Friday, September 14, 2007

Lighter Blogging for Awhile

I'll likely be blogging more lightly for a few weeks, while I work on some other projects and in general rethink the direction of this blog. Something's gone wrong in the last month-and-a-half or so, because my hits were going up but then suddenly dropped precipitously.

So, keep checking back. I should get the ship straightened soon.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 3093 Diggs, is a link to a story about Microsoft's "secret" updates in Vista and Windows XP. Of course, this is complete rubbish, and has already been answered by Microsoft. In order for Windows Update itself to work on a given PC, it must remain in sync with the central Windows Update system. Those "secret" updates are merely Windows Update keeping itself updated.

It's a tempest in a teapot, but of course the Diggsters are all over it. It is Microsoft, after all.

An Interview with Ahmadinejad

Here's a transcript of an interview with Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is). It's an amazing discussion, full of the typical hypocrisy--Imajihadi says one thing to the Western press, and another thing entirely to the Muslim world. Of course, this is common in the Middle East, but Imajihadi takes it to another level.

Some quotes:

Q: Mr President, thank you very much for agreeing to talk to us tonight. Let me start with Iraq. Both the UK and the US have accused Iran of fighting a proxy war inside Iraq. Is that true?

...What you are saying is an allegation; we also accuse the English and the US of occupying and violating Iraq. I think the US and Britain should amend their own views and behaviour; if they want to blame others for their defeat then they can be sure that their defeats will be repeated...

As one might expect, he doesn't answer the question, but later denies Iran's involvement in Iraq.

On Israel:

Q: But you speak with more determination. The collapse of Soviet Union was a surprise - you're saying you want Israel off the map now.

A: Because we analyse the problems of the region meticulously. We do not deceive ourselves. We say a regime that does not have a proper philosophy of existence, which is an occupier which bullies people, and which is without culture and civilisation and which has all the powers of the region against it - this cannot survive.

It's remarkable that he would say of Israel that it "is without culture and civilisation (sic)," when no Arab state even approaches Israel's level on either account. But, he's very telling when he says that Israel "has all the powers of the region against it."

Read the rest, if you can stomach it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cox and Forkum on Iranian Missiles in Iraq

Cox and Forkum do their typical good work in covering the use of an Iranian missile to kill American soldiers in Iraq. Go take a look. There's a depressingly long list of stories on such actions by Iran.

Students Can Get Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 for $59.95

For any students out there, if you want a copy of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, now's the time. Microsoft is offering the suite for $59.95.

Ultimate includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Groove, and InfoPath. For a student, the $59.95 would be justified for OneNote alone, which is great for taking notes (and is even better on a Tablet PC).

RealTechNews has the story here.

Hewitt and Brandow Debate 9/11/2007

Here's an interesting debate in the LA Times between Hugh Hewitt and Doug Brandow on where we stand six years after 9/11/2001. I don't agree with either of them completely, but I would say this quote from Hugh Hewitt makes some sense:

No sane person can look at the last six years and see unbroken success or decisions that he or she didn't wish had been made differently.

But the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq aren't among them. Not even the Petraeus-slanderers at debate the decision to topple the Taliban. But the world is also much safer today because Saddam Hussein was overthrown and his mad-as-hatter sons are dead and not in line for the throne; the U.N. oil-for-food-for-dictators-sending-money-and-arms-to-terrorists-while-corrupting-officials-in-other-governments was exposed and ended; Libya's WMD program was dismantled; scores of Al Qaeda's senior leadership are dead or imprisoned (with more ending up that way each week), the A.Q. Khan network has been cabined; and the U.S. military is embedded with new or longtime allies around the world, teaching them the basics of counter-terrorism.

Read the whole thing.

Putin Preparing His Power Play?

