Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Monday, February 28, 2005

White Flight
Written by: Goemagog

Even euroweenies can't hide from the reality that not everybody is like them, and some others are quite unpleasant. They can either get immigrant-related crime under control (locals rarely commit crime, most of their vices have been legallized) or watch the rest of their society melt away. I wouldn't bet money on the former.

And why does a country so small have companies that specialize in helping people emmigrate? If enough people are fleeing to support a business, your country is fucked.

Goe, blaming it all on France.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Rights of the unpopular
Written by: Goemagog

Before I said that the only right most countries have is the right to have your head on a pike if you are unpopular. Actually owning property isn't a right even here, at least not yet. Anything you own can be taken from you if a government clerk, corporate boss, evil dictator, or genocidal fucktard wants it.

It would seem that your stuff isn't yours, but because all of this works through government agencies, it is yours if you're popular enough to keep the government on your side. It's the people who aren't popular who don't get to keep anything. Do we really want property rights determined by who has the better PR guy? Let's hope the Supreme Court doesn't think so. It's not like their planet is about to be destroyed for a new bypass, so why should they worry, as long as bread is cheap.

This also highlights why the libertarian movement in the United States is imbecilic. They're more concerned with making narcotics cheap, legal, and common.

Goe, apologizing again for the lack of other writers on someone else's blog.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Lum needs a time out.
Written by: Goemagog

Scott, formerly known as Lum the Mad, continues his assault on reason. He's posted again defending the video game industry from charges that it encourages violent behavior in a semi-rebuttal of an interview CBS did with Jack Thompson.

This isn't really new. People have been blaming video games for stuff for a while. They've also blamed music, film, television, and every other form of entertainment known to man. They're right, of course.

It used to be that the only stories people knew had heavy morals, and even some children's shows pound out the moral of the day's episode more emphatically than anything you're likely to hear from a pulpit. We accept cartoon characters telling kids not to lie, cheat, or steal, but go apeshit if someone suggests that a similar character encouraging children to do something bad could have a harmful effect.

There is a difference between the real world and the multitude of fake ones generated by our entertainment industries. Whereas in the past, with the tales of King Arthur's Court and the Grimm fairy tales, it was always clear who the good guy role-models were. The white hat vs black hat storylines may be uncommon now, but the need for clear distinctions is not. Role-models are important because people don't always know how to conduct themselves, hence 'What Would Jesus/Reagan/Kenobi Do' approaches to solving our dilemma's.

We know that the media produced role-models are emulated by the public. Even if Scott sticks his fingers in his ears and hums loudly, this will not change. Scott may be snide, but he's proven wrong everytime someone sees a commercial. Madison Avenue isn't spending those billions based on someone else's kneejerk reaction. They know exactly what they're doing.

Goe, still unaware where the others went.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Thin Red Drain
Written by: Goemagog

Everyone is missing. At least not writing. I don't know where the rest of the Incite! writers went, although I'm inclined to assume it's some sort of economic conference that'd bore me. Boring me is really a very hard thing to do, I have learned to find amusement in blank walls.

I did get an email from someone who used to post to our comments regularly. It was regarding the placement of a urine-ignition system in Belgian urinals as retaliation for their government producing Bush urinal stickers.

I caught a film on PBS called 'Dirty War', about a 'dirty' bomb being set off in London. Afterwards, there was a panel discussion about how great and wonderful planning has been to deal with such matters. Several of the experts on the panel made a point to emphasize that the primary problem facing contingency planners is that the general public will, immediately upon hearing that there was something amiss, turn into a riotous mass of barricade storming thugs.

The last thing anybody wants, of course, is the general public to go home. No, can't have that. They need to be kept as close to danger as possible until the government has rubber stamped them as being 'clean'. Couldn't set up a cleaning center and bus them over to it, they might not riot.

This ties into an older post of mine, the one about the television show 'Andromeda' and it's acclamation of societal suicide. American cinema tends to have a central villain. The bad guy is unlike us, a corporate boss, janitor killed by vigilante mob, or a giant cockroach. In Japanese cinema, the same is true, except for horror films, where the bad guy is often an untangible evil, no central figure and often unbeatable.

British cinema again follows the same pattern, except for their horror films. In British horror films, the evil monster is a sidestory. The great evil, the great threat to the heroes, is always other people. It used to be a reinforcement of their civilization's self-image as the only force preventing a descent into barbarity. Whatever was left of the government was all that was left holding together the fragments of humanity. Now, whatever is left of the government is the greatest threat. If you are running from flesh-eating zombies, random civilians will help you but soldiers will only rape your women.

No longer a 'thin red line' defending civilization from barbarity and tyranny in either a literal or figurative sense, any attempt at collective defense is now being presented as the thing most threatening. It used to be that everyone knew how the British were supposed to act. Everything had to be done 'properly', stiff upper lip and so forth, but that's been chucked aside in favor of some sort of pretend anarchy. There's still a 'proper' way to act, but it's not what it used to be. Instead of doing your bit to keep barbarians away from the gates, you have to talk about the greatness of diversity or risk your head on a pike. The problem of course, lies with France.

For centuries, during what are known as the Dark Ages, very few people had access to decent information, leading many to think France was a nice place. French became the lingua franca, the roman tradition of bathing stopped, and being unpopular was enough of a reason to get your head cut off and put on a pike. After the Hundred Years War, the British stopped being enthralled by French imbecilism and started doing stuff on their own. Europe followed France's example of centralizing all power to prevent coups (about as common for European countries at the time as they are for the third world now), Britain decentralized power because the nobles didn't want the king to have enough power to kill them arbitrarily, and the king didn't want them to have the power to kill him arbitrarily.

This led the British to re-invent the roman concept of rights. The United States revolted, and copied large parts of British 'common law' (a set of societal rules to make sure everyone did 'their part', whatever 'their part' happened to be.) This worked quite well and the United States became rich, fat, and happy. France, however, didn't. The French, tired of their own stench, held a revolution and adopted 'rights'. French 'rights' have only one real component, anyone has the right to kill someone who isn't popular. This is how the 'Committee for Public Safety' ran the 'Reign of Terror'. A governmental and legal system based entirely on popularity mades this almost inevitable, as anyone unpopular enough to not get power is probably going to be seen as a threat by someone with power.

We have the Bill of Rights to protect unpopular causes and people from popular opinion, no European country has anything of the sort. Power in Europe is held by those who can best sway popular opinion in their favor, and the traditional structures of british society aren't very good at it. They're being beaten into oblivion by socialists who claim to be protecting the people most likely to be fed into the next socialist genocide.

This is where I tie everything back to the silly film panel. Instead of everybody doing 'their part' to avert and minimize damage from terrorist actions, they're expected to stand around like sheep and wait for someone to give them orders. Instead of giving them helpful orders, like 'get out of the street so radioactive dust doesn't land on you', 'turn on that hose so more people can wash radioactive dust off of themselves', the general public is told to stand still and wait for an insuffucient number of officially approved decontamination showers to be set up.

If I was present at such an emergency and a government official acted so stupidly, I'd be inclined to join a riotous mass and thuggishly storm a barricade. That the panel experts assumed this to be a problem tells me that they know they're morons and they know I won't be the only one pissed off about it.

Goe, apparently the holder of online forts for missing administrators.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pissing on America
Written by: Goemagog

It's the fashionable thing in Europe. Most European governments are producing anti-American propaganda with a speed and tone not normal for a peaceful relationship. They're acting like they're at war with us, they're crushing domestic dissent, they're paying mercenaries to kill us, and our president wants to hob-knob with them like they're our buddies.


Goe, cause the bastards are not our friends.

Corpse Tours
Written by: Goemagog

China wants to improve support for it's communist party by encouraging domestic tourism of the party's historical sites. They think the tourist industry will make billions off of promoting it's own destruction. No word on how many mass graves or currently operating slave labor camps will be included.

Goe, cause commies are just plain evil.

Red City Blues
Written by: Goemagog

The Mayor of London tends to make a lot of news. He's been in a little trouble recently for comparing a reporter to a 'war criminal' because the reporter had the audacity to ask him if he was enjoying a party. When the reporter (who happened to be jewish) claimed offense, he was then compared to a concentration camp guard.

