We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Save Sam Colt’s Internet

It has been said that the Internet, and specifically blogs, are to politics what Sam Colt’s Peacemaker was to the Wild West; an equalizer. That sentiment has apparently been taken to heart by the US Federal Election Commission because, like today’s gun prohibitionists, the FEC wants to take away your individual power and concentrate it in the hands of a chosen few.

A good background description of the bizarre reasons behind this power play can be found here, but basically it is an extension of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, a.k.a. the Incumbent Protection Act. Senators McCain and Feingold, authors of the Reform Act, claim this is not true. Do not be fooled. The FEC is under a Court Order to bring the Internet under Campaign control and MUST COMPLY. It will be done by mid-summer. Failure to abide by the FEC rules will carry some stiff penalties, the mere threat of which will be enough to keep most blogs out of the political arena.

There is, however, some hope. The Internet community is aware of what is going on, and a powerful group called Downsize DC has gotten involved in the fray. They have begun a strong grassroots effort and there is a bill pending in both houses of Congress now that would exempt the Net from the BCRA laws. The Online Freedom of Speech Act is only one line long and already has bipartisan support, albeit at a low level. If you are a US citizen, you can urge your representatives to sponsor the bill by using Downsize DC’s electronic lobbying tool. It only takes a couple minutes and, best of all, it is free – the way internet speech should be.

Rage on

While shuffling through a stack of magazines at the barber shop yesterday, I came across the August 9th issue of The New York Magazine. While not particularly familiar with the publication, one of the articles caught my eye. It was a conversation between Norman Mailer (NM) and his son John (JBM) entitled What I’ve Learned About Rage.

If I was more into the political scene in New York I probably would have realized what was coming but I somehow confused the name Norman Mailer with Norman Rockwell (heh), so I read on preparing to receive some fatherly advice about managing emotions. I got a lesson, alright, but certainly not the one I was expecting.

From the article, I gather that the Mailers are insiders with the New York Democratic (Socialist) Party. Besides being further proof that the mainstream media is in the tank for Kerry, the article was mostly how the Democratic Party can arrange protests during the upcoming Republican (Conservative) National Convention in New York. Those protests have already begun. The goal is to cause the most disruption to the Convention while simultaneously gaining the most favorable press for the Democrats. Disgusting, but dirty political tricks are nothing new to either side. The elder Mailer even suggested those sneaky Republicans really, really want lots of nasty riots and so will be secretly stirring up protests against their own Convention. I can not speak for the Republican planners, but that thought certainly gave me a rather nauseating glimpse into Mr. Mailer’s political mind.

Anyway, what really flabbergasted me was a something only a few paragraphs into the article where the younger Mailer dropped this little bombshell:

JBM I feel we’ve entered a realm where the question is, whose propaganda is better? The left (Democrat) is beginning to figure out that they can’t beat the right (Republican) with intelligent argument. They need punch phrases that get to the heart of the average American…

Excuse me? Your party can not win with intelligent argument? Is that because you have no intelligent arguments to make or because the majority of people are too stupid to understand? This suggests either a very deep flaw with your basic tenets or a very dim view of the population in general. JBM continued with:

… If that’s the case, what is the future for our country?

What indeed? The elder Mailer had a ready answer.

NM That’s not my first worry right now…

Double excuse me? You do not care what happens to the country as long as you win? I am beginning to understand why your party is bereft of intelligent argument!

Now, maybe I am just naïve. Maybe this is really how all politicos feel. But when was the last time you supported a group who proudly proclaimed: “Our side is wrong. We do not care. If we make enough noise, you idiots will still vote for us”?

NASA FTP site

NASA has set up this FTP site here for the public to use to upload photos, videos and documentary commentary of found debris. It may be the first use of the Net to assist in disaster evidence collection on such a massive scale.

REMEMBER not to touch anything. And FORGET about trying to profit from this tragedy.

Hairy egos

I came across this little comment on man’s foibles in the middle of the chaos known collectively as “the holidays”. At the time I couldn’t do more than check the validity of the article which, I’m sorry to say, was accurate. While the date would now classify it blogospherically speaking as an archeological anecdote, I felt the issue it addresses is still poignant.

This article appeared in a local US newspaper on Nov. 15, 2002 but it’s importance may well be global.

Absolutely the Least Substantial Reason for a Knife Fight:
Police in Mansfield Township and Hackettstown, N.J., charged Emmanuel Nieves, 23, with aggravated assault on Nov. 13 after he allegedly slashed the face of his friend Erik Saporito, 21, as the two men fought after arguing over which one had more hair on his buttocks.
[Express-Times (Easton, Pa.), 11-15-02]

As with any criminal act, there is something we as a society can learn. The lesson here is obvious: the bruised male ego can be a violent thing.

