Monday, April 28, 2008

Last Post Until Week of May 12th

I have a big exam 10 May so you may have noticed a slow-down in posts. This will be the last one until the 12th. I picked up the pamphlet below from a protester in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco Friday night on the way home from work. The cop car is gone, but I've never seen a crowd like the one I saw Friday.

The reason I'm posting these: I'm not involved with Falun Gong but I DO support religious freedom, and I don't support tyranny. The Chinese government's terror extends to a lot more people besides Tibet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Interesting Photo, Apparently From Tibet

This makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is Bloomberg On McCain's VP Short List?

New York has been lucky to have two excellent GOP executives in a row. This isn't the only place Bloomberg's name has been linked to McCain, and we would be lucky to have such a strong GOP ticket. (Note: the link is dead and in any event Bloomberg has since stated he won't run as VP.) I mentioned before that the name of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has come up, and that name in particular seems to be crystallizing in recent days. Check out my original list of good and bad choices whose names have been in the VP rumor mill. Another good fit would be Jon Huntsman Jr., governor of Utah - a successful progressive governor from a conservative state. M. Jodi Rell, governor of Connecticut, isn't mentioned very much but would also be a good choice.

Here's what I hope (for the GOP's sake) McCain's strategists are thinking:

1) There's no third party for evangelicals. They're voting GOP even if I pick a Bloomberg or Huntsman instead of a Jindal.

2) The center is very much up for grabs. If I pick a Bloomberg, we got'em. If not, get used to saying "President Obama".

Experiments in Economics

One of the problems with social and political science is that it's difficult to do meaningful experiments: I mean, you can't (for example) take a single country, split it into two parts, make one capitalist and one communist, and see which one experiences the most economic development, right?

Credit for this image again to To be clear, the image isn't parody - the images come from those "Earth at Night" posters, and the contrast is real.

In defense (again) of San Francisco, I looked out over the city in the middle of the "lights out" time slot and again an hour later, and there was no difference. I didn't hear anybody promoting it except for one or two people in city government.

The Return of State Religion in Russia

Yet another move away from democracy, courtesy the Gangster Czar Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things Must Be Bad When You Openly Criticize the Government...In Myanmar

You know, normally I try to balance my posts between domestic issues and China-related international affairs, but today it seems the world is even more awash with bloody Chinese government evil than usual - in this case, in Myanmar. Things must be rotten in the state of Myanmar indeed if people are openly critical of the goverment, yet another incompetent gang of thugs. Supported by China. Remember the riots and government crackdowns there last fall? Unsurprisingly similar in style to what happened in Tibet more recently. The biggest slap in the face to a people subjugated under "Burmese-style socialism" is the wedding of the senior general's daughter.

Chinese Businesspeople and Expats Squeezed by the Man

Stress China a little bit and its government shows its true colors. China's stellar growth depends on the ability of its bright and hard-working businesspeople to make deals within and outside of China - and that growth has occurred despite the Chinese government. So now that the Olympics approach, the country goes into lockdown mode, and business be damned:

"Businessmen are also feeling powerless. Hong Kong executives accustomed to visiting mainland factories or construction projects every few days are now spending one day each week waiting for new visas that are only good for a single or double visit.

"I can't begin to explain how serious this is going to be," said Richard Vuylsteke, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. "A barrier like this is going to have a real ripple effect on business."

One hopes that China's new upper middle class will realize that this kind of heavy-handed isolation will damage the country's recent good fortunes. Because IF IT'S GOOD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S BAD FOR CHINESE BUSINESSPEOPLE.

Glad to See That We're Finally Getting Around To This.

Well, I'm glad that North Korea may finally come off the back burner. I guess jumping up and down and announcing "we have REAL WMDs!" and then setting some off isn't enough. You have to start exporting your technology to other enemies of democracy.

More Fun Beijing Olympics Cartoons

Credit to a loyal reader for sending these to me, whose name won't be used so Google can't sell you out to the Chinese government and keep you out, should you ever wish to visit there. IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Credit goes to the hilarious

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Official: The Maoists Have Taken Control of Nepal

In fairness, they were voted in...after running a ten-year-long insurgency against a government that admittedly did nothing but horde the king's cash far from his people. But I think the voters don't know what they're in for.

In any event, we have a new Chinese satellite state in the Himalayas.

Is anyone paying attention? CNN? FOX News? The Pentagon? Anybody?

You’re thinking: "Come on. Tibet...Nepal...these places are all in the middle of nowhere." Sure. Just like the Sudetenland. The Chinese government is happy to let you keep thinking that.






Follow-Up to China's Weapons Shipment in Southern Africa

It seems the international attention is making things less comfortable in Beijing. (Read my original post here). The Chinese reaction:

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in Beijing that the shipment was part of "normal military trade" between Zimbabwe and China and called on other countries not to politicize the issue (emphasis added). But acknowledging the resistance to the shipment, she said China was considering shipping the arms back to China.

The typical Chinese talking points are more laughable here: don't politicize an arms shipment to an unstable African country? Naw. But let's not ignore the good side of this - Yu actually said they were considering abandoning the effort. Wait and see if they actually do.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Birds of a Feather: Mugabe, Mengistu, and China

In reading up on the Ethiopian Civil War, I ran across this gem. Haile Mariam Mengistu was the Soviet-supported dictator of Ethiopia in the 1970s and 80s who caused the famine that unfortunately is what Ethiopia is still so famous for, and killed half a million people during his purges (as estimated by Amnesty International). He was basically the African Stalin. What's most interesting is not just that Mengistu is still alive, but where he's still alive. Mengistu has been granted asylum in Zimbabwe, and of course Robert Mugabe granted it.

Let's get this straight. Robert Mugabe, who's made a career of railing against European imperialism in Africa, is supporting a man who killed half a million African citizens, while that man was propped up by a European power. What's more, Mugabe is refusing to allow Mengistu's extradition to Ethiopia since he was convicted in absentia for war crimes. Just beyond belief.

It's getting to be a regular Legion of Doom down there in Zimbabwe. Mengistu gets asylum there...China ships them least it's easy to tell who the bad guys are - they all associate.

The World Doesn't Need Another Failed State

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki recently said, "Iraq cannot become the new Somalia." How right he is.

Somalia is a mess, and if you saw Blackhawk Down or watched the news any time during the 1990s, you know it's been a mess for years. In fact, to talk about the existence of something called "Somalia" you're really making a leap. Yes, there is an area on the East African coast that is not claimed by Kenya or Ethiopia. But to call that area a "country" implies that it has a "government", and any time you use that word in connection to Somalia, you probably should use quotes. Yes, the transitional government that's in now is recognized by some other national governments; no, they can't keep the lights on, or their people safe.

