanted to point out that American ideals and accomplishments will effect the world long after the United States is gone. Barring the DU getting into power and running their stalinistic show trials, where exactly does Smash think a negative legacy will come from?

Inquiring Goe's want to know.

If you follow the links to and from the thread that started that little paranoid twitching in Smash's psyche, you'll find a link to ArtsJournal.com, where one of their staff
lashes out at a portuguese poet for writing something not overtly hostile to the United States.

This editorial puts Jamaica ahead of most Western countries in their opposition to Mugabe's dictatorship. Not only can they recognize a despot, they're getting better at bobsledding.

Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Spain however...

they said their alliance was not intended to confront the United States

...
Chavez hailed the meeting as a sign that "a new geopolitical map" was being drawn up to counterbalance the global dominance of the United States. "We want to do it, and we're going to do it, without confronting anyone," the Venezuelan leader told a joint news conference.


Three of the four countries have governments that view the United States as a hindrance to their aspiration of a stalinistic utopia, three have economies crippled by rampant corruption, and one has an economy crippled by 'moderate' socialism. Only Columbia is doing anything to develop an economic model that isn't based on impoverishing it's own people and blaming the United States. When gulag's can be found in Latin America, other than the ones already in Cuba, they'll probably blame us for that too.

Goe, feeling so very meh.


 
Death cultists
Written by: Goemagog

As I'm writing this, the death cultists over at PBS are showing a 'documentary' about Emma Goldman, a woman who went from encouraging the assassintion of President McKinley, to supporting Soviet socialism, to opposing Soviet socialism but supporting it's spread. It really bothers me that so much time and effort is put into these programs praising those who have gone so far out of their way to spread misery across our planet. Pretty much anyone who causes such suffering is guaranteed of praise by those who believe that only death makes people worth knowing.

Goe, wonders why not encouraging murder usually makes people un-documentary-able.


Monday, March 28, 2005

 
Pop quiz, hotshot!
Written by: Goemagog

What do violent international drug gangs and the President of Mexico have in common?

Both want an open, unwatched border! If you can't trust Mexico to be honest, then who can you trust?

Goe, because the government still thinks your grandmother is the REAL threat.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

 
World comes to an end, women and children hardest hit
Written by: Beck

No really.


 
Fake Quote
Written by: Goemagog

"Margin for Error? We don't need no steenkin margin for error!"
- Donald Rumsfeld.

Goe, doing many things at once.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

 
Laurence nails it
Written by: Beck

Just click here and read the best Kofi-Annan-as-Hunter-S-Thompson spoof ever written.


 
How to tell when something has gone wrong in your country
Written by: Beck

Well, if the black citizens of a nation begin opining for the days of apartheid, that could be a good sign.
The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970's.

"If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we'd do it," said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. "Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job."

[...] When a white racist government was oppressing Zimbabwe, the international community united to demand change. These days, a black racist government is harming the people of Zimbabwe more than ever, and the international community is letting Mr. Mugabe get away with it. Our hypocrisy is costing hundreds of Zimbabwean lives every day.
Good work there, Mugabe. You've managed to make your nation's former colonial masters look good. Not an easy task, but you were the man for the job big guy.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)


 
El Presidente Bush
Written by: Answerman

George W. Bush is a moron and a traitor.

I am filled with disgust contemplating the sight of the President of the United States kowtowing to Mexico at a Waco press conference, referring to the brave volunteers willing to police our southern border because the federal government will not as "vigilantes." As millions of illegal immigrants stream across our borders to take our jobs, ruin our schools, tear at our cultural fabric, steal from our houses, and perhaps even blow up a few of our buildings for good measure, this joke of a Republican prattles on about family values not stopping at the Rio Grande. And to top it all off, when a foreign government actively and openly engaged in subverting our border security threatens to sue one of our states and condemns heroes attempting to do the government's job for it, El Presidente Bush kneels down next to President Fox and opens his mouth wide. How despicable.

The immigration problem in this country -- yes, folks, that includes legal immigration as well -- is reaching a crisis point, and it threatens to tear the Republican Party apart. I think it is incumbent upon all true conservatives to declare their intention not, under any circumstance, to support a pro-immigration Republican candidate for president in 2008. We can't allow this crime against our country to continue to occur, and to be abetted by those sworn to defend us.


 
History Repeats Itself
Written by: Answerman

Lawrence Auster says this so much better than I ever could:

"For the second time in five years, government entities in this country are with brute force victimizing an innocent person during Holy Week, the week of Christ’s Passion. The last time it was the Clinton administration’s seizure of Elian Gonzales, of which I wrote at NewsMax:

This country, which makes such a show of supporting the oppressed against the oppressors, treats [Elian’s] Miami relatives in their modest bungalow home—these people who have nothing to stand on but their humanity and their sense of what is right—with contempt.

This country, which gobbles up one Hollywood thriller after another in which people who fight against authority for a cause they believe in are regarded as heroes, regards the good Marisleysis as a joke and the heroic Lazaro as a lowlife.

How dead are the souls of the millions of Americans who, far from sympathizing with these good people, agree with those who callously mock and dismiss them.

How dead are their souls that they can’t understand that a person who has saved a child’s life [Donato Dalrymple] feels forever a special bond and obligation to the one he saved. How contemptuous are they to a man who did nothing but good, a “fisher of men” who rescued a lost soul from the wide ocean.

Most of all, how lost are they that they cannot see the symbolic evil of what the Clinton government is doing with their support—grabbing at gun point from the man who saved him the boy he miraculously saved, seizing him from his surrogate mother, whom he called “Mari,” seizing him through the despicable ruse of negotiations, seizing him in the early morning hours of Holy Saturday for fear of acting in broad daylight before the eyes of the people. If the feds had done their deed just 24 hours earlier, in the early morning hours of Good Friday, the parallel with the arrest of Jesus would have been complete.

And now it is Holy Thursday five years later, and this country, with the apparent acquiescence of a majority of the people, just as with Elian, is starving to death an innocent women who is loved by her family, a woman who has the light of love in her eyes when her relatives speak to her and caress her, and it is killing her only because her estranged husband wants her to die. Do we think God’s protection will remain over us if we keep behaving like this? How many unmistakable signs must we receive before we wake up?"


 
How to tell when something has gone wrong in your country
Written by: Beck

Well, if the black citizens of a nation begin opining for the days of apartheid, that could be a good sign.
The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970's.

"If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we'd do it," said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. "Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job."

[...] When a white racist government was oppressing Zimbabwe, the international community united to demand change. These days, a black racist government is harming the people of Zimbabwe more than ever, and the international community is letting Mr. Mugabe get away with it. Our hypocrisy is costing hundreds of Zimbabwean lives every day.
Good work there, Mugabe. You've managed to make your nation's former colonial masters look good. Not an easy task, but you were the man for the job big guy.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)


 
You say you want a revolution...
Written by: Beck

The "President" of Kyrgyzstan has resigned and, it would appear, fled the country. At long last, the long oppressed people of Kyrgyzstan may finally achieve their ages-long quest to add an extra vowel or two to their nation's name.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev resigned on Thursday, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. The report quoted an unnamed Kyrgyz opposition official.

Earlier, protesters stormed the presidential compound in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, seizing control of the main seat of state power after clashing with riot police surrounding it during a large opposition rally.
The enitre article's actually pretty interesting. I have been aware that a pro-democracy revolution was underway for some time now, but I hadn't actually taken the time to read up on the details.


 
Supreme Court will not intervene in Shiavo case
Written by: Beck

That's the headline running on Fox News. That was, as far as I know, the last chance for any sort of intervention for Schiavo.

Thinking back on my Dr. Kevorkian post, something else occurred to me. When Dr. Kevorkian killed a patient, the only pain he inflicted was the insertion of an IV needle. After that, one drug would knock the patient unconscious, and the next drug would stop the heart. Quick. Clean. Painless.

Why in hell can't Terri Schiavo's doctors at least afford her the one dignity of a quick death? I've read a couple of reports observing that she does, indeed, feel & suffer from pain. Dying of thirst is a horrible way to go. Really. Horrible. So why is she being made to suffer like this when the gift of mercy is as close as picking up a pillow to smother her?

All I can conclude is that her doctors, by passively allowing her to die rather than actively bringing about her death, won't have to suffer the same ethical pangs and doubts.

