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.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

No blogging today

No blogging today, a bit under the weather.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

China Plans Cyberwarfare Against US

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our various military systems could be vulnerable to attack, and that would spell disaster against a serious foe. A recent Pentagon report outlines how China is preparing for cyberwarfare against the United States.

Some quotes:

Chinese military hackers have prepared a detailed plan to disable America’s aircraft battle carrier fleet with a devastating cyber attack, according to a Pentagon report obtained by The Times.

The blueprint for such an assault, drawn up by two hackers working for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is part of an aggressive push by Beijing to achieve “electronic dominance” over each of its global rivals by 2050, particularly the US, Britain, Russia and South Korea.

Yes, that's what it says: a "detailed plan to disable America's aircraft battle carrier fleet." Again, that would be devastating if successful. Given our recent reliance on networked system for command and control, particularly in the Navy, any successful effort to interfere with those systems could significantly reduce the effectiveness of such a fleet.

Even more unnerving:

Larry M. Wortzel, the author of the US Army War College report, said: “The thing that should give us pause is that in many Chinese military manuals they identify the US as the country they are most likely to go to war with. They are moving very rapidly to master this new form of warfare.” The two PLA hackers produced a “virtual guidebook for electronic warfare and jamming” after studying dozens of US and Nato manuals on military tactics, according to the document.

Read the entire story. It's a bit frightening. Of course, I don't doubt for a moment that the NSA has similar programs underway, but no country's military is as reliant upon networked systems as is the US's. If we don't fix vulnerabilities, it could be our downfall.

Ahmadinejad Wants Iran To Create World Government

More from Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is), this time on his political aspirations:

"They know quite well that the Islamic Revolution wants to prepare the ground for materialization of the promised `big event' (reappearance of the Imam of Age); that's why they try to take precedence in campaign against us. We are against rule of the non-righteous individuals. Clashes today are only a pretext and they confront us because the revolutionary Iran aims a global government and a genuine Islamic culture so as to gain a loftier position worldwide..."

Thanks for stating things so clearly, Mr. Imajihadi.

Ahmadinejad Calls for Interest-Free Banking

Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) keeps astounding with his wackiness. This time, he's calling for reforming the Iranian banking system to the Islamic principle of interest-free banking. I hope he succeeds; that alone could bring his country to the point of begging the West to remove him from power.

I mean, it's funny, actually:

“No economic activity is possible without assistance from banks,” he said and “any problem in the banking system will have a negative impact on all economic sectors and the people's lifestyle."

However, if the banking system adopts a proper monetary policy, all other sectors of the economy will grow, he observed.

I could go into the function of interest in an economy, but I won't. Hopefully everyone who reads this will understand the utter insanity of his plan.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a light 2870 Diggs, is a link to a picture of a little girl holding sign of all the things she's "learned from Bush."

It's been awhile since Digg showed its Leftist side, and this ranks right up there with the best of its many Leftist stories.

Has This Blog Lost Value?

As I started the Daily Topic a few months ago, my readership was on a steady rise. Then, suddenly, about a month ago, the number of folks visiting the site plummeted.

I ask those of you who are still visiting: has the blog lost value? Are my posts less interesting? Am I too redundant, or to unfocused?

I would appreciate any comments, because of course I'd rather see my readership increase, not decrease.

National Healthcare Means Higher Rate of Cancer Deaths

Unfortunately, this Principles in Practice post doesn't link to it, but a recent study of cancer survival rates shows why socialized medicine (think "national healthcare" or whatever you want to call it) is deadly. The money quote:

The study finds that Britain (whose much-touted "universal health care" system is held up by the left as a model for America) has among the lowest cancer survival rates in the West—drastically lower than the United States, which has the world's highest survival rate.

It's simple, really:

Researchers attribute Britain's dismal numbers primarily to late diagnoses and lengthy waiting lists for treatment. But long lines and waiting lists are necessarily endemic under socialized medicine.

The solution is less government and more individual responsibility in healthcare. That is, unless we less of a chance to live.

National Service - Slippery Slope to Slavery

I wouldn't even know where to begin in extolling the vile nature of this article on "national service." It's a very thinly veiled call for altruistic self-sacrifice in the name of "society." The writer calls for "voluntary," not mandatory nor compulsory, service, but why do we need government programs for volunteers? And, how can a program be "voluntary" if $5000 in taxes per newborn is to be spent on a "National Service Baby Bond"? It certainly wouldn't be voluntary for today's taxpayers.

Again I have little time for blogging, and so rather than attacking this topic myself I refer you to the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), where the "national service" ideology is described as what it really is. Read the Times story, and then the ARI editorial, and see where you stand.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Only a Digg Report

Only a Digg Report for today. Hopefully, I'll finish this project and get back to normal blogging by the end of the weekend.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4550 Diggs, is a link to a rant about Internet Explorer's general lack of conformance to various Internet standards. Not much to say about that.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Light Blogging Next Few Days

Just to remind, light blogging today and probably through tomorrow, at least.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4891 Diggs, is a link to Steve Job's open letter to early iPhone adapters, wherein he explains the $200 price job after two months and offers a $100 credit at the Apple store or Web site.

It's good to see a highly Dugg story that has some relevance to it. Maybe to a select few, and the Apple faithful, but still relevant.

Sudanese Islamists: Don't Come to the Sudan, US!

Another piece from MEMRI, this time on Sudanese Islamic leaders warning the US not to send forces to Darfur. The reason? It is "the most beautiful place in which our sheikh, Bin Laden, can operate."

Of course, it's written in that strange, off-kilter way that most of these Islamist proclamations seem to be written. I don't write it all off to translation, either; they think differently than we do in the West, not just about religion, but about what words mean and how to use them.

Anyways, here are some quotes:

Dr. Hassan Al-'Audha, Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood: "America believes that it is the master of the world, and that all other people are its slaves, who are subordinate to it and must obey it. America believes that it owns the oil discovered in Sudan. These are not my words. [Former U.S. president] Carter declared some two years ago: 'We wanted the oil of Sudan to be used for the pleasure of the American people after 2005.'

Hmm, hadn't heard that one. And it would shock me--absolutely shock me--if Jimmy Carter had written anything like that (unless, of course, it was meant as an attack on the Bush Administration). And look at the US... we're really going after that Sudanese oil, aren't we?

Of course, that's ridiculous. It's the Chinese that are going after that oil. But we wouldn't expect an Islamist to recognize that, now would we?

Muhammad Ahmad Hajj Ahmad, Commander of the Popular Defense Forces: "Whoever talks about genocide and about [ethnic] cleansing and all that should tell us what is going on in Palestine, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. Throughout the history of this world, we have heard about women being raped by men. But throughout history, never have we heard about men being raped by women, except at Abu Ghureib prison."[...]

That just cracks me up. "But throughout history, never have we heard about men being raped by women..." There are so many off-color jokes there that I'll just leave it alone. However, this guy in one sentence manages to relegate Abu Ghureib (his spelling) to the annals of comic history.

"I don't want to go on, brothers. We have done talking. Let them do the talking - the Americans, the British, and NATO, who covet the Sudanese oil, and minerals of Darfur and Moya, and who look for uranium, and want to... By Allah, we don't care about any of this. All we want is to die for the sake of Allah. Just a bullet here - and you are gone. Let them come - by Allah, we will teach them a lesson."

I mean, this whole diatribe is remarkable for how out of touch with reality it really is. I mean, the US is not involved with Darfur in anything but a peripheral sense, and yet these yahoos talk as if we've already landed Marines there. And the funny thing is, here in the US, the Left would be quicker to attack us for not being involved.

Islamist Web Site in Minnesota Details Plans on Attacking US Bases

Deadlines still loom, but I thought I'd try to get in a few quick posts. Here's one from MEMRI, which discusses an Islamist Web site hosted in Minnesota containing a discussion on the best way to attack a US military installation.

Hopefully, this Web site has been shut down and the hosting site cautioned to keep their eye out for such stuff. Obviously, this goes beyond any rational notion of "freedom of speech" and is instead directly aimed at harming the security of the US.

We shouldn't expect such Web sites to be hosted in the US.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Might be Some Light Blogging Next Couple of Days

Might be some light blogging over the next few days, some deadlines are looming.

Jimmy Carter's Impact on the Evolution of Iran

Here's an interesting post on Jimmy Carter's impact on the Shah of Iran and his eventual downfall to the Islamic totalitarian, terrorist-supporting government that exists today. Probably, much of this information needs to be vetted, since this isn't exactly a known resource, but it paints an interesting picture.

The gist:

In accordance with the pleasant US-Iran relations then-existing, President Carter spent New Year's Eve in 1977 with the Shah and toasted Iran as "an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world". Nonetheless, between 1975 and 1978, the Shah's popularity fell due to the Carter administration's misguided implementation of human rights policies. The election of Mr. Carter as president of the United States in 1976, with his vocal emphasis on the importance of human rights in international affairs, was a turning point in US-Iran relations. The Shah of Iran was accused of torturing over 3000 prisoners. Under the banner of promoting human rights, Carter made excessive demands of the Shah, threatening to withhold military and social aid. Carter pressured the Shah to release "political prisoners", whose ranks included radical fundamentalists, communists and terrorists. Many of these individuals are now among the opponents we face in our "war on terrorism".

The result:

When the Shah was unable to meet the Carter Administration and British demands, the Carter Administration ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to stop $4 million per year in funding to religious Mullahs who then became outspoken and vehement opponents of the Shah. Unfortunately, the Shah's efforts to defuse the volatile situation in Iran failed, despite the grant even of free and democratic elections. Confronted with lack of US support and unleashed Mullah fury, the Shah of Iran fled the country.

Subsequent to the Carter Administration's ill-conceived foreign policy initiative, Iran is now a dungeon. Ayatollah Khomeini's dictatorship executed the Shah's prisoners, predominantly communist militants, along with more than 20,000 pro-Western Iranians. Women were sent back into servitude. Citizens were arrested merely for owning satellite dishes that could tune to Western programs. American diplomats were taken hostage, and the Soviet Union invaded Iran's eastern neighbor Afghanistan as a result of this chaos, allowing it to secure greater influence in Iran and Pakistan. The struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and the defeat of this invading Superpower with help from the United States under President Reagan gave rise to the radicalization and emergence of Muslim zealots like Osama bin Laden. Moreover, within a year of the Shah's ouster, Iran on its western flank was locked into the Iran-Iraq War, in which the U.S. sided with secular Iraq and its military dictator Saddam Hussein.

Maybe a bit of a stretch, although it's compelling:

Thus Jimmy Carter's misguided implementation of human rights policies not only indirectly led to overthrow of the Shah of Iran, but also paved the way for loss of more than 600,000 lives, Iran's rule by Ayatollahs, the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait and Desert Storm, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and the mass murder of Americans and destruction of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

Jimmy Carter Thinks Middle East Debate "Unbalanced" In Favor of Israel

It's remarkable that Jimmy Carter would call for "balanced" Middle East debate, when the mainstream media does everything it can to make the Palestinians look like victims and Israel look like a brutal oppressor. I meet very few people who have a clear understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, with their opinions tracking pretty much along the lines of whatever they're fed by the MSM.

The very best place to go to get an idea of how biased is the coverage of Israel and the Palestinians is Little Green Footballs. That guy has a seemingly unlimited amount of time to amass amazing amounts of information showing just how bad the coverage really is.

Russia Helps Iran out of a Tough Spot

Many thanks to Russia for minimizing the impact of American and European sanctions against Iran. This time, it's in the area of Iran's aviation industry that Russia is helping a known terrorist-supporting government maintain its viability.

Some quotes:

Aviation chief Saeed Hesami said Russian planes were Iran's best option, according to IRNA, despite a string of crashes in recent years involving Russian-made aircraft that have killed hundreds of people.

"We have no option but to buy Russian planes because we have to meet the air transportation needs of the nation," Hesami was quoted as saying by IRNA. "Iran won't allow ... U.S. sanctions to ground its aviation fleet."

Actually, it looks to me like Russia won't allow US sanctions to ground Iran's aviation fleet.

And perhaps the money quote:

In 2002, Iran's transportation minister at the time, Ahmad Khorram, told parliament that Iran's air industry had reached "a crisis point" and was suffering from U.S. sanctions.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 3968 Diggs, is about Apple's announcement of new iPods. This is tech reporting, I suppose, so kudos to Digg for getting the word out. Not that a million other sites haven't already trumpeted the news, but you can't blame Digg for trying.

And I'm actually surprised that this wasn't Dugg more. Diggsters seem to like Apple products.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cox and Forkum on Edward's Oppressive Healthcare Scheme

Cox and Forkum on Presidential Candidate John Edward's plan to make various preventive care activities (annual physicals, mammograms, etc.) mandatory. I haven't written on this because, basically, I'm still having a hard time believing it. I mean, literally: I'm struggling to digest the idea that an American Presidential candidate could be calling for government-mandated doctor visits, and how anybody--anybody--can evade the Orwellian nature of such an idea and support it.

It's not even a slippery slope. It's the end of the slide. One needn't even go into what else might be required. Just the simple annual physical is enough to render this plan dictatorial. If Edwards were elected and this plan implemented, I do believe the Constitution would spontaneously combust.

Are Our Military Networks Safe?

This Ars Technica story highlights the importance of securing our military networks. I am continuously impressed by how powerful our military is becoming through networked systems, with information flowing up from the ground troops, ships, planes, etc., to commanders, who are provided with an unprecedented level of battlefield awareness and thus control.

However, with the Chinese knocking satellites out of the sky and the seeming inability to secure a network from hacking, I wonder what will happen if this mesh of information gets disturbed. Will our military be able to continue functioning, or will it have come to rely too much on vulnerable technology?

I hope there's someone paying very close attention to this, I really do.

Ahmadinejad Continues to Sound Crazier and Crazier

And, once again, more from Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is). From AFP, some quotes:

"The Iranian nation has withstood and it will withstand intimidation. It will never bow to any intimidation in the nuclear issue and in other matters," state broadcasting quoted Khamenei as telling a group of elite students.

"Iran will defeat these drunken and arrogant powers using its artful and wise ways," he added.

And this is just literally nuts:

In a speech the day earlier he sought to justify his confidence that the United States would not attack Iran, saying the proof comes from his mathematical skills as an engineer and his faith in God.

He said he told people who believed otherwise: "I am an engineer and I am a master in calculation and tabulation.

"I draw up tables. For hours, I write out different hypotheses. I reject, I reason. I reason with planning and I make a conclusion. They cannot make problems for Iran."

Ahmadinejad has long expressed pride in his academic prowess. He has a PhD in transport engineering and planning from Tehran's Science and Technology University and is the author of several scientific papers.

The deeply religious president said his second reason was: "I believe in what God says.

Now, that last sentence would seem a little heretical to me. Shouldn't he be putting God's words above his own scientific prowess? Oops.

Trouble at the Daily Kos?

Speaking of the Daily Kos, it looks like they're having a little bit o' trouble. Seems as if the founder of the site himself, Markos Moulitsas, ripped into his comrades for being gullible.

The gist from NewsBusters:

Such was the case with the posters on the favorite "progressive" blog of the MSM, the Daily Kos, when its founder, Markos Moulitsas, tore into them for being suckers because they fell for a story about a supposed imminent U.S. invasion of Iran based on the fantasies of a blogger with a history of fabulist tall tales.

Of course, the responses at the site were as to be expected. A couple of examples:

Gee, it's all a bit much and roundabout and blaming the victim, when the great god Kos and frontpagers in the know could simply disappear the troll diary, or ban the troll diarist.

If you knew it from the beginning then, damn it, why didn't you bring it up at the beginning? And if you didn't know it from the beginning then don't pretend that you did. And if you've got any administrative abilities, ban the person in question and just say "gosh we were taken in for a while, but we've got it now!" and be done with it.

Hee hee hee.

Hillary Clinton in Bed With Same Chinese as Bill

As I've said before, I believe the Monica Lewinsky "scandal" was a front for Bill Clinton's (treasonous?) provision of ballistic missile technology to China after receiving large campaign donations from the Chinese. There was the beginning of a buzz, and then WHAM! it was all Monica from then on. In my mind, this was a worse betrayal than anything we know about, including Watergate and whatever the Left wants to pin on Bush.

Now, one of the men associated with Bill Clinton's nefarious actions has been associated with Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Norman Hsu, who's recently been arrested for fraud, is known to have been involved in the transfer of missile technology. Hillary's "given back" the money, but that didn't stop her from accepting it in the first place.

Here's a quote from the Daily Kos, of all places:

Bernard L. Schwartz, who worked for the chinese shell company that the clintons gave the ballisitc missle technology to after bill clintons re-election put Norman Hsu on the Board of Trustees of the New School in N.Y

hillary clinton ear-marked 750,000 dollars to the new school recently as a pork barrel project.

Bernard L. Schwartz taught the Communist Chinese party how to build ICBM's which could make it out of the lower atmosphere.

this was one of the main reasons that china was able to destroy a satellite in space this year, touching of fears of a new arms race in space.

because of the technology that the clinton's gave to Bernard L. Schwartz, who worked with china.

Actually, I quoted that just because I'm surprised to see it on the most Leftist site on the planet. Nevertheless, poor punctuation and writing aside, this post makes the point.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 2852 Diggs, is a link to an SNL animation about the MSM that was pulled, apparently, by NBC. I'm sure somewhere in the comments someone will complain about "censorship," even though NBC has every right to broadcast or not broadcast whatever they want.

Anyways, slow day on Digg.

Monday, September 03, 2007

US Workers Most Productive

Well, this comes as no surprise. Study shows US workers most productive. And Asia is accelerating its productivity growth--which is interesting, because as its workers become more productive, China in particular will have to pay them more, which will reduce the disparity in costs between China's good and those manufactured elsewhere.

Some choice statistics and quotes:

The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the International Labor Organization said in its report. Ireland comes in second at $55,986, followed by Luxembourg at $55,641, Belgium at $55,235 and France at $54,609.


America’s increased productivity “has to do with the ICT (information and communication technologies) revolution, with the way the U.S. organizes companies, with the high level of competition in the country, with the extension of trade and investment abroad,” said Jose Manuel Salazar, the ILO’s head of employment.


And perhaps most amazing:

The vast differences among China’s sectors tell part of the story. Whereas a Chinese industrial worker produces $12,642 worth of output — almost eight times more than in 1980 — a laborer in the farm and fisheries sector contributes a paltry $910 to gross domestic product.

The difference is much less pronounced in the United States, where a manufacturing employee produced an unprecedented $104,606 of value in 2005. An American farm laborer, meanwhile, created $52,585 worth of output, down 10 percent from seven years ago, when U.S. agricultural productivity peaked.

AT&T 1993 "You Will" Ads - Inspirational, and Probably Copyright Infringing

I'm not sure if this is copyright infringement (probably is), and I know I shouldn't link to it, but this AT&T ad from 1993 does show how much has been accomplised technologically in such a short time. I suppose, that includes being able to commit copyright infringement with millions of accomplices.

Sort of a "good news, bad news" sort of scenario.

Ars Technical - Just a Little Hypocritical

Here, Ars Technica complains about the MPAA buying some "private" TorrentSpy e-mails to use in its case against the organization. Now, I don't remember them complaining when any other set of "private" emails have been released to show some questionable activity by companies like Microsoft, Intel, or whomever.

In fact, I can remember them being all over such emails, with no compunctions whatever.

Another "Bioshock" Review - Oddly Pro-Atlas Shrugged

Here's another review of "Bioshock" that unfortunately implies that the game accurately depicts Atlas Shrugged, even while calling the book "excellent." This quote is most interesting:

BioShock is set in a crumbling underwater metropolis created by Andrew Ryan, an industrialist who felt there should be a place for the greatest minds in humanity to come together without fear of having "the sweat of their brow" taken away from them, by Washington, Moscow or by God. In its pomp, Rapture was a glorious, thriving city, taking this hidden-away section of mankind to extraordinary new heights. Key developments in technology and genetic engineering took place way ahead of the work being carried out on the surface. But then it all started to go wrong and Rapture fell apart. Sounds like a good time for the player to show up.

Up until the last two sentences, that description does sound a bit like "Galt's Gulch" from Atlas Shrugged. Since this is all the review actually says about the storyline, it's a positive review from my perspective. It's only unfortunately that the game doesn't live up to it.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4572 Diggs, is about Digg (almost?) adding a pictures section to the site. Big news in Diggland, apparently. Little news anywhere else.

Bush to Attack Iran? If Only

Here's a report from a Lefty blog referencing another Lefty blog that references a Sunday Times of London report that says, and I quote, "(T)he Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days." One can only wish.

Interestingly, the Lefty blog that's referenced had posted the following at the Daily Kos:

The U.S. cannot mount a ground invasion or occupation of Iran, but it might be capable of an air attack and sea embargo. The administration has prepared a legal justification by floating its plan to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Since the IRGC is under the command of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, the administration, with its usual legal acuity, could claim legal authority for an attack on Iran under Senate Joint Resolution 23 of September 18, 2001,which authorized the use of military force against "those who plan, authorize, commit, or aid terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests -- including those who harbor terrorists."

Now, because that was posted on the Daily Kos, I'm taking all of that to be a negative. But, if one didn't know it was posted by a Lefty, it could actually be taken to make perfect sense. After all, there's incontrovertible proof that Iran has been fighting a proxy war against the US in Iraq. Hell, Iran's even admitted it, and promised that things would only get worse if Iran is attacked.

It's odd how one can take a single paragraph and, without changing a word, perceive it in two completely different ways. On the probability of Bush actually taking action against Iran, I think one only has to look at his recent actions to know that he has no plans to do so. Unless they've all been smokescreen, which would be a bit of a surprise.

Ahmadinejad Brags About Nuclear Success

It was only back in early August that the IAEA was touting as success the fact that Iran had "only" 2000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges in operation. They called that success, because it showed that Iran had "slowed" its activity.

Now, however, Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) has pronounced that in fact, Iran has over 3000 centrifuges in operation, and is adding more every week. And he gloats over the fact that with every sanction, Iran makes another stride in its program.

As Gateway Pundit quotes, "Western experts have said that if Iran can get 3,000 centrifuges to work smoothly it would need only nine to 11 months to produce an atomic bomb."

Now, we really have two choices. One, believe that Imajihadi is speaking the truth when he says the uranium is only for peaceful purposes (even when he's been offered just that sort of uranium from other countries). Two, believe that he's lying through his teeth, as he has so often, and truly intends to build a nuclear weapon.

I say, anyone who places their money on choice number one is a fool.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Putin Youth Put to Work

It looks like the Putin Youth are being put to good use, this time against Britain. The gist:

A RUSSIAN activist expected to take over a sinister youth group with ties to the Kremlin has warned that a campaign of harassment against the British ambassador in Moscow will be resumed if he shows support for the country’s beleaguered opposition in the run-up to parliamentary elections in December.

Nikita Borovikov, 26, who is being groomed to take over Nashi, a 100,000-strong youth movement, later this year, gave a vigorous defence of a previous campaign against Anthony Brenton. The envoy was stalked for several months, an experience he called “psychological harassment bordering on violence”.

It's all just practice, I think.

Russia Plans Moonbase by 2032

I think Russia's being a little optimistic in planning to setup a permanent lunar base by 2032. Getting cosmonauts there by 2025, on the other hand, seems pessimistic. It's rally a rather odd juxtaposition. And overall, I think things will have changed such by then that such a goal will no longer be feasible.

But, I suppose a nation has to have goals.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a light 2924 Diggs, is actually a link to a rather poignant photo that makes an important point about Islam.

Is Bush Planning to Bomb Iran? (An Obvious Question)

The Telegraph has laid out a long and detailed discussion of whether Bush is prepared to bomb Iran. To me, it seems just a case of contingency planning being leaked and then evaluated, which is not a bad thing in and of itself (the lead is, but not the evaluation). But, it should be remembered that such planning is on-going for nearly every conceivable possibility, and so the planning for a war with Iran would be just one of many.

It's a long piece, but worth the time. I won't quote anything here, because there's just too much to choose from. Give it a read.

Ahmadinejad Has Lost Iraq, Just as Bush Allies with Iran?

Here's an interesting take on Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) and his efforts in Iraq. The essential point of the commentary is that Imajihadi has failed in Iraq by not securing Basra, which holds 70% of Iraq's oil reserves and also maintains the port by which US troops would leave Iraq.

It's an interesting argument, and makes some sense. Read the story for yourself.

Before you do, though, note that the commentary also makes a fairly strong claim that Bush has essentially allied himself with Iran in Iraq, and backs it up with some marginally compelling evidence:

President Bush boosted his pro-Iran policy with his quick decision to release the nine Iranian officials apprehended yesterday by US forces as enemy agents. Iran has thousands, if not tens of thousands of such personnel - primarily military -- in Iraq. Presumably, Bush will now permit them to stay as allies against Muqtada al-Sadr.


In fact, President Bush took the decisive step to turn Iraq over to Iran in December 2005 when -- at the urging of Rice and Pelosi -- Bush withdrew a paltry $20 million in US funding to support the moderate parties in Iraqs national elections. At that time, Iran was funding a $100 million program to support Shiite fundamentalists, who went on to sweep the elections (see David Ignatius, Washington Post, 31 September 2007)

I hadn't read about that, but if true, it's another strike against Bush. He rails against Iran in the press, but then takes actions like this. It's entirely disappointing and discouraging.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Giuliani on Healthcare

I missed this story on Giuliani, where he was speaking on health care reform in the US. I was shocked by some of his statements, the most profound of which I'll quote here. Note that when I say "profound," I mean it in the context of today's politics.


To those who have followed the health care issue over the years and have learned to speak the language of health care reformers, Rudy Giuliani was saying everything wrong when he unveiled his reform plan this week.

He said that "Government cannot take care of you. You've got to take care of yourself."

He said the marketplace, not the government "nanny state," needs to do the work of fixing the nation's health care problems.

He said that "We've got to solve our health care problem with American principles, not the principles of socialism."

Then there's this beauty:

But just as important as details is Giuliani's frank language: "Americans believe in free-market solutions to the challenges we face, and I believe we can reduce costs, expand access to, and improve the quality of health care by increasing competition. America's health care system is being dragged down by decades of government-imposed mandates and wasteful, unaccountable bureaucracy."

It's not often that one hears a politician talking about getting government out of something, rather than getting government into it. Giuliani just jumped a bit in my opinion.

Celebrity Report: Ahmadinejad Green Lights Biopic

Celebrity Report: Well, it's on. Iranian President Imajihadi gives the green light to Oliver Stone's biopic of the wacko. And since that sentence wasn't entirely clear, the "wacko" I'm specifically referring to is Imajihadi.

Another Cheap Shot at Ayn Rand Thanks to "Bioshock"

I was pretty certain that the release of "Bioshock" would bring Ayn Rand and Objectivism to the forefront, and not in a positive light, and here's another story that support my contention. In one of the most disgusting descriptions of Ayn Rand I've read, at least in the fewest words, the News & Observer had this to say:

Rapture is the creation of Andrew Ryan, a crazy cutout of Ayn Rand, the pseudophilosopher who hated poor people and didn't care for much outside the realm of free market capitalism and sleeping around.


Bush on China - Yeesh

Bush amazes me sometimes. As President, heading into the summit of Pacific Rim leaders, I would expect him to take something of harsh stance, use his bully pulpit a bit. China has a horrible human rights record, has threatened the US with economic warfare, of a sort, has done little to control the piracy of US intellectual property, etc.

Here's the part that bothers me the most:

“As a part of our engagement with China, we have worked with (President) Hu Jintao to convince him to help convert his economy from one of savers to one of consumers, which means -- and, by the way, that takes a lot of effort and work to get in a position where you can even make those kind of constructive suggestions, which means the development of a pension system, or health care, so that people don't feel like they have to hoard their money to save for a rainy day, but in fact there's some kind of safety net that is predictable, which then would convert a Chinese person who is beginning to realize better income into a consumer,’’ the president told reporters. “And then all of a sudden you've got consumers, which provide opportunity.

Rather than calling on China to rid itself of its Communist government, embrace individual rights, and allow capitalism to work freely (thus allowing that middle class to grow on its own without government interference), he essentially says that China should simply change how it controls its people's lives. I don't think it's the lack of a "pension plan" that causes the Chinese people to hoard every dollar, I think it's the fact that they have so little control over their own lives.

Read the rest if you want, but it's all pretty much just as bad.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 2536 Diggs, is yet another prepubescent post, this time a link to a non-existent story about a Facebook group devoted to finding a girl's camera because she's a "Hottie."


Should the US Boycott the 2008 Olympics?

Here's a pretty fervent plea for boycotting the 2008 Olympics in China. It's based on a necessarily biased paper issued by the Falun Gong, and so it's hard to tell from this one blog entry alone whether things in China are as bad as stated.

Some examples:

Not only is China bankrolling Darfur’s Genocide; for more than eight years it has sought to eliminate Falun Gong, which in 1999 had an estimated 70 million practitioners in China; it has likewise abused democracy activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, religious leaders, journalists, trade unionists, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighurs, ”unofficial” church members, and political dissidents.

I've read of these particular accusations on numerous occasions, and so I would tend to give them some credibility. And, at least some in the US government agree:

All of these reports culminated, on August 3, 2007, in Congressman Rohrabacher introducing House Resolution 610 [3], aptly named because the “610 Office” in China is an extra-constitutional agency established by the former leader Jiang Zemin. It was specifically created to persecute Falun Gong and has absolute power over every level of the Communist Party and all political and judiciary systems.

Rohrabacher’s H.Res. 610 expresses “the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States Government should take immediate steps to boycott the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008 unless the Government of the People’s Republic of China stops engaging in serious human rights abuses against its citizens and stops supporting serious human rights abuses by the Governments of Sudan, Burma, and North Korea against their citizens.”

Rohrabacher proclaims, “In 1936, Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics giving Hitler a worldwide platform to showcase his fascist propaganda. It was wrong to support the Olympic venue then and it’s wrong for the United States to support this prestigious event being held in a similarly fascist regime in 2008.”

Communist China lost its bid for the 2000 Olympics because of its horrific human rights violations. Recognizing this concern, the Chinese regime explicitly promised to improve human rights [4] in order to win the 2008 Olympics Games. Its subsequent record belies its empty promise. Human rights in China have not improved; they have grievously deteriorated.

Ultimately, I think I would support such a boycott, although, like Carter's boycott in 1980, I don't think it would have much effect. And as I think about the whole thing, it strikes me how much of a free rein China receives in the mainstream media for its human rights violations vs. its economic policies and product safety issues. Hmmm.

Russian-Chinese Alliance Not Likely?

This Wall Street Journal blog post posits that worrying about the Russian-Chinese relationship might be a little premature. Basically, it says that Russia and China have too much not in common to form an alliance. It makes some good points, but then so do some of the commentors.

The gist:

Despite some fears in the West, China and Russia have too little in common to form a mighty Sino-Russian axis anytime soon, writes foreign-policy analyst Ian Bremmer in Slate. Some Washington observers worry they see the early signs of a military bloc in events like the two countries’ recent joint military exercises. But these small instances of cooperation shouldn’t disguise the fact that the two countries’ fundamental interests don’t mesh, says Mr. Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

I dunno. Russia and China are a little unpredictable right now, I think. It bears watching.

Friday, August 31, 2007

More Lunacy from Ahmadinejad

Here's more ranting by Iranian President Imajihadi. I swear, the guy is literally nuts. One cannot believe the things that he's saying in this news conference without being a conspiracy wacko. And he's setting foreign policy for a country that's trying attain nuclear weapons.

And, worst, we stand back and allow it to continue.

Here are some quotes:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday launched a new verbal attack against Israel, accusing Zionists of sowing conflict, publishing offensive cartoons and “lying about being Jewish.”

“Zionists are people without any religion,” Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly predicted that Israel is doomed to disappear, told a news conference in Tehran.

“They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions,” he said.

He also said that “Zionists” were behind a cartoon in a Swedish newspaper depicting the head of the Prophet Mohammed on a dog’s body that sparked an official protest by Tehran to Stockholm.

“They do not want the Swedish government to be a friend of other nations. I strongly believe they are behind it (the cartoon). They thrive on conflict and war.

“They are an organised minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organisation,” he said.

And then the money quote:

“Anywhere they are found there is war. Anywhere where there is war they are behind it,” Ahmadinejad added.

Echoing his previous predictions about Israel’s future, the president said: “If the world is calm, people, Europeans, Germans even, will uproot them.”

And as the blog post says, you'll find all this in very few mainstream media outlets. This stuff should be front-page news, if our media really wanted the public to understand what's going on in the world.

"Bioshock" Not Objectivist-Friendly

If this The Phoenix review of the upcoming game "Bioshock" is any indication, then the game is certainly not based on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, or on Atlas Shrugged. Here are some quotes that justify that comment.


According to BioShock’s foundation myth, Ryan envisioned his sub-aquatic metropolis (inspired by Ayn Rand, and especially Atlas Shrugged) as the place where man could realize his potential, unfettered by the restrictions placed upon him by government and religion. He populated the city with the greatest minds the world had to offer: industrialists, doctors, artists. Rapture had room only for the productive; there was no place for the weak, the infirm, or even the mediocre commoners that Ryan considered a drain on society.

Objectivism does not suppose that a society could function without government--there has to be some entity that can protect individual rights, which is the fundamental principle upon with Objectivist politics is based. Second, Ayn Rand had nothing against "the mediocre commoners," insofar as the typical person was as productive as his or her abilities made possible and to the extent that any person did not live life as a parasite upon the more productive. And so, from the beginning, the game's premises are perversions of Objectivism, not examples of it.


What you learn pretty quickly is that the first fissure in Ryan’s master plan opened with the discovery of an element called ADAM, which allowed for genetic modification far beyond the bounds of medical science. Freed from any ethical constraints, the people of Rapture set about developing strange and perverse abilities for themselves.

Notice that part, "freed from any ethical constraints." It's an implication that Objectivism has no ethics that would guide individuals in such a situation. Of course, Objectivism does have such an ethics, and it would result in individuals making the most rational long-term decisions possible--meaning, an Objectivist would be the last person to undergo a genetic modification without considering the possible effects. Then again, it's interesting that "developing strange and perverse abilities" is, according to the review, primarily an ethical question.


And yet, the freedom given the player is also subverted to give the game its greatest resonance: if the free will of one diminishes that of another, are they not both slaves? Andrew Ryan dreamed of a city where the great would not be constrained by the small; Rapture failed because he didn’t understand that the great rely on the small. As one character says, Ryan brought people to Rapture to be captains of industry, but they still needed someone to clean the toilets.

Again, although Objectivism does exalt the greatness of mankind, and therefore holds particular respect for those who utilize their abilities to the fullest, it does not conversely consider those without such abilities to be inferior. All Objectivism demands, morally, is that each individual strive for the highest that he can achieve, whether he's a brain surgeon or a janitor.

Objectivism in no way assumes that "the great (are) constrained by the small," except to the extent that government links a chain between them and makes slaves of the productive for the non-productive. If this review is correct, then "Bioshock" is a horrible rendition of Objectivism that will do nothing but perpetuate the negative stereotypes held by those who understand very little about the philosophy.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4383 Diggs, is a link to a new way to advertise men's underwear. Again, a reversion to Digg's underlying prepubescence.

Russia Examined

Here's a nice piece in the Moscow Times that discusses the likelihood that Russian geopolitics will become even more strained in the last few months of Putin's Presidency. More than that, though, it discusses Russia's general approach to world affairs, and makes some interesting points.

A few choice quotes:

A curious pattern emerges when examining Russia's politics over the last quarter century. Fundamental changes come in eight-year cycles, and the transitions from the end of one cycle to the start of the next are accompanied by flare-ups in foreign relations.

An intense struggle for power took place from 1999 to 2000 at the end of President Boris Yeltsin's term. Those years saw the start of a second war in Chechnya, the rise of former KGB officer Putin, a corruption scandal involving members of Yeltsin's family and the Bank of New York affair -- all of which brought relations with the West to a critically low level. The situation began to stabilize only in the spring of 2000, when Putin took office and Western leaders started building bridges with the Kremlin.


It turned out that the West was not prepared for Moscow to assume a new, stronger position in international affairs. Up until recently, the Kremlin had been willing to compromise on most disputes with the West. But now Russia feels its own strength and is less inclined to give in to its partners' wishes.


Russia's ambitions and self-confidence, fed by its oil and gas euphoria, have become greater than its realistic abilities, given the global changes taking place in the modern world. Moscow's eagerness to make up for what it lost after the Soviet collapse as quickly as possible has proven stronger than a calmer, more rational calculation of what it can realistically achieve.

The West is quite disappointed after discovering a distressing fact: It really is difficult to resolve many important issues without Moscow's participation. But Russia is not interested in cooperating on someone else's terms. This stems not only from obstinacy, but also from a growing sense that Western formulas for managing global affairs are simply ineffective. From Moscow's point of view, the situation in Iraq and the turmoil in the Balkans are convincing evidence of this.

Read the whole thing. Incidentally, it says a bit about the West, as well.

Municipal Wi-Fi - On its Deathbed At Last

And, as I mentioned here and here and here, it seems that I was right. There's no business model for municipal Wi-Fi (meaning that, were any to be rolled out, they'd have to be funded by taxes), and newer technology can do the job better. The best thing is, they're failing before they had a chance to negate the newer technology, meaning that we can continue to look forward to privately-created technological advances that will make our lives easier and better.