Livingstone will probably never apologize. He's a socialist, which means that he's pretty openly against a free press, frequently compares anyone he dislikes to nazi's, and hails himself as a champion of the people; a "moderate" hated by genocidal socialists for wearing slightly the wrong shade of red.

"It casts light on the character of the guy who is an elected politician," he told Sky News.

It also casts a light on the character of the politicians, newspapers, and voters who supported him. He is a very sad little man. Not only had he driven local crime rates through the roof, he has no faith in the validity of elections. Since he's won some, I can see why.

Goe, glad he's not a Euroweenie.

Muppet News
Written by: Goemagog

A lot of people have been talking about 'gonzo' journalism, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Gonzo the Great. It has everything to do with Hunter Thompson, who recently began pining for the fjords. He created 'gonzo' journalism by putting himself into everything he wrote. How was this new or even good?

Was Ellery Queen a 'gonzo' mystery writer? Mark Twain included himself in many of his travelogues, even some of the completely fictional ones. Gossip columnists have been using it as a writing technique for decades and it had been the primary means of differentiating between a journalist and a reporter. Reporters report, journalist produce verbose diaries. What Hunter Thompson did was make it fashionable to pretend that one was the other.

After he started doing it, so did everyone else. Practically the entire news world today is based on people talking about themselves, their opinions, their lifestyles. The only news on FOX or CNN comes as interruptions to the regular schedule of intellectual masturbation. Just as nepotism and cronyism became collectively known as 'networking', progress changes what some words denote, not always making them clearer.

Goe, was positive there were once other writers here than he and Beck.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Talk about a sieve
Written by: Beck

OK, there were two really simple components to the UN's Oil-for-Food program: oil goes out, food & medicine go in. Really simple right? If Saddam wanted to cheat, there'd be two key ways to do it: by smuggling out oil to sell on the black market, and by smuggling in banned goods.

Naturally, being a hard working, entrepreneurial sort of dictator, Saddam was engaging in both.

Cotecna, one of the major firms responsible for inspecting imports (and a former employer of Kojo Annan) seems to have engaged in corruption on such a widespread, systematic scale that they would have added more value had they simply stayed home. At least that way, the United Nations (and the American tax payers who foot the bill) could have saved on travel and hotel costs.
In a move that provoked fury from officials of the Swiss firm Cotecna [note that Cotecna is not furious because their employees were corrupt; rather, they're furious because a whistle-blower came forward --ed], an Australian former inspector detailed a picture of incompetence, indifference and drunkeness among the men acting as the frontline for UN sanctions.

[...] He said that at Iskendurun in eastern Turkey, some officials had refused to work.

When he asked one of his bosses why, he was told: "They were friends or relatives of potential clients, and are only in the mission so the company could secure future contracts in Nigeria, Comoros and another African country.

[...] Other inspectors had spent most of the day in hotel rooms while others drank beer and talked to the local people.

[...] At another monitoring site where the UN was supposed to check humanitarian aid supplies, Mr Ventham noticed "the team leader and his fellow countrymen [the nationality is unstated] spending the majority of their time in each other's rooms drinking vodka as opposed to managing and leading the team".

There he noticed small vessels and barges moving to a small island each night.

"I mentioned this to a number of other inspectors saying there was plenty of scope for smuggling and what were the UN doing about it.

"I was extremely surprised by the response that it was common knowledge smuggling was going on at Um Qasir [and that] the oil was being sold on the black market to augment the regime."
In the other direction, the Senate Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is going after an employee of Dutch company Saybolt who had been responsible for monitoring Iraqi oil exports. Looks like he was taking bribes to look the other way while Iraq exported undocumented oil, netting a handy 2% commission on these off-the-book sales.
"We have found disturbing evidence that one of the U.N. oil monitors -- the individuals hired by the U.N. to inspect the oil exports from Iraq under the OFF Program -- took a bribe," said subcommittee chairman Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican.
And just think, your tax dollars made the UN bureaucrats jobs' possible, and their corruption helped Saddam raise the money that armed the current insurgency responsible for taking the lives of American servicemen. Thanks UN!

(Hat tip: CQ X2)

Take that you dirty hippies!
Written by: Beck

Greenpeace thought it would be a good idea to storm the floor of London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE). They somehow managed to convince themselves that the just implemented Kyoto Protocols didn't go far enough, and something more radical was needed. To accomplish this, they invaded the IPE in an effort to shut down petroleum trading for the day.

What they didn't expect was that maybe, just maybe, the traders would fight back. The Greenpeace protesters received an extremely thorough stomping at the hands of a bunch of London yuppy oil traders.
When 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail.

What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

"We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs," one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view."
Sorry, listening to your point of view? Do these assclowns not realize the difference between "stating a point of view" and "invading a building in an attempt to shut down business operations?" What unbievably conceited garbage.

Definitely read the whole article. It's full of fantastic tidbits such as:
Another said: "I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot." Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: "Sod off, Swampy."
This may be my favorite line:
"They grabbed us and started kicking and punching. Then when we were on the floor they tried to push huge filing cabinets on top of us to crush us."
I love how these irrational ninnies seem to genuinely think they're the victims here--after they invaded someone else's property.

Oh, and as for the Kyoto Protocol, Samizdata has the quick & dirty.

(Hat tip: Art Mould)

Update: A coworker IMs me this, from Tim Mayer:

Question: What's orange and looks good on hippies?

Answer: Fire.

The Blog and the Fury
Written by: Beck

Stephen Baker has a good article in BusinessWeek Online about the influence of blogs and their impact on freedom of speech, using the recent case of CNN news exec Eason Jordan's resignation as an example.
Does a blogosphere frenzy that helps bring down a CNN news exec for a comment he made mean free speech is in peril? Nope. It's exploding

Read the papers, and you'll think there's a menace growing in American society: the blogosphere. This fast-growing force consists of some 7 million people, all of them writing in online journals called Web logs, or blogs. When these bloggers latch onto a controversy, they can light up the Internet with angry rants -- and bring down powerful people.
Baker rightly understands that the blogosphere depends on the old structure of media power elites as much as they threaten the old fashioned power structures of the mainstream media complex. There's definitely a symbiotic relationship between the two, and if it occasionally results in the destruction of an Eason Jordan or a Jeff Gannon, the media establishment nonetheless comes away stronger for having some dead wood pruned off.

The only problem I had with the article is Baker's incorrect characterization of the Jordan scandal:
He resigned on Feb. 13 after conservative bloggers feasted on a controversial statement he made in late January at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, about the U.S. military. His allegation -- that coalition soldiers in Iraq mistook journalists for enemies and killed them -- brought down a storm of criticism on him and his network.
Jordan didn't allege that coalition soldiers "mistook journalists." He alleged that there was a administration/military policy of deliberately targeting journalists. Big difference there.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

You tell me
Written by: Beck

I'm not sure which is more revolutionary--that NASA scientists are now saying they think there is life currently living on Mars, or that the website hosting that article seems to have found a way to circumvent Firefox's pop-up blocker.

These are the things that try men's souls.

Iraq election returns are in
Written by: Beck

ABC News has the details. Long story short: Sistani's Shiites (a.k.a. United Iraqi Alliance) claimed less than half the vote and will have to form a coalition. Find a nifty graphic breakdown of the major party's results here.

The Kurds pulled the second most votes, with Ayad Allawi's secular party pulling in at third place. Overall voter turnout was 60%. Incidentally, could someone explain to me what the following paragraph is doing, all by its lonesome, in the middle of an article about the Iraqi election?
Elsewhere Sunday, insurgents attacked a U.S. convoy and a government building near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, leaving at least four people dead, hospital workers said. Two Iraqi National Guard troops were also killed while trying to defuse a roadside bomb.
The article has nothing to do with current terrorist attacks, and not one paragraph before or after this one even touch on the subject. They just threw it in sandwiched between two paragraphs about voter turnout. WTF?

At any rate, the Sunnis wind up under represented as a consequence of Sunni leader calls for a boycott. Many people--John Kerry comes to mind--used this fact as justification for their criticism of the Iraq elections as illegitimate. Ironically, the Sunnis have realized their error, repudiated their decision to boycott the election, and are now trying to get involved in the political process.