Rachel Lucas has similar thoughts, and observes:
Apparently, though I would be arrested and prosecuted for cruelty if, for example, I tried to starve to death an unconscious, crippled, brain-dead cat - you know, to put it out of its misery that it is somehow suffering even though it's a fucking brain-dead cat - it is perfectly all right with most Americans if a human being is, in literal and actual fact, slowly and deliberately killed by the withholding of food and water.

All rightee then.

Humanity is seriously fucked up. That's all there is to it. Seriously, hopelessly, unforgivably fucked up.
Read the whole thing.

Update: Here's a link to the story.


 
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Written by: Beck

Question: what do you get when you put Bill Ardolino of INDC Journal and Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom together and then give them a radio show?

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Answer: A mental health expert's worst nightmare come to life.

Update: The CITIZEN JOURNALIST Report goes live this evening. Details here.


 
book spam
Written by: Goemagog

I've recently started getting spammed by 'think tank' type places trying to sell me their books. I also received one piece of spam that was a barely coherent argument for government being bad (something I sort of agree with), with a subject line indicating it was an advertisement. I don't know if they screwed up the body or the subject line of the message, but either way, they're fucking retarded.

Goe, against things french.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

 
McCarthy Was Right
Written by: Answerman

The other day I saw a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies refer to the congressional steroids hearings as "Chemical McCarthyism." This on the heels of Alan Dershowitz's brilliant coining of the phrase "Sexual McCarthyism" during the Lewinsky scandal. Both the pitcher and Dershowitz should have their feeding tubes removed.

But aside from the asinine overuse of the "McCarthyism" cliche by uneducated imbeciles, there's something deeper here we should not lose sight of. On the whole, when you look at the substance of his important allegations, Joe McCarthy was right.

McCarthy's main point, first articulated in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1950, was that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations had been significantly penetrated (tee-hee!) by Soviet spies. Now, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the release of Soviet records confirming the conclusions of the Venona decoding project of the 1940s, we know that McCarthy hit the nail on the head. Alger Hiss was a proven Soviet spy. Harry Dexter White, architect of the Bretton Woods system, was a proven Soviet spy. Owen Lattimore at the China desk. The list goes on and on. Although McCarthy got a little big for his britches in taking on the Army later in his career, the fact remains that several higher-ups in the Roosevelt and Truman State and Treasury Departments were working for the enemy.

Of course, you don't hear a peep about this from the Left. Never an acknowledgement that they were wrong, carping for all these years about how, for example, poor Alger Hiss had been mistreated. Being a liberal means never having to admit when you're wrong. (In fairness, if liberals had to admit they were wrong every time they were wrong, it would be a full-time job for them.)

And this is not just an interesting historical confirmation of the fact that liberals are unprincipled, evil vermin. It's also an troubling sign when we think about what's going on right now. Just as the Left has historically hated America so much as to look the other way when the enemy is literally in our midst, so they likely continue to do so today. I wonder how many radical Islamist nutballs are working for the various diversity groups popping up in government and civil society?


 
People Who Suck
Written by: Answerman

The following post arises from a comment to my Terri Schiavo post below:

I get the impression that there are lots of people out there, including some readers of this blog, who basically (1) want their taxes lowered and (2) get a real uncomfortable feeling when crazy, "extremist" conservatives start getting exercised about boys "marrying" other boys, babies' skulls being crushed, and men executing their wives under color of law. And these people suck.

I'm talking, of course, about "fiscal conservatives but social liberals." And "Log Cabin Republicans." And "Republican Women for Choice." And -- hell -- "moderate Republicans" in general. Basically all bizarre political groupings animated by an extreme concern for the FICA column on bi-weekly paychecks and absolutelty no concern whatsoever for American culture and its impact on everything else, including the FICA column on bi-weekly paychecks. Again, let me be clear: if you fall in any of the categories just described, you suck.

Although it's increasingly difficult to notice (because history is no longer taught in schools, guys like Al Gore and John Kerry get major party presidential nominations, the Supreme Court cites foregin law approvingly, men get to kill their wives when they feel like it, and there are millions of criminals and terrorists streaming across our unguarded borders), our country is a product of what extremists like to refer to as "Western Civilization." Western Civilization is made up of a complex array of social institutions and what religious nuts like to refer to as "values," and it has been historically populated and animated by a majority population of what racists like to refer to as "Westerners." We "Westerners," with our "values" and institutions, have formed over hundreds of years what conservatives like to refer to as a "society." This "society" is the framework within which we all operate -- pursuing our individual dreams, voting for our representatives, engaging in economic activity, executing our wives, and the like.

This society, and the values and institutions upon which it was constructed over so long a period of time, is, in fact, critical to our ability to live on a day-to-day basis. It is critical because of its effect on the way we raise our kids, the way we deal socially with one another, the way we engage in politics, and the way we engage in economic activity. In a sense, the strength of Western society -- its ability to channel our individual passions, organize us, absorb serious social shocks -- is THE necessary element, the sina qua non, the baseline, for all else. To the extent they ever beceome controversial, the existence and substantive content of Western society and its varying institutions are the most critical political issue a Western country could ever discuss.

And yet the very existence and content of Western society HAVE become controversial, and in so many ways. For a couple of generations now, the Left has relentlessly attacked the institutions and values that play such a critical role in our civilization and that have evolved naturally over so many years of Western history -- the Christian churches, the classical universities, the Constitution, the institution of civil marriage, the sanctity of life . . . you name it. And for a couple of generations now, conservative "extremists" -- so defined by revolutionary Leftists posing as "moderates" in this Orwellian nightmare of a political climate in which we live -- have been fighting the good fight. Not the fight to convert everyone to Protestant Christianity, but the fight to maintain the role of religion in the public square, as the Founders intended. Not the fight to indoctrinate kids, but the fight to educate them about their history and the cultural achievements of their forebears. The fight to keep men from having legally-sanctioned chimp marriages. The fight to keep other men from executing their wives. The fight for the Constitution's true legal meaning. The battle lines have been drawn.

And yet standing on the sidelines are these "economic conservatives but social liberals," these misnamed "moderates," these people who suck. Well, guess what? You people need to wake up. Your freedom of contract, your low taxes, your commercial privileges -- these do not exist in a vacuum. They exist because you are fortunate enough to live in a society that chooses to recognize, sustain, and protect them. But if that society is under attack -- and it is -- then the day is not too far away when those freedoms and privileges are gone. Do you think the American Founders just woke up one day in 1776, decided it made rational sense to have a capitalist country where people get to vote, waved a wand, and thereby made it so? No. The Founders were animated by a deep belief in God, by a shared cultural heritage, and by -- gasp! -- a shared ethnic identity that nurtured their religious and cultural institutions, just as it also nurtured their economic interactions and institutions. For 200-plus years, you people have suckled joyfully yet unkowingly at the teat of those values and that heritage. Although you never noticed, all that you hold good and dear in your lives and about your country you owe to those values and to that heritage.

So those of us attempting to preserve those values and that heritage would be much obliged if you'd drop your utopian, ahistorical attitude that religion and shared social values and the like don't matter, and start standing up for the things that keep our society from descending into a despotic hell. You people seem to be at least somewhat reasonable -- you're not Leftist Commies after all -- how about making some slight effort, at least a verbal one, to stand up for the things that make your ability to make money and pay low taxes possible? How about recognizing the Leftist social and political revolution in America for the danger it is, rather than getting all worked up about some phantom risk that the Southern Baptists are going to seize power and tell you what to do? How about dropping the retarded yet popular view that "moderation" means coming down halfway on every issue between the people who want to destroy your society and the people who want to protect it?

In short, I'm asking that you stop sucking.


 
Quote of the day
Written by: Beck

But with the Wolfowitz and even the John Bolton nomination to the United Nations, the Bush administration retains its capacity to startle, mainly because it has redefined the lazy term "conservative" to mean someone who is impatient with the status quo.
--Christopher Hitchens, whose entire piece merits a read--follow the link.