Here's a post on Publius Pundit regarding Putin's recent power play in dissolving the Russian government and appointing a new Prime Minister, and what it bodes for the near future of Russian politics. The gist:

Russian analysts widely believe that Putin will only hand over his authority in a nominal manner next year, to achieve technical compliance with the constitutional edict, and will return in four years -- perhaps with a longer presidential term having been secured by constitutional amendment. Stepping away from the forefront may offer Putin the chance to affect an even more far-reaching crackdown on civil liberties without being personally blamed for it, and Ivanov is just about the perfect person to carry out such a strategy.

On the other hand, it's obviously risky to surrender the reigns of power to anyone for any period of time, much less to a strongman capable of carrying out such a crackdown. So it may be that Putin will opt for a mere figurehead, or he may ultimately choose not to leave power at all. That is not necessarily a bleak option for Russian democracy, since it would indicate Putin believes there is enough opposition to his rule that he cannot trust anyone else to resist it.

Read the whole thing.

Noam Chomsky Upholds Place as #1 Anti-American Intellectual

Noam Chomsky is one of my least favorite people. Having him quoted by Osama bin Laden doesn't help. And the following quotes definitely hurt:

Chomsky later added, "just as Bush is Osama Bin Laden's best ally, he is also Ahmadinejad's best ally." Washington's "threats" against Iran had the anticipated effect of making the Iranian government "more harsh and verbal," he said.

Yes, of course. And, Washington's threats against Iran went back in time and caused the act of war that was the occupation of the US embassy in Iran and the holding of American hostages in 1979. And every other act of Iranian-sponsored terrorism since then.

In Osama's words:

This war [in Iraq] was entirely unnecessary," bin Laden said in the video, according to the transcript released by the SITE Institute. "And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice."

Some other key quotes:

-- That he had predicted directly after 9/11 that governments would use the attacks "as an excuse" to intensify repression.

-- That the invasion of Iraq was a war crime.

-- That the U.S. bombed Taliban-ruled Afghanistan after 9/11 despite having no real evidence at the time that the plot had been hatched in that country.

-- That while Afghanistan today needs constructive help, including offers of alternatives to poppy cultivation by peasants, "what the West prefers to do is to bomb."

-- That "the United States is not a functioning democracy."

-- That the "first 9/11" wasn't the al-Qaeda attack in 2001 but the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup that toppled Chile's communist President Salvadore Allende. "The effect of the first 9/11 was incomparably worse than the second 9/11," Chomsky says. "How come nobody talks about that? Well there is a simple reason. Because we were responsible for it."

I wish the definition of sedition included such words as these. Chomsky's obviously provided aid and comfort to the enemy if he's being quoted by Osaba bin Laden.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 6166 Diggs, is a link to a story about Chicago police arresting a man for allegedly soliciting a prostitute, despite the fact that his wife and daughter were with him.

The comments are telling, especially this one:

"Such cases are only possible in US!"

It's amazing how the likes of Diggsters consider this such an onerous case of, what, oppression? Corruption? Abuse of power?

In Iran, with such a misunderstanding, who knows what would have happened with the man but the prostitute would likely have been stoned to death. In Russia, how the man was treated would have been determined by who he is and who he knows.

Having lived in Chicago, I know that the city cops are tough. Perhaps in certain instances they're even corrupt. But I doubt that this is the first time they've came across a man and a woman (the daughter wasn't present) soliciting a prostitute together. Even husbands and wives, I'm sure.

Once again, Digg demonstrates its uninformed membership and its proclivity for finding abuse and corruption only in America.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

AP Asserts That Iraq War "Bush Vendetta" for 9/11

Another from Newsbusters, this time about an AP "analysis piece" that asserts that the Iraqi war is Bush's "vendetta against Saddam" for 9/11.

The money quote:

In an "analysis" piece the AP put out today, "After 4 years of errors, Bush definition of ‘victory’ in Iraq is far more modest," Raum flatly states:

Bush’s decision to wage a vendetta against Saddam Hussein as retribution for the Sept. 11 attacks — six years ago Tuesday — led to many miscalculations and mistakes.