As long as government just stays out of it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

CNN Creates Anti-Israeli Propaganda Piece

CNN and Christiane Amanpour have apparently created a nicely misleading and deceptive anti-Israeli piece in their three-part series, "God's Warriors." Now, anyone following the history of Israel and the Israeli/Arab conflict shouldn't surprised by this piece, nor find it particularly worse than any other anti-Israeli propaganda.

Here are some quotes:

The August 21 broadcast was the first of God's Warriors, a three-part CNN series, ostensibly examining the role of people who want "God back in their daily lives, back to the seat of power." In actuality, the deeply false premise of the programs, established in the opening scene, is the equating of Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency with that of Muslims heard endorsing "martyrdom," or suicide-killing.

Yes, again, the media insists on morally equating Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, even though it's only Islam that today not only engages in constant, on-going violence but perpetuates a culture with violence at its very roots.

AMANPOUR is similarly deceptive and manipulative in other depictions of nefarious Jewish power, respectfully interviewing both Jimmy Carter and John Mearsheimer, and giving not the slightest hint of the gross factual errors in the charges leveled by the two controversial figures whose recent, incendiary allegations against Israel have been extensively debunked.

Carter declares absurdly that no member of Congress could vote against aid to Israel "and hope to be reelected." Amanpour does not, of course, remind him, or viewers, of the numerous members who have opposed aid to Israel and been repeatedly reelected, including Senate Majority leader Robert Byrd and more than a dozen representatives.

This is common anti-semitism, like what might find on any skinhead Web site. CNN might as well have used the "ZOG" (Zionist Occupational Government) monicker used by neo-Nazis.

The money quote, in this case because it's central to every anti-Israeli's misperceptions of Israeli/Arab history:

Numerous other falsehoods and distortions mar the production. Amanpour declares bizarrely that "the 40-year tug of war over Jerusalem began when Israel bulldozed the Arab neighborhood next to the Western Wall and built a plaza where Jews now pray." Obviously, the modern battle over Jerusalem "began" 60 years ago, when the Arabs attacked in 1948 to destroy the newborn State of Israel, seizing the eastern side of Jerusalem, including the Jewish quarter of the Old City. Every Jew was expelled or killed and all synagogues were destroyed. Thereafter, for 19 years, no Jew could pray at the Western Wall and Christians had limited access to their holy sites.

One might agree or disagree with the creation of Israel, but it was a two-sided effort where the Palestinians were granted their own right to establish a state. They chose not to, instead trusting that the Arabs would push the Jews into the sea. That's the essence of the Israeli/Arab conflict, and it's not often mentioned when the poor Palestinians are being defended by individuals like Jimmy Carter.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a light 2624 Diggs, is a link to an essay of sorts about how "everything (one) does is illegal." The piece actually has a ring of truth to it: as Ayn Rand said (to paraphrase), government regulation basically makes everyone a criminal.

So, here's a Digg with at least a little importance.

Guardian Supposes that US Should Engage Russia to Solve Problems

Here's a bit of naivete from the Guardian, on how America should push for Russia's help in stablizing the Middle East. As Russia moves ever closer to outright dictatorship (or nationalistic fascism), we're supposed to "engage" them in solving all of the problems that we've created. Really, it's all just a bunch of assertions made while wearing some serious rose-colored glasses, and it's not all that meaningful for anyone who doesn't believe that appeasement is a solution.

Here's an interesting quote, though:

The Anglo-American axis must also swallow its pride and enlist the active support of Europeans, especially France, which was not the only major country to try, rightly, to pull the US back from its folly in Iraq but is also the only continental European state with a network of useful relations in the Middle East.

First, since France rid itself of its corrupt regime (you know, the one that was taking kickbacks from Saddam Hussein under the "Oil for Food" program), the US is engaging with France. Second, I see Great Britain as a European state, and so there's been European engagement all along. The author of the story shows his biases in failing to point this out.

Russia is not our friend, and has proven that it will not act with any honesty in "helping" us solve any problem. Their arms sales to Iraq directly before the war is the kind of "support" that we can expect from them.

I swear, it's like it's 1938 all over again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chevron to Drill 5 Miles Deep in Gulf of Mexico for World's Largest Oil Reserves

Here's a great story on an effort by Chevron to exploit what some consider the largest untapped oil reserves in the world, deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The technology is advanced and incredibly expensive, but soon Chevron will have accomplished the deepest drilling in open water.

Obviously, this is important from a national security perspective. If the oil field, dubbed "Jack," is indeed as large as believed (between 3 and 15 billion barrels), then it will significantly reduce the US's reliance on foreign oil. For those who want the US to reduce its involvement in the Middle East, this should be welcome news.

It also points out the importance of oil company profits--without them, oil companies would be unable to make these kinds of investments. Political (and most often crudely populist) efforts to curtail their profits only limits America's energy options.

Eventually, of course, technology will be developed and/or exploited (e.g., nuclear power) that will finally render fossil fuels as unecessary. Until then, it's encouraging that these sorts of efforts are underway, and we can only hope that more such efforts will be made.

Ahmadinejad Says Iran is "Invincible"

Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) seems pretty confident that the US won't act against him. In fact, he says, Iran is "invincible," at least insofar as the US is engaged in Iran and Afghanistan. At least, one hopes that's what he means.

Of course, Iran is the farthest thing from invincible, and if we need to act against them, we'd muster up the troops and material to do so. We could just bomb their nuclear facilities back to the stone age, if we wanted. And so, once again, Imajihadi shows himself to be rather mistaken in his premises.