(Hat tip: The Llama Butchers)


 
Riddle me this
Written by: Beck

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I wasn't going to say anything on the Terri Schiavo case. Part of the reason is because the case has been so thoroughly covered elsewhere. What's more, Answerman already wrote a fantastic piece on the subject. I also share thoughts in common with Dale Franks who aptly observes:
I'm troubled by the fact that Ms. Schiavo is not in a coma, or on life support, and we are ordering her to be bumped off. I'm bothered by how easily the right to die becomes the right to kill. I'm bothered by the fact that perhaps someone who let it be known to her husband that she would rather die than live in a PVS is being forced to live for more than a decade. It bothers me that the parents have offered to pay for Ms. Schiavo's treatment and allow Mr. Schiavo to keep the money and he refuses. It bothers me that elected representatives condemn Mr. Schiavo for having a girlfriend and children by her, as if he was supposed to put his life on hold while his wife remains in a PVS [permanent vegetative state]. It bother me that Bill Frist, a cardiologist, is making pronouncements about PVS, a neurological problem that he is not particularly qualified to pass judgment on when compared to a neurologist, even if is is the go-to guy when you have a bad ticker. It bothers me that there are about 35,000 people on feeding tubes like Ms. Schiavo, all of whom may be implicated in a decision to have the plug pulled because they aren't really people anymore. It bothers me that the pro-life people are essentially calling Mr. Schiavo and his supporters murderers. It bothers me that those on Mr. Schiavo's side consider their opponents to be ignorant Christers who want to pull us back into the Dark Ages.

In fact, everything about this case bothers me. I can't think of a single thing I like.

[...] And yet...and yet, I would prefer to err on the side of life than simply shutting off Ms. Schiavo's food and water so she can slowly die of dehydration
But then a stray comment I heard on CNBC triggered a chain of thought that I felt deserved addressing. So here's the question I put to you:

Why is it that the government put Dr. Kevorkian in jail for helping people of sound mind--whose wishes are clearly and undeniably to die--pass out of this world painlessly, but the government is passing a death sentence on someone incapable of stating her wishes?

This question is a tougher knot to untangle than it may at first appear. First, it's not even an apples-to-apples comparison. In both cases, the decisions have been made by state governments, and since they were in different states, different standards necessarily apply. The very principle that states can make their own decisions for how to regulate their citizens is at the heart of federalism, which I generally support.

But there are cases where a state can be flat-out wrong, and federalism must step aside to allow for the "greater wisdom" of the nationally diverse central government. Were this not true, there may well still be states in the South where "colored people" drink out of separate water fountains.

Also, where & how does conservatism fit into the equation? In the case of religiously grounded conservatism, Dr. Kevorkian was a murderer, as are Terri Schiavo's doctors. From a secular conservative standpoint, quality of life and the ability to make informed, mature, adult decisions become relevant. I personally find nothing wrong with what Dr. Kevorkian was doing in principle; however, the impact of allowing him to go around assisting suicides degrades the overall mindset and direction of society in a direction where someone like Terri Schiavo can be legally murdered based on what is essentially a legal technicality (specifically, the fact that her "husband" is her legal guardian--despite his engagement to another woman with whom he already has two children--rather than her family).

And here, alas, irony rears its terrible head. Conservatives got their way and put Kevorkian in jail on principle, but acting on principle failed to retard the slide in culture to the point where the entire nation now looks on while a woman is starved to death by her own doctors. So is society doomed to follow in the path of Europe where before too long Alzheimer's sufferers will be receiving 280th trimester abortions?

Yeah, pretty much. My evidence to support such a conclusion? Simple: Dr. Kevorkian is in jail, but Terri Schiavo is being killed off on a legal technicality.

(Cross posted to the Blogger News Network)


 
Monthandahalfagopundit
Written by: Goemagog

We here at INCITE!, and by we, I mean the writers who contribute, noted in early February the absurdity of the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party. We shall now take this opportunity to mock both instapuppydrinker and a self-admitted conspiracy of lawyers.
Being lawyers, they didn't notice the existence of this obviously insane group of morons until one of that group killed some people. Lawyers should be banned from practicing politics, or law, or anything else of importance.

Goe, hates lawyers and other parasitic vermin.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

 
Just let me know when this question-answer thing gets old
Written by: Beck

Not that I'll stop doing it or anything, I'm just saying that I welcome your feedback.

Question: When does UN bashing get old?

Answer: Never

Question: What's even funnier than a gag at Kofi Annan's expense?

Answer: A gag at Kofi Annan AND Yasser Arafat's expense.


 
It's about that time: more New Jersey stupidity
Written by: Beck

From Mr. Snitch, a new (to me) New Jersey blog:

Question: You a bunch of people in your town are murdered in unrelated incidents. What do the Powers-That-Be do about it?

Answer: Well, if it's in New Jersey, you respond by putting a curfew... on businesses. That's right.

People are getting killed when they're out at night, so the government of Jersey City is forcing businesses to remove any possible reason to be out at night. Why am I reminded, strangely, of satellite pictures I've seen of the night sky over North Korea (hint: no lights)? Mr. Snitch's scenario can't be too far in the future methinks:
The cops are on the right track, they just haven't gone far enough. What they should do is limit Jersey City businesses to operating one hour a day. The beauty part is, even if the police force can't keep the peace for that hour, it won't matter. Businesses will be forced to close their doors forever, residents bereft of services will abandon the area, and soon crime will drop to zero.
Next up, Riehl World View has a lovely, uplifting post in which he discovers the solution to curing corruption in one's state: commission some academics to to a study on corruption, and then have them leave out "corruption, last 3 years -- SEE ALSO: New Jersey" from their "research." Dan's not exaggerating either--this study of corruption, specifically commissioned by the state of New Jersey's Special Council for Ethics Reform (hint: you know your state has descended into a corrupt bureaucratic nightmare-world when it has something known as the "Special Council for Ethics Reform)--neglected to count the indictment of over 70 public officials, of whom 58 have been convicted, in the past 3 years.

Let me go ahead and repeat that just in case the full implications haven't sunk in yet. In New Jersey, since 2002, more than 70 public officials have been indicted for corruption, of whom 58 thus far have been convicted. Someone needs to call up the producers of the Sopranos and tell them their show isn't realistic. Their version of New Jersey is nowhere near as corrupt as the real thing.


 
Quote of the day
Written by: Beck

"Some readers wonder what I meant about the nation-state being all about killing. That seemed pretty obvious to me: We have nation-states because they're more effective at focusing violence against those who threaten their authority than other human organizations. That's why nation-states have pretty much taken over the game of doing things via violence. They don't have a monopoly, of course, but they owe their preeminence to their success in this regard, not to their other characteristics. As I say, this seems quite obvious to me."
--Instapundit


 
At long last, an answer to the question "What ever happened to Fiona Apple?"
Written by: Beck

Her new album is out. It has been since 2003. But you can only get it illegally. It would seem that there are more explanations than I had originally realized for why all new music these days, to use an industry term, "sucks ass." I had just figured it was because I was getting to old or something. That, and I always derived an unhealthy amount of pleasure from saying there hasn't been any good new music since 1994.

Which of course is untrue. Radiohead had a couple good albums during that time.

But any way, Fiona's recording label is Sony. And here's the word from Wired.com:
So far, fan pleas haven't swayed the label, which reportedly shelved the album because there was no obvious hit single. But the Seattle radio play and the songs online have created plenty of buzz.
It's like Indiana Jones after throwing the Nazi off the Hindenberg (work with me), only instead of "No ticket" it's "No single." And I'm sure this has nothing to do with Apple's announcement at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards that the music industry is "bullshit." Dave Kusek has more:
Dave Kusek, a vice president at the Berklee College of Music and author of a new book, The Future of Music, said the situation sheds light on one of the pitfalls of the recording contracts that artists sign.

"You work, you deliver ... and then the company decides not to release it," Kusek said. "This is something that I think needs to change. If the label doesn't want it, the artist should get it back."
Next up, a post wherein I liken reckless fiscal spending--good currency chasing out bad--to boy bands complete destruction of American culture.


 
Just when you thought things couldn't get any more farcical
Written by: Beck

Question: What's worse than United Nations "Peace Keepers" from Jordan soliciting 12 year old boys in East Timor for sexual favors?

Answer: When the Jordanian peace keepers pull their weapons on Australian peace keepers for ratting them out.

Sidenote: I mean, I'm no Islamic scholar, but--and I'm assuming here that the Jordanian military doesn't contain a whole lot of non-Muslims, forgive me if that's an unfair stereotype (hint: it's not)--doesn't the Quran frown on grown men diddling little boys?