Despite the miniscule number of seats the Sunnis will have in the National Assembly, leaders from all sides are making noises about inclusion and not marginalizing the Sunnis.
Iraq's Arab Sunnis will do a U-turn and join the political process despite their lack of representation in the newly elected national assembly, Sunni leaders said yesterday.

Many Sunnis protested that the election was flawed and unfair, but in the wake of Sunday's results, which confirmed the marginalisation of what was Iraq's ruling class, their political parties want to lobby for a share of power.

"Our view is that this election was a step towards democracy and ending the occupation," said Ayad al-Samaray, the assistant general secretary of the Iraqi Islamic party. He said unnamed Sunni leaders blundered in depicting the election as a deepening of the occupation.

[...] All three blocs have promised to reach out to the Sunnis, who comprise a fifth of the population but won just a handful of seats because of low turnouts in their areas. This will soon be tested as parties forge alliances and tussle for government posts, including that of prime minister and president.

Secular Sunni leaders yesterday accepted the victors' invitation to participate, potentially draining support from the insurgency.

"We can't say it was wise or logical to not participate; it was an emotional decision," said Mr Samaray. "Now the Sunni community faces the fact that it made a big mistake and that it would have been far better to participate."

His party, the main Sunni group since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, was in talks with Kurds and Shias. He added: "The Sunni community will accept to share this country with others. They do not need to dominate."
Read the whole article if you have any interest at all in the subject--it gives a lot of hope to those who would like to see democracy succeed in Iraq.

(Hat tip: CQ & QandO)

Update: Via IED, MEMRI has a very thorough breakdown of the election results. It's worth noting that while Sistani's United Iraqi Alliance received 48% of the popular vote, they managed to secure 140 seats on the 275 seat National Assembly--i.e. they have an outright majority.

Your UN Contribution at Work VI
Written by: Beck

150 separate incidents of sexual abuse--including, but certainly not limited to, rape and pedophilia--have now been identified at the UN peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The silence from those outraged at the Abu Ghraib scandal remains deafening.

The problem, however, is not limited to the Congo. Mark Steyn takes us on a whirlwind tour of United Nations sexcapades:
And, of course, corrupt organisations rarely stop at just one kind. If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits - in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves.

[...] But systemic UN child sex in at least 50 per cent of their missions? The transnational morality set can barely stifle their yawns. If you're going to rape prepubescent girls, make sure you're wearing a blue helmet.
The solution, of course, is (part) of what I've been calling for all along: cut the UN's funding. Via Michelle Malkin, we find this Heritage Foundation article on the UN sex scandal.
Kofi Annan has insisted on "zero tolerance" of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers, but U.N. rules apply only to U.N. employees; military personnel fall under the jurisdiction of their own governments. Only a few peacekeepers have been deported, and no U.N. staff have been charged with criminal activity.

That's prompting tough talk from some U.S. officials about American assistance for U.N. peacekeeping missions. The United States will give $490 million next year to support about 62,000 military personnel and civilian police serving in 16 U.N. operations around the world. "Until the U.N. is willing to take decisive action and take responsibility for these acts, we should look seriously at the funding portion of the peace-keeping operations," says a foreign policy aide to Kansas Republican Sam Brownback, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I don't know any other way to force Annan to pay attention."
Indeed, going after the UN's funding has ever been the only way to get it to change its policy. What we should really be asking, however, is whether it's even worth our time trying to affect UN policy when the institution itself is so fundamentally, structurally unsound. As ever, the inimitable Mark Steyn puts it best:
It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice-cream and a quart of dog faeces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the UN. If you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. Thus the Oil-for-Fraud scandal: in the end, Saddam Hussein had a much shrewder understanding of the way the UN works than Bush and Blair did.
Your hard earned tax dollars at work folks.

(Hat tip: QandO)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Tulsa World is stinky
Written by: Beck

The Tulsa World sent a nasty-gram to blogger BatesLine for excerpting from one of its articles. They assert that his excerpt was a violation of copyright laws (it's not--it falls under fair-use statues), and they further demanded he remove links to their site (which, I'd love to see how they justify that). So, in a show of solidarity, I've decided to link Tulsa World, excerpt from one of their articles, and say something generally unpleasant about them. Here goes:

The people at Tulsa World seem to be radically opposed to bio-engineering technology which could alleviate starvation in the world. As such, can there be doubt that Tulsa World wants poor children to starve to death?

I say this because of Tulsa World article Farm Scene: State legislatures struggling with issue of engineered varieties of wheat, which begins with the seemingly innocuous paragraph:
Months after a company uprooted and destroyed a variety of wheat strengthened by genetics, some farm-country legislatures are debating the conditions under which engineered wheat can be used.
I reach my conclusions about Tulsa World's bias because in the second paragraph, Tulsa World first gives the arguments of opponents of genetically modified crops (whom they cast in a positive light by labeling them "proponents of such legislation") before giving arguments of those who favor GM food (labeled with the negatively connoted word "critics").

Granted, those are extremely loose grounds on which to base a conclusion that Tulsa World wants poor children to starve to death, but I think you have to read between the lines to get at the article author's true thoughts.

(Hat tip: Ace)

Teresa Heinz back to being Teresa Heinz
Written by: Beck

Throughout the 2004 presidential campaign season, I persistently referred to John Kerry's wife as Teresa Heinz, not Teresa Heinz-Kerry. She had only adopted the Kerry name immediately prior to Kerry's campaign, which I felt said a lot about her character & her opinion of her husband. It would seem my instinct was precisely correct.
According to The Washington Times, Teresa Heinz, the erstwhile Teresa Heinz Kerry, has stopped using the last name of her husband, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, last year's Democrat presidential nominee.

Preceding its Women Who Make a Difference Awards dinner next month, the National Council for Research on Women is featuring "a conversation with Teresa Heinz," according to a release from the organization. The council failed to mention the final half of the Fox Chapel ketchup heiress' formerly elongated last name in several other references.

"I just checked and she no longer uses her (entire) last name; only during the (presidential) campaign did she use Kerry," campaign spokeswoman Tamara Rodriguez Reichberg said.
Doesn't surprise me one bit.

(Hat tip: Q&O)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Conservative Socialists.
Written by: Goemagog

Watched part of Hardball, with Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson. Carlson was talking about 'big government conservatism' being unlike small government conservatism. He made the quite obvious observation that there is no real difference between Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Clinton on any national issues. They're practically ideological carbon-copies. When queried about how the Republican Party will change in the next decade, he pointed out that it was nothing like it was a decade ago, but that there would be no 'realignment'. He's wrong on that last part.

Bush is a 'big government conservative' in the way that Clinton was a 'big government conservative'. He spends a lot on government programs, pretends that throwing money at federal agencies solves problems, and calls himself a conservative. My cat could call itself a dog, but it wouldn't really be one. Is Bush really a conservative? He's sort of one, just like Clinton was, sort of.

The fundamental divide today between conservatives and liberals in America is their view of socialism. All the other issues touted as being differences are usually differentiating along lines of practicality. Regional differences dominated on the civil rights movement, party lines or other ideologies meant almost nothing. Gun control is popular in urban areas, unpopular in rural areas.

The primary difference is socialism. How involved should the government in different aspects of people's lives. To leftists, government can only do wrong when in the hands of their enemies: political, imagined, or otherwise. Conservatives think that there are only two levels of government necessary, a local government to put out fires, arrest criminals, and pave the roads, and a federal government to defend the shores and deliver the mail. Most real people fall at some point in between.

As the Democratic Party falls more and more under the control of people who adored the Soviet Union, the Republican Party is expanding to the left, incorporating those pushed out of the DNC. For the first time since the Great Depression, registered Republicans equal or outnumber registered Democrats. As Republican leaders shift themselves further to the left to proclaim themselves 'centrist', they're leaving the Democrats with less and less ideological wiggle-room.

The Democratic Party is destroying itself by trying to outsocialize the new socialist Republicans. As the Republicans copy more and more DNC talking points, fringe groups like the khmer rouge Greens are claiming that the DNC is really shifting right and selling out. At the same time, small government conservatives are being increasingly alienated by a Republican administration that agrees with them on little outside of church.