And what evidence does Raum offer in support of his astonishing theory that the Iraq war was Pres. Bush's "vendetta" against Saddam "for the Sept. 11 attacks"? Uh, Tom will have to get back to us on that . . .


Daily Kos Equates Reagan and Osama bin Laden

I don't often write about the Daily Kos, and thankfully this post on Newsbusters did it for me. This is regarding a recent Daily Kos post equating Reagan and Osama bin Laden.

The money quote:, the Left's most popular website and a key source of fund-raising for Democrats from coast to coast, says Osama bin Laden and Ronald Reagan have a lot in common:

So is Osama bin Laden truly "evil?" Most people who lost family members at the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 would probably consider him to be evil. Was President Ronald Reagan evil? Most residents of Beirut who lost family members when the USS New Jersey rained 2,700 pound Mark 7 shells on residential neighborhoods in 1983 during the Lebanese Civil War probably considered Reagan to have been evil. Bottom line? Bin Laden is no more evil than other revolutionary leaders in other times or even than ordinary national leaders who propel their countries to war for "national honor," or to acquire the resources of others, or even to "do good."

To translate Kos-speak: Osama bin Laden isn't a terrorist, he's a freedom fighter. And Reagan wasn't a freedom fighter - he was a terrorist.

Read the rest. It says a great deal about the Left and its attitudes about America.

The Objective Standard on Edwards' Health Plan

The Objective Standard goes after Presidential Candidate John Edwards oppressive, paternalistic healthcare plan, and does its typically great job.

A quote:

Under Democratic presidential contender John Edwards's "universal" health-care proposal, every American would be required to go to the doctor for preventive care in order to keep health-care costs down. In a similar proposal, a Tory panel in Britain suggested that, in order to control the spiraling costs of its socialized health-care system, Britons should be forced to adopt a government-prescribed "healthy lifestyle" or else be denied certain medical treatments. Britons who improve their health by, for example, quitting smoking or losing weight would receive "Health Miles" that could be used to purchase vegetables or pay for gym memberships.

"These proposals are the reductio ad absurdum of nanny-state paternalism," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "According to these politicians, instead of having a government that protects our right to live our own lives, we are to be treated like incompetent children who need someone to force us to visit the doctor and eat our veggies.

Read the whole thing.

Putin Complains About US Restrictions on Foreign Investment

Here's an interesting story in the International Herald Times about Putin's complaints over recent US legislation increasing national security oversite over foreign investments in the US. It's interesting from a few perspectives.

First, Russia has shown that it can't be trusted with regard to foreign investment in Russia:

In recent months, foreign oil companies have been forced to cede control of a number of major projects which they acquired in the 1990s, most notably with the sale by Royal Dutch Shell of a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 project, and BP's sale of its stake in the Kovykta gas field.

The Russian state-run natural gas monopoly Gazprom was the buyer of both.

Second, and on a related note, I have to agree with limitations on purchases of American businesses by foreign state-owned companies. I have less concern about purchases by purely private entities in nations that recognize property rights.

Regarding the general concept of government limits on foreign investment, I'm a bit more undecided. On the one hand, there certainly can be national security interests, be it regarding infrastructure (such as energy companies) and high technology. It likely makes sense for such investments to be vetted.

But ultimately, that Putin would make such a complaint is a bit hypocritcal. As a wannabe dictator, Putin has very little room to talk.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4929 Diggs, is a link to a YouTube clip of a gay (20-something? teenager?) wailing over the treatment of Britney Spears. One wonders whether it's a parody or for real--but only if one has so little else to do.

Ultimately, it's further testament that the Internet, for all its incredible usefulness, has a useless and seedy side, for which Digg and YouTube continue to provide ample evidence.

France Backs Up US on Iranian Stance

I think I've said it before, but in case I haven't: I'm very pleased that France has a leader with at least some reason about him. The West needs to be together against Islamic fundamentalism, and having France with us once again--at least against Iran--is a positive.

