INCITE
Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, June 30, 2005

 
Chickenhawk
Written by: Beck

Christopher Hitchens takes a shot at the whole "Chickenhawk" meme (the one in which you can't express a pro-war foreign policy without personally enlisting in the military, or at the very least, donating your children to the military).
Oh, Jesus, another barrage of emotional tripe about sons. From every quarter, one hears that the willingness to donate a male child is the only test of integrity. It's as if some primitive Spartan or Roman ritual had been reconstituted, though this time without the patriotism or the physical bravery. Worse, it has a gruesome echo of the human sacrifice that underpins Christian fundamentalism.
The whole thing is worth a read, but Hitchens sticks primarily to the whole donate-a-son angle--as though parents somehow had the ability and/or right to obligate their children to pursue a military career.

Jeff Goldstein takes the analysis a step further, ramming a stake into the heart of a canard that, frankly, I'm astonished purportedly rational people continue to espouse. Hopefully he can find it in his heart to forgive me for excerpting three-quarters of his post:
The idea that one need volunteer for military service in order to speak publicly in favor of the war creates any number of crazy analogues (for instance, is it okay to speak out against slavery if you’ve never owned or been a slave?)—not to mention presumes a commitment on the part of those anti-war speakers who invoke the chickenhawk argument to join the insurgency, should they wish to argue against the need for war.

Sadly, the chickenhawk argument, though logically puerile, can prove quite rhetorically effective—in the same sense that charges of homophobia and racism have proven effective in debates over gay marriage and government funded affirmative action programs: such charges, cynically delivered, tend to stifle substantive discourse, forcing one side of the argument onto the defensive by changing the focus of the debate from the issues themselves to the character of certain professors of those issues—and in that regard, they help to sustain the status quo.

The bottom line is, the chickenhawk argument is an impediment to legitimate discourse and debate—and legitimate discourse and debate over national security is a necessity in a free society; and for that reason, those who raise the chickenhawk argument should be treated by everyone—right and left—as intellectual pariahs.
And there you have the two fatal logic flaws with this fallacy: if we grant it's truth, then 1) it's impossible to assert any kind of foreign policy views which include the military in the calculation unless you (or your children) have served in the military, and 2) it's impossible to assert any opinion of any kind regarding any subject in which you yourself have not had a personal involvement.


 
On the verge of economic collapse
Written by: Beck

Or not.
The economy logged a solid 3.8 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2005, a performance that was better than previously thought and a fresh sign the expansion is on firm footing.

[...] Stronger spending on housing projects, more investment by business in equipment and software, and a trade deficit that was less of a drag on economic growth all played a role in the higher first quarter GDP estimate.

The first-quarter's showing was slightly better than the 3.7 percent growth rate that economists were forecasting before the report was released.

"It was a solid quarter, particularly in the face of high and rising energy prices," said Mark Zandi, chief analyst at Economy.com. "It illustrates the resilience of the economy and the durability of the current economic expansion."

[...] Meanwhile, business spending on equipment and software increased at a 6.1 percent pace. That was better than the previous estimate but down from the red-hot pace seen in the fourth quarter as companies rushed to take advantage of tax deductions to encourage sales of business equipment. These tax provisions expired at the end of last year.

Consumer spending, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of all economic activity, grew at a rate of 3.6 percent in the first quarter. That was the same as a previous estimate but down from a 4.2 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter.

On the trade front, the deficit shaved 0.6 percentage point off of GDP in the first quarter, an improvement from the 0.7 percentage-point reduction previously estimated.

One measure of after-tax profits in the GDP report showed profits growing by 1.2 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter. That was slightly better than an earlier estimate but down from a 12.5 percent increase in the fourth quarter.
What a disaster! If the economy keeps humming along like this, we may never need to roll back Bush's tax cuts, and then people will begin enjoying prosperity, and then it'll be freedom and justice for all breaking out all over the place! Oh the humanity!!!

(Hat tip: Ace)


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

 
Another sign of European decline?..
Written by: Dave

The recent J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study showed continued improvement in the reliability of American cars, as you can see from this short CNN article.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/AUTOS/06/29/jdpower_depend/index.html

The article overlooks what is perhaps the more important fact; only one European car was ranked best in its class.


 
A Bit of Housekeeping
Written by: Answerman

In the blogosphere, credibility is very important, because people read what we say and often rely on its veracity in forming and testing their beliefs on certain matters.

That said, I feel compelled to correct a lie written in the post below by our hopefully soon-to-be-departed monkey-boy, Goe. He claims that Beck, who manages this site, emailed him and ordered him not to disagree with any of the other Incite writers. This is of course false. As a recipient of the same (private) email, I can tell you that Beck made but one point -- that Goe's ad hominem attacks, talking about how he "hates all lawyers," for example, are ridiculous and unprofessional, especially against fellow Incite writers. Not that Goe can't argue -- we've been doing that for days over Kelo -- but rather that if Goe wants to argue, he should make arguments, rather than toss around ad hominems about who he hates and fascists and what-not. Such commentary is unintelligent, unhelpful, impossible to engage with, and generally viewed as about the most ineffective way in the world to convince another of your point. It doesn't belong in civilized discussion, and it doesn't belong on this blog.

So, just like Goe's constitutional law citations don't say what Goe claims they say (the words are cited accurately, but his interpretation of the words is way off), Beck's email to Goe didn't say what Goe claims it said. Of course, in this instance, it's not that Goe misunderstood the meaning of the words; rather, he's simply lying about them.

Goe, your performance in here -- quite beyond demonstrating your limited intellect and capacity for reasoned discussion from which others can benefit -- has demonstrated your utter lack of honor as a commentator, and thus as a man.

Please don't come back.


 
The Meaning of "Is"
Written by: Goemagog

What is the meaning of "is"? Can you prove it? Can it's usage in a different language or colloquially constitute a valid definition in the English Language? If they can, how many definitions can "is" have before there are too many to ever know what the person saying it meant?

It's usually pretty easy to identify someone who's just been introduced to philosophy (a subject I've thankfully never studied) because of it's dependence on finding root truths. If you drop all assumptions, you stop seeing lies and are left with the truth. The smart ones will usually assume that there's something fishy about not knowing for sure if the person they're talking to is really there or not. The dumb ones think they've made some great intellectual leap.

The problem is that if you start with no assumptions, you can not find any truths. You can't even be sure that you exist. If you make the assumption that you exist, you can not count on the reliability of your perceptions, so you don't know if anything else exists. At some point, you have to start taking for granted that you exist, that at least a substantial portion of what you perceive is real, or you can't participate in your own life.

There's been a rather heated discussion here about the 14th Amendment, which I've asserted means the Bill of Rights applies to the states, and Answerman has asserted does not.

What more could have been added to that instrument to secure the enforcement of these provisions in the bill of rights in every State, other than the additional grant of power which we ask this day? Nothing at all.
pg.1090

Gentlemen who oppose this amendment oppose the grant of power to enforce the bill of rights. Gentlemen who oppose this amendment simple declare to these rebel states, go on with your confiscation statutes, your statutes of banishment, your statutes of unjust imprisonment, your statutes of murder and death against men because of their loyalty to the Constitution and Government of the United States.
pgs.1090-1091

Mr. Bingham, primary author of the first clause.