Unless Hillary Clinton turns the DNC into a party hawking on defense, to the right of Europe on economic issues, and at least paying lip service to conservative positions on social issues (which she is trying to do in preparation for a presidential run), the DNC will implode as the suburban Democrats are forced into the Republican Party by Dean and Moore's Soviet Union Revival Tour.

Squeezing the Democrats ideological has left the Republicans spread too thin. How can a Republican President square talk of returning our money via tax cuts with a huge increase in spending of public money on private art? He can't, which is why most Republicans don't like to talk about it. He also can't fit defending our borders into his unrestricted immigration policy.

Democrats aren't sounding more like Republicans because Democrats tolerate very little dissent. For example, Democrats don't permit a pro-life Democrat access to any national venues. While half of Americans are pro-life, a substantial number of nationally prominant Republicans are not and side openly with the DNC. Increasingly, on this and other issues, as the Republicans shift further left, more and more Americans are being represented by neither party.

The political right has normally been the domain of fringe groups, mostly nazi groups who believe all leftist rhetoric but call themselves conservatives anyways (as juxtaposed by anarchists who should be for smaller government but usually identify with leftist large government rhetoric, and libertarians who are usually too stoned to know who is saying what). A political vaccuum is forming there, and if Hillary Clinton doesn't shift the DNC to the right, someone else will.

It's not just that there are 'big government conservatives' in the Republican Party, it's that the more 'big government' someone is in ideology, the more favorably they look on big governments. As Russia shifts back towards a repressive tyrannical government, it's important to point out just how EVIL the Soviet Union was, lest our politicians try to follow them down that path. We need a small-government party, not just to appease small-government conservatives, but to offset the slide to centralized state control of everything. As has been demostrated so violently in the past, any government with enough popular support for total control becomes murderously abusive towards it's own people, regardless of the governments official ideology. Stopping this is not only important for our liberty, but for our lives.

Goe, believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Politicians' Credo: If it ain't broke, break it
Written by: Beck

Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, in the midst of a project to identify tax loopholes, suggested that a Spanish-American War era excise tax on phone calls could be used to apply a tax on all internet connections. All of them--broadband, satellite, dial-up, you name it.

Fortunately, sixteen other members of Congress took umbrage to this suggestion and penned a rather nasty reply. My favorite bit:
...Since both Senators [Grassley and Baucus] have voted at least twice in the last ten months against new taxes on Internet access, we're bafled as to how you could interpret a desire to reduce noncompliance with our tax laws as a request for new ways to tax the Internet.

The question demanding an answer now is why any consumers still have to pay a telephone tax created in 1898 to fund the Spanish-American War. Please report back to us on the olicy benefits of ending the Federal Excise Tax on telecommunications.
And I must say, I like the sound of that.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

Karl Rove gets a bump downstairs
Written by: Beck

Karl Rove's new office--part of his new (additional) job as Deputy Chief of Staff--puts him on the first floor of the White House's West Wing. That puts him just a few doors down from the Oval Office. In other news, any remaining doubts conspiracy theorists may have had that Rove runs the world have now officially been removed.

Also, this (slightly outdated) map of West Wing offices is pretty cool. Rove's new office is the one marked #11. His old office was #24 on the second floor.

(Hat tip: Hit & Run)

A pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would be successful
Written by: Beck

How do I know? Because Jimmy Carter says the opposite. And if there's one thing I know about foreign policy, it's that if Jimmy Carter says a thing is so, it isn't.

In the mean time, Secretary of State Rice is turning up the heat on Iran, and engaging in saber rattling highly reminiscent of the period before the Iraq war. My prediction? She's deliberately playing out the exact same scenario which was a prelude to the Iraq war in an attempt to make Iran believe an invasion is imminent--so that they'll capitulate to our diplomatic demands.

One of the strongest arguments recommending the Iraq war in the first place was that it would give weight to American threats of force which we've been sorely lacking since losing in Vietnam. Libya already folded to pressure in the immediate aftermath of the successful Iraq invasion. The question now is whether Iran will ultimately bow to pressure or call Rice's bluff.

Why "bluff" you ask? Because I think it's pretty certain that we lack the troop strength to occupy Iran right now. While we could engage in tactical strikes, an all out invasion would be pretty damned hard to pull off. We might win the war, but the occupation would be nearly impossible, especially considering that Iran is 50% larger geographically than the total land area of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

hello from the garden state
Written by: Jnnfrlgh

Hello everyone...I am the newest addition to INCITE. To tell you the truth I am having a hard time not letting this "introduction" sound like an application for sorority rush (disclaimer: I actually am a sorority member). I am 24 and obviously female. Recently I became a resident of the beautiful state of New Jersey (sense the sarcasm), but I will always be a Texan at heart.

My love of everything political came from my father but really "blossomed" in the third grade when I became the only girl on the current events team. I have no memory of what this "team" actually did...but I was terribly proud to be the only girl. From then on I was hooked, I read everything I could get my hands on. I recently had to spend two months without a computer or any cable news. I was so sure that it was going to be the end of me. I survived and am now making up for lost time.

I work in the high end fashion business and have been involved in the art community. Pretty much I am a glutton for punishment...I am a semi-conservative who surrounds herself with raging liberals. At the very least it has given me immense insight into what the other half thinks. It is terribly entertaining to listen to people repeat back the rhetoric of the democratic party and then let it be known that you are a Bush supporter!

I hope that you enjoy my future postings or at the very least are entertained!!!!

INCITE updates
Written by: Beck

I've added a new author to the INCITE team--you'll have noted her introductory post just above this one. I've known her for a while and look forward to the diversity of opinion she should add to things here. That's right. I used the word "diversity." You got a problem with that?

Anyway, welcome to the team Jen!

Slippery Slope
Written by: Goemagog

It all starts as innocent fun. That's how it was with the goats.

Goe, welcoming the new person with some random neuron discharges.

Silent Stars
Written by: Goemagog

While reading this weeks Carnival of the Vanities, I saw an error and felt compelled to make a correction there. After doing so, I put some more thought into the general matter. In non-silent film and television, the main characters usually talk. Dialogue is important as pantomime can't convey much nuance or detail.

I don't think I'm wrong, because I know I'm not, but I've been trying to think of other characters who had a lot of screen time but didn't say much. Not counting non-human characters because that is non uncommon for children's programming. There's Pike, Todd, and Terminator. I was told once that the bulk of Henry Fonda's Dialogue in the Cheyenne Social Club was in the first few minutes, after which his character was told to shut up and stands quietly in the background for most of the rest of the film.

I don't think it's some sort of socialist plot to quiet characters out of the spotlight, but I do think there is some unintended discrimination against non-conversationalists in Hollywood.

Goe, shutting up for a bit.

BREAKING: New United Nations Scandal
Written by: Beck

Muhammad Hassan, a Sudanese employee at the UN's World Meteorological Organization, managed to embezzel $3 million over a three to four year period. An accountant discovered the irregularity in July of 2003, but the scandal is only now coming to light.

Just another day at the office. I fully expect that such incidents of mismangement, fraud, theft, and embezzlement are to be found throughout the United Nations--the institution is rotten to its foundations. This is to be expected in an organization run predominantly by dictatorships and staffed with unelected bureaucrats.

There are so many choice excerpts from this article that it's hard to know where to start. You should really read the whole thing. For those not as interested in United Nations stories (God knows there's no shortage) here are a few highlights:
Fred Eckhard, the spokesman for Secretary General Kofi Annan, said that while the specialized agency was in the "U.N. constellation," it operated independently of the Secretariat in New York. "They are responsible for cleaning up whatever might have gone wrong there," he said.

Representative Henry J. Hyde, the Illinois Republican who is chairman of the House panel, said United Nations officials "want it both ways." He said they took credit for the accomplishments of agencies like the meteorological organization but deny "responsibility for accusations of malfeasance."

[...] Mr. Ngwira, 49, the Malawian accountant who uncovered the first unusual check, initially hesitated to report his suspicions.

"Hassan was very close to the man who was then our secretary general," he said, referring to Godwin Olu Patrick Obasi of Nigeria. Mr. Obasi had run the meteorological agency for more than 20 years, and Mr. Hassan had boasted of being close to him. "They were always together, so we knew that if you annoyed Muhammad Hassan, you were annoying the big man," Mr. Ngwira said.