Of course, what al-Maliki meant is that he doesn't want Iraq to become another failed state. Failed states are the political equivalent of neighborhood garbage dumps. They're breeding grounds for vermin, and no matter how clean you keep your own house, if there's a dump right down the street, you'll still have pest problems. The terrorists who trained in Afghanistan to attack the U.S. on 9/11 were not the first such vermin who've attacked us. The U.S. has dealt with failed states as long as we've been a nation. Ever wondered why the marines sing about "the shores of Tripoli"? Jefferson had about enough of piracy and American sailors being killed or captured by nineteenth-century terrorists based on the lawless North African coast of the Mediterranean. Hence, the first American military action on foreign soil in 1805. Not surprisingly, Somalia is a notorious pirate haven right now.

As a Libertarian, I occasionally have to defend my political philosophy from libertarian fundamentalists who commit the sin of overgeneralization. Some extremists would have us believe that in the absence of government, rational republics always emerge in which individual achievement is unhampered by government interference (could you hear the birds chirping and unicorns prancing while you read that?) But governments exist not just to oppress people's soaring individualism - they do valuable things, like guarantee market transparency and stability, and protect their citizens. Even here in San Francisco during the Gold Rush we had a Wild-West system where the police were so ineffectual, overwhelmed and corrupt that the only option was for people to take out insurance policies at companies with private police forces that would protect you. Guess what? That system sucked. Fortunately for us we now have an effective police force and I'm okay with paying taxes for it.

But San Francisco was part of a large, stable, wealthy entity, and most failed governments aren't so fortunate. What usually happens is that you get "government" of, for, and by whoever has the biggest gun and is less afraid to use it. More often than not, that would be the local religious fanatics. In Afghanistan this was the Taliban. In Somalia, before the Ethiopian military helped to install the current trasitional government, this was the Islamic Courts Union (and they sound like a real fun-loving bunch.) Without continuing external support, Somalia will lapse back into chaos. Like Afghanistan did. And like Iraq will if we leave.

Measure B in Mendocino County: What It Means For the Rest of Us

So there's a ballot measure in Mendocino County (Northern California) to change the limit for personal marijuana growth from 25 plants to 6 plants.

(waiting period for classroom to quiet down with the Cheech and Chong references)

I'm posting the story for two reasons. First is that the Federal government has continued to force itself on people at the local level, which should get conservatives' blood boiling - California allows medical marijuana, and Mendocino allows recreational marijuana. Problem solving and change often begins when citizens at the local level take the lead, even if the Federal government doesn't like it (they never do).

The second reason is to show that when human freedom of choice is expanded, it rarely leads to the gates of hell opening and the collapse of civilization. And if it was too much - as it was in the opinion of many in Mendocino County - you can reel it back in too. People have been allowed to have 25 plants per person up in Mendocino for years, and the kinds of problems the Measure B people are talking about are air-quality complaints from too much smoke coming from certain houses, and occasional fence-climbing break-ins to get at the stuff growing in the backyard. But somehow, no total breakdown in civil order and criminals ruling the streets. Amazing!

No word on whether polls in Mendocino will close at 4:20 pm that day. Zing!

"Re-Education" in Tibet...Surprise, Surprise

I love watching China's blindness to the inconsistency of its own propaganda. On one hand, China consistently maintains the message that the Dalai Lama (and indeed the whole of the Tibetan government in exile) are irrelevant. Yet, the Communist Party is starting "education" drives in Lhasa. Considering how badly the Chinese government is scrambling in the Western provinces, it's almost like they DON'T consider Tibetan leaders irrelevant at all! Plus whenever I hear "Communist Party" and "education" in the same sentence, I think of the three R's - baRbed wiRe and pRison camps.

But what's encouraging is that, since the central party feels they have to do this, it shows that people in the Chinese Communist Party have woken up to the fact that maybe the current policies are not the way to a China that's better for everybody. IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CURRENT CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Attention Span of Anti-Bioengineering Liberals Drifts When Their Stomachs Growl

There's no evidence that genetically modified (GM) crops do anything but feed more people. That hasn't stopped liberal alarmists in the U.S. and especially Europe from fighting their introduction in agriculture. This, despite the chronic problem in the last few decades of world hunger. It's almost as if comfortable, superficially moralistic liberals in the West are less interested in alleviating human suffering, and more interested in sticking to their unverified Luddite suspicions about biotechnology. That's why I've also said if you're anti-GM, you're quite literally pro-hunger. In the first season of Penn and Teller's Bullsh*t! series, the eleventh episode ("Eat This") is an excellent smackdown of the
misinformation the left spreads about GM foods.

What's interesting is that as soon as food prices start going up at home, people's superficial morality gets pitched in favor of keeping their bread cheap. The chairman of the EC Parliament's Agriculture Committee put it succinctly of Europeans: their hearts may be on the left, but their pockets are on the right. Accepting the reality and benefit of GM crops will help current food prices internationally, including in the developing world where people are hardest hit. But acceptance of GM foods won't affect tofu much, though, at least not in the States - the majority of soybeans have been GM for years.

Africans Waking Up to Chinese Neocolonialism

Good to see that people are paying attention to China somewhere. If you've been paying attention to what's been going on in Zimbabwe, you already know that Robert Mugabe is a thug dictator - and an incompetent one at that - who blames
everything but his own despotism for his administration's land grabs and 100,000% inflation (yes, you read that right). And recently, there was an election, which despite Mugabe's best efforts to rig it, his party lost (surprise!) The aftermath for Zimbabweans hasn't been fun, but so far his predictable refusal to relinquish power hasn't turned into an all-out civil war, which is what many were fearing. The last thing people in that country need is someone showing up with a boatload of weapons to stoke the fire.

Not surprisingly, that doesn't stop China. And where there's a brutal, incompetent dictator looking for support for his regime, China is never far away. Zimbabwe is land-locked, which has so far been fortunate for the people of Zimbabwe - because the Chinese can't ship weapons directly to Zimbabwe. They were sent to South Africa, to be shipped over land. Sorry China - South African port workers in Durban refused to unload the cargo when it arrived.

The outrage for China's ham-handed interference in another country's affairs soon spread to the government of South Africa, and before long a South African high court had not only ordered the ship not to unload, but ordered that it doesn't go anywhere else. But hey - the rule of law has never been a concern for the Chinese government, right? The article explains:

Lawyers were told by the court's sheriff that when an attempt was made to serve the order on the ship, the vessel was already sailing away, she said. She said other sources had confirmed the ship was headed for Mozambique, which lies on landlocked Zimbabwe's eastern border.