To these privileges and immunities, whatever they may be - for they are not and cannot be fully defined in their entire extent and precise nature - to these should be added the personal rights guarantied and secured by the first eight amendments of the Constitution; such as the freedom of speech and of the press; the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, a right pertaining to each and all of the people; the right to keep and to bear arms; the right to be exempted from the quartering of soldiers in a house without the consent of the owner; the right to be exempt from unreasonable searches and seizures, and from any search or seizure except by virtue of a warrant issued upon a formal oath or affidavit; the right of an accused person to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him, and his right to be tried by an impartial jury of the vicinage; and also the right to be secure against excessive bail and against cruel and unusual punishments.
Now, sir, here is a mass of privileges, immunities, and rights, some of them secured by the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which I have recited, some by the first eight amendments of the Constitution; and it is a fact well worthy of attention that the course of decision of our courts and the present settled doctrine is, that all these immunities, privileges, rights, thus guaranteed by the Constitution or recognized by it, are secured to the citizen solely as a citizen of the United States and as a party in their courts. They do not operate in the slightest degree as a restraint or prohibition upon State legislation. States are not affected by them, and it has been repeatedly held that the restriction containted in the Constitution against the taking of private property for public use without just compensation is not a restriction upon State legislation, but applies only to the legislation of Congress.
Now, sir, there is no power given in the Constitution to enforce and to carry out any of these guarantees. They are not powers granted by the Constitution to Congress, and of course do not come within the sweeping clause of the Constitution authorizing Congress to pass all laws necessary and proper for carrying out the foregoing or granted powers, but they stand simply as a bill of rights in the Constitution, without power on the part of Congress to give them full effect; while at the same time the States are not restrained from violating the principles embraced in them except by their own local constitutions, which may be altered from year to year. The great object of the first section of this amendment is, therefore, to restrain the power of the States and compel them at all times to respect those great fundamental guarantees.

pgs. 2765-2766, Sen. Howard introducing what became the 14th Amendment into the senate.

Unlike certain other persons who've been arguing against this, I like to cite sources. Citing is important because it lets you read the text for yourself so that you a) know I'm not bullshitting you, b) can read the surrounding text for greater context if you want. All of this is from the 39th Congress, 1st session, available here, courtesy of the Library of Congress. While the person who disagrees with me claims to have cited a textbooks, they've claimed that it's supposed by 'all' the experts, and hasn't even bothered to say which book.

At some point the original author should be given some credence for knowing what the amendment means. The person who disagrees with me on what the amendment means also disagrees with me on this and feels that the original author misunderstood their own meaning and intent in writing the first section of that amendment.

If someone uses 'is' in a way that isn't clear, you have the option to ask them what they mean. If you disregard their explanation, they're not the one at fault for any misunderstandings.

That a man (Mr. Bingham) who spent months working with a small group (of which Sen. Howard was one) crafting a proposed amendment did not know it's purpose and intent is an argument that is just absurd, yet considered persuasive by some, apparently the sort of thing one should expect from someone "whose career revolves around knowing legal minutia backwards and forwards". That quote is from an email I got from Beck, after Answerman offered him $200 to kick me off of Incite!. Beck wanted me to stop saying that I hate lawyers and to hide any serious disagreements I had with the other Incite! writers so that the lefties who followed Beck from ISOU wouldn't be "laughing themselves into stomach cramps", or to leave.

Goe, leaving.


 
What goes around...
Written by: Beck

The Supreme Court has decided, rightly or wrongly, that a municipality may use the power of eminent domain to confiscate property from one private entity to give to another private entity. Poetic justice would seem to demand that some municipality or other would turn around and seize the property of a Supreme Court Justice.

I'm not getting my hopes up, but suffice it to say wheels are in motion.
Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

[...] On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on [redacted]. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
If you'd like to contact the Weare, New Hampshire city employees, you can find a handy directory here.

More Kelo related amusement: New York City invokes eminent domain to acquire New Jersey. Personally, I can't decide whether or not this would be an improvement.

Finally, because I know you've been wondering about this, a list of Supreme Court snack food choices.


 
A random assortment of links
Written by: Beck

Kerry-bashing just never seems to get old. Of course, it helps that Kerry makes it so darn easy. Money quote:
Kerry remains his true self: mired in wonkish detail, concerned for procedural regularity, stupidly naive about the motives of foreign states, and without a single uplifting or encouraging word of national unity or in support of the mission.
Captain Ed reports on an interesting political development in Iraq. Shiite king-maker Sistani has granted a concession to the Sunni minority which both alleviates some of the pressure fomenting domestic unrest and leads Iraq closer to a more federal-style democracy (which should also benefit the Kurds).

Tim Blair catches the New York Times being contradicted by Osama bin Laden.

Jonah Goldberg brings the Satire.

Kofi Annan wears dresses and fancies little boys. You heard it here first!

Yet another reason to dislike New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

 
Shelby Foote - R.I.P.
Written by: Dave

A great Southern writer and historian has died.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/books/06/28/obit.foote.ap/index.html


 
China - some historical perspective
Written by: Dave

There was a good article in the WSJ yesterday about whether or not history foretells future conflict with China. I won't link it because you need a subscription to view the article. But it's very easy to summarize - history doesn't tell us one way or the other.

The article examines the oft-repeated assertion that we don't have to worry about a future conflict with China because of growing economic and cultural ties between the U.S. and China. It points out that 19th century U.S.-British relations support this viewpoint, as initial conflicts gave way to a strong alliance based on rising trade and cultural ties. However, at the same time, trade and cultural ties between Britain and Germany also rose during the decades preceding the Great War, as they did all across Europe, but that didn't stop the continent from erupting into war. Similarly, trade and ties grew between the U.S. and Japan during the inter-war period, but ironically trading ties only made conflict more likely once the Depression hit and trade became an issue of contention. So, in short, the historical record can't be used to prove that China will or will not become our friend.

The reason I like this article is because it demonstrates a truth most people just don't get. History can't be used as some sort of plastic mold into which you fit the future. It is true that you can find many patterns and lessons, but the biggest lesson is that human history is an ever changing phenomenon influenced by the actions of billions of individual humans and other unpredictable events. Any international relations professor who takes one or two instances of history and fashions them into some supposedly fail safe predictor of the future is historically ignorant.

The best we can do is look to the past for clues and successful tactics, and prepare for a wide range of different scenarios. So looking at China, the reality is simple. We don't know what will happen to our relations with China. We need to be ready for a wide range of possibilities. Militarily, this requires flexibility, which unfortunately Rumsfeld doesn't seem willing to provide. Instead he's trying to fashion a military totally focused on one specific type of fight, even as it simultaneously fights another type of fight. Hopefully, the upcoming Pentagon assessment of China will show some understanding of this fact.


 
Quote for the day
Written by: Beck

Students of history will note that one of Lincoln's chief difficulties in 1863-1864, was the effort of the Democrats to end the war with a negotiated peace with an independent Confederacy. Lincoln rejected such efforts, preferring instead to wage a war that would end with an inseparable Union of the United States. Just as the Democrats of that era complained bitterly about the nation's involvement in a wasteful and unwinnable war, today's Democrats look at the War on Terror, and our struggle in Iraq, and...well, the more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.
--Dale Franks


Monday, June 27, 2005

 
Written by: Goemagog

"In the Slaughter-House Cases (1873), the Court held that the rights guaranteed in the first 8 amendments are not "privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States" and are thus not applicable to the states through that clause of the 14th amendment."

"Seeing a distinction, it concludes by saying Congress did not intend in passing the 14th amendment to grant the citizens of individual states protection against their state governments in the form of the civil rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights."
- Answerman


Having shown that the privileges and immunities relied on in the argument are those which belong to citizens of the States as such, and that they are left to the State governments for security and protection, and not by this article placed under the special care of the Federal government, we may hold ourselves excused from defining the privileges [83 U.S. 36, 79] and immunities of citizens of the United States which no State can abridge, until some case involving those privileges may make it necessary to do so.

But lest it should be said that no such privileges and immunities are to be found if those we have been considering are excluded, we venture to suggest some which own their existence to the Federal government, its National character, its Constitution, or its laws.

One of these is well described in the case of Crandall v. Nevada. 25 It is said to be the right of the citizen of this great country, protected by implied guarantees of its Constitution, 'to come to the seat of government to assert any claim he may have upon that government, to transact any business he may have with it, to seek its protection, to share its offices, to engage in administering its functions. He has the right of free access to its seaports, through which all operations of foreign commerce are conducted, to the subtreasuries, land offices, and courts of justice in the several States.' And quoting from the language of Chief Justice Taney in another case, it is said 'that for all the great purposes for which the Federal government was established, we are one people, with one common country, we are all citizens of the United States;' and it is, as such citizens, that their rights are supported in this court in Crandall v. Nevada.

Another privilege of a citizen of the United States is to demand the care and protection of the Federal government over his life, liberty, and property when on the high seas or within the jurisdiction of a foreign government. Of this there can be no doubt, nor that the right depends upon his character as a citizen of the United States. The right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, are rights of the citizen guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. The right to use the navigable waters of the United States, however they may penetrate the territory of the several States, all rights secured to our citizens by treaties with foreign nations, [83 U.S. 36, 80] are dependent upon citizenship of the United States, and not citizenship of a State.