Here's a story in the Asian Times that makes a few interesting points. Although American diplomacy with Iran has been lacking, the story says, we've done a good job of bringing the West together. While I agree with the former statement, I'm sure my position would be the polar opposite: I don't believe we should have any "diplomacy" with Iran, any more than we should have had "diplomacy" with Japan on December 8, 1941.

The latter statement, though, might be of most importance. Again, at least with France, the West seems to be coming together. Some quotes:

Only a week earlier, Sarkozy brought French policy into alignment with the United States, warning, "Iran with a nuclear weapon is not acceptable to me. I want to underline France's total determination on the current plan linked to increasing sanctions, but also being open to talks if Iran chooses to respect its obligations. This initiative is the only one that can allow us to escape an alternative that I can only call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

That's a bold statement for France to make: "...I can only call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." That's important: it's necessary for some other Western nation to assert that Iran will be bombed before it's allowed to make a nuclear weapon.

Then, about the West:

America's miserable performance in Iraq should not obscure the success of Washington's efforts to align the West against Tehran. Sarkozy has shifted French policy in a way that leaves Iran no wiggle room. Although Berlin has been very quiet in recent months, Rafsanjani's main ties to the West run through Germany, and it can be assumed that US President George W Bush is working closely with Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as with Sarkozy.

It seems quite probable that the prospect of a West united in its resolve to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and resigned to enforcing this by military means, shifted the balance within Iran's clerical assembly to the former president. To be sure, Rafsanjani's return to a position of influence, if not yet power, embarrasses Ahmadinejad but does not yet restrain him.

It's an interesting story, and worth a read.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

In recognition of today's date, September 11, I won't be blogging other than this single post. I feel there's very little that one can say today that has much meaning in the context of this day six years ago.

This is particularly true given the sorry state of affairs since then. Although no new terrorist attacks have succeeded on American soil, our enemy--Islamic fundamentalism--is stronger today than it was then. Thousands of American soldiers have died in Iraq for the same reason that 9/11 occured--our selfless appeasement of the true antagonists and our altruistic approach to the "war on terror."

Iran is stronger and bolder today than it was then, and has accelerated its proxy war against us by supporting the terrorists who kill our soldiers in Iraq. Syria continues to wreak havoc in the region, with its meddling in Lebanon and among the Palestinians. Saudia Arabia, our alleged ally, continues to export the very Islamic fundamentalism that has accounted for the worst acts of terrorism in the last century.

In short, our reaction to 9/11, rather than demonstrating to the Islamists our strength and will in protecting our interests, has shown them our fundamental weakness as a nation. The dominant philosophy in America today is altruism, which has caused our leadership (along with the religiosity of Bush) to fight the war with at least one hand tied behind our back. Rather than stating firmly our right to defend ourselves, our leadership has made its official position that America's purpose is to fight and die for the likes of Iraqis and Afghans--who would just as likely stab us in the back as thank us.

This altruistic approach to the war has resulted in rules of engagement that place the safety of foreign civilians before the lives of American soldiers. And our appeasement of Iran and overt support of Saudi Arabia perpetuates the spread of the very ideas that prompted 9/11.

And so, it's with a disappointment that I can't fully express that I must honor the victims of 9/11 with silence rather than extolling the virtues of our response to the vicious and cowardly attacks of that day.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cox and Forkum on 9/11

Here's Cox and Forkum on 9/11. Just go read it.

China's Cyberwar - Not Just on the US

More, from Ars Technica, on Chinese cyberattacks around the world. It seems like this is looking more and more like the real deal.

Read the whole thing.

A Little Bit More Craziness from Ahmadinejad

Just a little bit of craziness from Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) via AFP:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday lashed out at his Western foes which demand Iran halt its sensitive nuclear activities, saying they were "racing to hell".