Considering the amount of respect I have for the Australian military and the lack of respect I have for the militaries of nearly every other nation involved in United Nations "peace keeping" missions, I'm not surprised it was they who exposed this sordid bit of corrupt work. Some details:
AUSTRALIAN soldiers drew arms to protect themselves from Jordanian peacekeepers after a Digger [ed: not really sure what a Digger is. It would appear to be Australian slang for a soldier. But that's really just a guess] blew the whistle on other Jordanian soldiers' sexual abuse of East Timorese boys.

Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the pedophilia that occurred in May 2001.

The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the later betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

Corporal Wratten, who was working at a fuel dump in the enclave, was told by a group of children that Jordanian soldiers had offered food and money in exchange for oral sex and intercourse.

The allegations involved East Timorese minors, all boys, the youngest of them just 12 years old.
A further, interesting detail from the article is that the abuse at issue evidently occurred back in 2001. At the time, the UN held a secret investigation, dismissed two Jordanian peacekeepers, and filed a secret report. Only now, with so much attention on United Nations suckitude, has the information come to light.

And since I haven't mentioned it in a while: every year the United States pays $7 billion of tax payer money--i.e. your money--to the United Nations. Your tax dollars at work.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)


Monday, March 21, 2005

 
Euro-nating
Written by: Dave

I haven't posted in a while, so I thought I should make up for it with something really profound. Ok, here goes..

Have you ever considered that if the E.U. became known as the "Euro Nation", the name would sound a lot like "urination" when you said it fast?


Sunday, March 20, 2005

 
Rumsfeld Redux
Written by: Goemagog

The Pentagon believes it has too many places to train and house soldiers, sailors, and airmen. They also believe they have too much stuff.

One prominent military analyst, Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, said the military's excess industrial capacity made bases like the Army's Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois and the Watervliet Arsenal in New York, and the Marine Corps' logistics center in Albany, Ga., ripe for realignment.


Excess industrial capacity? Apparently the Pentagon and the Lexington Institute missed the recent bullet shortage, where we ran low on bullets. The Pentagon and Rumsfeld have consistently failed in predicting future needs and seem completely oblivious to the existence of China, so when they claim we have excess production, storage, or training capacity for future wars, I'm inclined to disagree.

Goe, because if we can't defend taiwan, we can't defend any pacific rim ally.


Friday, March 18, 2005

 
An Execution in Florida
Written by: Answerman

Just a couple of hours ago, pursuant to a state court order, a man began what will be the two-week long execution of his wife. This execution will take place fully within public view. It will take place with the blessing of the Florida judicial system, and with the passive acceptance of our federal courts, the Florida Senate, and the United States Senate. And better than any event to date, it will perfectly symbolize the nihilistic, secularist hell into which our society has descended for the last couple of generations. When Terri Schiavo is killed, I will be embarrassed to be an American.

Terri Schiavo is not brain dead. She can breathe on her own. There is absolutely no evidence that she wishes to be starved to death. Her parents and friends and extended family want to take care of her. But her husband, who has a girlfriend and 3 kids out-of-wedlock, wants her dead. And the Florida courts simply don't care. We have become so debased as a society that we sit passively while a man murders his wife, while a court system sanctions the murder, and while Republicans in Congress and in the White House and in the Florida legislature engage in a kabuki-theater-like dance to look like they're going to do something about it. But they're not going to do something about it, because they too are products of this wretched, cowardly culture that has permitted such a gruesome story to continue far too long.

Liberalism has extended its deathlike grip over every aspect of our lives, public and private. It has sanctioned the slaughter of thousands of babies each year, it has abetted attacks upon our country and our way of life by bloodthirsty foreign savages, it has intentionally opened our borders to hordes of criminals and reprobates who rob us, destroy our civic institutions, and endanger our children. And now, for its next trick, it will stand front and center and execute a woman in cold blood for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And the whole disgusting spectacle will be covered by a handful of 24-hour news networks with shiny graphics.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we'll be figuring out ways to clone ourselves, have legally-recognized sexual relationships with chimpanzees, and make it easier for Cub Scouts to get raped by perverted homos. The Brave New World beckons, friends, and frankly, it doesn't appear there's much we can do about it.

In the meantime, as I watch Rome burn and hope it at least takes awhile for the fires to engulf the whole city, I'm appalled, ashamed, and aghast at what's going on. I just wish to God I could say I'm surprised.


 
Good News, Bad News
Written by: Goemagog

Bad news first:

Royal Marines reservist Col Paul Anthony Jobbins, 56, of Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, won the George Medal for peacekeeping work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

...
The unarmed officer held negotiations with warring factions amid a wave of violence which killed hundreds.


Why is this man being rewarded for failing to keep the peace? Because the UN team he commanded isn't being investigated for raping little girls?

Chatting while people are being slaughtered isn't peacekeeping, it's collaboration.

Good News second:

It makes him the first living recipient of the VC - the highest award in the British and Commonwealth military - since 1965.


This man earned his award.

Both news stories covered here.

Goe, points out that while the bad news is bad, the good news is good.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

 
China ascendant
Written by: Goemagog

Some people think that China poses no threat to Taiwan, but China seems differ, recently courting Russian advice on how to conduct amphibious landings. These comments on the BBC offer a view commonly seen, that Taiwan has always belonged to China and should accept that. Several of them even claim that the Chinese government has an obligation to govern _any_ place that ethnic chinese live. That Taiwan was not historically a part of China isn't taken seriously because it means standing up to China.

Goe, thinks the taiwanese will either go nuclear or be slaves in a chinese walmart factory.


 
Crazy like a Fox
Written by: Beck

I just heard the most astonishing thing on CNN, though unfortunately I can't find a scrap about it online. Doubtless it'll be all over the place inside the next twenty-four hours.

You've heard of the Minutemen perhaps? They're an organization that plans to patrol the US border to try to spot illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico & report them to the border patrol. They are all volunteers, they are only patrolling a 40 mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border, and their whole point is to draw attention to the magnitude of illegal immigration. You can read more about them here.

Vincente Fox, the President of Mexico, is planning to bring legal action against them. According to the CNN news reader, Fox's objection, and these are the news reader's exact words, is that "It is the Minutemen who are breaking the law, not the illegal immigrants."

Ordinarily, I'd make some quip about how it's mind boggling that someone whose very activities are labeled by the word "illegal" is by definition breaking the law. But that would be too easy. Instead, I'll point out that the state of semantic obfuscation in political discussion has reached such a ludicrous level that people can actually use phrases like, "It isn't illegal aliens that are breaking the law," with a straight face, and no one gives it a second though. To them, a word's meaning is completely divorced from the word itself.

Mind you, this is a disease which afflicts the whole range of the political spectrum, not just one particular side.


 
I just can't resist a good slap at the United Nations
Written by: Beck

Which makes two slaps at the United Nations even better. First up, from IMAO, Proposed Slogans for the U.N. Some of my favorites:
* If a corrupt, bloated bureaucracy can't solve it, then it's best left festering.

* Genocidal dictators, beware our harshly worded letters.

* Having discussed at length almost every major crisis in the past 60 years.

* If our baby-blue helmets don't scream seriousness, then are non-binding resolutions do.
Next up, from Laurence Simon is Full of Crap the new homepage of the UN.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


Some background here.


 
Anniversaries
Written by: Beck

March 16, 1988: Saddam Hussein orders the chemical weapons attack of Halabja, an ethnically Kurdish town, killing 5,000.

March 16, 2005: Iraq's freely elected parliament convenes for the first time ever.

Well, it took 17 years, but what a difference.

(Hat tip: Wizbang)


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

 
More bad news for internet anonymity
Written by: Beck

First a method is developed to fingerprint computers regardless of how or where they're connected to the internet. Now it appears that the internet's most popular & common method of data encryption has a critical flaw.
The discovery of a crack in a commonly used Internet encryption technique raised concerns among government agencies and computer-code experts, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

"Our heads have been spun around," Jon Callas, chief technology officer at encryption supplier PGP Corp., told the newspaper.

The technique, called a "hash function," has been commonly used by Web site operators to scramble online transmissions containing credit-card information, Social Security numbers and other personal information.

Hash functions were thought to be impenetrable, but a team of researchers in China found that this encryption method was not as resistant to hackers than previously thought, according to the report.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of all regarding this development is the fact that the crack was discovered by a team of Chinese engineers. This suggests two things: that the Chinese are actively working towards researching methods for prosecuting electronic attacks, and that they've succeeded in making discoveries and developing techniques yet to be achieved in the United States where all this technology was developed in the first place.


