Monday, August 06, 2007

Presidential Candidate Tom Tancredo Suggests Attacks on Mecca and Medina if US is Nuked

I'm sure I'll be roasted for this, if it gets any wide readership, but I don't necessarily disagree with Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo when he suggests that one way to avoid an Islamic fundamentalist nuclear attack on the US is to establish a policy that such an attack would result in equal attacks against Mecca and Medina.

If taken seriously, this would have two affects. First, it would certainly give the state sponsors of terrorism, who would be the ones to give the terrorists the weapons in the first place, reason to give the whole matter some thought. Second, once they thought about it, it would give them reason to actively seek out any and all terrorists who might be considering such an attack, and make sure it doesn't happen.

Is it a harsh policy? Certainly. But then, a nuclear attack against the US would have harsh repercussions, not just for the US. In fact, targeting Mecca and Medina would result in far fewer human losses than targeting Tehran and Damascus. And it would demonstrate that the US is not a nation to be trifled with--which is the one lesson al Qaeda and other terrorists organizations haven't yet learned (because we haven't taught it to them).

All they understand is strength. And such a policy would represent the sort of strength that they would certainly understand. After all, their targets on 9/11 were of just as much symbolic value to Americans as these holy sites are to Muslims, and yet the terrorists had no problem attacking them. In fact, that was the point--which should be the point of our policy, as well.

The Register Reports Shocking News That Sales Went Up and Prices Went Down

Umm, news to the Register: in elastic markets (like computer chips) sales typically do go up as prices go down. That's a result of this thing called "economics." In fact, and this might come as a surprise to the story's writer, companies sometimes actually lower prices on purpose to increase sales.

Read the story. It actually states that, although sales were up, chipmakers were hurt because prices were lower. I don't mind a little ignorance in a journalist, but man, this is a doozy.

Founders Believed in Seperation of Church and State

A tremendous post on the Rule of Reason blog supports with copious amounts of evidence the notion that America was not founded on Christian moral principles. It's an important discussion of the need and justification for the seperation of church and state.

It's not a short read, but I won't quote any here because it's too tightly-written an essay to quote from. If you care at all about the issue, you'll read the piece in its entirety.

Miltary Loses Track of 190,000 Weapons in Iraq

I'm not sure what I find worse about this MSNBC story, that we've lost track of 190,000 assault rifles and pistols provided to Iraqi security personnel, or that we were giving them AK-47's instead of American weapons. From my limited military perspective, that would seem, well, stupid.

I was in the military, as it happens, and so I know how these things can happen. The military's a bureaucracy like any other, and when things are rushed and policies not followed (as seems to be case here), things like this are commonplace. The lost of the weapons, I mean. But, at the risk of repeating myself, I still don't get that we were handing out AK-47's.

Cox and Forkum on Islamic Crackdown on Concert Attendees

Cox and Forkum on a recent arrest of 230 Iranian youths attending a private concert. Apparently, the arrest is part of an effort to crackdown on the sort of "immoral" behavior defined during the original Islamic Revolution.

With Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) as lunatic President and with Islamic totalitarianism on the rise, nah, there's no reason for the US to be concerned about Iran.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 5929 Diggs, is a link to a picture of Kevin Mitnick's business cards. For those who don't see hacking as a criminal activity, I suppose this is sort of like hero-worship. To others, well, it's not.

Ron Paul's Appeal is to the Internet's Youngsters

I agree that this is fascinating: Ron Paul barely registers in the mainstream of the 2008 Presidental campaign, but on the Internet, he's #1 over both Dems and Republicans. CNET suggests that perhaps it's an age thing, that Paul's positions resonate with the Internet's younger demographics.

I'll buy that. I think it also relegates the Internet to relative unimportance in contemporary politics.

Google/YouTube Sued for Copyright Infringement

And therein lies the rub: yes, Google/YouTube might remove copyrighted material whenever requested, but by that time, the cat's already out of the bag. With tools for downloading video from YouTube, by the time it's removed thousands or even millions of copies might already have been made.

These services must devise methods to prohibit the infringement in the first place. How they do so is up to them, but until they do, they're providing a platform for committing crimes. At the very least, such civil actions as that discussed in the linked CNET story should succeed.

Boing Boing Interviews Sudhir Vankatesh About Street Gangs

Boing Boing posts about an upcoming book by Sudhir Venkatesh (author of Freakonomics) on street gangs. To be titled Gang Leader for a Day, the author had this to say in an interview at Columbia University:

Q: How do gang members see themselves as fitting in with society at large? Do gang members have a real comprehension that the things they do — dealing drugs, engaging in violence, destroying property, scaring people — are widely perceived as not only illegal but also morally wrong?

A: Many gang members who attain leadership status are deeply conscious of their perception by wider society. They tend to make two arguments when discussing their behavior: first, that whites also work in the underground economy but are not prosecuted (or stigmatized) to the same degree (just look at the differential rates of punishment for powder cocaine and crack cocaine — the former is distributed by whites to a far greater degree); and second, that corporations also engage in criminal activity, but are rarely viewed as outlaws — not just Enron, but oil and other companies that have established histories of supporting anti-democratic regimes in developing counties to secure their own profits.

What fascinates me the most about the gang leader's answer is this part: "that corporations also engage in criminal activity, but are rarely viewed as outlaws." If the book is supposed to show that gang leaders are actually in touch with what's really going on, then it's already failed. American corporations and businesspeople are perhaps the single most persecuted group in American society, being blamed for everything from pure greed to outright evil. If the only example this gang leader can think of is Enron, than he's not very well read.

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Allies?

Once again, a very dubious source, but imagine if this post is true. The money quote:

Iran's President and the king of Saudi Arabia stressed on boosting unity and brotherhood among Muslims in a phone conversation.

If this conversation actually took place, and has any real meaning, then we just promised $20 billion to an Arab that hopes to be allied with Iran.

Somehow I doubt it really means anything (and the $20 billion to Saudi Arabia can't really be made any worse), but it's just creepy.