The Chinese government isn't soon going to wake up to the idea that its own economic health has nothing to do with interference with other countries - especially when the whole world is watching. So for the sake of Zimbabwe, and democracy everywhere, I hope people in Mozambique make the same decision the South Africans did. IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Police Posted Outside San Francisco China Consulate

Thought this was worth posting. I noticed Saturday night when I drove by the Chinese Consulate that there's an SFPD officer sitting in front in his cruiser. Presumably there's one there now posted full-time. It's been a week and a half since the torch was here. I wonder how much it's costing California taxpayers to protect the consulate of a corrupt communist country.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Next Step: The National Socialist Chinese Workers Party

Teng Biao is one of the brave human rights lawyers who is fighting a lonely battle get Tibetans the same representation in China's "law" system that other citizens of the country have.

The argument has certainly been made that whatever political term describes China, it's no longer "communist" or "socialist". The position of China's government, and the one they program into as many of their citizens as they can, is not to benefit the working class or the world's poor or even other left-leaning governments. It's to benefit China, and the hell with everyone else. Because Chinese culture and people are superior to everyone else, obviously. So consequently, racism against non-Chinese is perfectly acceptable.

Along with the word "nationalist" that keeps popping up as the best description of the Chinese political "philosophy", it's starting to sound suspiciously like fascism. Should anyone be surprised? Even the Soviet Union made an effort to integrate and develop the regions of its ethnic minorities, but China's current
government can't seem to evolve beyond a feudal-minded dynasty.

The Solution to Dependence on Foreign Oil

Not only is nuclear power green, it's economically the best choice.

Admit it. There's a little bit of the feeling among some American conservatives that somehow, anything that makes the oil companies sweat a little bit - or gets between them and the auto industry - is a communist plot. Sometimes, but not usually. You'll hear the lazy oil companies whining as they die off over the next few decades (and demand corporate welfare) , and the smart ones will diversify into new energy as it becomes profitable (hey, the tobacco companies did it just fine!) And speaking of new energy, with this just-discovered cool little trick you can cheaply generate hydrogen from saltwater with radio waves.

Even though that trick isn't ready for prime time, nuclear is, and has been. As those power bills keep going up, maybe people's attitudes will change.

So the Olympic Torch Passed Through India...

The torch passed through India, and what a victory for China - the torchbearers there traversed streets even more barricaded and empty and isolated than the ones here in San Francisco were. In neighboring Nepal there were Tibetan protests but in China's shadow, Nepal is not eager to appear sympathetic to them, and its government doesn't have a great understanding of democracy either.

Perhaps the most troubling thing is the virtual-pogrom-like reaction of pro-China thugs on the internet against Grace Wang, a woman who's studying right here in the U.S. and who doesn't even support Tibetan independence, but who committed the unpardonable sin of encouraging dialogue between pro-Tibet and pro-China demonstrators. Chinese citizens are behaving shamefully on the world stage and unfortunately just reinforcing stereotypes. IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Schwarzenegger is Wrong on This One

Schwarzenegger has been a good governor, and his hand is forced right now by major state budget shortfalls. But saving less than 0.1% by closing a fifth of our parks isn't a good move. His positions on the state's parks have even put him in conflict with other Republicans, like Clint Eastwood, whose tenure as a state parks commissioner was recently "not renewed" (political translation: he was canned).

If you live in Cali and you want to keep the parks open (for $9 million - which is very close to zero in terms of CA's budget) then please sign this petition and forward it to friends.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama Accused Pennsylvanians of Liking Guns

At this stage I'm sure I don't have to rehash the infamous Obama-says-Pennsylvanians-like-guns comment, which occurred at a San Francisco wine-and-cheese fundraising event. If you've read my other entries you know I'm patriotic about that city, which happens to be my chosen home, and I get a little tired of the media beating to death the cliche that anyone who lives, or consumes wine and/or cheese in, San Francisco, is an out-of-touch Harvard and Hollywood snob, since as Pat Buchanan said, Obama was speaking "behind closed doors to the Chablis-and-brie set of San Francisco". You can tell the people at the Chronicle are a little tired of the out-of-touch-snob cliche too.

I'm in a bit of a unique position considering I'm a conservative who has chosen San Francisco as my home, but I was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania (which I will always say was a fantastic place to grow up). And guess what? A lot of Pennsylvanians really do like guns and religion! And last I checked, they were proud of it! My uncle said: "As you can imagine me being from Pa. and a hunter, church council member, asst. scout master . . . GOD, GUTS AND GUNS MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT."

The media is really running with this one, so let's be clear: the only person who called my native Pennsylvania a "benighted and barbarous land" is Pat Buchanan. In reality, what's becoming benighted and barbarous is the discourse level of American politics, thanks to media mavens like Buchanan dumbing it down, and more than a little disingenously. As it turns out, Pat Buchanan is a multimillionaire (at least $5,200,000 back in 1996 was the best figure I could find). I bet old Pat has been to more than a few of those wine-and-cheese functions. A real man of the people!

Although my fellow friendly-rival blogger Murphy Klasing loves all this, I get crazy-angry at how the media (which of course is looking for a profit like anyone else) dumbs down the political discourse running up to an election. I understand that soundbite politics gets short-term results, but it worries me that American grown-ups think this is a good way to pick a president. There are much better reasons not to put Barack Obama in the White House. His healthcare plan is a disaster - his Iraq plan is an abomination - but he said that Pennsylvanians like guns and religion! Let's get him!

Politicians love this kind of grade school regionalism because it helps them "divide and conquer" for votes, and the media loves it because it generates controversy, increases viewership, and sells advertising. At the same time, regional stereotypes exist for a reason, and we can't be too sensitive. I wouldn't worry so much about the San Francisco stereotype if it wasn't such a cheap fallback that played into the way the national media distorts American politics. At the same time, some charlatans within minority communities have risen to prominence based mostly on their own hypersensitivity, rather than any value they can produce. But there's a middle road. Silly as it may seem, I encourage Pennsylvanians to say, "Yes, we like guns. Why is that bad?" and San Franciscans to say "Yes, we like wine and cheese. Why is that bad?" In fact, conservative reader, I bet you yourself have even been to a wine and cheese tasting. (Don't worry, I won't tell anyone). If you haven't, you should try it - it's pretty good.