 
Social Security reform: a tale of two polls
Written by: Beck

Reports of the early demise of Bush's plans for Social Security reform may well prove to be highly exaggerated. While the Washington Post was delighted to declare that, "Only 35 percent of Americans no say they approve of [Bush's] handling of the issue."

However, as Jon Henke points out, buried in the article is an eyebrow-raising tidbit:
But there's something very interesting buried deep in the polling data. Very interesting indeed. The public overwhelmingly disapproves of 1) the way Bush is handling Social Security (56% - 35%), and 2) "Bush's proposals on Social Security" (55% - 37%).

But the public also overwhelmingly supports — by a margin of 56% - 41% — "a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market".
In other words, despite Democratic attempts to thwart any and all change to Social Security--a move calculated only to thwart the plans of Bush and not based on any positive policy foundation--all they've achieved is trashing the specific plan as currently formulated and marketed to the masses. What they've failed to do is turn Americans against the general notion that Social Security as currently formulated suffers from numerous flaws and requires major overhaul.

Perhaps more interesting, research done by (liberal) John Zogby suggests that regardless of whether Bush's plan passes, the entire ongoing debate would seem to be beneficial to the Republican party. As reported by Hindrocket of Powerline:
Polls appear to show President Bush's Social Security reform proposal sinking like a stone, so I was a little surprised to see the normally left-leaning John Zogby warning that, even if the President's proposal for individual accounts fails, the issue may nevertheless spark a long-term realignment in favor of the Republican Party.

Zogby bases this conclusion not on the concept's popularity among young people, but on its appeal to the "investor class." He notes that in his polling, those who described themselves as members of the investor class favored President Bush by a margin of 61% to 39%, while those who described themselves as non-investors favored Kerry by 57% to 42%. The kicker: no fewer than 46% described themselves as investors.
My fear upon the initial kickoff of the campaign for Social Security reform and partial privitization was that if defeated, it would have much the same impact on the Republican party that the defeat of Hillary-care had on the Democratic party in the first half of Clinton's first term. The memorable result of that episode was, of course, the triumph of Newt Gingrich and the Republican revolution.

As the Republican party has moved from strength to strength, they continually risk setting themselves up for a countervailing Democratic revolution. These numbers from Zogby and the WaPo suggest that my fears may well prove groundless.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

 
Battlestar Galactica
Written by: Goemagog

I was writing another rant about scifi stuff when I started to use the new Battlestar Galactica series as an example. Halfway through it occured to me that the reason the cylons are so religious is that while humans adapted them from other animals (maybe even modified human tissue), they believe it was god that gave them sentience. This caused me to completely misplace my train of thought.

Goe, still against france.


 
Belmont Disasters
Written by: Goemagog

From the Belmont Club:

At the one end, the DOD must face continuous challenges from asymmetrical opponents harboring in the hulks of failed, post-Colonial states. At the other, it must face conventional threats from rising Great Powers like China. America's enemies on these separate fronts will be naturally tempted to lend each other mutual aid.


Well, China is giving military assistance to Iran, threatening to attack Taiwan, and beefing up it's military.

Rumsfeld's response appears to be shaped by this reality. It is a search for systems, organizations and strategies which possess utility both against terrorism and rival states. In some cases a match will be easy to find. In others, most notably in the case of heavy divisions, manned aircraft and naval systems, there must be a trade-off between them.


What we're seeing is heavy divisions, manned aircraft, and naval systems traded in for research projects. Nobody knows if or when those research projects will result in deployable systems. We don't even know who will run those systems since military recruitment is dropping below sustainable levels.

The big problem with the Belmont Club's analysis is here:

For the first time in its history, the United States (and Europe too, had they the honesty to realize it) faces a two-front war, not spatially but dimensionally.


We actually face a poly-front war both dimensionally and spatially, and we've not the wherewithall to fight it. Our cold war military was set up to fight the Soviet Union. We had equipment and strategies to fight large armored battles on the plains of Europe. It's generally accepted that we needed to drop that military because future wars probably won't be fought on plains in Europe.

What is generally accepted is, in this case, wrong. We had equipment and strategies to fight the Soviet Union in large armored battles on the plains of Europe, and we had the equipment and strategies to fight the Soviet Union and it's allies in every other place that they might attack the United States or it's allies.

Throughout the Cold War, we kept the 10th Mountain Division in case we wound up fighting someplace with mountains. In the middle of the Cold War, the army created it's branch of special forces (the Green Berets) to train local militia's the world over in waging and resisting low-level warfare. The Pentagon, through DARPA and other agencies, created most of the technology found in our current military.

It used to be that the Pentagon based it's strategies and tactics on what it had on hand or could get into immediate production. The Pentagon is making it's plans to fight this war based on what it might have five or ten years from now.

When China makes a move on Taiwan, which will come somewhere between 2008 and 2020, what could anybody do to stop them? Our smaller elite units would be too vastly outnumbered to stand a chance, and our larger units are being dismantled to save money to buy the smaller elite units newer and better equipment.

If China invaded Taiwan today, there'd be practically nothing we could do about it. Since China has already invaded some of their neighbors, and is positioning itself to stake a territorial claim on North Korea, they're not likely to back down from Taiwan. They're also modernizing their military with the specific goal of being able to fight the United States. They can buy technology on par with ours off the shelf at home or in Europe, and they have the manpower to beat us in a head-to-head fight. All of the hinderances stalinistic regimes used to fight under are falling away as China shifts from stalinism to nazism.

But the Belmont Club thinks it'll be okay, because MacGyver now works at Stargate Command and will come with extra chewing gum if Rumsfeld calls him.

Goe, likes not living under chinese oppression.


 
Balloon Fate
Written by: Goemagog

I'd like to point out that the alcohol molecule thingie on Random Fate struck me as some sort of mutant balloon animal. The title of this post is in no way a reference to Locke, or Balloon Juice, which was crushed by us here at INCITE! in the 2004 Weblogs awards for Best Conservative Blog.

Goe, cause pop culture really is filth.


 
The Neolibertarian Network
Written by: Beck

Some of you may have noticed that INCITE's sidebar now contains a link and logo to the Neolibertarian Network under the Affiliations section. Regardless of whether you noticed or not, some questions need to be answered.

The obvious one is, what in hell is a "neolibertarian?" The boys at QandO (who are also the founders of the NN) have written fairly extensively on the neolibertarian ideological framework. Briefly, however, a neolibertarian is a pragmatic, conservative libertarian.

Neolibertarianism differs from big-l Libertarianism (i.e. libertarians associated with the Libertarian Party & its party platform) in that it is hawkish on defense, supportive of strict border control, and pragmatic in its approach to effecting change in the American political system. Rather than espousing radical change, it's acceptable for a neolibertarian to act through the major political parties to affect change. To quote John Henke:

The libertarian ideal of a truly limited government is an utopian dream. In the real world, where powerful interests--individual and collective--compete for the reigns of power, there will be violations of the ideals libertarians hold. After all--as a result of their disavowal of power--libertarians are uniquely unqualified to defend their ideals against political opposition.

[...] Indeed, all the "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop!'" [a reference to National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr.] we can muster will not be enough to assuage the natural human desire to "vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury", or otherwise seek their own interests.

So, doctrinaire Libertarians are fighting an uphill battle against human nature. And they do so, precisely because they refuse to accept human nature as a part of their political calculation. Economics is the study of how humans allocate scarce resources. Politics is merely a social corollary to economics -- the study of the allocation of values.

As [neoconservative Irving] Kristol noted--and despite anything Benjamin Franklin may have noted about the trade-off--people will demand security, and they will sacrifice liberty to get it.
Perhaps most importantly, neolibertarianism lacks any sort of doctrinaire orthodoxy. There are plenty of grounds for disagreement and debate within the overarching framework of neolibertarianism. For example, I would be much more likely to stress the relevance and importance of preserving cultural norms while those whose heart is closer to a stricter brand of Libertarianism would find such a view abhorrent.

Members of the Libertarian Party wouldn't recognize a neolibertarian as being a libertarian at all (much as many conservatives, correctly, feel the same way about neoconservatives). Indeed, a neolibertarian is someone, like me, who has traditionally referred to themselves as a "libertarian leaning conservative." Its goals are limiting the size and power of the state, limiting encroachments on personal freedom and liberty, and promoting free trade and deregulation--all of these things where practicable.