"The Iranian people have climbed over difficult mountain passes on their path of progress. The enemies need to step aside from our path and give up their satanic ideas," he said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

"One or two countries are refusing to accept that Iran is now mastering nuclear technology ... Some countries are racing towards hell. But this makes us sad and, for the good of their people, we will resist."

Um, okay.

Some More on Putin's Russia

Another good bit on Putin's Russia from La Russophobe, this time an overview of a story by Dr. Robert Horvath, a research fellow at Melbourne University's Contemporary Europe Research Centre and author of The Legacy of Soviet Dissent: Dissidents, Democratisation and Radical Nationalism in Russia.

Some key quotes:

IT WAS ironic that Paul Keating's exhortation for us to extend a warm welcome to Vladimir Putin was published in The Age on September 5, the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in Russian history.

It was on that day in 1918 that the Bolshevik regime issued its decree on the "Red Terror", which authorised the secret police, the Cheka, to conduct extrajudicial executions and to incarcerate "class enemies" in concentration camps. Many decades later, prisoners in the Gulag would mark that day with ceremonies in memory of the victims of the "Red Terror", which they understood to be the source of the violence that culminated in the mass slaughter of the 1930s.

And some more:

The primary reason for the Kremlin's sabre-rattling on the international stage is to be found not in the West, but in the peculiar brand of neo-totalitarianism that is emerging in Putin's Russia.

Today, the Russian state is dominated by "Chekists" and other representatives of the Soviet-era security apparatus, who have systematically destroyed the fragile structures of an emerging democracy. During the past seven years, they have stifled the independent media, emasculated parliament, intimidated lawyers and imposed rigid controls on civil society.

If the murders of some of Putin's most outspoken critics remain unsolved, there is no doubt about the Kremlin's responsibility for the carnage in Chechnya. The razing of Grozny, a city of 400,000 before the first Russian invasion, is an atrocity that has no parallel in European history since the Nazis' destruction of Warsaw. In accordance with Putin's promise, in criminal slang, "to waste the terrorists in the shithouse", his security forces unleashed a campaign of "disappearances" on a scale that Human Rights Watch designated as a crime against humanity.

I've quoted quite a bit. Go read the whole thing for yourself.

Atlas Shrugged to be Made into Movie? Don't Hold Your Breathe

I'll believe an Atlas Shrugged movie will be made when I see it. And I hold out no hope that it will be anything but atrocious. However, if it helps expose the culture to even a few of Ayn Rand's ideas without misrepresenting any, it would probably be a net gain.

Australia's Sale of Uranium to Russia: Big Mistake

I have to agree with this blog post: Australia's making a big mistake in selling uranium to Russia, a country that has its own significant reserves. I'm not sure what compelled Australia to do so, with the significant risk that some of this uranium could show up in Iranian labs.

The source of the story linked in the post is Al Jazeera, but that doesn't change the reality of Australia's mistake. Also, in reading the story, I see that I'm in agreement with Greenpeace Australia.


Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4613 Diggs, is a link to some admittedly impressive pictures of large holes (mostly mines). So, Digg scores some points for the coolness factor, but again, it's all of no real importance.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Attends Anti-US/Anti-Israeli Conference

It never fails to amaze me how inherently corrupt is the United Nations. One would think that the organization would have lost all legitimacy with the "Oil for Food" scandal, but that story was relatively buried in the mainstream press. Now, via Gateway Punding, we have news on the UN Commissioner for Human Rights attending a meeting of the "Non-Aligned Movement," headed by Cuba.

Some of this oganizations past work include the following:

This is the same group that agreed to bash just one country in their declaration of human rights, Israel, by:

"Expressing deep concern on the cultural uprooting which is continuously unfolding in the Palestinian occupied territory and the occupied Syrian Golan on the basis of such doctrines by the occupying power.

"Oh, and the group also denounced:

"The attempts to identify any culture with terrorism, violence and human rights violations."

You wouldn't want to do that!

Someday, maybe we'll get some sense and pull the US from the UN altogether. We have NATO, which is all we need.