In the end, it's silly to worry about how much cheese was consumed at a fundraiser. It's not silly at all to worry about how media-created categories of Americans hurts our political process. Because once we stop buying into those categories, we can decide who the best candidate is in November, not based on feel-good stories or regional stereotypes, but on facts and achievements and policies and positions. That's how grown-ups decide. And in that light it will clearly be John McCain.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The New, Green American Century

I remember one day in 1995, talking informally to a counselor at my university and discussing the consumption of Earth's fossil fuels. When I told him I was glad that at then current-rates of consumption the oil would last just about as long as I would probably live, he said, "Yeah, but we're lucky the Chinese don't drive." Guess what.

My frustration as a conservative with the narrowness of the Bush administration's foreign policy goes far beyond the lack of 50 cents-a-gallon gasoline I'm seeing these days at my local Exxon. The execution of this war - or lack thereof - has left many Americans with the impression that the grounds for any war are suspect, that there are no real bad guys out there, just people that the hawks have unfairly distorted and villified.

The problem is that we do need resources, and there are real bad guys, and they need them too. Guess which one of them I'm most worried about? It starts with "C" and ends with "hina".

Mention Rebuilding America's Defenses from the Project for a New American Century, and liberals foam at the mouth, and conservatives (sometimes) cringe. That document was widely credited with being the inspiration for a whole range of Bush foreign policy moves.

Naive though it probably was to the logistical and budgetary realities of what it was suggesting, the report plainly lays out the realities of the twenty-first century energy outlook. Forget global warming, folks. We're coming into this century with a world economy dependent on oil, and whatever happens, we won't leave it that way.

Of course, this analysis from the Power and Interest News Report of 25 February 2005 shows that today, the Chinese do, in fact, drive, and their foreign policy is shifting to reflect that. Under the heading "Middle East: China Expands Relations While the U.S. Pulls Back", the report states: "China has also attempted to improve relations with its already-established oil suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, by selling them military technology, investing in their industries and energy infrastructure and looking the other way with respect to their human rights records." No surprise, considering in that last respect, China is one enormous glass house.

So what can we do? If China wants to buy oil from Saudi Arabia and the other medieval theocracies of that happened to stake tents a century ago above an oil patch, those theocracies will sell it. Our conquest of one oil-rich nation hasn't exactly encouraged us that invasions of Iran and Nigeria are smart follow-up moves.

What we do have control over is our domestic energy policy, and we have to decide what interests are more important - those of national defense, or those of a few companies concentrated in one part of the country - because the two sets of interests are now in conflict. That's why we should be putting up nuclear plants right now hand-over-fist. Let the lawsuits come. That's why we should be directing farm subsidies into research for new types of batteries and biofuel; it seems like every biochemist I know who's recently changed jobs has gone to an energy start-up - let's incentivize those start-ups into the next GE or GM. (Conservatives, all this government incentivization making you nervous? Ever heard of small business grants and Federal loans for students and homebuyers? Those are okay with you? Me too.)

Diesel right now is $4/gallon, and it's killing truckers. Imagine when it's at $10. Yes, that day will come, and we can't stop it from coming. That's why we should be building trains so our transportation infrastructure isn't threatened by dwindling oil. When my (not yet born) teenaged kids visit my wife's parents in Japan, I want them to come back telling me about how old and slow the Japanese bullet trains are compared to ours.

And we should be subsidizing all-electric performance sports cars like the Tesla that Condi Rice test-drove. (Note: these cars are hella cool. Representin tha Bay Area yo). And we should be giving people and businesses more tax credits for putting up solar panels and getting juice back into the grid, and we should be doing it now now now now NOW. (But not supporting ethanol for crying out loud.)

These are all massive opportunities for American innovation and wealth creation, on par with the industrial engineering blitz of 1945-1970 that built this country's wealth and ultimately overwhelmed the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the Chinese are in no position to modernize their energy infrastructure. As it did in the Soviet Union, modernization in China consists of paving roads and giving rural areas running water. Ending our addiction to oil is already in John McCain's platform. I'm glad, because American military officers already view that "'either China or Iran, not the United States, is emerging as the strategic victor" in the Iraq war." (Original article here.)

The New Cold War: Fought with Dollars and Yuan

In this essay posted at Nautilus, Emanuel Pastreich draws interesting parallels between the modern US-Chinese relationship and those of great nations in history. Essentially, he points to how the sun set on the British Empire as a result of the UK going into massive national debt and losing its financial and technical edge to the US...much as we are to China right now. England had the misfortune of two destructive wars, one of which occurred on its home soil. Fortunately, if we wake up, we can avoid this fate:

Great Britain actually helped the U.S. in that process much as the U.S. aids China today. Britain's ensnarement in two debilitating world wars during the 20th century taxed its resources to the limit and encouraged reliance on the United States for both finance and manufacturing. For example, during the Second World War, it was not that the United States forcibly took control of shipping lanes from England, but rather the U.S. Navy stepped in to protect shipping lanes when the British Navy proved, due to overextension and other commitments, unequal to the task.

It requires no stretch of the imagination to envision a scenario in which the United States concedes its dominant status to China, not because of China's nuclear arsenal, but rather because the U.S. has unnecessarily mired itself in a global "War on Terror" that, because the term "terror" is so broad in meaning, recognizes no end and promises to harm America's prosperity, curtail its traditional freedoms, and leave a moral blot on its reputation among the community of nations.

Pastreich would probably criticize my position that we should regard our relationship with the Chinese as the start of a New Cold War. Fair enough - I don't share his optimism that the modern US-China rivalry is more like the early-to-mid-20th-century UK-US rivalry than it is like the US-USSR rivalry. At the same time, his point is very well-taken that economic imbalances and globally-visible moral scandals are more of a threat to America's power than direct military build-up and confrontation might be.

The Most Important Task for the World Today

"Look: there is probably no more important task for the world today than to think how we can help the Chinese get themselves a rational system of government. Everyone who cares about the future of the human race should be racking his brains to come up with something we can do."

This excerpt comes from a fantastic John Derbyshire piece that appeared in the National Review in June 2001. So clearly does it summarize what I'm trying to do with this blog that I should set it as a scrolling marquee. The article was written even before the location had been chosen for the 2008 Olympics, when many people in the free world were protesting China's bid. The article is even more relevant in April 2008. I'm quite happy that Beijing's obsession with getting the Olympics has paid off, because the events of the past few weeks have brought to light the uncivilized behavior of the Chinese regime. The Olympic run-up has also made it much more difficult for them to maintain their superpowership in stealth mode under the guise of perpetual post-colonial-Third World victim.