SLAUGHTER-HOUSE CASES, 83 U.S. 36 (1872)

several of those are from the bill of rights and they were clear that the 'privilege's they list are not the only ones. the slaughter-house case doesn't say what he said it says.

in fact, when talking about whether or not the fifth amendment applies at all

The first of these paragraphs has been in the Constitution since the adoption of the fifth amendment, as a restraint upon the Federal power. It is also to be found in some form of expression in the constitutions of nearly all the States, as a restraint upon the power of the States. This law then, has practically been the same as it now is during the existence of the government, except so far as the present amendment may place the restraining power over the States in this matter in the hands of the Federal government.


They say quite explicity the opposite, that the eminent domain powers of a state ARE limited by the fifth amendment. Their final decision rested on holding that a career choice is not protected property, and being put out of business was not an infringement of their rights.

Goe, proving people wrong with their own sources.


 
Written by: Goemagog

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"

I've cited this one before several times too, and it's been ignored every time as meaningless.

and what i said about 14 was...

"the state can not infringe on any right that the federal government can not"

the supreme court ruling hasn't had any qualms about forcing states and local governments to comply with the bill of rights. in fact, they did that just this morning to two kentucky counties.

I don't despise the Warren Court, and agree with most of their 'controversial' decisions.

But when, in the year of grace 1866, there is placed in the Constitution of the United States a declaration that 'no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,' can a State make any thing due process of law which, by its own legislation, it chooses to declare such? To affirm this is to hold that the prohibition to the States is of no avail, or has no application where the invasion of private rights is effected under the forms of State legislation.

DAVIDSON v. CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

In the fourteenth amendment the provision regarding the taking of private property is omitted, and the prohibition against the state is confined to its depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. It is claimed, however, that the citizen is deprived of his property without due process of law if it be taken by or under state authority for any other than a public use, either under the guise of taxation or by the assumption of the right of eminent domain. In that way the question whether private property has been taken for any other than a public use becomes material in this court, even where the taking is under the authority of the state, instead of the federal, government.



FALLBROOK IRRIGATION DIST v. BRADLEY


The general grant of legislative power in the constitution of a state does not enable the legislature, in the exercise either of the right of eminent domain or of the right of taxation, to take private property, without the owner's consent, for any but a public object. Nor can the legislature authorize counties, cities, or towns to contract, for private objects, debts which must be paid by taxes. It cannot, therefore, authorize them to issue bonds to assist merchants or manufacturers, whether natural persons or corporations, in their private business. These limits of the legislative power are now too firmly established by judicial decisions to require extended argument upon the subject.


COLE v. CITY OF LA GRANGE

Goe, gave you three more than a hundred years old.


 
Kelo, Again
Written by: Answerman

Goe has made the following argument regarding the recent US Supreme Court decision in Kelo:

1. The 14th amendment prevents the states from abridging the "privileges" of US Citizens.

2. The 10th amendment reserves all rights not enumerated as federal government powers to the states, or to the people.

3. The Takings Clause grants the federal government the power to take land for public use. Because it does not mention private use, a private use taking is reserved for the states, or to the people, under the 10th Amendment.

But then what? Goe can't close the circle and prove Kelo wrongheaded, because in fact, his argument against it is wrongheaded:

1. It is true that the Takings Clause has nothing to do with private use takings, but the 10th Amendment doesn't tell us anything about these either, because it talks about the reservation of rights to the states, OR to the people; it doesn't differentiate between what the states get and what the people get. So that has to play out in the state legislative process, which ss what I have been advocating. The 10th Amendment tells us only that the federal government can't take for private use; its reservation clause does not tell us whether the states can, or whether the people's rights prevent it.

2. Goe would at this point turn to the 14th amendment. But notice his leap of logic. According to Goe, "no state may abridge privileges of US citizens" means "no state may do anything that the federal government may not do." Yet this is obviously a misinterpretation for numerous reasons: (1) textual -- if the drafters of the amendment wanted to say that, they would have; (2) legsilative history -- the drafters of the amendment stated -- in Congressional testimony from the late 1860s that Goe can read if he chooses to -- that they did not intend with the "privileges and immunities" language to extend the Bill of Rights to the states, but rather intended to keep states from passing laws that would undercut the new FEDERAL privileges of black voters; and (3) case law -- for about 100 years, until the liberal Warren Court that Goe no doubt despises, the US Supreme Court held that this was the drafters' intent, and that the Bill of Rights protections on which Goe relies in his argument did NOT extend to the states (again, if Goe wants to read these cases, he can).

3. If the "privileges and immunities" language prevents states from abridging pre-existing privileges, then Goe must show us the source of a pre-existing privilege that makes the 14th amendment language apply. The 10th amendment won't work, because it doesn't give specific privileges to the people, but merely limits the federal government's powers by reserving all non-enumerated rights to the states OR the people. And the Takings Clause won't work, because it doesn't give citizens a privilege against state takings for private use. Again, the 14th amendment simply doesn't apply, because there is no c onstitutional (or legislative or other) "privilege" of a US citizen that is being abridged.

Private use takings are not permitted to the federal government; property rights in that regard are reserved to the states OR the people under the language of the 10th Amendment. The "or" means the Constitution has nothing to say as to the issue between individual states and their citizens, which means that private use takings by state and local governments are political issues to be determined by the voters of particular states, and not by federal judges.


 
The French Betrayal of..............Shut up!!!
Written by: Answerman

Over the last year or two, several right-wing hacks have published books purporting to demonstrate that France has been engaged in an over-200-year-long effort to stab the United States in the back. Unfortunately, these types of mindless soundbytes are what pass for history and analysis on both sides of the aisle today. While I expect this sort of behavior from Leftists, it's a little disconcerting to see from some of my compatriots on the Right. And it's not limited to the issue of France, or foreign policy, or anything else; rather, there is an anti-intellectual and extremely unconservative populist strain in American "conservatism" that seems more and more dominant every day. And Answerman doesn't like it.

The basic anti-France thesis is that (1) the French are cowards who like to surrender; and (2) the French have been betraying America over the course of three monarchies, five republics, and two empires. The first part of the thesis ignores -- as most populist arguments do -- the salient facts. The French government is probably only second to that of the United States (and perhaps Great Britain) in its ability to project military power. It fought numerous brutal anti-colonial wars -- in Vietnam in the 50s, Algeria in the 60s, and Chad in the 70s, to name a few -- complete with harsh and violent retribution against terrorist activities. It has used overwhelming force in numerous instances to defeat terrorist hijackers. And it recently took care of business by intervening in the Ivory Coast during civil turmoil there. The record simply disproves any notion that the French -- either historically or in the present-day -- are cowards afraid of projecting military power and anxious to surrender to their enemies. Too bad the mocking American populists don't know anything besides that France lost to Germany in six weeks early during World War II.

The second part of the thesis is asinine as well. Basically, the right-wing hacks who divert their energies to this sort of nonsense think America is really neat, and think therefore that everyone else should do what America wants them to do. This is an incredibly infantile sentiment. The French are a historic people with unique cultural attachments, a language of which they are legitimately quite proud, and (gasp!) their own national interests, which are at times (gasp!) contrary to American national interests. Should we back down in the face of French assertions of national interests contrary to our own? No. But similarly, we shouldn't act all surprised and morally indignant when a sovereign state asserts itself against our policies, when that state -- right or wrong -- believes those policies to be inimical to its interests. That's the way the world works. Heck, that's the way the United States works when it doesn't like something someone else is doing.

Unfortunately, a lot of right-wingers can't grasp these issues, and instead prefer to think of the United States as some sort of beacon of predetermined progress, and of other countries as liars and cheats if they don't sign up for our global utopian projects. And these right-wingers don't limit their nonsense to the French or foreign policy issues. Take our own little Goe, for example. Every day, we see him struggle mightily on the pages of this blog to articulate his rage against all sorts of perceived devils -- like the French, or like David Anderson, an intelligent liberal blogger who actually likely agrees with Goe on certain really important issues, like illegal immigration. And what's the point of all this rage? That the French have committed some sort of unique moral wrong by daring to oppose US policies on the world stage? Hogwash. That liberals of all stripes, Leftists, Nazis, and communists are all "fascists" because all of them believe in (admittedly drastically varying degrees of) the welfare state? Idiocy. And yet Goe and his ilk plod angrily along, failing to understand why no one takes them seriously, failing to recognize the really important issues, and failing to see how much they damage the intelligent Right through their perceived association with us.