Clearly, there are necessary encroachments on freedom and liberty necessary for security. Clearly there are overriding state interests, the protection of which will require regulation and trade restriction. Clearly foreign policy must be pursued rationally and aggressively. To quote Dale Franks:

"If the 1930s and 1940s taught us anything it should be that it is no longer possible for us to confine ourselves to our shores secure in immunity from attack. [As] tragic as it may be, sometimes foreigners are going to need to be killed, and I'd rather kill them over in Kaplokistan, than do so by sniping at them from the rubble of San Diego."
The next question you might ask is, what is the Neolibertarian Network? The answer, at least as of right now, is: not much. It's an association of thirteen likeminded blogs (so far) organized by QandO. The network serves as a central point for syndication feed aggregation, and they also plan to create a period publication.

A final question is, what sort of changes will inclusion in the NN mean for INCITE? The answer is: none. First of all, I'd like to point out that there are technically six writers here. Politically, some of them are more conservative than me on some issues, less on others. Goemagog delights in mocking big-l Libertarians. Answerman once wrote a post denouncing libertarians.

As I am the site owner, editor, and principle contributor to INCITE, I have no problem whatsoever with associating the site with my particular brand of conservatism; however, you should not take that to mean that neolibertarian ideals represent the specific views of every one of INCITE's writers. One of the goals (yet to materialize) of this site was to get a bunch of intelligent, conservative people with differing viewpoints together to foment discussion. Neolibertarianism is just my particular brand, and INCITE's inclusion in the NN shouldn't be interpreted in any other way.


 
Say goodbye to internet anonymity
Written by: Beck

They know who you are, and they know where you live.

I have long been a fan of the anonymity afforded by the internet. It creates a layer of security which I find highly appealing. I can do or say whatever I like, and so long as I sufficiently cover my tracks, no one could ever track me to the specific computer being used. Sure, they might manage to get close, but ultimately anonymizers or firewalls would befuddle prying eyes.

Hell, I don't even blog under my full name, as I'll never know when I say something which pisses off someone so much that they decide it's worth their trouble to make my life upleasant. Should someone wish to send me a cease-and-desist or a death threat, they wouldn't even know where to send it.

With a court order, a truly determined individual might get Google (who both hosts INCITE and provides my email services) to cough up their server logs. At that point, my IP address could be tracked down. Still, should I choose to obscure or falsify it--or us an off shore service that American authorities couldn't compel to cough up their log--they'd reach a dead end.

You'll note my use of past-tense above.
Anonymous Internet access is now a thing of the past. A doctoral student at the University of California has conclusively fingerprinted computer hardware remotely, allowing it to be tracked wherever it is on the Internet.

In a paper on his research, primary author and Ph.D. student Tadayoshi Kohno said: "There are now a number of powerful techniques for remote operating system fingerprinting, that is, remotely determining the operating systems of devices on the Internet. We push this idea further and introduce the notion of remote physical device fingerprinting ... without the fingerprinted device's known cooperation."

The potential applications for Kohno's technique are impressive. For example, "tracking, with some probability, a physical device as it connects to the Internet from different access points, counting the number of devices behind a NAT even when the devices use constant or random IP identifications, remotely probing a block of addresses to determine if the addresses correspond to virtual hosts (for example, as part of a virtual honeynet), and unanonymising anonymised network traces."

[...] The technique works by "exploiting small, microscopic deviations in device hardware: clock skews." In practice, Kohno's paper says, his techniques "exploit the fact that most modern TCP stacks implement the TCP timestamps option from RFC 1323 whereby, for performance purposes, each party in a TCP flow includes information about its perception of time in each outgoing packet. A fingerprinter can use the information contained within the TCP headers to estimate a device's clock skew and thereby fingerprint a physical device."

Kohno goes on to say: "Our techniques report consistent measurements when the measurer is thousands of miles, multiple hops, and tens of milliseconds away from the fingerprinted device, and when the fingerprinted device is connected to the Internet from different locations and via different access technologies. Further, one can apply our passive and semi-passive techniques when the fingerprinted device is behind a NAT or firewall."

And the paper stresses that "For all our methods, we stress that the fingerprinter does not require any modification to or cooperation from the fingerprintee."
Sing it! This is the end... my only friend, the end... of our elaborate plans. The end.

You know, I don't actually go to any effort to anonymize my internet connections. Still, it was nice knowing that it was possible. The very thought that I can be tracked and/or identified is bothersome to my inner-libertarian. I'm beginning to wonder if a future in which our every movement and action is not only recordable, but also recorded, is inevitable.


 
On Liberty (and freedom)
Written by: Beck

David Anderson of ISOU pointed me to a blogger I hadn't read before, Random Fate. Have a look at the site--it's both entertaining and thought provoking. His musings on the topic of liberty--whether or not the John Locke reference in his post title was intended or not I'm unsure--are a good example of the material to be found. Regardless, welcome Random Fate to the blogroll.


Monday, March 14, 2005

 
Gilligan's Island _IN SPACE_
Written by: Goemagog

Beck doesn't seem to like it much when I rant about things sci-fi, so here goes.

I like Battlestar Galactica and I liked the first couple of seasons of Babylon-5. They both employ story arcs, common to soap operas but adopted by almost every science fiction show since Babylon-5 was created around one. The reason is that it gets everyone around Gilligan's Plot Paradox. Gilligan's Plot Paradox is that everything must be the same at the end of the episode. No matter what they do, they have to still be stuck on the island. This is why characters in military-themed shows only get transfered when the actor wants more money. Viewers didn't have to keep notes, and the shows are watchable out of order in syndication.

Story arcs promised a change to where things do change. Instead of an A and B storyline that only lasts the current episode and a C storyline that spans two or three, they go with soap opera sized storylines that span years. How long can these storylines be dragged out though?

I'm sure you've heard at one point or another a joke you've heard before, but told in such a way that the telling took much, much longer. If someone is telling such a joke and they drag it out too long, you'll get tired of all the build-up with no payoff. Each storyline has it's own plot structure, it's own build-up, and it's own payoff. The build-up is the easy part to do. The payoff is where most science fiction shows falter. Half-assed resolutions will only be bought into by die-hard fans would will brook no reality. Everyone else will feel disappointed that they spent so much time waiting for a payoff that was inadequate.

Goe, because suspension of disbelief weakens with time.


 
Meet John Bolton
Written by: Beck

President Bush has appointed Undersecretary of State John Bolton to be the next ambassader to the United Nations. QandO's Jon Henke has a great round up of quotes from Bolton. I think I'm gonna like this guy.
"Moreover, many Republicans in Congress - and perhaps a majority - not only do not care about losing the General Assembly vote but actually see it as a "make my day" outcome. Indeed, once the vote is lost, and the adverse consequences predicted by the U.N.'s supporters begin to occur, this will simply provide further evidence to many why nothing more should be paid to the U.N. system."
Of course, how can you not like someone who says things like this?
"If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."


 
More New Jersey government greed
Written by: Beck

New Jersey lawmakers want to cable television channels hosting poker shows to pay a special surcharge to help fund treatment of gambling addiction. And if the channels are unwilling to "voluntarily" contribute to government sponsored charities? Why then they'll just tax it out of them. Oh, wait, we're calling it a "surcharge" this time. Less scary that way.
Now a New Jersey lawmaker wants cable networks that feature gambling to help gambling addicts by giving money to treatment agencies. Assemblywoman Joan Voss, a Democrat, on Tuesday called for a surcharge on state cable providers if the networks don't cooperate.

[...] The surcharge, Voss said, would be imposed on cable providers who air poker tournaments, requiring them to collect the money from cable networks without passing on the charge to customers.
Makes perfect sense right? I especially like how these benighted politicians think they can decree that the charge won't be passed on to customers. News flash: customers provide all the revenue; therefore, the customers will be paying for your surcharge as well.

Rogier van Bakel of Nobody's Business makes an excellent point.
Hey lady, why stop at poker shows? ESPN could be made to pay into a healthcare fund for people with sports injuries. Maybe the Playboy Channel should start paying the therapy bills for sex addicts. And since mob shows could push the gullible into a life of crime, why don't we order HBO to send a check to the Crime Victims Fund for every new episode of The Sopranos?