I should also add that it's very important in the post-Soviet world to get Americans to recognize a threat to democracy that's not led by Osama bin Laden. My focus on the New Cold War may strike some as "retro" (hopefully not self-described conservatives). Sorry to offend any fashion tastes, but global power struggles don't recognize fads. Derbyshire's article was written in June 2001. Two months before that the People's Liberation Army forced an American military plane to crash on Hainan Island. Of course, something else happened that September that may have diverted our attention in the interim. Sure, bin Laden's out there, but he doesn't lead a country of a billion with nuclear weapons and a surging economy. Al Qaeda is a dangerous nuisance. The current government of China is an enormous, long-term threat, and they're quite happy to let America continue to be distracted by Al Qaeda.

Even if you don't click through to Derbyshire's article, give a thought to his general plan to help the Chinese people get a rational system of government: shame the Chinese government, expose their lies, recognize Taiwan, and recognize
the Tibet and Xinjiang exile governments. To paraphrase Derbyshire: IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Interesting Background Coming Out About San Francisco Torch Run

There wasn't much interesting going on AT the torch run, since there was no torch run (unless you count running it secretly down empty streets). But I was hoping that the torch bearers themselves would have something interesting to say about communist oppression and this was true in at least one case - thank you Majora Carter! Of course she got physically yanked out of the race by the shock troops the Chinese insisted accompany the torch, but some clueless Americans still seem to think that behaving for the Chinese regime on American soil is more important than freedom of speech and religion.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Schwarzenegger Comes Out Against Gay Marriage Ban

Get it? But seriously. Finally, a real Republican who doesn't want to to waste time and taxpayer dollars using government to intrude in people's lives.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Unabridged Summary of Rights of Chinese Citizens


It's the Chinese government that's the problem, not the Chinese people. I look forward to a free and open China that can reassume its place among the world's greatest civilizations.

Only the single issue of Tibet, many Han Chinese only know the official revisionist line that they've been fed since birth. But on this and every other issue, there are Chinese who recognize their government's lies for what they are and use their conscience to try to improve China. For Hu Jia and others who dare suggest in writing that China is less then perfect, the penalty is often a prison sentence (or worse) handed down by a kangaroo court. If I were writing a parallel blog in China, constructively critical of the government - and you were reading it - we would both be in trouble.

In some cases U.S. companies have bent right over and given China what they needed to arrest activists. In at least one case they even lied to U.S. Congress about it (yes, I'm talking about Yahoo), and yet somehow the issue has largely escaped the notice of the Executive Branch. Despite the lack of attention that's been paid to the growing problem of the Chinese superpower, there fortunately are pre-existing organizations like the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China, and Freedom House, which focuses on undemocratic countries the world over, with a strong focus on China (they offer the perspective that half of human beings now living in dictatorships live in China). Let's hope that the next president pays more attention to these organizations.

It's a cause for optimism that there are more than a few groups within China that recognize the value of openness to China and the world, even within the Communist Party. While this is encouraging and we should applaud their bravery, they have a long way to go - in 2004 Hu Jintao cited North Korea and Cuba as good examples of press management.


EU is Taking the Hardest Line Yet on China

Even the Europeans have a backbone on China. They've issued some of the strongest anti-China language yet and are calling for a Europe-wide boycott of the games. The democratic world is finally waking up. IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is Carly Fiorina On McCain's VP Short List?

Her position within the McCain campaign has led more than a few to speculate she's on the list. She would definitely be one of the people on the "pro" side (see my previous entry on potential McCain VPs).

The point is, what will win or lose the general election for McCain is whether he can bring the middle of the country back to the GOP; if he can make the purple states a little redder. The reasons are simple. The Religious Right has nowhere else to go. They're either going to vote Republican, or vote for some third party Christian fascist type who won't get 10%. On the other hand, the center has plenty of places to go. Like to Obama. And the Middle is majority women, because the right is majority men.

So, GOP - please, for the love of God, irony intended - pick a centrist VP candidate, like Carly Fiorina. An evangelical won't do anything but lose the center to Obama.

Obama Has to Worry When His Patriotism is Called Into Question By...

...Howard Stern? This monologue by Mr. Stern shows that even the King of All Media can't stomach the hypocrisy surrounding Obama's defense of his association with that Wright maniac. I expect a leader to be receptive to criticisms of his or her jurisdiction, be it a city or a country; otherwise, nothing would get fixed. But Wright's harangue is what you would expect from an angst-filled seventeen-year-old with no sense that negativity alone helps no one. And Obama sits there and listens to this demogogue.

Comically enough, I overheard an interview on National Public Radio's Fresh Air where someone tried to defend the minister by clarifying the emphasis on the words "God damn". Honestly. (I wish I could find this clip for you - if anyone at least knows the speaker, please email me). If that's the best his people can do maybe we'll have an easier ride than I thought we would.

Exchange Rate Drops Below 7 Yuan/Dollar

More good news. The U.S. dollar is below 7 yuan (Chinese currency) for the first time.

The economy that those yuans represent is growing relative to the economy that our dollars represent. And with those yuans, power is growing too. Of course, the rising yuan is good in the sense of its effect on our massive trade deficit with China, but it's the trend in global power that it represents that we should be paying attention to. IF IT'S BAD FOR CHINA, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Chinese Students Being Ordered to Attend Torch Events

Over at Blood and Treasure they have some interesting information about how Chinese students were mobilized in the UK as a sort of Chinese police auxiliary. It was reported here in San Francisco that busloads of people were brought to the torch route by the Chinese Consulate. But you're okay with foreign nationals from a communist country being permitted to act in concert as police in your home country, right?

In closing, please enjoy this nice image courtesy the Economist on the new Chinese colonialism.


On Consistent Positions: Invading Iraq and Withdrawing

Regarding going to war in Iraq, you could have been for or against the war in the first place; and you could be for or against withdrawing. Taken together, that gives us four possible combinations.

The combination is really more informative than the individual positions. I was deadset against the Iraq War from the start, like millions of other Americans, including lots of Reagan Republicans scared to death of the religious right and neocons. We said from the start things that everyone now knows - that Saddam did not have WMDs; that he had no connection to terrorism; and that an invasion would be an incredibly long and costly mistake, both in terms of our economy as well as the cost in international standing. I thought at least we would get cheap oil out of the deal. And it turns out I was still too optimistic.

