Friday, August 10, 2007

Response to Top 10 Presidents List a Whopper

This list of the top 10 best American Presidents is interesting not just for who was picked, but even more so for the 2nd comment. One of the more in-depth comments I've read in awhile.

Iran's Threat Just Propaganda?

It's a dangerous game to be playing here, supposing that any allegations against Iran are merely propaganda and, like the information (allegedly) untrue that supported war with Iraq, subject to inherent doubt. There have been reports of Iranian involvement in Iraq for years, not just months, as anyone who's followed the story would know. And it is, of course, entirely possible that Iran is escalating its involvement, believing that the US is close to being politically forced out of the Iraq.

Stories like the one linked above leave the US defenseless, because any threat that might arise suddenly becomes another "Iraqi WMD lie." One sees it all the time from the Left, in responses to accusations such as these against Iran to reports of planned terrorist attacks (or, even when terrorists are caught in the act). Suddenly, the US is unable to defend itself, because no evidence that it can provide for doing so is acceptable.

Except, maybe, the smouldering ruins of an American city. And maybe not even then.

Capitalism and Dictatorships Together?

And what all these folks fail to realize is that capitalism (true capitalism, not just fascism with a different name) requires an environment that protects invidividual rights to succeed. It can't merely be strapped onto a dictatorship and flourish. For anyone who might want to point to China, note that China is successful in essentially utilizing slave labor, not capitalism.

My First California Earthquake

This is likely of absolutely no interest to anyone other than me, but here's a story about the first earthquake I've experienced since moving to LA a year ago. The epicentre was about 7 miles from my house as the crow flies, so I'm pretty darn happy it wasn't any stronger. Happened at 12:59am, which is a heckuva way to be woken up.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 2688 Diggs, is a link to a story about Google increasing some Gmail accounts to over 9GB. Let me just say that it's refreshing to see a legitimate tech news story get to #1 (at this moment in time), even if the number of Diggs is a little low.

Rich-Poor Gap Growing in China at Quite a Clip

The gap between the rich and poor seems to be growing in China and other Asian countries, according to this story. For China, this is likely more meaningful, since there is already a significant anti-government reform movement in place.

A quote:

China has had Asia's second-biggest and second-fastest-growing wealth gap since the 1990s, exceeded only by war-wracked Nepal on both counts, the bank said in an annual survey.

China has seen thousands of protests in recent years, some of them violent, over land seizures and other economic grievances blamed on the growing gap. The communist government has made improving incomes for the poor a priority, warning last year that inequality has reached "alarming and unacceptable" levels.

"High inequality, particularly high absolute levels of inequality, leads to a disruption in social cohesion. You could have street demonstrations which could lead to violent civil wars," Ifzal Ali, the bank's chief economist, said at a news conference.

This will be worth watching.

A Chance to Partner with Russia? Personally, I Think Not

Henry Kissinger, no stranger to realpolitik, seems to think that we should take Putin's counterproposal to Bush's proposed missile defense system seriously. I don't agree, because he assumes that Putin could see the long-term benefit of strategic cooperation between the US and Russia.

So far, all I've seen from Putin is posturing in the opposite direction, trying--as Kissinger says it need not do--to position itself as a superior--or at least equal--power to the US. Putin seems far too fond of the Soviet era to ever join in an effort that would stand in the way of what he seems to want to most--Russia's re-emergence as a superpower.

But, if you want to read the other side of the issue, read the story.

Soviets Left Lots of Metal Lying Around

I don't know, but this seems like a lot of scrap metal that could be reused for something else. I don't think this much scrap would just sit there for more than a week before somebody would come along and scoop it up.

Russia Sends Out Bombers, Claims US Intercepted Them

Would someone like to tell me why Russia is playing these games? Is Putin really that fond of the Soviet era that he wants to play the role of Kruschev? Sending bombers into sovereign airspace (Georgia) and near American military bases (Guam) are purposeful acts. The only question is, what's Putin trying to prove?

I think our militiary and intelligence agencies are well aware of his capabilities, and so it's not like he actually has a need for a show of strength. It seems like provocation to me, but I don't understand why he'd feel the need.

Ahmadinejad Losing Support?

Here's a positive spin by The Telegraph on Imajihadi's (or whatever his name is) chances of being reelected. And, it's one I would love to believe: a sort of mini-utopia where the youthful reformers movement manages to elect enough moderates and reformists that even the power "Council of Guardians" can't game this election like they did the last one.

But I have three thoughts on this. First, I'm not that optimistic that any secular force will succeed in determining Iran's future. Second, Imajihadi will be in power through 2009, which gives him plenty of time to continue causing havoc. Third, in reading the linked story, I wonder who really holds the power and is ultimately responsible for the proxy war Iran is fighting against the US in Iraq; if it's the religious sector, then not much will change no matter who's elected.

And, it doesn't change a thing for now. Iran must be forced to end this proxy war, and to give up its nuclear aspirations. And so while this story is positive, it's irrelevant for now.