The more tickilish question, and the one we must answer if we are to prevent future attacks of this kind, is what finally triggered the assault? Was it ridicule (ha ha. your butt’s hairer than mi-ine!) or was it envy (my butt’s hairer than yours! nah na nahna na.)?

Its a sensitive issue.

The social scientists ride again

Those concerned with legislative attempts to alter society may find this article on cnn.com interesting. It concerns recent and current efforts to have toy guns outlawed because they are sometimes used to commit real crimes. Even worse, the perpetrators of toy gun crimes sometimes end up really dead when their victim turns out to be a cop who reacts by defending himself with lethal force.

Surprisingly, the idea was discussed that the real issue is not the prop used but the criminal intent of the assailant. Personally, I take that as a given. If a perpetrator knowingly engages in an illegal activity it does not matter what is chosen as the crime enabler of choice. While it may engender discussion, the issue is not the criminal misuse of toy guns.

The real issue is why do lawmakers want to remove toys resembling guns from society?

The immediate answer is social engineering. This is a conclusion reached not only through logical thinking, but also through the words of the two city councilmen who have introduced a bill to ban toy guns in New York. One likens toy guns to toy cigarettes. Given the increasingly pervasive and invasive bans on smoking, it is not hard to see where that leads. The other, Albert Vann, is even more blatant when he states

“If they use toy guns there’s a greater chance they’ll graduate to the real thing when they grow up.”

Clearly, it’s not about the toys. It’s not even about the crime. It is about changing society one culturally legislating law at a time.

Hijacked!

It’s official. The socialists run New Jersey.

Less than a month before the election and despite clear election laws to the contrary, the NJ Democrats swapped out a losing candidate and swapped in a retired ex-Senator. The courts rubber-stamped the maneuver on the argument that “the people deserve a choice.”

Never mind that there are four other parties running. Never mind that before they made their first candidate bow out the people already had a choice. Just focus on the realization that the choice before the bait and switch involved a Democrat who stood a real chance of losing. In New Jersey, that just can’t be allowed.

To maintain a facade of propriety, those voters who already returned their absentee ballots were invited to sue, which is a complete non-starter. As the candidate shenanigans show, the Democrats control the courts and any outcome will at most be a footnote to a hijacked election.

The only remaining question is whether the millions of dollars in political contributions raised by the original candidate can be used by his replacement. The obvious answer would be “That’s riduclous!” but don’t be surprised when the courts bless that one too.

The real issue is not about New Jersey but about how it relates at the national level. The socialists have only a one seat lead giving them control of the Senate. To have the New Jersey “election” a genuine race instead of a coronation simply did not fit into their plans.

Incidentally, the new candidate is not Frank Pallone as I reported earlier, but none other than Frank Lautenburg. Freedom minded people might remember the name. After an uninspiring 18 years in Congress, Lautenberg championed a major gun control bill just before retiring. The bill, which applied retroactively, was so broad and draconian it would have prevented a significant portion of the population, including a large number of police and military personnel, from possessing weapons. Instead of correcting the many faults with the bill, Lautenberg demonstrated his belief that the government is above the law by exempting the police and military and leaving the average citizen to bear the brunt of his confiscatory legislation.

Can you imagine what an emboldened Lautenberg will do with his belief in government supremacy if he is re-appointed Senator in a manipulated election and ushered into his old seat in the vaulted halls of Congress?

Election law? Pshaw!

Sunday’s news reported an amazing turn in the upcoming US New Jersey elections. While the subject is of scant interest to the majority of our readers, the sheer audacity of the gambit deserves at least a passing note.

The issue at hand is the New Jersey Senate race between Democrat (Liberal; Socialist) incumbent Robert Torricelli and Republican (Conservative; Capitalist) challenger Doug Forrester. In June, Torricelli had a commanding 14% lead and expected an easy victory. Then one of his 1996 campaign contributors was convicted of making illegal contributions and sentenced to 18 months in jail. Torricelli apologized for failing to report some campaign gifts, was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee and everyone expected the issue to fade away into the politics as usual category.

But it didn’t. Forrester kept the issue alive, and the results of the last poll showed that people were tired of politics as usual. Torricelli had dropped from 14 points ahead to 14 points behind.

After recovering from their apoplexy, the Democratic Party decided something had to be done. Torricelli obligingly fell on his sword and, in an emotional farewell on Sunday, withdrew from the running 35 days before the election.

Now for the audacious bit. The Democrats appointed Frank Pallone to take his place and are currently trying to get him on the ballot despite the election law that clearly states all nominees must be on the ballot 48 days before the election. As a handy precedent, a couple years back in Missouri, Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash a few weeks before the election and they couldn’t replace him. That the NJ Democrats seek to swap in a pinch hitter simply because polls suggest their original candidate would have lost demonstrates their disregard for the entire election process. It is an attitude displayed all too often by politicians everywhere.