But now that we're there, we're there. Granted, you don't have to be very brave to criticize the Iraq War today, and more Republicans than just Ron Paul think the Iraq War was a mistake, maybe even one of the biggest blunders in history according to Chuck Hagel on Fox News. And if we withdraw now, we leave another failed state behind, another Afghanistan or Somalia with no infrastructure and a lawless territory to train more terrorists - to say nothing of the suffering of the people whose country we smashed. At home, the Democratic Party has seized on the issue of rapid withdrawal as more of a GOP vulnerability than a real policy goal, a decision based on domestic politics and not on consideration of the medium- and long-term impact of such a decision. Long story short, I was totally against the war, and now I'm totally against withdrawal.

There are people who were against the war and now along with the Democrats want us out yesterday. While this position may at least seem consistent on its face, I try to explain to anybody who's pro-withdrawal that in the long run this policy absolutely guarantees more fighting. McCain's plan of an eventual phased withdrawal of boots on the ground with an over-the-horizon presence to protect Iraq's nascent democratic institutions is the most sensible one we've heard so far. Believe it or not the neocons who got us into the Iraq mess are trying to get McCain's ear. If we want him to win this election he needs to stay as far away from those losers as possible.

There are also people who were for the Iraq War, despite all the evidence against WMDs and the predictions of a long insurgency; but now at least recognize that we've made our bed and have to lie in it, and we're there for the long haul.

It's the people who were for the war, and now want us out, that made me write this entry.

These people are, to put it bluntly, the worst assholes possible.

The world isn't like your game console - there's no re-set button. Did these moronic cowards support the war without realizing that people die in wars? Was it just another game on television to them? Did they think the religious extremists that infest the Middle East wouldn't jump on the opportunity to set up shop fighting the U.S. in what was before a non-religious state off-limits to them?

You can have your reasons for being for or against Iraq (now moot), and you can have reasons for being for or against withdrawal. But it's the combination of for-the-war and for-withdrawal that's beneath contempt. Iraq is the Jimmy Carter of wars: somehow in 2008 it seems that no one was for it. If you have the gall to admit you were for the war and now you're for withdrawal, there can't be any explanation but that you're an ignorant dipshit.

Totally Sweet Illustration of the How the Chinese Olympic Symbol Was Created

I got some video from the non-running of the torch which I'll be posting for everyone's enjoyment. Meanwhile enjoy this cartoon - it speaks for itself. IN MY OPINION, THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT MUST BE - you know the rest.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chinese Paramilitary Personnel Roughing Up Western Police Officers

This is super. Now Chinese paramilitary police are shoving around civilian police authorities in Western countries. Fantastic. Can you imagine the reaction if American police or miltary personnel were behaving this way? One more hypocrisy that we're gladly allowing to the Chinese government.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Wake Up GOP and Libertarians: The Bad Guys Are Coming

Even the Greens in France are busy calling down bad publicity on China by calling it "the world's biggest prison". But what I like even better is the ham-handed party line (literally) we get from Chinese officials: "The act of defiance from this small group of people is not popular," said Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic organizing committee. "It will definitely be criticized by people who love peace and adore the Olympic spirit. Their attempt is doomed to failure." You got us there old Sunny-Wadey. There are only huge crowds composed of diverse movements and people coming out in every country the torch goes to. No, it's not popular at all. IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE, ESPECIALLY SEMICOMPETENT PROPAGANDISTS LIKE OLD SUNNY-SUN-SUN.

Perfect Example of What a Mess Our Drug Policy Is

These were decent people minding their own business, growing a few pot plants for their own use, and now their careers are ruined and they almost lost their house because they had five pot plants. Cannabis must be evil stuff if five plants warrant all that.

I know something about Reading, Pennsylvania, because I grew up there. It routinely ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in Pennsylvania (in 2003 it was THE most dangerous.) Crime in Reading is associated with gang activity, marginalization of immigrant populations, and crack, not with individual personal-use growers like these folks. Imagine the law enforcement and legal resources of this small economically struggling city that were used on this case instead of dealing with murder and armed robbery.

Meanwhile one well-placed phone call will legally get me amphetamines, because despite no evidence in support and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the DEA considers amphetamines less dangerous than marijuana.

If we want to down a few Heinekens and get silly watching the game, that's our own business. So how is this different? Maybe it's time we re-evaluated our priorities? Corporate America is already on this. On its job applications Genentech specifically states that when listing criminal convictions, you should exclude misdemeanors and marijuana-related offenses.

The Torch Isn't Even Here Yet and There Are People Hanging Off the Golden Gate Bridge

I have to hand it to the pro-democracy people in London and Paris - I thought we were going to have a tough time outdoing them. But hey. This is San Francisco. I'm glad I ran across the Golden Gate this morning because I bet it'll be closed to pedestrians until after the torch leaves (it is at the moment).
Oddly enough, even though it was early morning and deserted, I saw workers with the access door to the North Tower open. I didn't even realize you could go inside it. In ten years here I'd never seen that before. I wonder if they had a heads-up?

The torch doesn't even get here until Wednesday. And in Paris they couldn't even make it to the end of the route.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

China, Tibet, and the Future of Taiwan

Just wanted to post a link to this great opinion piece from a Boulder, Colorado paper about China, Tibet and Taiwan. Yes, this is the People's Republic of Boulder and they're more worried about Red China than you, a conservative? Something's wrong here...


Workers Being Abused In Workers Paradise

It always confuses me when workers and poor people in socialist countries are treated far worse by the governments of socialist countries than by those of free-market countries. People in China have been forced from their homes by the new construction, and rural workers have been effectively enslaved. I don't know - Salt Lake City, Atlanta, speak up here - did that go on for you guys? No? Strange.

It adds to socialist irony. Lech Walesa led a strike in Warsaw-Pact Poland and was beaten and sent to jail for his efforts. So strange how it always works out that way.


Remember The Part in Fahrenheit 9/11 About Congresspeople Enlisting Their Kids?

I wish Michael Moore would notice this. In Fahrenheit 9/11 he confronts reluctant Congresspeople with the prospect of their own kids going to fight in Iraq. This frankly made the GOP look very hypocritical.

Now we have an answer. Here's one Senator (hint, R-AZ) whose own son has served in Iraq. As an enlisted soldier on the ground. Not as an officer.

I was very conflicted about posting this link because the McCain campaign has requested the article not be run, but it's important for people to see that there's a man of principle running in November.

Excellent Analysis of Chinese Government's Dilemma

Excellent summary of Chinese politics, Tibet, and where the Chinese government must go from here if it wants to endure.


Flip-Flopping Is a Family Value?

Will these ass-faces stop interfering with the GOP please? In a stunning flip-flop, Paul Weyrich - the same flag-hugging yib-yob who backed Romney against McCain - is now saying that a McCain Romney ticket would be unacceptable. What's wrong with this guy?