This attitude that I have described, and that manifests itself in the anti-France books with which I began this discussion, is an extremely ahisorical attitude. And unfortunately, because we are not a particularly history-minded people, it is a very American attitude. But we must struggle against this populist, anti-intellectual jingoism -- on both Right and Left -- lest it does its part to make this already-screwed-up world an even more screwed up place.


 
Random reading
Written by: Beck

QandO has an interesting and informative post up discussing the patterns historically found in insurgency movements, and applying these lessons to the current situation in Iraq, along with some projections of how various historical lessons are likely to apply today. Definitely worth the read.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

 
rules of thumb
Written by: Goemagog

Any non-libertarian will support libertarian principles only so long as their political opponents are in power. Such support will cease once they or their political allies have power when the empowerment of the state (and hence themselves or their allies) will take priority over any previously libertarian positions they held.

The rhetoric of any political group not currently holding sway over the reigns of power will closely match libertarians regardless of their previous rhetoric or current ideological stance.

A person's opposition to state repression grows with the level of state repression they are experiencing. A person with authority over state repression will not repress themselves and hence have little or no opposition to the state repression of others.

No person is an absolute libertarian. Any person will support the repression of others in some circumstances. The ideology that determines which circumstances differentiate most political groups and are the primary guage of libertarianism.

Goe, will throw in some linkage later.


 
AAAHHH!!!
Written by: Goemagog

Look out! They're coming right at us!

Goe, someone once warned you about this happening.


 
Couldn't have said it better myself
Written by: Beck

Stephen Green, of Vodkapundit discusses whether the Bush administration should announce a firm date for pulling out of Iraq:
Last week, there was some hubbub in Congress demanding President Bush announce a firm date for pulling out of Iraq. Announcing an exit date would be dumber than using a taffy puller to epilate your scrotum.
Talk about a vivid metaphor. You'll have to read the rest of the post to see all of Green's arguments supporting his graphic assertion, but I'll shoot you a highlight.
It's for damn sure you won't sap the enemies will by telling him exactly how long to keep his head down. If we announce an exit date of six months or a year from now--or even in five years or a century--then we'll already have lost. An exit date is a signal of retreat. An exit date says, "We've given up. Just keep quiet until we're gone, and then the place will be all yours."


 
Plans
Written by: Beck

I will be posting here less frequently. For the past year and three months, I've tried to crank out 2-3 posts a day, and felt guilty when I fell below that mark. Obviously, for the past 6 months, I've been falling well below that mark, and the past month has been especially bad.

I toyed with the idea of shutting the site down for a while, but that just didn't seem to make sense. After all, it takes zero effort to let INCITE just sit here inactive, plus I have other writers who enjoy putting up the occasional bit of diatribe. Why not, then, leave the place up, so that when I feel especially inspired or motivated, or I just want to link some bit of randomness, I have a forum for airing my thoughts?

This will also give me a chance to focus on enjoying other aspects of life which I've lately neglected, and perhaps at some point if I start feeling the bug, I'll pick up the volume again. Also, I'll be doing poker blogging over at Steal the Blinds, a link to which you can always find over on the sidebar, should you misplace your own. Steal the Blinds is the home of Jaxia and is the original site for Naked Lesbian Poker. How could I refuse when she offered to let me guest blog over there?!


 
Horse's Mouth
Written by: Goemagog

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.


That was part of an argument against a proposed bill of rights. The author's main argument is that any rights given to the people would be assumed to be either the only rights held by the people or to mean that the curtailing of specified rights was intended. The resulting compromise was our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our constitution. The ones created as a compromise specifically to allay these concerns were IX and X.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


These two amendments are at the core of the constitutionality of libertarianism, that all governments and governmental agencies have no power or authority except those specifically granted to them by the constitution.

The Kelo decision is therefore an abomination.

Without exception, the Court has defined that concept broadly, reflecting its longstanding policy of deference to legislative judgments as to what public needs justify the use of the takings power.


As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, whatever a state legislature or city council says is public use, is public use. They did put a little restriction on such seizures previously...

the city could not take petitioners' land simply to confer a private benefit on a particular private party


Which means?

Also rejected is petitioners' argument that for takings of this kind the Court should require a "reasonable certainty" that the expected public benefits will actually accrue


The Court declines to second-guess the wisdom of the means the city has selected to effectuate its plan.


Nothing. Declaring it to be for public use puts land seizures beyond question as far as the court is concerned.

Our earliest cases in particular embodied a strong theme of federalism, emphasizing the "great respect" that we owe to state legislatures and state courts in discerning local public needs


And now 'local public needs' trump your rights. If the local public decides it 'needs' fewer people of your ethnic group, too bad. If the local public decides it 'needs' fewer people with your religious beliefs, too bad. if the local public decides it 'needs' you to shut up, too bad.

Unless you think that there isn't always a need when one is professed.

so sad.

Goe, been thinking a lot about cocktails the past few days.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

 
Iraq, Vietnam: Two different places
Written by: Dave

One of the most frustrating things I constantly read and hear in the media is analogies comparing Iraq to Vietnam. These analogies usually argue that just as in Vietnam, we will never be able to quash the insurgency in Iraq. It's amazing how much credence this argument is constantly given. We seem to have a college freshman-like infatuation with the Vietnam War and can’t view any foreign conflict in terms that aren’t framed around Vietnam.

But looking at Iraq as another Vietnam is not only wrong, it doesn’t make any sense. For two main reasons:

Reason #1.

Iraq is not Vietnam. They are different countries. They are filled with different people. This is not 1969. It’s 2005. These are different times and Iraq is a different place. As a result, different things are going to happen.

Any good military officer or historian knows to look to the past for some lessons and patterns, but he also knows that history doesn’t replicate itself. Countries that base their military strategies off their last wars have generally gotten very bad results. France in WWII is a good example.

If each war replicated the last, then we’d defeat the terrorists by crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve.


Reason #2.

Now watch where you step, because this is going to shatter a whole lot of conventional wisdom. Vietnam was not a successful insurgency. “Sacre Bleu!” you must be saying to yourself. “Surely that must have been a typo.”

No it wasn’t. Vietnam wasn’t a successful insurgency. Notice I am not saying that we didn’t lose the war. We did lose the war. What I am saying is that the Communists didn’t wage a successful insurgency.

Read any well-written history of the Vietnam War and you will come across this fact. The Tet Offensive, despite being a tremendous psychological victory for the Communists, resulted in the VietCong and its infrastructure being largely wiped out. The VC ceased to be an effective force. From that point forward the war was mostly a conventional war, waged between the North Vietnamese army and the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies.

The North Vietnamese didn’t finally win the war until 1975, when they staged a conventional invasion of South Vietnam and the South Vietnamese folded after they realized we weren’t coming to their aid with air power. The VC insurgency had little to do with it.

So not only is Vietnam not the same country as Iraq, but the Vietnam War wasn’t an example of a successful insurgency. So the analogy with Iraq is almost entirely bunk.


If there is one main parallel between Iraq and Vietnam, however, it is that the center of gravity may lay in American public opinion. So ironically enough, Vietnam may prove to be our undoing after all, as we continue to falsely believe that the Vietnam War offers indisputable proof that insurgencies are invincible.



 
The Last Gasp of the Insurgency?
Written by: Dave

Cheney has been heavily criticised for his claim that the Iraqi insurgency is in its last desperate throes. Even many strong supporters of the war are unhappy with Cheney. McCain, for instance, thinks the war will last at least a couple more years, and worries that premature talk of its end will only damage public support.

If I had to bet, I would agree with McCain that we have at least a couple more years to go before we can safely say that we have "won" in Iraq. But then again, I won't be surprised if Cheney turns out to be right. If you look at the recent tactics of the insurgents / terrorists, a majority of the attacks are now being committed by foreign suicide bombers. That could mean that the native insurgency is weakening. It could also mean that the terrorists are growing increasingly desperate. While it is true that Islamic terrorists have long used suicide bombers, their increasing reliance on them might indicate that their other tactics are failing, or that they are shooting their wad in desperation now and will soon be running low on human fodder.

Obviously this is all just speculation. What we do know for sure, though, is that suicide bombings aren't helping the insurgency's PR campaign in Iraq. It's too bad that is not the case here in the U.S.


 
Wondering what will happen in Iran
Written by: Dave

I am of the opinion that the Iranian election was rigged and that it wasn't going to change the real power structure regardless of who won. That is why I am actually happy that an ultra-conservative was "elected". This way it will be a lot more difficult for Europe and the Left to convince themselves that Iran is on the so-called path of reform and that it just needs a little more encouragement.

There's also another silver lining to this result. Supposedly, a large majority of Iranians is unhappy with the Mullahs. If this is true, then the election will just be further confirmation to the Iranian people that there is no hope of real change without another revolution. Maybe this will push them into more concrete acts of resistance against the government.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

 
Un-Private Property
Written by: Goemagog

Zimbabwe starts nationalizing private property.

"There shall be no such thing as private land," Nkomo said


Oh, wait. That was us.

Goe, cannot express how much he hates lawyers right now.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 
Mugabe Strikes Again
Written by: Goemagog

Having destroyed the shelters where most of the poor in Zimbabwe lived, Mugabe set out destroying their gardens

Not flowerbeds, but fruit and vegetable gardens.

Zimbabwe is a great example of what's wrong with the rest of the planet. Reality and reason have been tossed out the window in favor of superstition and conspiracy theories. This is caused by a centralized government. Every third world government and it's population think that the solution to their problems is a stronger central government. Centralized governments always do worse the larger the nation gets, so most of the world is doomed to repeating this failure.

We should be encouraging a more feudalistic approach. While it hasn't the public appeal of elections, too many countries have elections that are so fraudulent as to be meaningless. Feudalism has the advantage of letting whomever the dictator is remain in power with the image of omnipotence while enjoying sincere adulation from the people. This means that they're more likely to go for it than they are to translate the federalist papers and hold fair elections. Since they're the ones with power, they're the ones that need to be won over ideologically to converting their country from a cycle of tyrants to one of freedom.

The way to sell it to them is with white hats. If they create and empower local and regional governments, and require those governments to respect individual rights, then all of the bad things governments do, whether needed or malicious, can be forced on those regional governments. They become the bad guys, while the dictator, who retains national power via the military, only needs to intervene when it suits him. If he only effects changes in the local/regional governments, he will really become a hero to the people. He gets to wear the white hat so long as he leaves all decisions and actions directly affecting the public to the local governments. The country wouldn't be as prosperous as we are, but they'd be a lot better off than they are now.

Bad decisions become someone else's fault, good ideas are because he let the right people do what they do best, and if the public is unhappy, he can come to their rescue by replacing the local/regional leaders. Implemented, it'd be easy to expand personal liberties, because the central figure would remain largely unaffected. The role of the different tiers of government would be formallized at some point through natural political processes, making it easy to begin substituting elected officials for appointed ones. It would probably still take generations, but their descendents would benefit from it greatly.

The goal would be a federalist society, but by encouraging it as a fuedalistic system, it becomes non-threatening to the dictators and more likely to work. Once the system achieves some stability, corruption will drop off sharply as the incentive to loot the economy and flee to exile in France is reduced.

Democracy doesn't guarantee freedom or prosperity, but free people are more prosperous. We should encourage dictators to make their underlings the scapegoats, and look magnanimous by granting individual liberties to private citizens. There will still be abuses, but the introduction of local/regional governments would limit the scale of abuse. Wouldn't be as good as our wonderful republic, but they'd be better off than they currently are and things would improve with each generation.

And if any readers think that people in a third-world country would be better off if they could go vote in a rigged election (the only kind most of them can get), bite me.

Goe, thinks it'd take less than two decades to switch a dictatorship to an 18th-century british style government.


 
Personal news
Written by: Beck

While at work this past Friday, having just returned from Las Vegas the night before with all sorts of great stories to tell, I received word that my grandfather had suddenly died. I've had to rush back to Texas, and will not be doing anything here at INCITE for, well, until I feel like it again. Which may be a little while.

Sid Crawford was a WWII vet and one hell of a guy. I'll write more about him some time perhaps. For right now, I'm just going to be spending time with family.


Monday, June 20, 2005

 
Happy Accidents
Written by: Goemagog

If you were a senior administration official involved in fighting the war against islamic mercenaries and you found out where Osama bin Laden was hiding, what would you do?

1) Send in a Super Ninja Assassition Squad

2) 'Accidentally' misplace a large bomb or 'spill' some American Sunshine depending on how far from our friends he is.

3) Hold a press conference so he knows it's time to move again

If you didn't pick the third option, you're wrong. You'd also be protecting us better than the Central Intelligence Agency.

Goe, apparently an uberlinking king.


 
Zinntropia
Written by: Goemagog

Howard Zinn get's a well deserved roasting. , link borrowed from the Neolibertarian Network. I'm a pseudofan of the Neolibertarian Network, but if they can't argue for the expansion and protection of liberty from fascists, Falwell, and foreign powers without reflexively calling for the legalization of drugs, they're doomed. Drug law reformation needs to follow, not lead. A lot of people can see damage done directly by drugs to individuals, families, and communities, and are not going to be eager to support making those drugs more available. Legalizing everything is absurd, but that's the image put forth when people make illicit drugs their priority.

And there's no good reason Liberia hasn't fixed itself already.

Goe, will write about foreign aid later.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

 
Moonbats redux
Written by: Goemagog

The barking moonbat barks again.

Didnt have the courtesy to trackback to any of what I wrote, then goes on to imply that I support Nazi's or such nonsense. Whatever. I am surprised Beck let him do it...


1) I've never trackbacked to anything. Beck's the one with the haloscan account and he does it if/when he feels like it. And which post should it have been trackbacked to? There's been a flood over there that are nothing more than 'look, someone else is pretending this is important!'.

2) I did imply that Mr. Anderson supports Nazis. I also outright stated that he is eagerly supportive of fascists, which is true of anyone who supports Saddam Hussein or supported his government with the vociferousness of Mr. Anderson. The Ba'ath party, being a fascist party, has not only enjoyed Mr. Anderson's support in the current war against islamic mercenaries, but has enjoyed his support for however long he's been a socialist. Fascism, like Nazism, is just a variant of socialism. That's why Stalinism, Maoism, Fascism, and Nazism seem so similar in practice, from the abundant secret police to the mass murders. Nazism is, after all, just National Socialism, i.e. rule by local assholes and fucktards instead of an international committee of them. While Mr. Anderson may or may not be as strong a supporter of Nazis as he is of Fascists, the two ideologies are similar and historically have differed mostly on the colors of their concentration camp guard uniforms.

3) Censoring others for having different opinions may be high on Mr. Anderson's list of things to do, but it's pretty low on Beck's, which is part of why I write for INCITE!.

Goe, neither an idiot nor anyone's pet, also not a fascist.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

 
Crazy, I tells ya!
Written by: Goemagog

Apparently this barking moonbat didn't set off the Early Warning System. He rants and rants and rants about the "Downing Street Memo", which have little to do with anything.

The memo was written by someone who was against going into Iraq, claims that information was being altered to justify a war, and admits casually that none of it was really made up.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.


Everyone in that meeting believed Saddam had WMD.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.


This is the only thing close to scandalous, and if you notice, the policy was based on "the conjunction of terrorism and WMD", both of which were supported by the intelligence and the facts. There was no need to fix anything around the policy.

The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record.


And why would there be a need to doctor anything if we weren't pushing hard for political support? And what would be the point of trying to do that?

The people who wanted Saddam to stay in power don't care how many mass graves there were, they don't care how many terrorists he aided, or the countries he invaded. (Granted, I couldn't give a rats ass about anything bad that happened to Iran, but if he didn't learn not to invade his neighbors then, he wasn't going to learn from the Kuwait War).

Mr. Anderson has shown that he's not just willing but eager to support fascists.

Goe, wondering if Mr. Anderson has joined the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party, because it's either that or this.


 
The other side of China
Written by: Dave

Here's the side of China we don't hear about much these days..

http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-13371337,00.html


 
Sean Penn, Enlightened Peace Lover
Written by: Dave

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000963024

Sean Penn, who is on a "reporting" trip to Iran for the San Francisco Chronicle, recently lectured Iranian students who were chanting "Death to America". So said Penn:

"I understand the nature of where it comes from and what its intention is," he said. "But I don't think it's productive because I think the message goes to the American people and it is interpreted very literally."

So I wonder what Penn thinks the real intention is? Does he think "Death" is an Iranian synonym for peaceful dialogue?

Seeing as how the Iranians have supported and continue to support terrorist attacks designed to kill Americans, I don't understand why Penn can't concieve of the fact that they might actually mean what they say. Is he that desperate to make America the bad guy that he has to absolve Iran of any guilt other than rhetorical excess?

I figure making America the bad guys makes him the enlightened, far-seeing lover of peace, who can look down on his fellow troglodyte Americans, even if that means he has to sympathise with the people who want to kill them.


 
Indian Security Council Membership
Written by: Dave

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/06/16/un.security.council/index.html

So the U.S. has come out for two additional seats on the Security Council, pending U.N. reforms. The U.S.'s preferred additions would be Japan and one other nation.

Japan sounds good to me. Unlike Europe, Japan seems to realize how dependent it is upon our protection, so it would tend to support our goals. It is also the second largest economy in the world (for now). As far as the other seat goes, who would fill it?

The most likely candidate would seem to be India. India's economy is rising, it's a democracy, and it possesses a large chunk of the world's population. But is it in America's interests to support Indian membership at this time?

I need to put some more thought into this, but I can think of a couple reasons it would be helpful to American interests and a couple reasons it might not be.

On the plus side, India is a natural U.S. ally, as it is an English speaking democracy, also faces a Muslim terrorism problem, and will likely become a rival to China in Asia. Supporting India's membership now also might be a good way of building a future U.S.-Indian alliance.

On the negative side, I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves. India still possesses a fair amount of anti-Americanism, and we really can't predict which strategic path they will take into the future. For all we know, thirty years from now, Indian may have sunk back into a Socialist backwater. Or alternatively, thirty years from now, we might be allying with China to hold back the growing Indian threat. Yes, this seems far fetched, but what do we really know at this point?

And what about Pakistan? Is supporting permanent Indian Security Council membership worth the cost of alienating Pakistan?

On balance, I'd say the best bet is supporting Indian membership. But my mind is by no means made up.

Your thoughts?


 
Dominique Marie Francois Rene Galouzeau de Villepin
Written by: Dave

Sometimes I find myself almost liking France’s new prime minister, Dominique Marie Francois Rene Galouzeau de Villepin. Besides his entertaining name, he tends to provide more interesting fare than most politicians. For instance, can you imagine an American politician openly emulating Napoleon, or calling for the nation to “revive (its) history of epic collective adventures”? Some of the things he says are even somewhat refreshing, such as this statement:

“We in France recognize that the fate of man is essentially tragic. Humanity is dark.”

He’s half wrong on both counts, but almost every politician chooses to be half wrong in the opposite extremes (at least on the public record).

To say I kind of like Dominique de Villepin isn’t to say that I think he is good for America or anyone else for that matter. I say it in the same vein that I say I like Goldfinger, Dr. No, or Vladimir Putin, that is, purely for entertainment purposes. Of course to compare de Villepin to Goldfinger or Dr. No is to give him too much credit, as he is probably more similar to one of the minor Bond villains who teams up with the main villain only to be tossed aside when he is longer useful.

Of course de Villepin doesn’t see himself or France playing this role. Instead, he sees France playing the role of the central hero. Unfortunately, the only way that France can remain on the center stage is by opposing the U.S., but with a relatively weak military, a stagnating economy, and a society more interested in long vacations than “epic collective adventures”, de Villepin will be immersing France in more than it can handle. Diplomacy and international politics that aren’t backed up by brute force eventually mean nothing. Consequently, de Villepin will have to ally France with a power that truly does possess the power to counterweigh the U.S.

We already see this taking place as France tries to develop its ties with China, Iran, Russia, and Arab dictatorships. Of these countries, perhaps only China has the future potential to stand as a counterweight to the U.S., but as a collective, so might the others.

In the end, if France allows de Villepin to chase his aspirations of glory, it will turn out worst of all for France. With his studies of the Napoleonic Age, de Villepin should recognize that his France won’t be able to play the role that Napoleon’s France did. If modern day France has a good counterpart in the Napoleonic Age, it is Spain, which allied itself with Napoleon only to be betrayed as soon as it suited his interests. So too would a future China betray an essentially powerless France once it suited Chinese interests.

The question is, with internal divisions and problems mounting within France, will de Villepin and his successors ever be able to take the game that far? Or will the French citizenry finally force its leaders to fix the problems at home first?



 
Derbyshire's Math Problem
Written by: Goemagog

John Derbyshire, one of the few National Review writers worth reading (although he pales compared to Nordlinger's Impromptus), posted this question in his "May Diary"

Math corner. This one, courtesy of Boris Zeldovich. Boris credits it to V. I. Arnold, author of this fine Francophobic rant. Here’s the puzzle:

For ten years a teacher exposed his student to the following test:

A right-angle triangle has hypoteneuse 10 inches, and the height drawn from the right angle to the hypoteneuse is 6 inches. Find the area of this right-angle triangle.

For 10 years the students satisfied their teacher with the following answer: Area = (10*6)/2 = 30 square inches.

Then at the eleventh year a smart student came, who could not solve this problem. Why?

Boris adds: “In Arnold's presentation the puzzle is somewhat politically incorrect. The teacher and students are American, and the smart kid is Russian.” No comment.


The problem is that this isn't a math problem. The problem is semantical. The answer is 24 if the 6 inch height is a leg of the triangle, and the area varies as that 6 inch height arcs through the 90 degrees of the right angle. There is a portion of the arc where six inches is not possible with a right angle and that hypoteneuse, but that isn't mentioned in the 'riddle'. Not being mentioned, it's still the point, as the 'solution' everyone was content with in the riddle is based on the 6 inch length being perpendicular to the hypoteneuse, which puts it in a portion of the arc that renders the triangle impossible. Mr. Derbyshire forgot to check his presets.

Goe, can type faster with his nose than many people can with their hands.


 
meh
Written by: Goemagog

Best of the Web linked earlier this week to a speech given by Tom Brokaw at Dartmouth.

You have been hearing all of your life about this moment - your first big step into what you have been called and told is the real world. What, you may be asking yourself this morning, is this real life all about? Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 2005 at Dartmouth, it's not college - it's not high school. Real life is junior high.

The world you're about to enter is filled with adolescent pettiness, pubescent rivalries, the insecurities of 13-year-olds and the false bravado of 14-year-olds.


I didn't have much to add, just the links and to note that it's probably the wisest thing I've ever heard from a commencement speech or Tom Brokaw.

Goe, because more businesses will be ruined by office politics than saved by hard working employees.


Friday, June 10, 2005

 
Jacko
Written by: Dave

Jacko attorneys are said to be celebrating before the case has even been decided.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,159140,00.html

Why wouldn't they? They just got paid like $10 million bucks or something. They've got plenty to celebrate, regardless of how it turns out.

But I am guessing they will win their case. And although I would also guess that Jacko is guilty, I don't think the system will have failed if he gets off. His accusers are some very shady people. And if you engage in shady behavior all your life it's difficult to convince a jury to sentence someone to prison on the basis of your word alone.


 
Los Angeles, Mexico
Written by: Dave

While on my drive home the other day in the city of L.A., I noticed a billboard for a Spanish T.V. news program. The billboard included the typed written words, "Los Angeles, Ca". A red slash was drawn over the "Ca" and replaced by a cursive "Mexico", making the billboard read "Los Angeles, Mexico".

Now this was not grafitti. This was what the billboard was actually designed to say. Well today I noticed that the "Los Angeles, Ca / Mexico" had been blacked out and replaced by the time that the news program aired. I guess someone complained and the station figured it had gone just a little too far. Still, I figure this isn't a good indicator of growing loyalty to the U.S. among California's Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Of course, if Los Angeles actually did become part of Mexico, that station would have a real problem. All their viewers would be emigrating to the U.S.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

 
China Omnipotent
Written by: Goemagog

China continues to prepare for the invasion of yet another neighboring country.

China rebuffs criticism of it's inability to fight a carrier battle group by stealing and deploying Aegis control systems and building a shitload of antiship weapons. The only real hope the world has to avoid China gobbling up all the non-russian parts of asia is if Taiwan and/or Japan have been shopping.

Goe, wonders how one cooks a piston engine.


 
California - the most conservative state in the Union?
Written by: Dave

Some time ago, I promised to explain why California is actually the most conservative state in the Union. True to my word, I will now attempt to do just that.

Before going further though, we need to disregard some things, the first being our present-day definitions of Conservative and Liberal. You’ll notice that I said California was the nation’s most ‘small c’ conservative state. That was an important distinction.

Most of us recognize that conservative and liberal become relative terms when applied across different societies and cultures. So for my definition of conservative, I am going to go back in history to conservatism’s Anglo-Saxon roots, when the notion of a conservative, that is, a Tory, was first formulated.

The original conservatives emerged in 17th and 18th Century England. They mostly consisted of landed gentry who wanted to preserve the social structure of old England. In effect, they wanted to ensure that land remained the primary source of wealth and power, to limit those who could enter into the landed ranks, and to make the lower classes dependent on their largesse.

So what do they have in common with the good citizens of California? Well lately, many California home owners seem to share these same goals.

The real estate boom in California has effectively priced out middle class citizens who don’t already own a home. This isn’t an accident. Local and state politics have created road blocks which effectively make it impossible to keep up housing supply with housing demand. The results would satisfy even the crustiest old 18th Century English Tory; those with land (i.e. homes) grow increasingly wealthy as their property prices skyrocket, and those without land (i.e. homes) must either rent or engage in risky financing schemes to afford a home.

So, you might ask, what have these California “conservatives” done to create this effect? Well, let’s first look at the local level. Any developer that tries to build new housing in California, particularly in L.A. or the Bay Area, faces an incredibly difficult approval process due to opposition from NIMBY’s (i.e., Not In My Back Yarders). These are area residents who adamantly oppose any new development which would in any way affect their neighborhood. They want everything to remain exactly as it is, complaining about everything from increased traffic to longer lines at their local Starbucks (true example). And the worst possible thing these NIMBY’ers can imagine, gosh forbid, is that an apartment building or other high density project be built near their neighborhood of single family homes - because you know what type of people live in those.

The NIMBY’ers have become an incredibly powerful political force in California, and legislation and political decisions reflect this power, much to the detriment of housing supplies.

Adding to the problem are environmentalists who have succeeded in getting stricter and stricter environmental regulations imposed on development. Ironically enough, these environmental standards are now so onerous that often times it is prohibitively difficult even to do urban projects. This is especially ironic since increasing density in urban areas is the best method of reducing development in rural areas.

Lawsuits are another method Californians use to extract wealth from their property. In particular, lawsuits brought by condo owners against condominium developers have gotten so out of control that many architects and contractors refuse to work on any residential projects. The resulting risk of lawsuits drives condo prices even higher as developers price in the cost and hassle of the expected legal action. As a result, condos become unaffordable to even middle class residents.

Meanwhile, continuing their parallels to those 18th Century Tories, many California home owners manage to increase the dependency of the lower classes by supporting legislation that forces developers to build a certain amount of “affordable housing” in every development. As you might guess, developers that are forced to build housing that is sold at below market prices must still make a profit. The result is that they increase the prices of their market rate housing, helping make it impossible for the lower classes to ever acquire any property except through these government mandated affordable housing programs.

-----------

With all that said, I’d have to say I am a moderate where most of these issues are concerned. I believe in the right of residents to oppose new developments which will effect their property values. I understand that some new developments are incongruous with and harmful to their surroundings. I recognize that many condo developers deserve to be sued. And I recognize that environmental safeguards must protect against irresponsible development.

The problem is that California is not behaving moderately, but instead is acting like a raging 18th Century English conservative, or a modern day American Liberal, which in this specific case at least, seems to mean pretty much the same thing.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

 
fleeing tyranny
Written by: Goemagog

Once again, people weigh the pros and cons of living in a socialist state versus driving across the open ocean to the U.S., and decide in favor of driving.

Goe, sees a new reality show... Junkyard Refugees.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

 
Who's really losing the hearts and minds?
Written by: Dave

Wow, CNN actually has a decent reporter in Iraq. Arwa Damon seems to talk to a wide range of Iraqis before writing this article, instead of just hashing out another another article filled with a body count and the repetition of a few phrases like "growing insurgancy" and "spreading chaos".

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/06/06/iraq.ghost.town/index.html

It seems even in the heart of Sunni insurgency, the terrorists are losing the hearts and minds of Iraqis faster than we are.


 
And they say Bush is arrogant..
Written by: Dave

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/06/06/france.clinton.ap/index.html

I really love this article. Bill Clinton explains to Chirac that he shouldn't be too discouraged by the defeat of the EU Constitution, because he faced similar setbacks getting a Constitution approved for Arkansas.

Yes, developing a Constitution for a new superstate that would become the world's largest economy and govern hundreds of millions of people is equivalent to creating a constitution for a small American state of about 2 1/2 million people. No offense to Arkansas, which deserves a great Constitution more than France does, but wouldn't you have to be really full of yourself to equate these two processes?

I would have loved to see Chirac's face.


Monday, June 06, 2005

 
More on Amnesty International
Written by: Beck

Via Reuters:
Despite highly publicized charges of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, the head of the Amnesty International USA said on Sunday the group doesn't "know for sure" that the military is running a "gulag."

Executive Director William Schulz said Amnesty, often cited worldwide for documenting human rights abuses, also did not know whether Secretary Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved severe torture methods such as beatings and starvation.

Schulz recently dubbed Rumsfeld an "apparent high-level architect of torture" in asserting he approved interrogation methods that violated international law.

"It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea," Schulz told "Fox News Sunday."
And on the topic of "violatoins of international law," NRO observes:
Of course, the men held at Guantanamo Bay are not political dissidents. They are captured enemy combatants. Under the laws of war, they can be detained until the conflict, or at least actual hostilities, are concluded. This has been the practice of the United States, and of every other major power in Europe and elsewhere, for centuries. It is not illegal; it is not immoral. In fact, this rule is one of the first and most important humanitarian advances made in warfare. The right to detain is the necessary concomitant of the obligation to give quarter on the battlefield, to actually take prisoners alive.
In other news, I'm going to be unable to post here for at least a week. So play nice everyone.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

 
Some people never learn
Written by: Goemagog

There are some people, such as JadeGold, the moonbats over at DU, and assorted 'progressives' who think Amnesty International was right to call the detention facility at Guantamo Bay 'the gulag of our time'.

They do this because, in part, they are stupid. Mostly they do it because they see it as a shot to destroy our republic and replace it with something more to their liking. They don't want 'religious extremists' in positions of power, authority, or influence, which means shunting over 95 percent of the country's population onto the sidelines of social discourse. This is perfectly acceptable to them, because representation of the people is not one of their priorities. Their primary concern is getting and keeping power for themselves. But I digress.

Insofar as freedoms go, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is far less like a gulag than, say, Camp 22 in North Korea. It is, in fact, less like a gulag than the whole of North Korea. It is less like a gulag than the numerous slave labor camps in China, and detainees at Guantanamo Bay are better treated by our military than most people on this planet are by their own governments, to include all of the Cuban controlled portions of Cuba. Since the detainees are not being required to perform even minor labors, Guantanamo Bay is less like a gulag than most prisons.

Insofar as prisons and prison-states go, it's more like the anti-Zimbabwe.

So why did Amnesty International say it was 'the gulag of our time'?