[...] "He said, 'Look, if you do something like this for the secretary general, he will never forget you,'" Mr. Ngwira said Mr. Hassan had told him. "'People here get promoted not because of their work, but because they're nice to the powerful people here. This is an opportunity for you. If you don't take it, don't be surprised if you don't get promoted.'"

[...] Although investigators have not found Mr. Hassan [who disappeared without a trace], they have learned more about him. Swiss investigators discovered that he had "numerous businesses in Switzerland," including two restaurants in Geneva and an export-import company, according to a State Department cable. He had also used his position at the agency to obtain at least three "laissez-passers," or service passports, allowing free passage between countries. Before he left Switzerland in the fall of 2003, he emptied his bank accounts.

According to State Department cables, investigators are examining whether some officials in meteorological offices around the world, who received training fund checks, may have colluded with Mr. Hassan. In addition, one cable said that as many as 10 to 15 officials at the agency could be found to be negligent in the case.

[...] The organization, the cable reports Mr. Jarraud as saying, "suffered from decades of stagnation and mismanagement which required overhauling W.M.O.'s corporate culture." The agency's internal auditor "had no staff support and is clearly overtaxed."

Mr. Muller, who has helped supervise the internal inquiry, said Mr. Jarraud had enacted more than 40 changes in the agency's operations, including stricter financial controls and an increased auditing staff.

As the cloud over the agency begins to lift, the agency's senior legal adviser has assessed the damage. According to one State Department cable, the legal adviser, Iwona Rummel-Bulska, recently told American diplomats in Geneva that "while bad," the weather agency's internal procedures were "not the worst seen in the U.N. family of organizations."
Inasmuch as the United States pays roughly 22% of the UN budget, $660,000+ of your tax dollars went towards enriching a Sudanese con artist. Your tax dollars at work.

The decline and fall of the Democrat empire
Written by: Beck

Dale Franks over at Q&O has a fantastic analysis of the origins and causes of the Democratic party's ailments. His conclusion: they're living in the past. His prediction: they're going the way of the Whigs.
I might as well go ahead and say it. I can't escape the feeling that the Democrats are about to go the way of the Whigs. It struck me as the Democrats gathered around the statue of FDR to proclaim their undying devotion to Social Security: FDR has been dead for 61 years.

Is that really the picture the Democrats want to present? An undying devotion to the victories of the distant past?

Much the same devotion to the past is evident from their rhetoric about Iraq. "Iraq", thunders Ted Kennedy, "Is George Bush's Vietnam!" Everything, it seems, is Vietnam to these guys. Indeed, just two years ago, Afghanistan was George Bush's Vietnam.

But 30 years on, that's starting to sound sort of stale, especially coming as it does from a generation of leaders who, in 1975, were pooh-poohing WWII analogies vis a vis the struggle against Soviet Communism as relics from an almost antediluvian age.

It's amusing in some ways. The Democrats are led now by a generation of people who once warned each other never to trust anyone over 30, and who are now approaching retirement age themselves. And yet, they can't seem to escape the mental universe they inhabited three decades ago. The same people who declare that the Constitution is a "living document" that must evolve with the times are the same people who refuse to reform social security's 70 year-old structure.
Read the whole thing.

I agree entirely. Opposition to a plan is not itself a plan, but the bulk of the Democratic platform seems to be opposition to anything the Republicans want to do. The whole "There Is No Crisis" movement--they even have a webpage--is emblematic.

Short takes
Written by: Beck

A few things that deserve comment but don't quite merit a whole post of their own:

Tyranny of the majority watch: Poll: Wealthy should bolster Social Security. It's called socialism. Also known as theft.
More than two-thirds of 1,010 adults contacted from Friday to Sunday said it would be a good idea to limit benefits for wealthier retirees and for higher income workers to pay Social Security taxes on all their wages.
That's right, just have the wealthy pay or everything until they're as poor as anyone else. And then bitch at them afterwards when they either shelter all their income from taxation or move to Bermuda.

What a novel idea: pay teachers according to how well they do their job. A principle which the corporate world has understood since, well, for as long as their have been corporations is just now being discovered by the education bureaucrats. Well, better late than never I guess.

Are the British becoming a nation of sissies? Actually, the over-legislating of nanny-state laws afflicts all of the Western world, America included. The Brits (and Europeans generally) just have it worse. For now.

Finally, the New York Sun has an interesting article reporting on a speech Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz delivered to Columbia University in New York. It's nice to see someone from inside the walls of academia speaking out against the anti-Semetic atmosphere within many schools' Middle Eastern studies departments.

The ultimate in humor potential--ever
Written by: Beck

If only I had the money to waste... there's a charity auction going on to raise money for a park in Bolivia. And what does the auction winner get?

He gets to name a newly discovered species of monkey.

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The highest bidder will have the name of their choice permanently entered into all future references, including scientific publications, field guides, and other publications, that mention the new species.

[...] Wallace said little was known about the new species, a variety of the titi monkey [did I mention the unbelievable humor potential of this one? --ed] of the Callicebus genus. It stands about a foot tall, weighs two pounds and likes fruit.
I can see it now. "Ladies, gentlemen, distinguished guests, it is my honor to present to you... " Feel free to put your monkey name suggestions in the comments. I'm sure you all can come up with some pretty demented stuff.

Of course, could there ever be a better animal name than the Gunther's Dik-Dik?

The auction begins February 24 and runs through March 3, find more info here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Second wind for the Second Amendment
Written by: Beck

The Hill makes an interesting observation on one potential impact of a Dean Chairmanship of the DNC which hadn't occurred to me.

It would seem the Democratic party has rapidly ceased to be the party of gun control (leaving pretty much no major force for gun control in American politics).
The expected election of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee this month will strike a crippling blow to the gun-control movement, lobbyists and political observers say.

Like Dean, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is a strong supporter of gun rights. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports gun control but rarely mentioned the issue before the 2004 election. Patrick G. Ryan Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) supports gun rights.
Granted, there are still significant portions of the Democratic party who favor gun control. Perhaps even a majority of elected Democratic officials (it would be interesting to see some concrete statistics on that). But with the leadership of the Democratic party soundly in the pro-gun camp, don't expect to see any fresh attacks on the Second Amendment any time soon.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Window dressing
Written by: Beck

In response to the interim report of the Volcker investigation into the UN Oil-for-Food scam, Kofi Annan has suspended two people--Benon Sevan, the former head of the OFF program, and Joseph Stephanides, head of the UN Security Council Affairs Division--pending further investigation and an appeals that will likely go on forever.
Sevan and Stephanides were told they would receive a letter this week "laying out the charges against them," which will allow them to defend themselves before U.N. disciplinary bodies in what will likely be a long appeals process, he said.
And if there's one thing that corrupt unelected bureaucrats fear it's... receiving a letter. And. Um. Disciplinary bodies. Scary buggers them disciplinary bodies.

(Hat tip: Cold Fury)

Europe exhibits yet another example of why they can't compete in the 21st century
Written by: Beck

A brief article at the Mises Institute discussing the latest EU insanity with regard to the Microsoft anti-trust sanctions proves highly illustrative.
In March of 2004 Microsoft was fined a record $648 million by the European Commission for exercising its (alleged) monopoly power in the operating systems market. The most important element of that alleged monopoly power was Microsoft's free inclusion of its program, Media Player, in its XP operating system...

Microsoft is currently in the process of complying with that regulation. But there is a problem. Microsoft has tentatively titled its stripped down XP operating system as "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition." Whoops! The problem, now assert the regulators, is that the new name makes the "stripped down" version of XP appear, well, stripped down and thus less desirable to consumers than the bundled version. But we can't have that! So Microsoft will have to come up with another name.

Now if all of this sound like something out of an Ayn Rand novel, I would have to agree with you. Let's see if I've got this straight. Microsoft first sells an XP operating system with Media Player included at no charge... Competitors who sell rival media players complain, however, that Microsoft's free bundling makes it harder for them to do business. And they bring all of this to the attention of the European antitrust regulators.