Laos Feeling Pressure From China

Add Laos to the list of countries feeling feeling heat from China. Heavy investment opens the window to political pressure. Add to this the Southeast Asian highway that was just completed - do you see a plan? Imperial powers rarely show up on your doorstep with a surrender treaty. They find who's in charge and make them deals they can't refuse. This is how it starts. The stages aren't necessarily sequential:

Stage 1. The sphere of influence starts gradually expanding through economic and political pressure - and implied military force. (And Sudan. Does that one scare you? China's military sphere is no longer limited to Asia.)

Stage 2. Maoist rebels magically appear in rural areas. After a long enough period, they magically become politicians. This is the stage Nepal is in right now.

Stage 3. The government becomes a puppet dictatorship that, because it has carte blanche from Beijing to do whatever it needs to for stability, becomes an Orwellian nightmare of a dictatorship. North Korea and Myanmar are in this stage right now.

Stage 4. The country is absorbed completely within China, and the Chinese government begins propagandizing that it always really was a part of China anyway. Tibet is in this stage right now.

The fact that these articles are making their way into Western media is encouraging. Let's hope that the awakening of Laos will be a call to the West to begin some efforts to containing the Chinese threat. The article I linked to above quotes an expat resident of Laos as saying he "can't recall the middle class ever being so angry."


Flag-Huggers: Devolved Conservatives

Public discourse in general in the U.S. is getting dumbed-down. What worries me even more, as I've said before, is how the same thing is happening to conservatives. There is a sub-race of conservatives emerging that isn't helping things, and they're becoming distinct enough to deserve a name. Yes, the last decade has seen the rise of the flag-huggers.

What's wrong with liking the flag? There's nothing wrong with it at all; leave the pointless symbolism of flag-bashing and -burning to confused leftists. There is, however, something wrong with keeping only the superficial trappings of patriotic symbolism and forgetting about the institutions and hard work and policy decisions and number-crunching of our forefathers that led us to where we are today. Studying science and classical history and knowing the voting records of legislators and worrying about cold hard economics and material effects of policies were, and I hope will continue to be, the province of clear-thinking conservatives. Which is why it worries me that today it's Democrats who are more likely to know their classical history - while Republicans increasingly dismiss it as elitist crap - and these are the ideals that the Founders based the country on.

There are parallel groups in other phases of American life. Bible Thumpers are people who are loudly and superficially Christian but are often incredibly hypocritical, concerned only for the lip service and the trappings of Christianity; they're more interested in using selective literal readings of scripture as an excuse to take rights away from others than to use it to improve themselves and make the world a better place for everyone. In a nutshell, they just don't "get it", but that doesn't stop them from shouting the loudest. By having their poor but in-your-face example associated with Christianity in general, they damage faith's credibility and generally make life worse, not better, for Christians in America.

Flag-huggers are to patriotism as Bible-thumpers are to religion. They put a lot of American flags on their house and car, and they get very indignant whenever a really-not-that-important social issue comes up (like gay marriage or medical marijuana or prayer in schools) but when it comes time to talk about the importance of free markets or (closer to home) local crime trends and what they can do to help locally, or just asking what will be the real material effect of a policy, they glaze over. (So what if marijuana is legalized? What will happen? One definite effect is that you'll pay less in taxes to prosecute harmless marijuana users and house them in jail.) And (most importantly) flag-huggers vote for politicians whose voting records they don't bother to check, politicians who quite often vote directly opposite to the flag-huggers' convictions. Flag-huggers are more worried about politicians having a big family, and seeming like nice, average guys. But when your company hires a CEO why do you care? You WANT someone who's an aggressive workaholic no-nonsense attack dog. You don't want someone NICE! Why should it be any different when you're voting for a lawmaker or political executive??

It's superficial enthusiasm like this that keeps politicians in business and detracts from the credibility of the deeply patriotic. Our patriotism should be a little deeper and thought-out than our loyalty to a football team. And we all know a few flag-huggers, right?

Bottom-line, flag huggers don't help conservatism, and they don't help America. Stay tuned, and maybe I'll start a flag-hugger award series.

Free Tibet Rally in San Francisco Tuesday Night

Another Free Tibet rally Tuesday night in San Francisco. This one has celebrities coming. I've definitely noticed the activity around the city already this weekend. And HOO-EEE! does San Francisco ever have its work cut out for us out-doing London's torch protests. I'm almost afraid to see what the Parisians do. Even the Olympic athletes are in on the action there.


California is in Play

John McCain was just here, and normally the only time you see presidential candidates in this state is before the primaries have decided the nominees. There's no point in wasting time in a state that's won or lost before the election ever happens. That's been literally true in some traditionally blue states like California, which if you believe Murphy Klasing is full of gay-married illegal immigrants burning American flags. That's fine, because Murphy is over there in Texas sitting on his porch with his three twelve-year-old wives, drinking PBR and shooting at the black U.N. helicopters. (Hey, I kid! I kid! We shouldn't buy into media stereotypes of other Americans. And Mark has a cool blog and I'm still amazed that a Texan learned how to use a computer.)

This is why it was so great to see McCain here in San Francisco, and why it's so great that he keeps reminding us that California (along many others the Democrats assume they have sewn up) is in play.

Pop Quiz: What's More Important, Democracy or Athletics?

Listen. I like athletics as much as the next guy. In fact I'm kicking total ass in Sweet Sixteen bracketology (check it out dude, 13 for 14 games, 99th percentile on Yahoo, I'M TOTALLY RULING). But at times we have to choose priorities, and the arrival of the Chinese Olympic Torch in the U.S. means that this is one of those times.

To be honest, we conservatives don't go to a lot of marches. That's fine. But what's embarrassing is when conservatives tell people not to go to the torch protests because "what the Olympic torch stands for is more important". Not. It's not. It's not more important than advancing U.S. interests and global democracy. A communist country has turned the Olympics into a global advertisement for its success and influence, and they're running through our streets, and at home ignoring the civilized world's demands that they start treating their citizens democratically, and people are telling me that behaving ourselves for these 21st-century oppressors is more important?

I expect that sort of fatalist, surrenderist, do-nothing attitude from collectivist victim-cult left-wing types. It's pretty embarrassing from self-described conservatives. If we can help bring attention to what China's up to, and put second thoughts into the heads of anybody into the upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party, by ruining the day of a guy who signed up to run with a torch for a few hundred yards - I guess I'm okay with that. And I'm saying that as an avid distance runner too. Come on - if even some of the French Olympic athletes are going to wear badges to the games, then we can't get shown up by FRANCE, can we?