What does it all mean? Torricelli fell from grace because he flaunted the election laws. The Democrats current bait and switch tactics show they too put self-interest ahead of the law. It also shows they’re still playing politics as usual.

Hopefully, the voters will teach them a new set of rules. Stay tuned.

With Liberty and Justice for all

First, let me extend a truly heart felt thank you to people all over the world who shared a moment of silence today. As Perry’s pictorial post shows, although the loss was centered on America, the grief and the support is global.

One of the things they teach in the modern American corporate culture is Franklin Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit number 5 is Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Over this past year, I have struggled to apply that habit to the September 11 attacks. Albeit simplistic, this is so far the best I could come up with.

It came to me this morning as a local radio station played some school children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which ends “with Liberty and Justice for all.” That in a nutshell is what America is all about. A fact verified by the millions of immigrants who arrive destitute on her shores and build a life of peace and prosperity within her borders. And that, in a nutshell, is what her enemies hate. It is not just that we own color TVs, drive big cars and live in relative peace in nice houses. It is that ANYONE, regardless of race, color, creed, sex, political inclination or background, ANYONE who comes here can, with a little effort, share that same life.

These terrorists know in their hearts they can never contribute anything positive to the world and instead hate all those who try. Like the vandal with a sledgehammer defacing a statue, they have decided it is easier to destroy than create. Instead of swearing allegiance to a nation that values its citizens, they swear allegiance to a crazed individual who lashes out at the world to fulfill a personal vendetta.

What they have yet to realize is that reducing tall buildings to rubble and snuffing out innocent lives does not make a profound political statement. But it does speak volumes about the tiny, hateful, cowardly minds that conceived of and carried out the destruction. Evil minds that, once eradicated, the world will neither long remember nor ever lament.

Peeking about

Readers concerned with Big Brother’s intrusive gaze or those who simply desire a little more privacy while surfing may find a recent article in the International Herald Tribune of great interest. Not to be confused with the game sometimes played at Blogger Bash parties, Peek-a-booty is a variation on the file-sharing peer-to-peer (P2P) networks popularized by Napster and kazaa. Instead of swapping music files, however, Peek-a-booty uses its P2P network to swap restricted web pages in encrypted format around firewalls.

The site has been in the works for quite a while, but a refined version has only recently become available. The idea is to give those with oppressive governments (i.e. China, North Korea, Britain) a means to view those web pages the state has placed off limits. If you happen to live in one of those more actively repressive places you better check out this article before joining the peek-a-booty network.

One other caveat: at last report, Peek-a-booty had not turned on the encryption bit so discretion is still advised.

Other censorship evading sites exist. SafeWeb and one of their products Triangle Boy are the most famous. So famous, in fact, that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) apparently already has some hooks into them. Rumor has it (surprise, surprise) the CIA is also interested in Peek-a-booty. The spooks will find it more difficult to wield economic influence this time since the booty code was not created by a single private firm but by the hacker group the Cult of the Dead Cow. Instead, the CIA would appear to have some kind of blocking method up its electronic sleeve.

Stay tuned.

Samizdata Slogan of the Day

“Sometimes fate hits you with the Clown Hammer of Circumstance and there’s nothing to do but sit there and watch the little birds fly around your head.”

- Tara Calishain, ResearchBuzz

Samizdata Expeditionary Force trapped!

Locked in the midst of a long range exploration of East Coast watering holes and possible future Blogger Bash sites, the Samizdata Expeditionary Drinking Force is regretfully unable to join its comrades at the Second British Blogger Bash (2B3). We’ve established a perimeter of beer mugs and martini glasses and, in a display of solidarity with our comrades in cups, have vowed to hold out to the last drop or as long as we can stand. Pitchers of margaritas are even now being prepared for what promises to be an extended effort. Although rescue is unlikely, escape is still possible. Godspeed Samizdata. Godspeed 2B3.

Ham Headed Hamster Handlers and other useless staff

Perry is doubtless on to something in his post below. Stephanie Dopeout or Stuffy Dupont or whatever the bit of fluff mishandling Brian Linse’s office calls herself is doubtless miffed at not being invited to the Bash. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s also more than a tad jealous that Brian is enjoying the company of other women, especially intelligent ones that don’t have a price tag dangling in their cleavage. Has anyone else noticed how familiar Stephanie is with that whole “babe for cash” routine?

Here’s a tip, Stephanie. Copy Brian’s Roladex (that’s a phone number index, not a watch) while you have the chance. Stockholm Syndrome aside, we at Team Samizdata can be persuasive, verrry, verrry persuasive, and I would not be at all suprised if, upon his return, Brian sends you back to the low budget temporary help office where he found you. If you’re lucky, he’ll even give you a map so you don’t get lost again.

One more thing. Brian can’t afford a PETA lawsuit, so go easy on the hamsters. Remember: The water goes in the bottle. The food goes in the bowl.