Friday, June 26, 2009

China is Shutting Down Google Access Because...

Are you ready? Because Google spreads "pornographic, lewd, and vulgar" information. That's really the best the CCP could come up with.

Of course, one answer to that is "so what" - in a modern civilized country, it's the individual's job to sort that out, and not the government's job to censor it. But of course there's more to it. Could it be that a dictatorial government is just coordinating the release of the mandatory dissent-filtering software installed on all computers sold after this date? And is it only a coincidence that the Chinese Communist Party is nervous at the same time people elsewhere in the world are using the internet to demand their freedom?

If it's bad for the Chinese people, it's good for the Chinese government.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coverage of Iran in China

Interesting. An editorial in the Global Times says "In reporting on the Islamic world, the Western media is putting freedom of speech too far ahead of responsibility." Other reports have decried Western interference.

No surprise; China's nervousness at a people's ability to demand accountability from government is understandable.

A Potential Win for the GOP: Tax Reform

Great quote from Jonathan Rauch's review of Patrick Allitt's The Conservatives:

"Bartlett argues that the smart conservative alternative is not to insist on no new taxes ever, but to champion a value-added tax (a VAT), which taxes consumption and allows very few loopholes. It is flat (or flat-ish), economically efficient, and difficult for lobbyists and politicians to game. Establishing a VAT would finance higher government spending, and that is not conservatives’ first choice. But we live in a second-choice world, and some spending growth is inevitable. Today’s tax system is so complex and perverse and inefficient (it punishes saving and investment, for heaven’s sake!) that a VAT could raise more revenues while strengthening the economy. Reagan–the real Reagan, not the caricature–would smile."

Tax reform is a potential big win for the GOP that the Democrats, given their core constituencies, wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, but can't be seen as resisting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pro-Democracy Rallies on the West Coast

The one on Tuesday in San Francisco here, elsewhere here.

Want to piss off a bunch of Islamic fascists? Become another outlet for Mousavi's Twitter feeds right on your Facebook page! Apparently these medieval thugs think that in 2009 they can stop the free flow of information.

If you need more hints on who the good guys are, look how quick Russia and China have been to congratulate Ahmadinjad.

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. -Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Noah's Ark Found in Hong Kong

In many posts I emphasize the importance of technology to American economic success, and consequently the importance of educating scientists and engineers - something which Asian countries in general, and China specifically, is beating us badly at.

That's why every patriotic American should rise up in outrage at know-nothings who try to damage your kids' brains by making them learn the Qu'ranic account of creation - in public schools - instead of science and math. (Did you click on that link? Did it connect to something different than what you expected? Does the difference matter to you? Why?)

Turns out there are two approaches to competing with our neighbors across the Pacific. Chinese real estate moguls are opening a Noah's Ark theme park in Hong Kong. These "Chinese" investors are clearly operating in the service of the U.S. government, and sabotaging China's success. Brilliant! This is the best news I've heard about China for a while! Instead of educating our kids, we can stultify Chinese kids! Maybe we can get a Creation Museum to open there too. