Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day Memories
Written by: Beck

My grandfather wanted to go to the dedication of the new World War II memorial in Washington DC. Ultimately, he had to decide against it. His mobility has decreased too much, and he feared the crowds would be unbearable.

Read about the largest and the last WWII soldiers reunion if you like.
The weekend dedication of a World War II memorial drew thousands of veterans on Thursday in what is likely the last major gathering of U.S. soldiers from that conflict before their generation dies out.

Washington's grassy National Mall was filled with veterans complete with cameras, canes, wheelchairs, uniforms and war memorabilia for the four-day reunion, which is expected to attract 800,000 people amid tight security after terror threat warnings.
There's something above and beyond the ordinary level of anger I feel when I hear about terrorist threats against something like this. But that's neither here nor there. Should something happen, the vets who died would be making far from their first sacrifice for this nation.
World War II veterans are today at least 76 years old and about 1,000 die every day, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs estimate. Of the more than 16 million Americans who served in World War II, about 4.4 million were still living in 2003, the department said.
For more info on the WWII Memorial, go here. For the history of Memorial Day, see this. For WWII history, go read a damn book. My personal recommendation would be The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for the European front, and The Pacific War 1941-1945 for the Pacific theater.

For some reason, I'm reminded of "The Last Cowboy Song" by the Highwaymen. And no, I'm not normally a country music fan.

This is the last cowboy song
The end of a hundred year waltz
The voices sound sad as they're singing along
Another piece of America is lost

Have a nice Memorial Day.

Update: I'll be periodically bumping this post to the top of the list all Memorial Day weekend long. So don't necessarily assume, when you see this post, that there isn't anything new below it.

Update: MSNBC has an article on the WWII Memorial dedication.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Written by: Beck

Beer good, condoms bad, prostates ugly.

Here is something I've long suspected to be true. Call it an instinct.
Moderate consumption of beer helped protect the liver from cirrhosis and other diseases, a Spanish researcher said yesterday.
Now all I have to do is work on that whole "moderate" thing, and I'm golden.

The bad news is that condoms cause cancer. Or something along those lines.
Most condoms contained a chemical that causes cancer, German scientists said yesterday.
Lastly, without further comment, this bit of medical news:
Older men whose results for a standard prostate cancer test are "normal" could still have the disease.
Summary: drink some beer and have all the unprotected sex you want, as you're going to die in the end anyway and might as well enjoy yourself while you can. That makes sense, right?

(H/T: Goerge)

For a good cause
Written by: Beck

Those looking for an excellent chance to support our troops in Iraq, DGCI has a suggestion. He offers you a chance to not only help ease the burden to the pocketbooks of the common soldier, but to buttress their morale at the same time. Have a look, tell your friends, and give support wherever you can. At least do SOMETHING other than eat hotdogs and drink beer for Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is Nigh
Written by: Beck

I've been trying to think of something creative to do for Memorial Day. About the best idea I've had thus far has been to post a few of my grandfather's WWII stories. While I may still do that, I find that John of the Castle Argghhh has surpassed anything I could possibly be attempt. I highly recommend it. Highly. I doubt you will find a better Memorial Day tribute this year.

It is about one man who died because he believed in something greater than himself.

Two Words:
Written by: Beck

Squirrel Fishing.

Lessons from Libya
Written by: Beck

More than once at INCITE, I have used Libya as an example of how the War on Terror has yielded benefits. The fact that one of the world's largest and longest-standing state sponsors of terrorism has given up its WMD programs and seemingly desires a return to the peaceful embrace of the commonwealth of nations gives heart to even the most despondant of war critics. Nonetheless, it is too easy to forget--as I have been guilty from time to time--that Libya's authoritarian dictator Gadhafi is a dangerous loony responsible for the deaths of big ol' piles of the innocent. For this reason and others, I'm glad I came across Clowning Glory's stark reminder that Gadhafi, for all his bowing to the realpolitik of Western anti-terrorism, is a Bad Man. It's also easy to forget that this Bad Man rules one of the wealthiest nations in Africa.
Imagine the police surrounding a bank and telling the robber barricaded inside, "Just throw out your weapons; you can keep the money and the hostages!"

It's absurd. In fact, anyone who believes that Gadhafi has seen the light or that anyone in the US or UK is prepared to embrace him as a legitimate leader is as cuckoo as Gadhafi himself.

One thing you can say about Gadhafi with certainty is he is a survivor. Currently, he is isolated, distrusted, unwanted and considered increasingly irrelevant by all the people he pretends to champion: the Libyan people, the Arab people, the African people, and the global Muslim proletariat. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gadhafi’s "third way" is no longer relevant even to the most delusional Anti-Western zealots. No one gives a damn about his egomaniacal, new-age proselytizing, so Gadhafi has been busy trying to reinvent himself without compromising one inch on his number one priority: absolute control of one of Africa's richest nations.
The article is so well written that I was hard pressed not to just cut & paste the whole damn thing. Instead, I highly advise you to go peruse the strikingly informative and entertaining article at its original home. (H/T: Samizdata).

Saturday, May 29, 2004

South Park Becomes Reality Alert #37
Written by: Beck

And you thought the Chicken Fucker episode was one of the unrealistic ones? I mean, what was so unrealistic about it? You had an illiterate police officer, a backwards school system, a Colorado town full of nutcases, and a guy who fucks chickens.

Go read Emporer Misha's take on the episode, as it's much funnier than mine.

More news of the cool: Planets
Written by: Beck

Astronomers have discovered the youngest planet to date in the neighborhood of Taurus 420 light years (insert cannabis joke here) from Earth. The planet is only approximately 1 million years old, and orbits a star much like our own sun. Go read the article, it's full of nifty little factoids about planetary creation. If that's your bag.
"We've seen the building blocks of habitable planets for the first time unambiguously" in stars that will turn out like our sun, said Dan Watson, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester in New York.

And Spitzer uncovered a stellar nursery where at least two developing stars, called protostars, contain the gas and dust needed to form planets. The study suggests up to 300 of the stars in the cluster may be similarly equipped.

The three discoveries are seen as related, all pointing to the possibility that planet formation is common and that even Earth-like planets, which might support life, may not be rare.

When asked how they determined the planet's age, scientists responded, "Simple, we just counted its rings." HAW!

Slow creeping death of Gmail?
Written by: Beck

Privacy experts began making noise about Google's new free email service Gmail virtually the same day it came out. Their fears are various, the primary complaint being that Google reads your mail--both incoming and outgoing. The email scan--intended to allow custom tailoring of targeted ads--occurs via purely automated processes; no human ever sees its content apart from the intended recipient. Still, people are unhappy. Europeans have already said that Google violates their own privacy laws. Now, California has become the first state in the US to propose legislation restricting Google's email reading. Feel free to take a moment to reflect upon the amusing notion that CA should be the state to object to a violation of personal privacy. Then take another moment to chuckle about how the one time they try to get things right, they get them painfully wrong.
The bill by Democratic state Sen. Liz Figueroa would require Gmail to work only in real-time and would bar the service from producing records.

The bill also would bar Gmail form collecting personal information from e-mails and giving any information to third parties.
The bill passed the CA Senate by a 24-8 vote. Are there really only 32 members to the California Senate? I'm just curious here.

At any rate, my opinion on the whole matter (note that my opinion is devoid of any actual legal expertise, and rather is derived from basic principles which I personally hold to be true): there is nothing wrong with what Google & Gmail are doing here. Much as I can publish to INCITE any emails sent to me by readers without their permission, I am free to allow any 3rd parties I choose to read incoming email without the consent of the sender. If the sender has a problem with that, they shouldn't be sending me email in the first place. If the sender doesn't know me well enough to judge whether or not I'd allow others to read it (assume here that most people don't realize that Gmail reads incoming mail, and assume that to so educate the entire population of the email using world would be unrealistic) shouldn't be sending email to strangers in the first place unless they're willing to bear the burden of the risk that I might distribute this email.

I welcome any opinions to the contrary, as I haven't had a good argument in far too long.

News of the cool: Custom Robo
Written by: Beck

It's really all about administering a merciless beat-down on an unsuspecting foe.
From "The Terminator" and "Lost In Space" to "Voltron" and "BattleBots," countless movies, TV shows and video games have relied on one piece of conventional narrative wisdom: Robots are really, really cool.

And it goes without saying that robots are even cooler when you can load them up with ultra-destructive weaponry that you choose yourself, step into a virtual arena, and administer a merciless beat-down on an unsuspecting foe.
Long story short: it's a Nintendo game, and it looks neato.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Evil at home, or why the left wants to nuke Iraq
Written by: Beck

The L.A. Times reports,
In an ABC/Washington Post survey released Monday, 53% of Democrats said the U.S. "should withdraw its military forces from Iraq--even if that means civil order is not restored there."
So basically, half of American Democrats are heartless bastards. And there I was thinking that Republicans were the only ones allowed to behave like heartless bastards. God forbid the NEA go unfunded (presumably that would happen were the president an actual conservative) but allow millions of Iraqis to die in a civil war that wouldn't have occurred but for our initial intervention? Sure, why not... fuck 'm all right? At least that's what half of the Democrats (and all of the Naderites) would have us do.

No really. Think about this. To simply cut & run, NOW, would be just about the worst thing we could possibly do. We might as well save the Iraqis the trouble of slowly slaughtering and starving each other and just nuke the place.

(H/T: Captain's Quarters)

Arrrr, avast you lubbers!
Written by: Beck

Someone forgot to inform Abu Hamza al-Masri

That it isn't talk like a pirate day yet. Oh wait, the hook hand isn't just for show? Well, um... my, what lovely teeth you have.
An 11-count indictment accuses the cleric of providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban in 1999 and 2000 and of plotting with an Islamic group that kidnapped a group of tourists in Yemen in December 1998, Ashcroft said. Three British hostages and one Australian died in a rescue attempt by Yemeni forces.

Ashcroft said the 47-year-old, Egyptian-born cleric -- born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa -- could face a death sentence or life in prison without parole on charges related to the kidnapping. But in the London hearing, British prosecutors said the United States has told Britain it would not seek the death penalty against Abu Hamza.
Ashcroft then added, "We don't need to seek the death penalty, as he'll be a known terrorist residing in an American federal prison--a fate far worse than death."

Will You Miss Me?
Written by: Answerman

I will be attending to important business this weekend and will be unable to share my deep thoughts with all of you. On the upside, perhaps Captain Dave or Speculator will post something.


Kerry spontaneously combusts, reveals cyborg endoskeleton
Written by: Beck

OK, so that's just wishful thinking, but there is a bit of good news out there for those (for instance, myself) who delight in Kerry's misfortunes. He and his campaign have been forced to abandon their plan to delay acceptance of the nomination until well after the Democratic National Convention. (H/T to Captain's Quarters).

My own personal suspicion is that news of the plan was leaked intentionally in an attempt to feel out the political waters. That would explain why the news was released on a Friday, as it could then evaporate into the vacuum of weekend news coverage. Further, they could have assumed (and rightly so) that it would receive relatively little press coverage. Regardless of the campaign's intent, the idea received far more attention than Kerry would like. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that much of this attention can be attributed to the blogosphere. I must've seen close to a dozen posts on different blogs (plus my own thoughts)mercilessly ripping into Kerry's strategy.

It wish there were some way to see a side-to-side comparison of big-media coverage vs. blog reporting on the controversy. Alas, no such thing exists. Either way, Kerry once again looks foolish. Not that this surprises anyone. A brief excerpt for those disinclined to read the original article:
Less than a week after the unorthodox idea became public -- to decidedly mixed reviews -- Kerry buried consideration of the plan as his campaign weighed other options for the continuation of what has been a record-breaking period of fundraising by a Democratic presidential candidate.

Although many Kerry loyalists backed the idea, other Democrats expressed fears that it would create a controversy that might dominate the convention and lead to diminished coverage, particularly by the major television networks.

Asashoryu reigns supreme!
Written by: Beck

It was a close one. After the final round, there was no clear victor yet, and the scrappy maegashira Hokutoriki had a chance at taking the tournament from the veteran yokozuna. In the end, he fell to the sheer experience, skill, and strength of Asashoryu, who took his third tournament in a row.
In the deciding bout, Asashoryu secured an iron grip on his opponent's mawashi even before Hokutoriki was at full stretch from his tachiai crouch. The yokozuna stole a lightening-fast slap to the maegashira's face, before powering into him relentlessly -- shaking him like a rag doll and undoing Hokutoriki's already rattled foundations.

A final surge of force saw Hokutoriki step back out over the bales. Unable to satisfy his appetite for destruction, Asashoryu picked up the defeated maegashira and lifted him even further away from the straw, in a symbolic gesture of victory absolute.
So am I simply fascinated by sumo, or am I at an absolute loss for something original to blog about? I'll let you decide. Money quote:
The massive Kaio hammered the nail into Musoyama's kadoban coffin by staying cool in the face of a powerful onslaught. Kaio appeared to lose the tachiai and was promptly ushered back to the edge, but then simply sidestepped desperate Musoyama to send him out in disgrace.
Gotta love the Japanese.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Things I will never understand
Written by: Beck

This is not satire. Really. It's CNN, and I don't recall them ever being too heavy into satire or, for that matter, humor of any kind.

I will simply enumerate for you the details. After each, I highly encourage you to remind yourself that this is not satire.

1) A 37 year old woman just gave birth to her 15th child.
2) Her first child was born when she was 21, after already being married for 4 years.
3) She's from Arkansas
4) The father's name is Jim Bob Duggar
5) Naturally, he's a former state legislator (I have no idea what that seems "natural", it just does.)
6) She wants to have more
7) Every single child has a name beginning with the letter 'J'
There is Joshua, 16; Jana and John-David, 14; Jill, 13; Jessa, 11; Jinger, 10; Joseph, 9; Josiah, 7; Joy-Anna, 6; Jeremiah and Jedidiah, 5; Jason, 4; James, 2; and Justin, 1.
Not satire. Honest to god. All true.

If I might make a suggestion
Written by: Beck

I'll admit it: I'm quite distressed over my co-blogger Answerman's recent announcement that he would sooner vote for Ralph Nader than George Bush. I mean, if an arch-conservative like Answerman can't bear to vote for Bush, surely there must be a better 3rd way than Nader's odd mixture of anti-corporate environmentalist socialist nuttery. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to provide (for everyone, not just my erstwhile associate) the alternative to voting Republican or Democrat, Nader or Libertarian:

The Guns & Dope Party

To briefly summarize (and to gratuitously pilfer from their web site), the G&D Party platform consists of:

  1. Guns for those who want them, no guns forced on those who don't want them (pacifists, Quakers etc.)

  2. Drugs for those who want them, no drugs forced on those who don't want them (Christian Scientists etc.)

  3. An end to Tsarism and a return to constitutional democracy

  4. Equal rights for ostriches

Furthermore, the G&D Party intends to fire one third of Congress, selected at random, and replace them with ostriches. Frankly, I can't think of a better way to simultaneously improve the quality of governance coming out of Washington and decrease the amount of shit routinely deposited in the halls of the House and the Senate. Plus, you could seriously ramp up the festivities during the White House lawn Easter egg hunt by giving all the children free ostrich rides. I'm sure those noble birds legislators would have no compunctions of lending some public-minded support to such a fine institution.

Guns & Dope Party Official Motto: Official motto: "Like what you like, enjoy what you enjoy, don't be afraid to make slurping sounds, and don't take crap from anybody"

"But," you ask, "Who is running for president on the Guns & Dope ticket?" I'm glad you asked. Their candidate is Everybody. To steal one last bit from their website:

-- Well, at least everybody who feels ready for the responsibility of self-government. Those who still need a Big Daddy or a Big Momma to discipline and dominate them should vote for whatever fuhrer or savior they like best.
If you want self-government don't vote for the Two Lying Bastards of the Democan and Republicrat parties... or for any minority party that also wants to govern you...

Sounds like a damn fine idea to me.

23 Skidoo
Written by: Beck

Oh god. This is too much fun. A poll where, among other things, you can choose to simply fill-in-the-blank, after which your answer becomes an option all future comers can pick. No, you're not going crazy, there actually wasn't a verb in that sentence.

Why waste any more time? I present to you:

What's up with Michael Moore?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A little house keeping
Written by: Beck

For those reaching this site in search of certain gory video footage involving an American and some men wearing hoods, the name of the American in question is Nick BERG. That's B-E-R-G. Not BECK. Ordinarily I wouldn't care, but it's surprisingly disturbing when you go to check your referrer stats for the month, and the three most popular search phrases getting you hits are:
  1. beck beheading video
  2. beck beheading
  3. beheading beck

Last I checked, my head was still firmly attached to my neck, and I'd rather like to keep it that way. Rest assured, however, should someone ever decide to cut off my head, you'll hear about it here first. Complete with pictures, footage, and a soundtrack by Hoobastank.

Update: to the person searching for the phrase "transsexuals in spain postop" you've come to the right place.

Note to self:
Written by: Beck

Beer and licorice diet bad for health. Where would we be without the Houston Chronicle? (Link credit to today's Best of the Web)

Also in the news, punching yourself in the face hurts, ditto for punching yourself in the nads, and you'll get along much better with your spouse if you try to avoid setting her on fire. Also, be sure to remember that kicking small animals is mean, drink plenty of fluids to avoid death, and Michael Moore is a lying fat sack of suet. Finally in the news, Answerman has taken leave of his senses, Beck is a huge asshole, and Speculator & Capt. Dave have run off to Massachusetts and eloped. At least that's what I'm guessing.

Endgame Watch
Written by: Beck

Now that Bush has decided to ask the UN for approval for future US actions in Iraq, keep a sharp eye open for the early indicators of the gradual disintegration that is certain to follow. It's only been one day since Bush's speech outlining our new "strategy" going beyond the scheduled June 30 hand over of sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government, and already the first signs of the impending clusterfuck are making themselves heard.
Bush sought French backing for the transfer Tuesday in a phone call with President Jacques Chirac, agreeing that the proposed resolution would need "further adjustments" if it is to win council support.

In Washington, Bush told reporters there will be a "complete and real transfer of sovereignty" from the U.S.-led occupation to an interim Iraqi government, and he said Chirac shares the U.S. goal of "a free and stable and peaceful Iraq."
Any and all aspiring world leaders out there, go ahead and write this down: you know that you have failed as a leader any time you find yourself seeking French backing for something you're perfectly capable of doing by yourself.
France, one of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, has said the resolution should have stronger language, making clear the interim government has full sovereignty.

That definition should include the right to veto military operations by the U.S.-led multinational force that will remain in Iraq after the hand over, the French said.
That's right, France wants someone, for the first time since operations began, to have a veto over US actions. Why on earth could they possibly want that, you ask? So they can cozy up to the new regime and start calling the shots from Paris perhaps? No, I'm sure that never crossed their minds. Naturally, it wont ever cross Bush's mind either. So what does the White House think of the French position?
But the White House has said it prefers to spell out a military relationship with the interim Iraqi government in an exchange of letters with that government rather than in the resolution.
Translation: we're going to knuckle under to French demands so that we can look like good guys in front of the UN for the first time in two years, but not before making a few futile, silly gestures in which our policy proposal is "an exchange of letters."

Now I know what you must be asking yourself. "Self," you're asking, "That's all well and good about how we're about to publicly fellate France, but how about Russia? Do we get to bend to their wishes too? That'd be even better, what with how they were our enemies during the cold war and currently their economy makes the third world look down right stable." Excellent question!
A broadly worded statement by the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said the new resolution "should answer the real concerns of Iraqi society," but offered few specifics on what Moscow wants to see included.

The statement called for "the swiftest reinstitution of Iraq's sovereignty and an end to foreign occupation," and said Iraq should be guaranteed control over its natural resources and its security forces.

A Russian diplomat told the news agency Interfax that the plan for the United States to continue leading coalition forces in Iraq "does not cause a strong allergy in Moscow."
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we don't cause a strong allergy. We're more like a mild sinus head ache. We should replace E Pluribus Unum with whatever the Latin translation is for, "We're Better Than Anaphylactic Shock."

A Curveball
Written by: Answerman

First, some qualifications: (1) I have only begun thinking this way in the last day or so; (2) my motives are somewhat complex, and I really don't want to bore any of you by getting into them here; (3) I will make sure this is not a result of a malarial fever or anything along those lines before updating you all on this issue in the future; and (4) Russell Kirk voted once for Norman Thomas and once for Eugene McCarthy.

All that said, I give you this: If the 2004 presidential election were held today, I would vote for Ralph Nader for President of the United States.

Isn't there some Johnny Cash song...
Written by: Beck

...about watching a good man die?

So anyway, I just read an article which I really want to shred to pieces. It just seems to call to me, demanding a thorough defenestration (I love that word, so piss off if you don't like my usage). The thing is, though, the author absolutely does not deserve it. I've never even heard of the guy. He's just another market pundit writing another puff piece on stock markets because, well, he's got to put food on the table somehow, and morons love reading about things like "3 Stock Myths Debunked".

It can't possibly be easy to make a career out of being a market pundit. First of all, the market news niche is relatively small, and while everyone with two grand and an online trading account to play with fancies himself some sort of market whiz just waiting to emerge, most people can't stand listening to stories about Alan Greenspan for all that long. Second, market news, more than any other sort of news, is of the factual variety. Very high signal:noise ratio. The need for pundits just isn't there to the extent it is in, say, sports, where the pundits bring the dry bone facts to life. Finally, there's already an in-built talking-head mechanism for market news in the form of the small army of hundreds of Wall Street analysts. What's more, those analysts know exactly what they're talking about. So how does an aspiring market pundit make it happen? By writing crap for the likes of MSN Money.

Many of the problems in "Time to shatter these 3 market myths" seem to be a failure to understand how various concepts relate to each other, and I don't know if it's because the writer is out of his depth, because he's lazy, or because he felt compelled to dumb things down for his audience. At any rate, I've written so much already, I'll be brief from here. If you want greater depth, read the rest, figure it out for yourself, or leave a comment.

Myth No. 1: High P/E stocks are riskier than low P/E stocks

Many market mavens, supported by a flood of academic research findings, tell us that portfolios made up of stocks with low price-to-earnings ratios, or P/Es, outperform high P/E portfolios. Even the few who don't go along still advise that when something goes wrong, high P/E stocks will fall further than low P/E stocks.

Yet, at least for me, applying those axioms to specific stocks doesn't work. If anything, high P/E stocks outperform low P/E stocks.
Well, there's nothing factually with what he's said, the problem is that there's no real myth here. There's the fact that high P/E stocks are more volatile than low P/E stocks. I don't know how Mr. Domash defines risk, but most academics agree that it is intrinsically linked to volatility. But that's not the big problem with this "Myth". The big problem is that Domash appears (if you read on in the original article) to be launching into a discussion not so much of risk and P/E ratios, but rather, he's launching into a discussion of the differencee between value stocks and growth stocks. Regardless, he doesn't seem to have much of a point at all.

Myth No. 2: Beta predicts risk and returns

We hear endlessly that Beta predicts the risk, and possibly the future performance of a stock, mutual fund or whatever.
Please, don't read any further into No. 2. His entire point is that stock betas aren't correlated to performance. Further he makes the tired old argument that historicals don't predict future performance. No one thinks they do. Historicals DO, however, give you an insight into the underlying volatility of a particular stock.
Myth No. 3: High short interest helps stock prices
That was a myth? Since when? Under the right circumstances, a high short interest can produce an amusing event known as a short-squeeze. Under ordinary circumstances, however, high short interest is indicative that a stock is fucked. Proper fucked. Who doesn't think this?

The final bit I'll quote for you is just to give you a more visceral sympathy for how painful it must be to write stuff like this. I'll bet he cried while typing this.
If these three adages were true, we could all quit our day jobs and get rich. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Stocks move up when the market realizes that their fundamental outlook is improving and vice versa. There are no shortcuts. The more you understand your stock's business and its future prospects, the better you'll do.

Update: Hucklebuck informs me that the song I was thinking of was "Folsom Prison Blues," which contains the fantastic line, "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."

Can't we all just get along?
Written by: Beck

Japanese-Korean enmity goes back a LONG way. Specificially, it goes back to the end of the 16th century when the warlord Hideyoshi, in a rather misguided attempt to conquer the world, launched an unsuccessful invasion of the peninsula. Then when things like this happen, it just gets bad all over again.
TSUSHIMA, Nagasaki -- A Japan Coast Guard patrol boat fired 20 tear gas grenades at a South Korean fishing boat Monday after spotting the boat operating illegally within Japan's exclusive economic zone, it has been learned.

Japan Coast Guard officials said a patrol boat ordered the conger eel fishing vessel to stop after it was spotted about 40 kilometers west of Tsushima at around 6:45 a.m. When the boat ignored the command and fled, the patrol boat opened fire with 20 tear gas grenades.
That's right, I read the Mainichi Shimbun. Cuz' INCITE readers should expect nothing but the best.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Quote for the day (night?)
Written by: Beck

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."
-- George Washington

I'm not entirely sure when it happened, but at some point the American Republic collectively dropped its guard and allowed roughly 1,000 "irresponsible" people to completely take over. And while you can rant and rave all you like (I know I do--why the hell else do you think I have a blog?), the sad fact of the matter is that it's too late to change anything. Not that I intend to ever stop ranting.

Things I really wish I had said/thought of first, Vol I.
Written by: Beck

JUNE 7th, 1944

Opposition in Congress calls for a complete withdrawal from Europe after what they call "a miserable failure" on D-Day.

10,249 soldiers have been lost since Eisenhower declared "mission accomplished" after the landings in Europe yesterday.

Reports that German soldiers have been forced to strip naked and wear ladies' underwear on their heads while in the custody of the Allies have led to the SHAEF issuing orders that German prisoners of war are, under no circumstances, to be deprived of their uniforms, personal effects or sidearms.
From Emperor Misha (there's more, go read it).

Things that I can't get away with saying, Vol IV.
Written by: Beck

From Rambling's Journal, always a great source for sanity:

Viacom rejected the billboards when presented to them earlier this year, saying the campaign did not meet their company standards. Translation: They could see that this was meant as pure race-baiting.

A different billboard company, Waitt, placed the billboard near 14th Street and Troost Avenue in Kansas City. Presently, it is the only one in the state of Missouri.

"Even after they were rejected by one of the state's largest advertisers, Democrats continued to press forward with a campaign that targets African-Americans in a hateful and vile manner," said Ann Wagner, chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party.
Anything to keep blacks on the intellectual and ideologocial plantation. Of course, it also serves to continue the vilification of conservatives, black and otherwise, not only in Missouri, but across the nation.
Go read the entire thing.

In the time of chimpanzees...
Written by: Beck

Here's the headline we've all been waiting for:

U.S. seeks U.N. approval of multinational force in Iraq

If I'm not mistaken, this meets pretty much all of the demands of the anti-war left as personified by the ever-so realistic automaton John Kerry (it's amazing what they can do with robotics these days, ain't it?) The only thing they could object to is that the force would be US led. Of course, someone has to lead it, and it doesn't take a 2nd grade education to figure out that the US is the natural choice to take command, what with how we A) have the most troops, B) have been there from the beginning, and C) started all this shit in the first place. Nonetheless, I'm sure there'll be plenty of objections. The only true question remaining is whether the objections will be fiercest from our own home-grown left, or from across the Atlantic.

Wait, wait, I'm sorry, I've made a mistake. For a second there, I was operating under the assumption that there's actually some sort of rational framework under which these people (i.e. people who don't think like I do) operate, make decisions, and so on. The real truth of the matter is that they want us to fail, and are willing to say whatever it takes to encourage said failure without at the same time overtly giving away their true goal.

There's no way this resolution makes it past the security council. They can't afford to allow this resolution to succeed.

On a related theme, but slightly different note, you know what I'm really fucking sick of hearing? Well I'll tell ya. It's anytime some pretentious prick says, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Oh really? I don't think I really need to explain this one, but if anyone would like a more detailed breakdown, feel free to drop me a line.

Fountainhead becomes reality alert
Written by: Beck

No government institution would ever dream of deliberately spending more money for less return, and that's especially true for instances when the reason to spend more money is Art. Yeah, I can find about four things wrong with that previous sentence as well, and I don't mean the syntax either. Let's start anew, shall we?

The French are idiots. There we go, much firmer footing.
Officials closed the terminal to passengers Sunday shortly after its roof collapsed, but rescue workers had remained, clearing rubble and assessing safety. Airport authority officials say police evacuated the building as a precaution and will assess the situation later.

Earlier, officials said they had retrieved four bodies from the rubble and lowered the death toll from the five announced Sunday. All the victims are believed to be foreign nationals who were passing through the terminal, an architectural showpiece that was opened 11 months ago at a cost of $900 million...

French officials have ruled out terrorism, but there is no word yet on what caused the collapse. President Jacques Chirac has ordered a full investigation.
Oh! Me! Me! Call on me! I have a suggestion. Maybe things went wrong when sound engineering principles went out the window in the name of creating "an architectural showpiece."

(Link credit to JeffG.)

And while we're on the subject of the French and ways in which they suck, the beautiful people at the Cannes film festival weren't satisfied with a 20 minute long standing ovation of Preparation H Fahrenheit 9/11. No, they felt compelled to give Moore the Palme D'Or Best Film award as well.

Not that I really had any respect for France left, but imagine for a second that I did. Yes, yes, hard to imagine, I know, just try. Got it? OK, I just lost that last bit of respect.

(Link credit to Merde in France.)

Media Blackout on Economic News From the Perspective of the SNL Cowbell Sketch (Assuming the Media Goes By the Name "Gene")
Written by: Beck

Come on Gene. Don't blow this for us Gene. Quit being so selfish Gene.

Just ask Ace.

Cuz ya gotta have more cowbell.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Friends don't let friends blog drunk
Written by: Beck


Conversations with the Almighty, Vol I.
Written by: Beck

Are you sure about this, Almighty? I mean, I have to imagine you've got relatively thin skin, what with all I've heard about hellfire and damnation and whatnot. You're sure? No hard feelings?

All right, sure, you may owe me one after this past evening, but still, you're the almighty and all.

OK, so you're saying I'm going to lose my audience if I don't have anything pertinent to say. Frankly, I've got a wagonload of pertinent things. They're just not all that unique. Rather mundane if you want to be perfectly honest. True, it IS a weekend, and no one, from the Instapundit on down, has anything especially, well, special, to say. I guess I SHOULD feel free to use up everyone else's allotment of commas. I never thought of things that way. I really haven't.

Sorry, was that too obvious a Salinger impersonation? Yeah, I suppose I shouldn't go there, what with how I can't stand Caufield, no matter how many times I re-read him. Greatest literary character whatever, I still can't stand the fuck. Whiner. But I see your point. If I can enjoy Humbert without strictly endorsing him, I can cauterize Caufield without criticizing him. Or some such.

Some substance for those who can't, er, hold their horses. Yeah, baby, yeah.

Rachel Lucas, who is brilliant, points me to an extraordinarily amusing article about how the anti-second amendment lobby is populated by morons. And losing. I suppose that's the real key. Them losing. 'Cuz I really friggin' hate them, pardon my French. Further, it turns out that the French are even more fucking dumb than I thought. What's that? Yeah, God, I realize I should devote more effort to that story. And Merde in France deserves some credit for pointing the story out. But I hate Michael Moore so fucking much, I can't bring myself to devote any additional commentary to him, to say nothing of the French. I'm sure you'll understand, God. I mean... Geez. Look how fucking fat he is. And stupid. Don't forget the stupid bit. Not that you would, big G.

There are far better things to read out there, we fully recognize that in our person/tense/subject/object/genre migrating narrative. BUT, we also recognize that we're owed something after all that effort we put out tonight. I mean, we didn't make asses of ourselves at any point, we're pretty sure, and we could have hooked up with her, honest we could've, but... wait, am I derailing? I hate it when I derail. Happens all the freaking time. It frequently results in over use of words like "derail", not to mention phrases like "Jesus H. Tits." We learned that one from Speculator. This first person plural shit, however, we picked up on our own.

Alright, you've made it this far, and you've had far beyond fair warning. I've even gone so far as to edit out all the typos involving hitting number keys. What in hell more do you want?

The real question on all of your minds, (according to the Meyers-Briggs folks, this shit is right up my alley), is, "Why is this bastard using so many commas?" The answer, naturally, is that I've finally succumbed to the wiles of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. (Yes, I typed that URL in at random, and it turns out, quite naturally, that they're both A) recruiting, and B) employ the omnipotent folks at Blogads). Yes, I realize that Almighty. Blogads are the Devil. Yeah. Gotcha. Girls too. M'Kay. You ready to move on for Christ's sake? Oh right. Sorry 'bout that one.

But you know what really scares me? The fact that most Americans are nowhere near sufficiently prepared for Zombie attacks. Think about it--when your chain saw of choice runs out of fuel, where in hell are you going to go? I mean, I already have several alternate sources of chainsaw fuel AND engine lubricant worked out. That doesn't do anything to protect the likes of you, or say, Michael Moore. Michael Moore is going to be at the mercy of dozens of hungry chainsaw wielding survivalists. Think about it. It ain't gonna be pretty, I tell you what.

Hell, I've lost the thread of things again, haven't I? I seem to recall this being a conversation with some higher power or other. And said higher power has nothing to do with Arizona Iced Tea, so this clearly can't be a derailment of holy origin.

Why was it, again, that I felt the need to complicate matters for myself Almighty? Oh yeah, she was fat. Granted, she was on board until... what's that? Not the right venue? My apologies. Hey, wait one fucking second! This is my venue, not yours Mr. Almighty. If she wasn't comfortable with scuba diving in the first place, she shouldn't have contrived to get me alone, to say nothing of the perils inherent in chancing Highway 59 while under the influence of the eschaton. And I most certainly am under said influence. Among other things.

Clearly, Almighty, you're presuming I'm either wrapping things up, or I'm anticipating dropping dead of a lightening bolt. One of the two must be the case, and last time I checked, I'm still not doing the electric slide. So what's wrong with me you ask? Godamnit, how often do you piss away a lay-up via the inexpedient expedient of honesty? Really? Well hot damn, ya learned me something.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Saying hello to the troops
Written by: Beck

I was rooting through my site statistics trying to figure out who in hell was actually up this late (well, other than myself), and I came across something rather interesting. One of the visiting domains is AF.MIL, which I presume is the air force, and the time zone of one of the visitors seems to line up pretty much with Afghanistan. So what I'm wondering is if we have a military reader stationed over in Central Asia. Regardless, I think it's pretty neat. Keep up the good work, whoever you are.

Written by: Beck

Yes, I'm talking about John Kerry and his latest stunt. The long and the short of it: Kerry is thinking of postponing acceptance of the Democratic nomination until after the Democratic convention. The reason:
Under federal campaign rules, once a candidate accepts the party nomination, the campaign is limited to spending around $75 million.

The Republican convention is five weeks later than the Democratic convention, meaning Kerry's $75 million would start being drained more than a month earlier than Bush's.
Fair enough. The Bush campaign, naturally, is calling out Kerry for behaving like an assclown:
"Only John Kerry could be for a nominating convention, but be against the nomination," Ken Mehlman, the Bush-Cheney campaign manager, said in a written statement. "This is just the latest example of John Kerry's belief that the rules are for other people, not for him."
Which is also entirely true. Here comes the real assclown bit:
"Karl Rove and his political army strategically selected the latest convention in American political history in order to stack the deck against Democrats, who would be forced to survive on public money for five additional weeks while the GOP continued to spend their special-interest war chest," the source said, referring to a top Bush adviser.
That's right. This is all the hated and feared Karl Rove's fault. There are quite a number of mainstream Democrats out there who hate Rove and don't even know what it is exactly he does (a relative of mine is one of them). Next you tote out the scary-scary talk with the "political army" bit. Pardon? How is the Bush political machine any different from the Kerry machine? Bush's are somehow a political army while, what, Kerry's is a Rotary Club meeting? And we haven't even gotten to the substantive bit yet.

The Dems criticize the GOP for playing politics by picking a late convention. Is this to suggest that the Democrats didn't deliberately time their own convention when they did? I mean, what, did the Democrats do the democratic thing and randomly pick a date out of a hat? Please, enough with the bullshit. They had their strategic reasons for picking a date, and the Republicans had theirs. Whatever gain Republicans reap by having a late convention they give up in whatever advantages the Dems accrue via their early convention. Kerry, naturally, wants to have his cake and eat it too (though he'd better keep Michael Moore away from Boston this summer if he wants any cake at all). Somehow, Kerry pulls off this switch-a-roo via the expedient of blaming the Republicans for not playing fair. Either the man is insane, or he's a genius. Actually, my guess is he just sort of falls ass-backwards into this stuff and then treads water as best he can.

Naturally, Kerry doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to actually declare a path of action. Instead he floats an idea that's "under consideration", makes a point of stressing that it's just one of many ideas being considered, and then gets mad at anyone accusing him of "playing politics" (and what else, exactly, are politicians expected to do?)
Democratic party sources stressed that delaying the acceptance of the nomination is just one thing that the Kerry campaign is considering. But they made clear the party is committed to finding a way to maximize the amount of money Kerry and the Democratic Party have available to go against Bush.

Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said other options being examined include looking at how state and local parties -- as well as the Democratic National Committee -- might help the Kerry campaign.
That's the best you could come up with for "other options"? OK, if you're not already looking at how state and local parties can help, regardless of how you time your nomination acceptance, your entire election campaign staff should be fired. Assuming that his staff isn't composed entirely of cerebral palsy sufferers, one must conclude that they are in fact simply full of shit. Gotta love this country.

Friday, May 21, 2004

The reasons why I love trading
Written by: Beck

1) People are idiots
2) Idiots are entirely predictable.

The evidence: an expert witness who testified against Martha Stewart has been indicted for two counts of perjury. Result? Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO) jumped 20%, then came right back off as people realized that it didn't make a lick of difference. First of all, MSO has already canned their flagship TV show. Second of all, Martha has been fired from the company. Yet this is how people react.

Hit the bid, ladies and gentlemen. Hit the bid.

Update: You always know when a market is ripe for suckers when the mainstream media jumps onto the hype and then gets half their facts wrong. I wonder how many amateur player longs got stopped out by randomly chosen limit offers, wet themselves with excitement, and bought right back in at the top. I could go on, but I have a hunch my audience has already deserted me.

At the Peak?
Written by: Answerman

This should be the political peak of American conservatism. For the first time since the 1920s, the Republican Party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress. In exchange for all the sacrifices to political expediency, and all the partisan loyalty to the Republicans, that conservatives have given over the years, we were to be rewarded, for the first time, with a truly conservative government.

And with what, in fact, have we been rewarded? Pure, unaltered, stinky, squishy, heaping mounds of shit. A federal spending orgy the likes of which Democrats can only dream of. Open borders through which hordes of people dedicated to the destruction of this country stream on a daily basis. The right war, but for the wrong reason -- the Trotskyite dream of prancing around the world "spreading democracy." What nonsense. What disappointment.

Conservatives have sacrificed much to the political gods over the past few generations. We have put aside our dislike of ideology and we have focused much more on partisan political advantage than any true conservative, in his heart, truly finds tasteful. And it has been a grave error. As cultural and civic institutions, along with the social and moral order, have died neglected all around us, we have focused like a laser-beam (and, incidentally, like good liberals) on the political order as our only chance for a saving grace. And as we should have expected, we have failed. Perhaps this is the time for conservatives to re-think their marriage of convenience with the Republican Party, to re-think their focus on politics to the exclusion of so much else that is important. Society cannot be restored from the top down by politics. We have tried that, and look at the result.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Because I can
Written by: Beck

I have neither the time nor the inclination today to provide anything even close to quality posting, but I also abhor the idea of having a weekday go by without a post. Such is the obsession of bloggers. Instead, and assuming none of my co-bloggers are going to chime in at any point today, I leave you with this feel-good happy happy fun-time picture:

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Sign me up for a hundred
Written by: Beck

Rachel Lucas has launched a new enterprise.

Go to her site to see an enlarged version of the image.

Things that I can't get away with saying, Vol III.
Written by: Beck

This time, from Bill Cosby, at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education:
"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he declared. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' . . .

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he exclaimed. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' . . . And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. . . . Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

The Post's Hamil Harris reports that Cosby also turned his wrath to "the incarcerated," saying: "These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"
Link credit to Ramblings' Journal.

The Communication Gap
Written by: Answerman

I am sick and tired of pseudo-right-wing-populists and Republican hacks pretending as if President Bush's glaring inarticulateness is some sort of virtue. As if making up words and being unable to communicate points simply and clearly somehow makes a privileged oil heir "connected" to the common man. The fact is that Bush's inability to communicate our strategy in Iraq, both to the American public and the international community, is harming the chances of that strategy succeeding. Andrew Sullivan nails it:
The president has said nothing cogent about Karbala; nothing apposite about al Sadr; nothing specific about what our strategy is in Falluja. Events transpire and are interpreted by critics and the anti-war media and by everyone on the planet but the president. All the president says is a broad and crude reiteration of valid but superfluous boilerplate. This is not war-leadership; it's the abdication of war-leadership.

It is a sad state of affairs in America that this president is the best leader "conservatives" can produce. But he is what he is, and the alternative this November is a disaster. That said, the administration MUST find a way to communicate its message at this critical time for our national security.

Does life need training wheels?
Written by: Beck

It would seem that some people (by which I mean morons) need a $500 piece of voluntary dental work to keep themselves from stuffing their pie holes too quickly.
An Atlanta company plans to begin selling a dental device that fits in your mouth and forces you to take smaller bites.

It could help you lose weight -- as long as you actually use it when you eat. The gadget isn't permanently attached, so you can leave it out and wolf down big bites anytime you want...

The company's chief executive says he lost 14 pounds simply by wearing it off and on over five months.

"Many people today ... eat so quickly their stomach doesn't have a chance to get (a) message to the brain" to stop eating, said CEO William Longley. "This helps slow you down, so you feel satisfied on less food."
I've heard of dogs that are too dumb to know when to stop eating, but I didn't realize that humans other than Michael Moore suffered from the same stupefying problem.

The True Meaning of Liberalism
Written by: Answerman

I have lately been a vocal opponent of what I call the "wrong-turn" school of American conservatism, according to which everything was going great in this wonderful propositional nation of ours, until some horrible political development occurred that set us on the path to the modern nihilistic leftism now surrounding us. The "wrong-turners" would have us believe that, if we could only turn back the clock on the 1960s, or the New Deal, or the Progressive Era, or whatever particular horrible political development they pick, then we'd be back on track.

Believers in this school of thought are classical liberals who mistakenly call themselves conservatives. They think that freedom is the ultimate value, they believe in abstract utopian notions such as equality (admittedly qualified as "equality of opportunity"), and they are extraordinarily ideological. They are best represented in the modern political debate by the neocons, but many so-called "movement conservatives," such as the folks over at National Review, fit the bill as well. Obviously, these are not the beliefs of a true conservative, who refuses to elevate an abstract notion of freedom above the social and moral order, who rejects elusive and destructive equality, and who is informed by a sense of history and an understanding of human nature rather than by dogma.

"Wrong-turn" conservatives fail to grasp a key insight -- most of the nihilistic leftism by which we are surrounded in 2004 is not an overreaction to, a perversion of, or a betrayal of classical liberalism circa 1850; it is a NECESSARY and LOGICAL consequence of the hopelessly utopian, soulless, and therefore tremendously destructive classical liberal philosophy. Lawrence Auster (who, at a personal level, is a piece of shit to whom I refuse to link), makes just this point in the specific context of the homosexual "marriage" issue:

It has always seemed to many conservative critics (1) that the demand for gay marriage is excessive and unnecessary (since homosexuals are already protected in their individual rights), and (2) that therefore the attacks on critics of homosexual marriage as anti-gay bigots are absurdly overblown. But since, as Gallagher points out, the institution of marriage is not merely private but public and normative, it follows that to exclude single-sex couples from that institution is to treat them unequally with regard to a fundamental value, and constitutes horrible discrimination.
As with so many other liberal phenomena such as political correctness, it turns out that the demand for gay marriage and the demonization of its opponents are not, as they initially appear to be, an irrational excess of liberalism; they are a logical and necessary outcome of liberalism. A consistent believer in equality must support gay marriage as a fundamental right. Which further suggests that in the long run gay marriage can only be effectively opposed by those who are prepared to challenge liberalism at the most basic level.