So the European regulators come in, absent any evidence of consumer abuse, and order Microsoft to sell a consumer inferior version of Windows XP so that rival media player competitors will have an opportunity to do more business. But, the coup de gras, the name of the consumer inferior version must not reveal that it is in fact consumer inferior! Indeed, Microsoft has been ordered to do nothing commercially that would make the consumer inferior operating system appear less attractive to consumers and that includes, apparently, naming the product correctly. Microsoft, in short, has been ordered in effect to lie about its new operating system in the title and all in the name of preserving "competition."
Essentially, European consumers are no better off, European businesses are no better able to compete, millions have been chewed up in legal fees, and a bunch of bureaucrats have extorted nearly a billion dollars from the American software company which has done more to increase office productivity than any other company in history.

And these people think the EU is somehow going to be the next superpower? These people aren't fit to wipe Bill Gates' ass.

My real motives
Written by: Beck

Actually, the entire reason I supported the Orange Revolution in Ukraine was because I knew that if Yushchenko won, he'd pick a really hot Prime Minister.

That had to hurt
Written by: Beck

This is the single most thorough blogger slapfest I have ever seen:

Jonah Goldberg takes on Juan Cole.

Goldberg's after-action report.

Juan Cole's response.

Yeah, yeah, slow news day.

Update: Q&O weighs in, demolishing the whole Chicken Hawk argument.

Goldberg responds to Cole's response.

And finally, Juan Cole's response to Goldberg's response to his response.

Fun fun fun.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Democrats, meet your new party chairman
Written by: Beck

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Just heard on CNN HeadlineNews: Dean is now running for the DNC Chairmanship unopposed, as the last contender for the job--former Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana--has evidently dropped out of the running. Granted, there was no way Dean was going to lose to Roemer anyway, but the only thing between Dean and the Chairmanship now is the need to schedule a caterer.

Update: The AP has the story now. Money quote from Roemer:
"I got into this race five weeks ago to talk about the devastating loss we experienced in November," Roemer said in an interview. "It was not about 60,000 votes in Ohio. It was about losing 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the country. If that's a trend in business or politics you're in trouble."

Steyn on Darfur and the UN
Written by: Beck

Mark Steyn, as usual, writes brilliantly. I had a hard time not simply cut & pasting the whole thing; regardless, here are the juiciest bits:
As you may have noticed, the good people of Darfur have been fortunate enough not to attract the attention of the arrogant cowboy unilateralist Bush and have instead fallen under the care of the Polly Toynbee-Clare Short-approved multilateral compassion set. So, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the UN to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide.

That's great news, isn't it? For as yet another Annan-appointed UN committee boldly declared in December: "Genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated." So thank goodness this isn't genocide. Instead, it's just 70,000 corpses who all happen to be from the same ethnic group – which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, and Polly and Clare don't have to worry their pretty little heads about it.

That's the transnational establishment's alternative to Bush and Howard: appoint a committee that agrees on the need to do nothing. Thus, a few days ago, the UN Human Rights Commission announced the working group that will decide which complaints will be heard at their annual meeting in Geneva this spring: the five-nation panel comprises the Netherlands [fine --ed], Hungary [um, ok], Cuba [wait, what was that?], Saudi Arabia [beg pardon?] and Zimbabwe [!!!!!]. I wouldn't bet on them finding room on their crowded agenda for the question of human rights in Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, would you? One of the mystifying aspects of UN worship is the assumption that this embryo world government is a "progressive" concept. It's not. Its squalid geographic voting blocs, which use regional solidarity to inflate the status of nickel'n'dime dictators, are merely a Third World gloss on the Congress of Vienna--a relic of an age when contact between states was confined to their governing elites. In an era of jet travel, internet and debit cards that work in any bank machine from Vancouver to Vilnius to Vanuatu, there are millions of global relationships far better for the long-term health of the planet than using American money to set up Eurowimp talking shops manned by African thugs--which is what the UN Human Rights Commission boils down to.

The Bush Administration is now said to be considering using Kofi's "shock" to effect a regime change of its own at the UN. But to whom and to what? I'd be in favour of destroying the UN--or, failing that, at least moving its headquarters to Rwanda, but either of those options would require a level of political will hard to muster in modern sentimental democracies
Steyn then proposes an alternative to the UN: "nothing--or at least nothing formal." Sounds just about right to me.

Quote of the day
Written by: Beck

From Eric Scheie of Classical Values, on the Democrats' strategy for 2008:
The bottom line, of course, is whatever it takes to win. Socialism with a human face is still socialism, though.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday
Written by: Beck

Were he alive, Ronald Reagan would have been 94 today.

Written by: Beck

Update: The United Nations Foundation was created by Ted Turner and is not, evidently, support by tax money. As such, disregard what I said below about tax money going to pay for blog ads. Worth noting, however, is that the United Nations actually created the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships to coordinate with the UN Foundation. The UNF gets all its information directly from the United Nations; as such, my arguments about the corrupt UN worldview holds, despite the UNF being a quasi-independant foundation. Just to emphasize that the UNF is basically just an adjunct arm of the UN, have a look at their Board of Directors. Three of them are current employees of the UN, and one is the former Director-General of the UN's World Health Organization. Everything written below here was composed prior to spending a good while surfing around the UNF site trying to figure out just who in hell they were--hence some assumptions that the UNF was an actual part of the UN, as opposed to mostly-but-not-one-hundred-percent a part of the UN.


The rot that lies at the heart of the UN is not just a few bad apples, but rather an institutional mindset pervading every level of the organization in one way or another.

I noticed a blogad at Instapundit pointing to the United Nations Foundation which caught my attention. It's a website for a United Nations organization in which they try to take credit for the successful election in Iraq.

You read that right. They're trying to take credit for the successful election in Iraq. The United Nations Foundation also has a second blogad on Instapundit pointing to a website called Oil-for-Food Facts in which they attempt to justify the whole corrupt, failed, misbegotten program. I may at some point do a post taking apart the whole Oil-for-Food Facts website, as their "facts" are rather "weak" and in some cases just flat out "wrong." Oh, and you'll notice that nowhere on the Oil-for-Food Facts website do they disclose that it was entirely created and supported by the United Nations itself. I wouldn't even know it had they not smeared their logo on the original blogad. Oh, and one last note: these ads on Instapundit are costing the UN somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000. While I don't have a problem with Instapundit making that money (if anything, I'm glad it's going to Instapundit considering how much work Glenn Reynolds has done to shine light on the whole UNSCAM fiasco from the beginning), I do have a problem with my tax dollars going to pay for web advertising. Oh, and they've also taken an ad out on Daily Kos... for $10,000. I actively dislike Daily Kos. But my tax dollars are going to support his website. Fantastic.

Anyway, about the first ad I clicked, the one doing directly to the United Nations Foundation website where they attempt to imply that they deserve the credit for the successful elections in Iraq.

It starts off by quoting Kofi Annan expressing his commitment to the "birth of a new Iraq." Then it goes on to state that its "advisory role" is a "top priority." I bet those Iraqis sure are glad the UN is out there committed to advising them. Makes all the difference.

Then comes a bullet list of significant milestones. The first they can take direct credit for:
Training of Election Workers: UN election experts, both inside and outside of Iraq, trained more than 8,000 Iraqi electoral workers to assist the IECI in conducting a fair and free election. In the run up to the elections, ongoing violence took the lives of 8 of these brave Iraqis.
I'd like to talk to a few of those electoral workers to see just what kind of training they really received and how useful it was. Regardless, if you skim down the bullet list a ways, you come across this tidbit:
Voting in Iraq: Voting took place on January 30th, 2005. The UN helped to recruit and train up to 148,000 poll workers for the 5,300 polling centers and 29,000 polling stations established mostly in government schools and other neutral buildings.
They just stated that they trained 8,000 Iraqi electoral workers. Now they're trying to imply that they trained all 148,000 of the poll workers. Deceptive lying bullshit. That's just the most flagrant example though.

Take their second bullet point under "Election Progress":
Voter Registration: It is estimated that 14.2 million Iraqis registered to vote. To encourage voter participation, Sunnis living in the especially violent cities of Falluja, Ramadi, and Mosul were able to register and vote on the same day and cast ballots anywhere in their province.
Of course, the UN Foundation had nothing to do with voter registration; rather, Iraqi election workers risked life and limb registering voters while the United Nations refused to send anyone for over a year because it wasn't sufficiently safe for them. So just how many UN employees were in Iraq during the election?
UN presence: The Secretary-General has pledged to provide adequate UN staff and resources to Iraq for the election process. There are currently 58 substantive and support staff in Iraq, 22 of whom are elections experts led by Carlos Valenzuela.
Notice the slight-of-hand where they first quote the 58 number, then afterwards append it to note that only 22 of them were, you know, related to the election they're busy claiming credit for? And what did these election experts do? By their own admission, jack & shit:
Election Monitors and Observers: Between party agents and national observers, it is estimated there were more than 55,000 Iraqis monitoring the election. Because the UN provided technical assistance, it could not be a monitoring body.
I once read some business psychology literature which observed that people are actually far more willing to do what you want them to or believe what you're telling them if you simply insert the word "because." Here's a classic example. Because the UN provided technical assistance... it could not be a monitoring body. What the fuck? Is that supposed to be a joke, or some sort of Zen riddle? What is the sounds of one UN Agency obfuscating?

Then you have this:
Candidate lists included mainstream Shiite groups, Sunni Arab groups, and Kurdish groups as well as representatives from other tribes and minority religious sects, showing that groups used the electoral process to form alliances and attract widespread support.
In which I'm fairly sure the UNF is trying to claim credit for Iraq's ethnic diversity. Next up, the UNF announces its plans for the future. Sort of.
The Future Role of the UN in Iraq: Beyond January 30 there is a possible 3-fold role for the UN, according to its mandate including; 1) continued political facilitation with the transition, such as encouraging full inclusiveness; 2) technical assistance in the constitution drafting process; and 3) helping, if asked, in a public information campaign.
A possible role. Yeah. And I might have a possible role in curing cancer. I could do it at any time. If I wanted to. I just haven't made up my mind yet. Finally, in case your intelligence hadn't already been sufficiently insulted, you have a list of three things that the UN has done to contribute to Iraqi "peacebuilding." (Interesting neologism there. I guess they figure they've failed at coalition building and at peace keeping, so maybe they can call it peacebuilding and fail at two things simultaneously. More efficient that way).
Post-War: In July 2003, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a handpicked team to Iraq led by Sergio Vieira de Mello to rebuild peace. Even after the horrific terrorist bombing of the UN building in Baghdad, Mr. Annan sent in his special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to Iraq when requested by the Iraqis and the Coalition Provisional Authority.
What they fail to mention is that after the terrorist bombing of the UN building in Baghdad, Mr. Annan pulled all UN personnel out of Iraq, and none had been back until just before the election--in the nick of time to try to claim credit for its success, but not sufficiently involved to be blamed were it a failure. Next:
Interim period: Under the guidance of Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN helped to build local consensus and form the necessary coalitions within Iraq for a peaceful transition of power from the U.S.-led occupying forces to the current interim government. The UN also played a lead role in the inter-governmental meeting on Iraq in Sharm El Sheikh, which helped strengthen international consensus in support of Iraq’s political transition.
Yeah, that left my head spinning too. The UN helped build a coalition? Gee, and all this time, I never realized that when Kofi Annan explicitly stated that the American led invasion of Iraq was "illegal" that he was actually engaged in coalition building.

Sorry if the sarcasm is getting a bit too strong, but it's necessary to keep my sanity intact while reading through this doublespeak. Finally:
Pre-election: The UN provided support for the formation of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq and the recruitment and training of 900 IECI staff. The Commission is comprised entirely of Iraqis, plus one UN expert who is a non-voting member.
Provided support for the formation. Translation: sat in on some meetings while the real work got done. And I love how they try to make it sound like the UN expert was somehow nobly passing on the right to vote, when the reality of the situation is likely closer to some guy talked his way into some meetings which he then didn't bother to attend.

The common sense fairy gives the UN a miss
Written by: Beck

Remember how the oil-for-food program was created because the sanctions against Iraq were creating economic hardship for Iraq's poor? (Well, actually Saddam hoarding every drop of petro money and spending it all on rearming & taking potshots at American planes in the no-fly zones caused economic hardship for Iraq's poor, but that wasn't exactly the stated reason). Well, now that Saddam Hussein is gone, the country is occupied by America and her allies, and a Democratic election has taken place, it should be safe to assume that the sanctions have been lifted. Right?

Iraq wants the United Nations (news - web sites) to lift all sanctions and stop using the country's oil revenue to pay compensation to victims of the 1991 Gulf War and the salaries of U.N. weapons inspectors, Iraq's U.N. ambassador said Tuesday.

Ambassador Samir Sumaidaie called sanctions "anachronistic and inappropriate" and said it's time for the Security Council to recognize that Iraq is a "much more internationally friendly" country that wants to be at peace with its neighbors.

No longer needed, he said, was the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, which was responsible for dismantling Iraqi programs to build chemical or biological weapons or long-range missiles. The commission's inspectors left Iraq just before the March 2003 U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein, and the United States has barred them from returning.
You think that's bad? It gets even worse. The UN inspectors who haven't been inside Iraq since March of 2003 are still billing Iraq over $10 million a year by siphoning money off the top of Iraqi oil sales.

Finally, the UN continues to compell Iraq to pay reparations for Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. You know that old saying about those failing to learn from history being doomed to repeat it? Remember how reparations after World War I bankrupted Germany and created the economic conditions which made Hitler's rise to power possible? Do we really want a replay of that in the Middle East? What the hell is wrong with these people at the United Nations? It's time for them to go. The whole damned institution. Raze it to the ground and start over.

In more positive & amusing news, Iraq has announced that it wants the UN to pay it back for all the illicit profits made from Oil-for-Food corruption. I wish the Iraqis the best of luck on ever getting their hands on a single red cent.

(Hat tip: Speed of Thought X2)

Oil-for-Food news
Written by: Beck

First of all, former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has risen to the occasion. Rather than being defensive about his complicity in the scandal recently exposed by the interim report of the Volcker commission, Boutros Boutros-Ghali has decided to take the "Maximize Collateral Damage" approach.
Former U.N. head Boutros Boutros-Ghali refused to take all the blame for Iraq's scandal-tainted oil-for-food program on Saturday, pointing the finger at his successor Kofi Annan.

Boutros-Ghali was U.N. secretary-general at the start of the program which was designed to allow Iraq to buy food and medicines to ease hardships caused by U.N. sanctions.

"I share the responsibility, but don't twist the whole operation," Boutros-Ghali told BBC radio.

"The basis (of the program) was decided by the Security Council, approved by the Security Council, the execution was done during the mandate of my successor."
Next, Canada Free Press has an interesting article reporting on some unreported aspects of the OFF scam. Among other things, this article makes it seem that Annan knew a lot more about what was going on than he lets on.

Finally, this article from the Telegraph doesn't really reveal anything especially new or exciting, but I absolutely love the way it starts.
A thick scent of the past lies heavy in the miles of tatty corridors in the United Nations headquarters building on New York's Lower East Side. Throughout the towering 38-storey block, the glory days are not merely remembered, but cherished.

At the end of one dust-encrusted hallway is a debating chamber designed as a venue for diplomats to discuss the fate of the UN's own colonies, the trusteeships.

The last of those states reached independence 11 years ago. Even so, every day UN guards switch on the lights for the ghosts of a past age, the desks ready for diplomats and the empty podium with a functioning microphone. Above sit the press boxes for journalists who won't be reporting what isn't happening.

Further down the poorly lit corridor are shelves piled high with metal boxes containing miles of film footage from forgotten events. "Dominica Flag Raising," says the tape attached to one, a reference to the Caribbean nation's membership ceremony in 1978. Underneath sits a 1950s typewriter.

Even in the UN's main arteries there are celebrations of earlier days. Just yards from the Security Council entrance is a large photographic collage celebrating the UN's role in ending colonial rule, a process very largely completed 40 years ago.

The sense of an organisation unwilling to acknowledge the nasty realities of a changed world has been much in evidence this week after the publication of the first of Paul Volcker's reports on the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal.
I'd say that's a pretty good metaphore for the entire United Nations organization. A useless fossil left behind by history and best left behind in the past.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Only the good [quit blogging] young
Written by: Beck

The Diplomad, which virtually overnight became my favorite source for international relations news and analysis, has announced that it's closing its doors. This just weeks after winning multiple awards for Best New Blog of 2004 (Right Wing News' "Best Up & Coming Blog" and second runner up in Wizbang's 2004 Weblog Awards for "Best New Blog").

The news is so sudden and surprising, that I can't help but think that the Chief Diplomad, as the sites owner calls himself, has been outed within the State Department and is currently under major pressure to shut the site down. It's just about the only thing which makes sense considering the evidently large number of contributors it enjoyed, combined with the minimal effort required to maintain the site.

Regardless of the real reason for shutting the site down--their departure post only sites "a variety of personal and professional reasons," adding that they may some day blog again under a different name--they will be sorely missed. In their honor, I've got at least three big UN-bashing posts brewing.

Social security obstructionism
Written by: Beck

In the back of my mind, I'd been baffled by the sudden absolute denial by much of the Democratic leadership that a problem with Social Security even exists.

It would seem I wasn't the only one thinking this. Be sure to scroll down to the More... section of Ace's post and click the PDF link. I'd link it from here, but don't want to chew up his bandwidth hotlinking his file.

When you're done with that, have a look at this fantastic round-up of quotes that Jon Henke of Q&O Blog has put together. Included are no fewer than ten quotes from the Democratic Party savior himself, Bill Clinton. Quotes warning that if something isn't done to save Social Security soon, things were going to get ugly sooner. I think this Clinton quote is my favorite:
"Unfortunately, some in Congress already may be backing away from this historic opportunity. Just last week, the Senate Majority Leader said he may not be willing to join me in our efforts to save Social Security. That would be a grave mistake. As with so many other long-term challenges, if we act now, it will be far, far easier to resolve the problem than if we wait until a crisis is close at hand. I believe we must save Social Security and do it next year."
God the internet is great: it's the ultimate research assistant--doing work so I can just be lazy and link.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Great news in Oil-for-Food
Written by: Beck

The great news is that the Volcker investigation--the UN's own internal investigation into oil-for-food program fraud--has turned up a link to former Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. This is fantastic news. Why you ask?

Because there are few things in life I enjoy more than saying, "Boutros Boutros-Ghali."

And it looks like he was in it, along with some relatives, up to his eyeballs, along with (surprise!) a French firm.
So far, the head of the inquiry, Paul Volcker, has reserved his greatest criticism for the programme's administrator, Benon Sevan. But there were new concerns at the UN yesterday about the role of Mr Boutrous[sic]-Ghali, who was in charge of the organisation from 1991 to 1996, and oversaw the inception of the oil-for-food programme.

Two of Mr Boutros-Ghali's relatives--a brother-in-law and a cousin--have been connected to the scandal in which Mr Sevan is accused of trading influence for barrels of oil.

Mr Boutros-Ghali told the New York Times from Paris that the inquiry's allegations about his conduct were "silly".

His cousin, Fakhry Abdelnour, headed African Middle East Petroleum, which made at least $1.5m (£800,000) profit between 1998 and 2001, buying oil at a favourable price and selling it on to larger firms including Royal Dutch/Shell.

The firm sold 6.4m barrels of Iraqi crude to Shell, which said in a statement yesterday that it had been unaware of Mr Sevan's involvement in the deal.

Mr Sevan's contacts with Mr Abdelnour were infrequent. He was in regular communication with Fred Nadler, the brother of Mr Boutros-Ghali's wife, who served as a link with the oil company. Mr Nadler was a middleman between Mr Abdelnour and Mr Sevan. Mr Nadler and Mr Sevan were in phone contact on an almost weekly basis from 1998 to 2004.

Phone records obtained by the investigation also show calls made from the homes of Mr Boutros-Ghali's mother-in-law and another brother-in-law, Emmanuel Nadler.

The report notes that Mr Boutros-Ghali bypassed UN financial regulations on competitive bidding to award a banking contract to the Banque Nationale de Paris, making his choice after getting approval from the Saddam Hussein regime.
To which I add, "Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros."

Queue Gomer Pyle: Ghali!

A "Well I'll Be Damned" moment
Written by: Beck

The moment actually occurred around 2 AM this morning while watching Headline News on the TV in my room at the Borgata in Atlantic City. The news item was about this article, namely that twice Donald Rumsfeld submitted his resignation to President Bush after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke.

It recalled to mind a Thanksgiving dinner where there had been rather lively political debate with myself on one side and the rest of my extended family on the other (standard Thanksgiving dinner--I look forward to them. Really). And after all that work arguing that Rumsfeld shouldn't feel compelled to resign, it turns out he'd done just that.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says he twice offered President Bush his resignation during the height of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, but the president refused to accept it.

In an interview Thursday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Rumsfeld said: "I submitted my resignation to President Bush twice during that period and told him that ... I felt that he ought to make the decision as to whether or not I stayed on. And he made that decision and said he did want me to stay on."
Well I'll be damned.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cody in Danger
Written by: Dave

This just in...

Terrorists in Iraq have threatened to execute Special Ops Cody unless Cobra Commander is released within 24-hours.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Immoderate Moderates
Written by: Goemagog

There has been a lot of talk about why the Democrats have shed their 'moderates'. They haven't. They never had any. Neither have the Republicans. A 'moderate' from either party is someone who happens to agree with the other party on whatever issue is at hand. The issue changes, they become an extremist partisan.

The reason this has become the topic of discussion is not because they are lacking for a 'moderate' image. It's because they've become un-American. I don't mean that they're pushing some international socialist agenda, even though they are. I mean that the agenda the Democratic Party is pushing is purely European.

No European government permits a free press. All European media outlets are afraid to criticize their own governments, even as most American media outlets can't stop criticizing Bush. But even CNN is afraid to speak ill of other governments. Any discussion of media freedoms and usage as a defacto propaganda ministry will inevitably come to blaming Fox News for everything Americans think about the rest of the world. That the rest of the world, led by Europe, has become a lousy place to visit and even worse place to live is usually not discussed.

It's not that there is a great conspiracy amongst Democrats to get out of touch with American voters, it's that there used to be, but not amongst Democrats. Most of the leftist Democratic ideas come from the soviet sponsored socialist movements of the 50's and 60's aimed at taking over political structures without widespread public support. Those have collapsed, but their legacy lives on in European/American relations due to a misunderanding.

In Europe, politics are divided mostly into 'left' and 'right'. Both are socialists, the left being international socialists (formerly subserviant to Moscow, but now raving about the 'promise' of the United Nations) who think anyone else is an evil capitalist conspiring against them, and the right being national socialists, who think all dissenters are evil foreign capitalists conspiring against them. Cromwell is hailed as a hero for being more tyrannical than the king he executed. The king may have been bad, but the power of the king was not. Elections are a choice between a dictator, a tyrant, and a despot.

In America, politics are also divided into 'left' and 'right'. Leftists (such as Democrats) incorporate most of those who would fit into a European political party. They are a mix of socialists strains, from mild to extreme, from pacifistic to the Khmer Rouge wannabe's of the Green Party. The American right is primarily federalistic, i.e. that government should be tiered so that no one government level, branch, or agency can have absolute power. This also covers a wide variety of specific ideologies, groups, and subgroups. There is no European comparison to this, the groups that could fit into this are so small as to be easily missed.

The misunderstanding comes whenever an American describes another American as being on the political right. To a European, that means he's a nazi. Now that the Democrats are taking all of their cues from Europe, it means the same to them. Most American media outlets also take their cues from Europe, so they see things as the Democratic Party does. The problem is that most of the American public doesn't have coffee on the sidewalk in Paris, doesn't name-drop at the Hague, and doesn't read British newspapers. Few Americans do, and almost all of them are in the American media or the Democratic Party.

Emulating Europeans may win votes from Europeans, but they can't vote in our elections. It's a good thing too, because otherwise we might up emulating Germany's 11.4% unemployment rate, London's skyrocketing crime rate, or the corruption so dominant in the rest of the world. We're the richest, most prosperous country that has ever been by not emulating Europe. We've done things differently and usually better than they have. If the Democrats want a future in American politics, they need to stop using Europe as a reference point and base their policies entirely on what works here. Their foreign policy should be based on what we need in the way of resources and encouraging other countries to be more like us. Free, prosperous, and not afraid to bitch that our right-wing president has spent so much public money on 'art'.

Goe, against the National Endowment because the only good artist is a starving artist.

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