In part, they're nutless assmunchers, but mostly it's because they hate the United States. We have freedom and prosperity, and that makes the tyrants of the world look bad. And if you've seen pictures of Kim Jong Il, tyrants don't like looking bad even if they have no fashion sense. They've also no sense of perspective, "The sun of the nation and mankind"? Who really believes that? Oh, wait, there's JadeGold, Amnesty International, and the National Black United Front, to name a few.

Amnesty International had previously claimed that Guantanamo Bay was verging on lawlessness. One might suggest that it's just the way Amnesty International runs it's operations, but that would be stupid of one. Such heated rhetoric has never been used against North Korea, but is apparently standard for use against the United States. A sorry state of affairs since the United States has done more for the rights of humans than Amnesty International has ever attempted, and that's just counting Mr. Wallis.

Goe, because Amnesty International and JadeGold apparently think Camp 22 is affiliated with Club Med


Friday, June 03, 2005

 
Another quick one
Written by: Beck

From this:
A former Soviet prisoner who is a well-known human rights activist says comparing Gitmo to a Soviet gulag is off base.

"In Guantanamo Bay, there was a very serious violation of human rights and it's very important to deal with this and to correct it," said Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner who was a prominent member of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet until May 2. "But the comparison of Amnesty International is very typical, unfortunately, for this organization, which has no moral clarity."

Sharansky argued that Amnesty International compromises its work by refusing to differentiate "between democracies where there are sometimes serious violations of human rights and dictatorships where no human rights exist at all."

"This comparison between gulag and Soviet Union and United States of America, erases all these differences," he said. "It makes moral equivalence between these two very different worlds and that's unfortunately very a typical, systematical, mistake of Amnesty International."


 
Quick and Dirty
Written by: Beck

Bush's popularity rating might be bad, but at least he's got Chirac beat by a mile.

Milton Friedman calculates that marijuana legalization would be worth roughly $13.9 billion to the government--slightly more than half coming from saved enforcement spending, the rest coming from taxes.

One of the most thorough take-downs of Paul Krugman I've ever read.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 
You have got to be kidding me.
Written by: Beck

I have an idea. Let's enact a law that Castro wouldn't even touch.

OK, maybe that's going a bit far. But this is one of the most astonishingly awful things I've ever heard come out of Capitol hill.


 
Since we're on the topic
Written by: Beck

I found a California related email waiting for me in my inbox shortly after firing off my most recent California-bashing screed. With the author's permission, I'm reprinting the entire thing here. For any Democrats reading this who wonder why conservatives delight in characterizing you as a bunch of moonbats, this might give you something of a hint as to what we're far too used to dealing with.
Good Lord...Ben [a mutual liberal friend of ours who lives in NYC & who was cc'd on this email], I ran into one of your friends. I was in San Fran last weekend and met a kook leftist in this bar in Little Italy. As it turns out, bars in San Francisco open at 6:30 am because this dude (who claimed he was a Journalist and the former editor of the Miami Herald) was lit up like a Christmas tree.

Anyway, I'm at the bar watching the Secret Service saunter the President of Nicaragua in and out of a book store when this dude turns to me and says I have a touch of a Texas accent. I said I wasfrom Houston and you would have thought I told him to go f**k his mother. He proceeds to tell me that in 1973 that the Texas House of representatives tried to pass legislation to have Texas break away from the union and build a wall around itself. [Actually doesn't sound like too bad of an idea to me --Beck]

After that we got into a harsh conversation about oil prices and how Texas and "my (like he knew who my friends are) rich oil buddies" were screwing California. We then moved to a Halliburton conversation that almost ended in a knife fight.

Fear and loathing on the left coast.
After responding to my friend with something along the lines of, "You can't go wrong with any story that starts out mentioning the President of Nicaragua," and asking him for permission to reprint his email, he responded with this gem:
You might include that because of the secret service blocking the street and the entrance to the bar (I could not leave) I had to consume 3 bloody mary's and two Anchor Steams just to stay sane while the good "editor" bombarded me with his liberal tirade. Because of all this I missed my bus and was forced to walk two blocks through Chinatown on foot. The whole ordeal completely ruined my schedule as well as the day's sobriety.
Yes, California is truly a special place.


 
The dumbest thing I have ever heard this week
Written by: Beck

This is virtually too stupid for words. Naturally, it's happening in California.
The California Assembly is betting that kids learn more with small books.

Lawmakers voted Thursday to ban school districts from purchasing textbooks longer than 200 pages.

The bill, believed to be the first of its kind nationwide, was hailed by supporters as a way to revolutionize education.

Critics lambasted Assembly Bill 756 as silly.
The reason critics lambasted the bill as "silly" is because "the dumbest fucking thing yet to come out of the California legislature" was unprintable. Mind you, I wouldn't bet a dime that the CA government hasn't done something, er, sillier. Nonetheless, you see my point.

And now, to shoot some barrel-dwelling fish:
But Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, a Los Angeles Democrat who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, said critics are thinking too narrowly.

California schools are teaching kids with the same kinds of massive books that were used generations ago, though the world has changed significantly, Goldberg said.
That's right. Before, the world was sufficiently complicated to require large text books. Now days, however, everything in the world is far simpler, typically taking up 198 pages or fewer.
The workplace increasingly demands more than the ability to read Page 435 of some manual.

It requires expertise in using the Internet to research and solve problems, according to Goldberg.
That's right, why learn to read when you can learn to Google? After all, something worth doing is worth doing really half-assed.
"Our textbooks are not going to be able to meet that standard," said Goldberg, a former Compton high school teacher. "I think it's time for us to begin to approach the problem in a different way."
What, by chopping text books into two volumes and selling them separately at inflated prices? Or perhaps learning should be outlawed altogether, as it's fruitless pursuit can be damaging to the self-esteem of morons. No, wait, I have an idea on how to "approach the problem from a different way." Let's start by rounding up every single California politician and/or bureaucrat and shipping them to China (I would say France, but I suspect the French have more common sense), where the only book you need to educate anyone is little and handily color-coded.
AB 756 would force publishers to condense key ideas, basic problems and basic knowledge into 200 pages, then to provide a rich appendix with Web sites where students can go for more information.
Translation Into English: AB 756 would force publishers to dumb-down key concepts, eliminate details, facts, and other relevant information, and turn an instrument of learning into a smallish, easily transported fusion of the concepts behind Cliff's Notes and those -For Dummies guide books.
AB 756 was approved by a vote of 42-28, with most Republicans opposing the measure. It now goes to the Senate.
Why does this not surprise me?
Lawmakers were given no estimates, however, of potential impacts to student backpacks or campus coffers.

Goldberg said the thrust of her bill is learning, not economics.
I'm inclined to believe that it's about neither learning
nor
economics. Unless by "economics" you mean "giving a bunch of money to the text-book publishing industry to publish abridged versions of all their offerings."
"We're talking about a dynamic education system that brings young people into being a part of the learning process," she said.
Always beware of people using the adjective "dynamic." Unless it's a physicist discussing a non-static mechanical system, dynamic is almost exclusively an adjective used by intellectually bankrupt pontificators attempting to sound like they know what they're actually talking about.

Oh, and is Goldberg actually suggesting that, prior to the advent of comic book sized textbooks, students were not part of the learning process? I mean, really, that last sentence would retain precisely the same amount of meaning if instead it were just a string of gibberish.
The Association of American Publishers opposes the bill, saying the arbitrary 200-page limit could force publishers to produce multiple volumes to cover the state's content standards.
This is the really astonishing part. Even the text-book publishers don't support this bill.
One key question, [Michael Kirst, a Stanford education professor and co-director of Policy Analysis for Education] said, is whether a 200-page limit would be equally practical for every subject - from math to social science.
Gee, what a revolutionary notion. Perhaps the best way to teach calculus doesn't actually involve running a Google search. And finally, I leave you with this last bit of idiocy. I'll go ahead and leave it to you, dear reader, to spot the painfully awful flaw with the last sentence.
"(AB 756) says don't give students a predigested version of what U.S. history is, let them explore the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress," Goldberg said.

"It's time for California to be the leader that it always has been."
I think I've discovered the real problem. California's legislators must have been educated... in California.

(Hat tip: Captain's Quarters)


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