"Wrong-turn" conservatives are guilty of a superficial analysis of the classical liberal tenets to which they cling so desperately. They believe in empty and abstract propositions that seem so rational when bandied about debating societies in a very general manner, but which have resulted in horrendous death and mayhem when applied in the real world. Classical liberalism was not defeated or perverted by nihilistic leftism; rather, nihilistic leftism is its natural heir.

Call in the black helicopters...
Written by: Beck

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has been revealed by one of its perpetrators. Turns out Hillary was right all along.
We murdered Vince Foster, just to watch him die. And so we could blame Hillary.

Udday was gunned down by the capitalist forces of globalization. His hands were in the air, his fingers pleading--"Peace". He knew the cure for cancer, so they couldn't let him live. There were panties on his head.

Nick Berg is on a secret tropical island, with his Helliburton pension, golfing with Jack Kennedy and sharing peanut butter and bacon sandwiches with Elvis. Yucking it up with Danny Pearl. There's a greenish glass jar in the entertainment center, beside the big screen TV. Inside, a Roswell alien floats gently, gently, upside down. A pallid little creature bobbing in a lava lamp. Some sick bastard has slapped a decal on it; "Don't Mess With Texas".
Man, talk about egg on my face. All this time I thought it was just Liberal hysteria.

Randy Johnson at 40
Written by: Beck

I've expressed my opinion of Randy Johnson before, but I have to say, I am impressed. Not many people can remain competitive in professional sports at the age of 40, let alone achieve one of sport's rarest accomplishments: a perfect game.
Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, retiring all 27 hitters to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Tuesday night...

It was the 17th perfect game in major league history, the 15th since the modern era began in 1900 and the first since the New York Yankees' David Cone against Montreal on July 18, 1999.
He had previously thrown a no hitter 14 years ago, but he had been far from perfect then, allowing 6 walks. This time, the opposing team didn't even come close. Only one batter even got three balls into the count.

All I want for Christmas...
Written by: Beck

You can buy the damndest things over the internet these days.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Your Clue has Left the Building
Written by: Beck

How does this make any sense?
Transsexuals were cleared Monday to compete in the Olympics for the first time.

Under a proposal approved by the IOC executive board, athletes who have undergone sex-change surgery will be eligible for the Olympics if their new gender has been legally recognized and they have gone through a minimum two-year period of postoperative hormone therapy...

The decision, which covers both male-to-female and female-to-male cases, goes into effect starting with the Athens Olympics in August.
The IOC at least acknowledges that male-to-female transsexuals will have an advantage, but dismiss the point entirely via the asinine conclusion that 2 years of post-op hormone therapy wipes out the advantage.
Men have higher levels of testosterone and greater muscle-to-fat ratio and heart and lung capacity. However, doctors say, testosterone levels and muscle mass drop after hormone therapy and sex-change surgery.
I assume I don't need to explain the flaws & problems with this line of reasoning?

Perhaps I should just relax and be amused. After all, this policy change results in the feel-your-pain ultra-sensitivity crowd potentially alienating one of their key support groups.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Written by: Answerman

Check out this piece. It defines and critiques what has become of the so-called "conservative" movement in the United States. Brilliant.

Who is John Kerry?
Written by: Beck

"John Kerry: A man who has chaired a lot of committees."

Gotta love the Onion.

But It Could Be Worse.....
Written by: Answerman

"John Kerry may say one thing and another, but no matter how the topgallants break in the Democratic Party, its ideological keel is a leaden and unthinking pacifism, a pretentious and illogical deference to all things European, and the unhinged belief that America by its very nature transforms every aspect of its self-defense into an aggression that justifies the offense against which it is defending itself. After the enemy has attacked our shipping, embassies, aviation, capital, government and largest city, and after he has slit the throats of defenseless stewardesses, and crushed and immolated three thousand unwary men, women, and children, those who wonder what we did wrong are not likely to offer a spirited defense.
Their allergy to military expenditure assures that, unlike Republicans, who provided just enough to accomplish an arrogant plan if nothing went wrong, they would not provide enough to accomplish a humble plan if everything went right. They say that war is not the answer, and, meaning it, profess their faith in special operations. But are we to credit their supposed indignation that in the early Bush presidency there was a shortage of covert insertions into sovereign states, a dearth of assassinations, the absence of close cooperation with the intelligence services of dictatorships, and insufficient funding for black operations? Or to take seriously the crackpot supposition that this was a war for oil, the price of which, since the war, has gone up? And why then did we not invade Venezuela? It's closer, and the food is better.

With nothing to offer but contradictions and paralysis, they and their presidential aspirant have staked their policy on a mystical and irrational prejudice against unilateralism. This is a new thing under the visiting moon, an absurdity propounded by the very same people who often urge the U.S. to unilateral action when it refrains, for example, from interventions in Africa to fight genocide or AIDS. In what way is America, moving in concert with Britain and Spain to invade Iraq, more unilateral or less multilateral than France moving in concert with Germany and Belgium to oppose it? And does a wrong act cease to be wrong if others join in, or a right cease to be right if others do not?

Just as many Republicans detest the idea of international governance but glow at the prospect of empire, many Democrats are reliably anti-imperialist yet dewy-eyed about world government. Thus, Sen. Kerry's only non-secret policy for the war is a bunch of mumblings about the U.N. and our "allies," presumably the ones who are not with us at the moment in Iraq. It is they and the U.N. who in the fairy dust of multilateralism will solve this most difficult problem. But in fact they neither can nor will do any such thing. Either Sen. Kerry knows that his strategy is just a cover for simple, complete, and ignominious withdrawal, or he does not know, which is worse."

Dead On
Written by: Answerman

More Helprin:

Mistakenly focused on physical control of Iraq, we could not see that, were we to give it up, the resultant anarchy might find a quicker resolution than the indefinite prolonged agony through which our continuing presence has nursed it. Seeking motivation after the fact, we decided to make Iraq a Western-style democracy, and when that began to run off the rails, to make Iraq the mere model for a Middle East filled with Western-style democracies. Of course, instead of a model to inspire them (of which they have many, such as Switzerland), what the Arabs need is first the desire, and then a means to overcome the police states that oppress them, neither of which a reconfigured Iraq, were it possible, would supply. Japan and Germany are often cited in defense of this overreach, but rather than freeze our armies in place and set them to policing and civil affairs as we fought through the Second World War, we waited until we had won.

Having decided to remake a country of 26 million divided into warring subcultures with a shared affection for martyrdom and unchanging traditions, the administration thought it could do so with 100,000 troops. Israel, which nearly surrounds the West Bank, speaks its language and has 37 years of experience in occupation, keeps approximately (by my reckoning) one soldier on duty for every 40 inhabitants and 1/13th square mile, and the unfortunate results are well known. In Iraq we keep one soldier per 240 inhabitants and 1.7 square miles. To put this in yet clearer perspective, it is the same number of uniformed police officers per inhabitant of the City of New York. But the police in New York are not at the end of a 9,000-mile supply chain (they live off the land at Dunkin' Donuts), they do not have to protect their redoubts, travel in convoys, maintain a hospital system, run a civil service, reform a government, build schools, supply electricity, etc. And, most importantly, they do not have to battle an angry population that speaks an alien language, lives in an immense territory, and is armed with automatic weapons, explosives, suicide bombers, and rocket-propelled grenades. Imagine if they did, and you have Iraq. Imagine if then the mayor said, "We don't need anything further, it's just a question of perseverance: Bring it on," and you have the Bush continuum.

Opportunity Lost
Written by: Answerman

Captain Dave criticized me last week for claiming that our failures in Iraq have at all negatively impacted the broader war against Radical Islam. But as Helprin explains, and as I discussed at length below in my "Dr. Wolfowitz..." post, the lack of proper strategic focus HAS been harmful to our long-term foreign policy, at least in terms of key opportunities missed:

From the beginning, the scale of the war was based on the fundamental strategic misconception that the primary objective was Iraq rather than the imagination of the Arab World, which, if sufficiently stunned, would tip itself back into the heretofore easily induced fatalism that makes it hesitate to war against the West. After the true shock and awe of a campaign of massive surplus, as in the Gulf War, no regime would have risked its survival by failing to go after the terrorists within its purview. But a campaign of bare sufficiency, that had trouble punching through even ragtag irregulars, taught the Arabs that we could be effectively opposed.

The instant reason for war with Iraq was violation of the 1991 ceasefire. The longer-term strategic reason was the effect on the Arab mind to which Helprin alludes, not some sort of crusade for democracy. Our choice of the crusade for democracy has cost us, or at least made more difficult, our opportunity to "shock and awe" the Arab mind in a convincing fashion. It's not necessarily a fatal setback (although combined with the domestic constraints it has created in US politics, it might well become one), but it's a setback nonetheless. And one that needs to be admitted, learned from, and corrected. Fat chance.

In the meantime, I still haven't heard Captain Dave even attempt to refute the fact that the administration's failures in Iraq have done some sort of harm (I suppose the extent of which can be debated) to the broader war effort.

It's the Context, Stupid
Written by: Answerman

This administrations failures in Iraq, such as they are, are intertwined with its more significant policy failures here at home -- namely, its orgiastic penchant for spending taxpayers' money on lots of stupid, unnecessary, and/or inafforable stuff. The one word thrown about by the Bush haters that actually seems reasonable to me in describing this administration's domestic policy is "irresponsible." The president and the Republican congressional hacks who run the legislative branch have presided over a national fiscal policy run amok. Conservatives are pissed off about this, but have often muted their criticisms in an effort to keep focused on progress in the war effort. But as Mark Helprin points out, Bush's domestic failures hurt the war effort:

When soldiers are killed because they do not have equipment (in the words of a returning officer, "not enough vehicles, not enough munitions, not enough medical supplies, not enough water"), when reservists are retained for years, and rotations canceled, it is the consequence of a fiscal policy that seems more attuned to the electoral landscape of 2004 than to the national security of the United States. Were the U.S. to devote the same percentage of its GNP to defense as it did during the peacetime years of the last half-century, and the military budget return to this unremarkable level, we would be spending (apart from the purely operational costs of the war) almost twice what we are spending now.

Again, it's important to support the president, who generally has the right strategic instincts when it comes to the war on Radical Islam. And it's important to signal to the Islamists that we will not back down in the face of terror threats as the cowards in Spain did. But it's just as important that conservatives unite to find a way to halt the federal spending binge and generally irresponsible fiscal policies that threaten to sacrifice national security to political advantage.

More evidence that the Left is bad for the economy
Written by: Beck

What do you get when you mix a booming economy with a far left wing coalition? If you answered, "The biggest stock market crash in your nation's history," then you were right! Sonia Gandhi's left wing Congress party surprised pretty much everyone (at least everyone who was paying attention--the rest of us were too busy being proud of our selves for recognizing the name "Gandhi") when they dominated the recent nationwide elections in India. In order to secure the Prime Minister position, Gandhi will be forming a coalition government including the country's largest communist party among others. Here's a hint for all you aspiring economics students out there: free markets don't respond well to communists.
Trading was suspended twice Monday, with the key Sensex stock index plummeting almost 16 percent at one point to a low of 4227.50 -- the biggest crash in its 129-year history...

CNN's Ram Ramgopal in New Delhi said the one operative word in India at the moment was "fear," as investors realize that the communist and other leftist parties on whom Gandhi will have to rely to form a government, are against privatization.
Let me go ahead and repeat the important part for you. The one operative word in India at the moment is "fear". Nice work folks.

Update: Bastardsword has some observations on the India crash.

Not good
Written by: Beck

There are two major news items out of Iraq today, neither of which seems to be receiving much press attention--at least not yet. First, the President of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed in a car bomb attack today. He's the highest ranking Iraqi killed to date, and the second member of the Council killed since its inception. Apart from the fact that his death represents the loss of another Iraqi helping the US to rebuild the country, it also reflects our inability to protect even the most important people.
Abdel-Zahraa Othman, a Shia Muslim, who was most widely known as Izzadine Saleem, was one of eight Iraqis killed in the blast.

He was traveling in a five-vehicle convoy with a police escort, and waiting to go into the green zone, the coalition headquarters in Baghdad, when an adjacent car exploded.
While not as big a news item now, the potentially more significant news is that an improvised explosive device was discovered loaded with sarin gas. The device was an unexploded artillery shell of a type Hussein claimed to no longer possess after the first gulf war. Fortunately, no one seems to have been hurt; nonetheless, maybe this will help to wake up a few of the head-in-the-sand types who have seem to have forgotten that at one point in time, pretty much everyone in the world believed that Saddam had WMD, regardless of whether they thought that was a legitimate reason for invading Iraq.
Kimmitt said the artillery round was of an old style that Saddam Hussein's regime had declared it no longer possessed after the Persian Gulf War.

Kimmitt said device was designed to mix two relatively passive chemicals after being fired from an artillery piece, creating the potent nerve gas, and that it was ineffective as an improvised explosive device.

The question now is, what will come of all this? While there are plenty of answers to that question regarding what should be done, I've got a hunch those answers diverge significantly from what will be done.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The Conservatives Strike Back
Written by: Answerman

I am heartened by the intelligent expressions of dissent I have been reading the past few days from conservative critics of the administration's foreign policy. Not the typical critics on the anti-war, anti-Israel Right like Buchanan and Novak, but folks like George Will, Senator Pat Roberts, Congressman Henry Hyde, and the like.

There is still time for the administration to correct its strategic mistakes, win the Iraq War, and benefit the overall war against Radical Islam. My hope is that the increasing cry from the Right will force the administration to move in this direction, and wrest control of United States foreign policy back from the Trotskyite ideologues who spend their days masturbating to fantasies of World War IV, or whatever Roman numeral they've worked their way up to by this point.

We are at a critical point in the history of American conservatism. We can let it die, and cede the philosophical movement -- as we have already ceded the Republican party -- to a bunch of Old Leftists who happen to like fighting wars (or, more accurately, they like it when OTHER PEOPLE fight wars on their behalf), or we can fight back. This week has convinced me the neocons haven't fully won yet.

Captain Dave is right that we have internal enemies as well as external ones. And we must fight them too. In my view, he fails to realize that we have two sets of internal enemies -- Leftist nihilists who hate Western civilization, and Jacobins who hate history and wish to replace it with the propositions enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. The nihilists, the Jacobins, and the Islamists must ALL be stopped. It's a tough task that will likely fail, but as Americans calling on our can-do spirit, we have to give it a shot.

When in Rome... slow the hell down
Written by: Beck

I've been on two vacations that have taken me through Italy. In both cases, I was behind the wheel of a rental car driving like a semi-deranged loon much of the time (often as a result of sleep deprivation rather than any lack of appreciation for safety--not that I don't also suffer from said lack). While I've driven on the German autobahns, I was never able to enjoy the sort of sustained high-speed driving there that I could on Italian freeways. There's nominally a speed limit on those roads (130kph, roughly 80mph), but realistically you can drive however fast you like (for instance, 200kph) and no one is going to interfere. I didn't see a single car pulled over by the polizia my entire time there. In fact, my only interaction with the Italian police was to ask one officer for directions. He was busy stuffing his face with noodles, told me he didn't know, and pointed me at a nearby place of business telling me to ask for directions there. In other words, I found Italian police to be fairly useless. No, there isn't really a point to this story--I'm just story telling for its own sake.

The thing is, in the future I think I might just have to tone things down a bit should I ever find myself tooling around Italy again. Why? Excellent question. Here's my answer:

Yes, that's right, Lamborghini decided to donate one of their cars to the highway patrol. Incidentally, should you ever decide to go to Rome, my advice would be to forget about renting a car. Just bring a bunch of Euros to pay taxis with. Trust me on this one. Oh yeah, and Ford Escort station wagons, high speed, rain, and Czech freeways don't really mix. You're going to have to trust me on that one too.

In other news: I'm going to be away from the computer all weekend, so unless my fellow bloggers feel compelled to pick up the slack, there won't be too much changing at INCITE over the weekend. If you get bored, I'm sure you can find something else to entertain yourselves.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Thomas Friedman on the War
Written by: Answerman

This seems right to me:

"Why, in the face of rampant looting in the war's aftermath, which dug us into such a deep and costly hole, wouldn't Mr. Rumsfeld put more troops into Iraq? Politics. First of all, Rummy wanted to crush once and for all the Powell doctrine, which says you fight a war like this only with overwhelming force. I know this is hard to believe, but the Pentagon crew hated Colin Powell, and wanted to see him humiliated 10 times more than Saddam. Second, Rummy wanted to prove to all those U.S. generals whose Army he was intent on downsizing that a small, mobile, high-tech force was all you needed today to take over a country. Third, the White House always knew this was a war of choice--its choice--so it made sure that average Americans never had to pay any price or bear any burden. Thus, it couldn't call up too many reservists, let alone have a draft."

Perhaps "things are going well" in Iraq, as Captain Dave says. I really don't presume to know. I will say that I'm somewhat skeptical, given my view that Captain Dave would say this no matter what, as he is infatuated with his notion of all of our contributions to a big psychological chess match with "terror." But in any even, even if things ARE going well, they certainly could start to go poorly if the administration doesn't address some of its errors, which continue. Since the administration is loathe ever to admit it makes any sort of error, I'm not holding my breath.

Republicans and Conservatives Critical of the War Strategy
Written by: Answerman

Recently, conservative and loyal Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas delivered a lecture at his alma mater. Although careful not to criticize the president in an election year, "[n]evertheless, the former Marine officer from Dodge City, Kan., is blunt in addressing two overriding problems in the war on terror: lack of accountability in the intelligence community and a messianic desire to recast the world in the American image." (Credit to Bob Novak)

Novak continues: "These are precisely the concerns I have heard all over the country from people who call themselves Republicans and are distraught about the U.S. adventure in Iraq. They ask questions. Who is responsible for the false forecast of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that was the immediate cause for war? Are we really intent on planting democracy throughout the Arab world? These skeptics are not about to vote for John Kerry for president, but they are very unhappy."