While it's understandable that China would want "to project the image of ... a modern, economically dynamic state with growing international influence", others have used the Olympics for the same reason - in fact that quote describes Germany in 1936.

One of my favorite accounts is Hitler refusing to shake the hand of Jesse Owens and the other black American athletes who raked in the gold medals that year (Yeah, **** you, Hitler.) Who knows if the 2008 Olympics will give us any images so historically enduring? For the people of Tibet, and North Korea, and Myanmar, and Taiwan, and China - I hope so.


The Anti-McCain Propaganda Is Already Starting

One of the nice things about having a blog is that you don't have to follow the "politeness" rules that constrain mainstream journalists. Which is how I can say those dicks at are already at it.

I'm on MoveOn's little listy-list and I got the first of what I'm sure will be many anti-McCain smears. It's no surprise. These schmendricks know how Americans will react when they see a substantive, seasoned, mainstream American leader standing next to a junior legislator whose achievements seem limited to attending radical anti-American religious exhortations. You can almost hear the talking points getting ticked off: on Fox, Kerry made them a little too obvious ("Nomination McCain" vs "Senator McCain" - sounds like action figures).

McCain is not the radical here; McCain is not the guy who's listening to whacked-out religious leaders. Maybe the fact that a big old atheist like myself is a rabid McCain supporter should be a hint?

North Korean Refugees in China

To point out the evils of the current China regime and not talk about North Korea is irresponsible. So here's a link to an NGO that focuses on North Korean refugees in China. During the First Cold War, it was easier for Warsaw Pact citizens to escape to Yugoslavia (non Warsaw-Pact but still communist and non-NATO country). By the same token, it's impossible to get across the border between the Koreas, but slightly less impossible to get from North Korea into China. As the Olympics approach, China is abusing these refugees even worse than usual in their efforts to "clean up" their image. Meanwhile, North Korea is refusing to give up its WMDs and is launching test missiles into the sea off its western coast, all while its people starve and shiver in concentration camps.

Of course, without China's support, North Korea's Orwellian nightmare regime would fold quickly. That's why IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S VERY GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE. ESPECIALLY NORTH KOREAN PEOPLE.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chinese San Francisco Olympic Torch Route Published

Information on the torch route can be found here and here. It starts at 1:00 pm on 9 April at 1pm by the ballpark and ends at 2:30 at Justin Herman Plaza.

From the Chronicle: "The specific route flows along 3rd Street from McCovey Cove, down to the Embarcadero and past Fisherman's Wharf to Jefferson Street. From Jefferson, it will go left on Hyde Street and up a short distance to Beach Street, then to Polk Street near Aquatic Park. The next torch runner will head up Polk to Bay Street. The torch will then head back to the Embarcadero and stop in front of the Ferry Building at Justin Herman Plaza."

You can bet your ass I'll be there. So should every other person who calls him or herself a conservative in this country because IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Xinjiang Unrest

Tibet is not the only place where Chinese oppression is causing problems. The Orwellian nightmares North Korea and Myanmar exist only because the Chinese prop them up, and North Korea has weapons of mass destruction. Maoists have made inroads in the Nepalese government. Taiwan constantly fears for its independence. And now the West is finally getting reports of demonstrations in Xinjiang.

Here and elsewhere we see the Uighur protesters described as Muslim separatists, but I suspect that's partly because these last few weeks the Chinese government has taken a crash course in what plays well with democratic governments. They've learned that right now in history, sectarian Muslims make Westerners queasy (rightly so). The only thing that's certain is that these people are so disenfranchised and angry with the Chinese attempt to erase their culture that they're willing to show their faces to the Chinese government in protest. And remember - IF IT'S BAD FOR THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, IT'S GOOD FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

Litmus Test for McCain's Running Mate

Many of us are relieved that with John McCain the GOP is returning to its core values. But the party can still screw it up in November by nominating a VP beholden to the minority special interests that have driven the party into the ground for the last eight years. A useful "fingerprint" is whether the candidate thinks that American science education, and hence global technological competitiveness should be protected; that is, whether "Intelligent Design" should be taught in schools.

Even for VP, I can't vote for anybody who's so in thrall to special interests that they're willing to sacrifice America's global business prominence and our educational system by forcing the views of extremists on children in the classroom. By now Americans are tired of special interests, and this one is pretty special - directed by a small minority of well-organized well-funded zealots. The campaign is quietly taking place in legislatures and schoolboards around the country. If it succeeds, the losers will be all Americans.

Rush Limbaugh got it right when he said Intelligent Design is nothing but but re-named Biblical creationism trying to sneak into the classroom. Fortunately, in at least some cases citizens have seen this threat to America's technological edge coming. Despite Pat Robertson's curse on Pennslyvania , things seem to be going okay in the Keystone State (where my mom lives; she hasn't reported any brimstone). Go ahead and laugh at Robertson's looneyness - he's worth $190 million and he's just one of the people working hard to destroy America's educational system.

Below I've put together a list of people mentioned as possible running mates, and whether they should have a place in a GOP administration based on their stand viz a viz protecting American education and economic competitiveness.


- Mitt Romney is a strong contender. He clearly understands the idea of secular government

- Tom Ridge: the best evidence I could find about his position was his support of the Judge in the Dover, PA case.

- Tim Pawlenty: Little information available, although he's socially moderate so I'm holding out my hopes. Please comment if you know more.

- Charlie Crist: Little information available - if you have information please comment. I found one quote without attribution saying Intelligent Design could be taught in an elective class - which is the same thing that Mitt Romney and pro-evolution Dover, PA people said (and that class is comparative religion.)

- Richard Burr: Little information available. The Optical Society of America, which is trying to protect American science education, met with him, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

- Condoleeza Rice: no information - please comment if you have any.

- Rob Portman: no information - please comment if you have any.


- Mark Sanford: says the government should force his religion on kids in science class.

- Sarah Palin: said in a broadcast debate that the government should force her religion on kids in science class.

- Bobby Jindal: firmly anti-education.

- Haley Barbour: tried to pass a law to force his religion on kids in schools.

- Joe Lieberman: I heard we already have Democrats running this November.

- John Thune: anti-education.

- Mel Martinez: not much information, but since he was the guy who was advocating using big government to interfere in medical cases, we can be pretty sure we know where he stands.

- Kay Bailey Hutchison: not sure, but close ties to Tom DeLay et al strongly suggest she's not. If you have information to the contrary let me know.

Liberty in a Nutshell from a Baptist

I'd missed this excellent post over at the Libertarian Party, inspired by Dinesh D'Souza's apparent moral disapproval of people who drink alcohol at Christmas parties.