It's young people's "easy access" to televised vice that concerns Ms. Voss — so logically, other low-threshold media might be next in line for some serious regulatin'. How about magazines and the Internet? They're everywhere, I tell you! Determined lawmakers like Ms. Voss can surely join hands to make Modern Drunkard magazine pay for the treatment of alcoholics. Cigar Aficionado will then have to compensate stogie-lovers who get emphysema. And because sites like nascarconnections and thatsracin.com arguably don't promote safe driving, why don't we tell them to pony up for the treatment of car-crash victims?
I would suggest that perhaps the motivation behind this surcharge has something to do with the fact that New Jersey is the largest center of casino gambling East of the Mississippi. But much as I enjoy trips down to Atlantic City, I don't think I can blame any of my gambling losses on ESPN.

Here, I have a suggestion. How about instead, the state pay for gambling addiction treatment out of some of the huge bevy of fees and taxes they charge casinos?

Don't miss my other recent New Jersey posts here and here.

(Hat tip: Vice Squad)


 
An idea whose time has come
Written by: Beck

Hooters Airline.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

 
Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
Written by: Beck

Little did I imagine the response I would get by typing a word or two on the level of government corruption in New Jersey. As it is, I've discovered an entire new world of New Jersey blogs. Not coincidentally, there doesn't appear to be a single one of them--regardless of political leanings--who is happy with the state of New Jersey administration. I may not be too happy about the state I now find myself living in, but at least I'm in good company.

The standard complaint is that New Jersey has some of the highest taxes in the nation while receiving an abysmal level of services. That's just the standard complaint though. The specific complaints are much more entertaining.

For instance, the state's Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee (how's that for a bureaucratic sounding name?) designated a new state vegetable. The tomato. I find this amusing because technically speaking, the tomato is a fruit.

That particular bit of mind-numbing insipidness hardly scratches the surface. Consider New Jersey senator Jon Corzine. The blog Enlighten-New Jersey posts a devastating letter tracking the corruption that occurred at Goldman Sachs back in the days when faux-populist Corzine was the CEO there. Most amusing: Corzine was at the helm of Goldman back when the financial instruments Enron used to hide debt were invented. Indeed, Goldman's involvement contributed directly to both the hyper-valuations Enron stock briefly enjoyed and the eventual downfall. Good work senator.
In 1993, Goldman Sachs "invented" a security that offered Enron Corp. and other companies an irresistible combination. It was designed in such a way that it could be called debt or equity, as needed. For the accountant, it resembled a loan, so that interest payments could be deducted from taxable income. For shareholders and rating agencies, who look askance at overleveraged companies, it resembled equity.
I find the irony quotient especially high considering how much flack Republicans have taken over a couple closed-door meetings VP Cheney had with Enron and others in the energy industry.

While cruising Enlighten-New Jersey's site, I also noticed this fantastic post on public school expenses and performance in the state.
So how does our state stack up? New Jersey ranks number 1 in terms of expenditures per student, 4th in average teacher salary and ranks 29th in student achievement. Is this a satisfactory level of performance? Not for our money and not for our children.

Prepare yourself for the state's educators to raise the "money for the children" club as Acting Governor Codey's budget is debated. It's time for New Jersey’s education establishment and other associated tax receivers to take some responsibility for schools and children that don't achieve minimal standards.
Of course every once in a while the professional ineptitude of New Jersey's government workers--elected and otherwise--can cause some serious harm. For instance, imagine if a couple police helicopters decided to run some Homeland Security drills near one of the nation's largest nuclear complexes... and failed to notify the security personnel at the plant.
New York Television news is reporting that two New Jersey State Police helicopters were almost shot down today over a south Jersey Nuclear Power plant.

The two helicopters approached low, at points less than 60 feet from the ground, as part of a Homeland Security drill by the NJ State Police. Security teams at the power plant armed their weapons and were awaiting orders to fire when a visual identification prevented a potential tragedy.

At this time the New Jersey State Police are saying that the unit planning the operation failed to notify security at the power plant of the drill.
I'm assuming from the article that the plant in question was the massive Hope Creek-Salem complex, representing over 3,000 MW of generating capacity. The one reassuring thing to come out of this is that our nuclear plants are prepared to shoot down unidentified incoming air craft. The bad news is that New Jersey Homeland Security can't even run a drill without screwing things up royally.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

 
I call shenanigans
Written by: Beck

An unreported conflict of interest in the Volcker Commission investigating the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal is raising some eyebrows. It would seem that the name of Kofi Annan's number two subordinate--Louise Frechette--was omitted from the interim report. Frechette has a 30 year working relationship with Volcker commission executive director Reid Morden.
Committee officials admit that Morden discussed working on the U.N.-commissioned investigation with Frechette before he took the job with Volcker but they insist the friendship has not influenced Volcker's work at all and that the investigation is being conducted in a thorough and impartial manner.

But in the interim report released by the Volcker commission last month, which highlighted abuses and mismanagement of the Oil-for-Food program, Frechette is treated discreetly. Her name is nowhere to be found--the report mentions only her job title--even when declaring that she stopped U.N. auditors from telling the U.N. Security Council about Oil-for-Food irregularities. That detail can be found on page 186 of the 219-page interim report. She later claimed she was just following U.N. rules.
I had high hopes when I originally heard that Paul Volcker would be heading the investigation. He has an impeccable reputation. My one great fear was that he would be thwarted by internal resistance to the investigation. Let's hope the spotlight stays on this issue, and none of the guilty manage to suborn the process.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)


 
New Jersey: a study in bad government
Written by: Beck

Sure, everyone heard about New Jersey's governor James McGreevey and how he resigned in disgrace. It's not every day you hear a story about a state's highest elected official appointing a foreigner with no qualifications to the state's Homeland Security office and then sexually harassing him with gay sex propositions despite being married. Hell, it's not every millennium you hear one quite like that.

Not that McGreevey wasn't involved in more mundane scandals as well, but being New Jersey, it didn't draw much attention at all. Note I said scandals plural. McGreevey kept busy during his tenure. Those bribes aren't just going to pay themselves after all.

McGreevey's malfeasance, however, was just the tip of the iceberg. Run a search on Google News for "New Jersey government corruption" and you get 17 articles in the last twenty-four hours alone.

For instance, you'll find this excellent example of corruption: a kickback scandal which thus far has resulted in arrests of 14 elected or appointed New Jersey government officials.
In their continuing assault on political corruption in Monmouth County, federal prosecutors on Thursday arrested three men on money laundering charges, including two businessmen with extensive public contracts in the county.

The arrests brought to 14 the number of people caught up in an F.B.I. sting operation. Two weeks ago, 10 elected or appointed officials in the county were arrested on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for government contracts; an 11th was charged with money laundering.
Then there's Harry Parkin, the Mercer County chief of staff on trial for corruption. No surprise at all, the mafia is involved in this one.
Parkin is charged by federal authorities with 12 counts of mail fraud and a lone count of extortion. The corruption charges stem from a federal probe into alleged bid rigging and extortion in Mercer County government. The former Mercer County chief of staff faces a maximum 80 years in federal prison and $500,000 in fines if convicted on all 13 counts.
The New Jersey state contract awarding process has become so corrupt, that the government is now working on a law which will bar deals being awarded to contractors who have donated to political campaigns. Naturally, the fact that this infringes on their constitutional rights never crossed the minds of the New Jersey legislators who are crafting the bill. All they're concerned about now is appearing tough on corruption. The sad thing is, the campaign-contribution-for-contracts machine was so institutionalized that it was actually known by a handy catch phrase: pay-to-play. Of course, the law has more loopholes than a New Jersey bureaucrat can count.
The bill has some loopholes: It does not prohibit contractors from making donations to political funds controlled by municipal party organizations or legislative leaders, nor does it limit the movement of money between political funds.
Further, Acting Governor Codey had to veto the first form of the bill to come across its desk because of a conflict with federal highway appropriations rules (which still make some effort to allow people to support a political party while earning a living). No doubt the final version of this bill will be even more laughable.

Then there's the multiple indictments of engineering inspectors who were taking bribes in return for various things. Hint: avoid bridges in New Jersey, there's no telling what they're made of.