President Bush, Captain Dave, and Dr. Death, I mean Wolfowitz, can continue to ignore these legitimate concerns to their own detriment. But they are necessary because (1) they must be aired, debated, and lead to policy changes lest the Iraq War and the broader war on Radical Islam (which Captain Dave insists, for reasons unclear to me, on calling a "war on terror") turn south; and (2)true conservatives and loyal Republicans should not allow themselves to be permanently identified with this administration's serious failures, especially when the administration has the opportunity but refuses to address, much less correct them.

Super-Size this, bitch
Written by: Beck

Most of you have likely heard at least a word or two about the movie Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock (warning: web site contains gratuitous displays of yellowish-orange and orangish-red). He's created quite a little stir by making a movie about obesity in America. As part of the movie, he eats nothing but McDonalds food for an entire month. He gained twenty-something pounds, and his health deteriorated in all sorts of ways. You can easily guess the point he's trying to make about all this, and you can just as easily guess how Big Mother nanny-state left has latched onto this (think: pit bull).

In a rather amusing coincidence, I heard an interview with the author while listening to 94.5 FM on my drive home from a tasty breakfast eaten at, you guessed it, McDonalds. In that interview he claims that he ate an average of 4800+ calories a day. So I decided to do a bit of research.

McDonald's website has a calorie calculator on it. My goal was to figure out just how much you would have to eat to get 4800 calories. To start with, I figured in a medium coke and a large coke, a medium and large fries, hash browns, and an egg mcmuffin (he said he drank coffee with breakfast). It came out to 1820 calories. From there, I could figure how much more he would need to eat to get to the 4800 total, measuring the necessary additional intake in terms of the scientific unit (metric system I believe) of Big Mac Units (BMUs). One Big Mac with everything on it is a whopping 600 calories. This means he would have needed to consume 5 BMUs of additional food on top of the drinks, potatoes, and breakfast.

Are you starting to see something of a problem here with this "experiment?" The guy would have needed to eat 2 Big Macs for lunch and 3 Big Macs for dinner to attain such a staggering daily calorie intake. Hardly representative of what a "normal" person would eat. I don't think most obese people would even eat that much.

Conclusion: Morgan Spurlock is a fraud willing to mislead people to make his point about Americans being too dumb to feed themselves.

In other news, McDonalds now offers Happy Meals for adults. Hell, maybe we ARE too dumb to feed ourselves.

Update: It turns out The Weekly Standard already made this exact point. What's worse, they did it a full week before I did. Not surprisingly, they reached the same conclusions I did, going so far as to point out that it was entirely possible to live well within the bounds of good health on McDonald's food alone. Money quote for ya:
Not that people go to McDonald's for water and salad. Spurlock himself expresses his love for the Big Mac, which may not be all that bad in and of itself: On his journeys, Spurlock encounters a tall, lanky man renowned for eating more than 700 Big Macs each year--more stunning, his cholesterol is under 200. (You might think it's genetics, but according to a recent Reuters report, "Two top French nutritionists are telling people to go for a Big Mac and keep their fingers off the traditional French quiche. . . . a new food guide praises the McDonald's burger for having a higher and healthier protein-to-fat ratio than France's Quiche Lorraine.")
For the record, it is NOT a sign of the pending apocalypse when the French start praising Big Macs. The Bible actually files that one under the "Hell Freezing Over" department.

Quote for the day...
Written by: Beck

"By the Way... Why do these maniacs always assume that '72 virgins' means '72 female virgins'?

We're hoping it's actually 72 extremely-horny 14 year old boys with raging erections and a yen for hairy man-ass."

The line is from the end of a broader post of Ace's about the fighting in Karbala which, among other things, resulted in the partial destruction of a mosque. I hope some people get outraged about the mosque being damaged. Why? So I can hate them more (not that I really need the excuse). You see, the mosque was only damaged when a huge weapons cache stored nearby exploded. It's disgusting that these bastards use religious sites for protection--the damage to the building was richly deserved.

Empty phrases I could do without
Written by: Beck

Ed Brayton makes an observation I'm in complete agreement with.
Is there a more meaningless cliche than "fabric of our nation"? I can't think of one. It's a perfect little piece of empty rhetoric, repeated ad nauseum without anyone bothering to ask what on earth it means. It just seems to be a phrase that people trot out when they're against something but they can't come up with a tangible, concrete reason why they're against it. So they say that it "destroys the fabric of our nation" and everyone who agrees with them nods in agreement, not having a clue what it actually means but knowing it sounds good. The perfectly pointless rhetorical flourish.
I can probably think of a few cliches more meaningless than "fabric of our nation," (for instance, any time someone with the surname Kerry starts talking about patriotism) but Ed's more general point is an excellent one. Far too much of the political & intellectual dialogue today contains nothing but empty phrases occasionally augmented with blind hysteria.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Jonah Goldberg
Written by: Dave

One more thing. In my post on the beheading I indirectly criticised Jonah Goldberg. In fairness to him, he does address most of my arguments in the NRO Corner.

Written by: Dave

Let me add a little context to all this by saying the following:

When I was in Iraq, the situation on the ground was not accurately portrayed in the media.

I recently talked to someone still there, and he said that this is still the case.

If you spend some time on the internet looking for firsthand accounts, you will see the same thing.

So what I am getting at is this - the reason we might fail in Iraq is because many in America are trying to create failure by portraying failure.

Again, Answerman makes some good arguments, but taken in sum, his blog portrayed our effort in Iraq as failing, and it's not. That's what I have a problem with.

I know that Answerman doesn't share the suicidal impulses and sicknesses of those trying to create failure in Iraq, I just think he might be inadvertantly aiding them.

Criticism is OK, Defeatism is Bad
Written by: Dave

In response to Answerman:

Sure criticism of the war effort is important and valid. What is not good is a one-sided and self-defeating focus on our failures.

Answerman worries that we have exhausted our options in the broader war on terrorism because of the drain created by the Iraqi war. But what is the biggest source of the drain? Are we really drained physically? Are 800 casualties (as terrible as they are) really enough to drain a nation of 300 million?

Yes we are stretched thin physically, but where we are dangerously drained is in our collective will.

The true irony of what Answerman has written is that he is part of the phenomenon causing this drain. His inability to countenance the idea that we might actually be succeeding on the ground and his desire to see disaster and failure in our efforts in Iraq help create the problem he worries about.

We know that a large part of the American media and legislature is out to sink the war. To still win it, those of us who once supported it must not be so quick to declare it a failure.

Answerman makes some valid criticisms. What he doesn't seem to realize though, is the fact that this is primarily a pyschological war. Consequently, he doesn't recognize that the defeatist attitude now embraced by many of the war's supporters is more dangerous than even the "simplisticism" of the neo-Con's.

So Answerman - please continue to criticise. Just don't try to argue that harping on our failures, ignoring our successes, and declaring failure doesn't help the terrorists. I am sorry, but it does. That's what they are counting on. That's their chance for success.

For an administrative point, Answerman says in his responses to my post that he simply criticised some aspects of the war. What he actually did, if you care to scroll down that far, is argue that the war has been such a failure that it has worsened the war on terrorism and hurt our chances of winning it.

If Answerman had instead limited his arguments by saying that he thinks we made some serious errors in judgment, but that we are still succeeding in Iraq nonetheless, then I would be in almost perfect agreement with him.

The Pictures
Written by: Answerman

My point was simple. Too many people were involved, and too many pictures were taken, to expect there was even the SLIGHTEST chance of their airing being delayed any longer. Sure, CBS is morally culpable for showing them, but it's unrealistic to imagine a scenario in which someone didn't.

As for the debate, I don't think we NEED it for corrective action, I simply think it is a condition of American society that it is extraordinarily likely to accompany corrective action.

Neocon Simplisticism
Written by: Answerman

Trust me, I know that's not a real word.

I'm getting sick of the vague and general argument that any critical discussion of the war and its obvious failures in certain respects "helps the terrorists." Captain Dave goes even farther by arguing that a critical MENTALITY alone does so. Nice. I can't even agree with the war, express no opinion on the current status of military operations, and merely point out that the war should have been integrated better into our broader policy and sold better here at home. To criticize Bush's foreign policy performance AT ALL is somehow a victory for Al Qaeda.

This is typical of the neocons. And no, I'm not saying anyone is trying to take away my freedom of speech. I'm saying that the effort to convince me that constructive policy criticisms of any nature must be suppressed because the terrorists like it when people disagree with Bush is a huge mistake. I will not cede the discussions over this war and this administration's sometimes-brilliant, sometimes-atrocious foreign policy initiatives to a bunch of Likud-loving Pentagon policy wonks who refuse to admit, much less learn from, their mistakes.

I have constantly pilloried economist-types who sit at their desks babbling about free trade theory while condescending to those from other disciplines who point out the effects of certain economic policies on culture, national security, and the like. So will I pillory Pentagon-types who focus exclusively on their interpretation of the military situation in Iraq while blithely dismissing discussion of the domestic political and international public relations harm their refusal to think more broadly has caused their country.

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