In other news, New Jersey lawmakers (on both sides of the aisle) are working to make it even easier for people to vote in the state. I can only assume that the goal is to increase the level of voter fraud so as to draw attention away from the fraud perpetrated by government employees. Once this bill passes, all that will be required to vote will be that one saunters up to a polling station sometime within a week of the election date.
Lawmakers are proposing to advance the date of New Jersey's presidential primary to February, require electronic voting machines to produce paper records, permit voters to use absentee ballots for any reason, and allow citizens to vote up to a week before Election Day.
A coworker of mine voted in the New Jersey election this past November after having moved to NJ in early October. All it took to register was to show his Minnesota drivers license--fulfilling the key New Jersey voting criteria of legally being allowed to drive in at least one of the 50 states--and supply a valid New Jersey address.

Oh, and did I mention that New Jersey is the sixth highest state in terms of charging its residents taxes, but only thirty-second in provision of services? So where does all the money go (apart from politicians' pockets)? For the children!
Jersey, meanwhile, pours big chunks of its state spending into its public schools, ranking fifth among the states in spending per pupil and first in teachers' salaries. But Jersey's students place tenth nationwide on test scores and the state ranks dead last on the Manhattan Institute's School Efficiency Index, which ranks each state's public schools by student performance in relation to school spending.
Well, you can say one thing for New Jersey: they've completely embraced the fact that they're something of a nationwide joke. At least that's what I conclude from the fact that state political organizers are trying to convince comedian Joe Piscopo to run for governor. And what do you know, it turns out that everyone's a comedian.
Some of the seven Republicans in the race weighed in.

Former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler's spokeswoman, Melissa Walters, said, "We welcome all candidates. Maybe this one will actually take a position on the Democratic plan to balance the budget on the backs of property owners."

"Rampant corruption and skyrocketing property taxes are no laughing matter," said John Radziejewski, a spokesman for Mercer County businessman Doug Forrester.

"Considering what the Democrats have done, having a comedian in the race might not be that much out of character," said Todd Caliguire, a former Bergen County freeholder.
(Cross posted to the Blogger News Network)

Update: The gentleman at Enlighten-New Jersey informs me in the comments that New Jersey is not 5th in school spending per pupil as reported in that City-Journal article, but rather first. Which makes their poor performance even more of a sick joke.


Friday, March 11, 2005

 
No More Mr. Nice Evil Dictator
Written by: Goemagog

North Korea cracksdown on it's imprisoned, starving, and enslaved population.

North Korea has recently tightened state control over its hunger-hit population amid U.S.-led pressure over its nuclear weapons program and human right conditions, sources here say.


They've even updated their legal code.

The revision, the fifth since 1950, also calls for tougher regulation on new crimes caused by infiltration of outside information.


This brings them in line with McCain-Feingold.

Goe, for freedom of speech.


 
Quote of the day
Written by: Beck

Since only 35% of American households own 192 million firearms, that means that 65% of American households are only armed with a telephone and 911. What are the rest of you waiting for?
--Instapunk


Thursday, March 10, 2005

 
Not gone, and not forgotten.
Written by: Goemagog

"Forgotten" problems do plague our world. They don't get much media attention, primarily because most media organizations around the world haven't figured out how to blame the United States for them yet. The problems are real, but far too many people would rather villify Bush than lift a finger to help another human being.

Goe, cause even france has some good people.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

 
KABOOM!
Written by: Goemagog

So there are big volcanoes that might ruin your day.

The eruption of a super volcano "sooner or later" will chill the planet and threaten human civilization, British scientists warned Tuesday.


Apparently, the concept of "supervolcanoes" is new to British scientists because they don't watch the BBC.

We (i.e. not european fearmongers) have known about these things for decades. There's one over in California and we know of some others. And that's just some of the ones in the U.S.

The good news is that some are not explosive.

They're also not as impressive.





Goe, supports volcano lancing!


Monday, March 07, 2005

 
Into the heart of darkness
Written by: Beck

Don't miss the first ever blog coverage from inside the White House press room.

FishbowlDC has lobbied for a while to get press credentials to the White House. Just one more refuge of the Main Stream Media which has been invaded by those insidious bloggers. I swear, they're like a bunch of roaches.

Hell, even the New York Times felt compelled to comment on it.

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

Update: FishbowlDC now has a post up discussing the afternoon press briefing. It's quite interesting, presenting a perspective you don't normally hear anything about.


 
United Nations Bingo
Written by: Beck

Laurence Simon whipped this up a while ago, and I just couldn't resist sharing. Besides, it's been a solid day since the last time I said something negative about the UN, and I was beginning to get a bit antsy.

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And remember, the center square is a freebie.


 
The whole Giuliana Sgrena thing
Written by: Beck

You know, the Italian journalist who was kidnapped for a month, then after being freed, was shot at by American soldiers at a checkpoint, resulting in the death of an Italian secret service agent? The one about whom there are rumors that she faked her kidnapping. Also, there are rumors that the Italians paid $6 million in ransom (big no-no there). Well, if you haven't heard, Instapundit has a good roundup.

I have only one relevant thing to add to the discussion: if American troops had genuinely, deliberately targeted Giuliana Sgrena... she would be dead right now. Not yammering on about it on Italian TV. Not changing her story to suit circumstances. Not blaming it all on Silvio Berlesconi. Dead. As a door nail.


 
Everything you ever wanted to know about pro-democracy agitation in Kyrgyzstan but were afraid to ask
Written by: Beck

Gateway Pundit has it all.

Sorry, no incisive analysis or detailed deconstruction here. I just think it's important to keep the numerous pro-democracy movements currently ongoing around the worlds under the spotlight.

While you're at it, might as well check in on Lebanon and Moldova.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

 
The death of liberalism?
Written by: Beck

That's the question John Leo is asking. I disagree that things are as dire as Leo portrays them; however, he makes some excellent arguments. The entire article is a must read. Some highlights:
[T]he cultural liberalism that emerged from the convulsions of the 1960s drove the liberal faith out of the mainstream. Its fundamental value is that society should have no fundamental values, except for a pervasive relativism that sees all values as equal. Part of the package was a militant secularism, pitched against religion, the chief source of fundamental values. Complaints about "imposing" values were also popular then, aimed at teachers and parents who worked to socialize children.

Modern liberalism, says Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel, has emptied the national narrative of its civic resources, putting religion outside the public square and creating a value-neutral "procedural republic." [...] The failure to perceive the importance of community has seriously wounded liberalism and undermined its core principles. So has the strong tendency to convert moral and social questions into issues of individual rights, usually constructed and then massaged by judges to place them beyond the reach of majorities and the normal democratic process.

Liberals have been slow to grasp the mainstream reaction to the no-values culture, chalking it up to Karl Rove, sinister fundamentalists, racism, or the stupidity of the American voter. Since November 2, the withering contempt of liberals for ordinary Americans has been astonishing. Voting for Bush gave "quite average Americans a chance to feel superior," said Andrew Hacker, a prominent liberal professor at Queens College. We are seeing the bitterness of elites who wish to lead, confronted by multitudes who do not wish to follow. Liberals might one day conclude that while most Americans value autonomy, they do not want a procedural republic in which patriotism, religion, socialization, and traditional values are politically declared out of bounds. Many Americans notice that liberalism nowadays lacks a vocabulary of right and wrong, declines to discuss virtue except in snickering terms, and seems increasingly hostile to prevailing moral sentiments.

[...] In their bafflement over rejection of their product, liberals have been lacing speeches with religious phrases and asking mainstream Americans to vote their economic interests by rejecting Republican fat cats. It will take a bit more than that.
The penultimate sentence reminds me of something I've been meaning to hammer on: Democrats were baffled that poor people in red states consistently fail to vote for what's in their economic interest. Essentially, it is a bald statement that the Democrats intend to engage in economic redistribution, and they don't understand why any likely recipient of such largesse would ever be opposed to it.

They chalk it up to a number of explanations. "They don't realize that the Democrats have their economic interests in mind & at heart." "Karl Rove has mislead them." "All they care about are 'values'." The one thing that never occurs to them (or at least the one thing they never speak aloud) is perhaps the poorer Republicans have too much pride to accept money taken forcibly from others. Perhaps these benighted Republican voters actually understand that taxing the rich to death is - gasp! - bad for the economy and as such, high taxation and income redistribution are not in their long term interests.

(Hat tip: Cheese & Crackers)


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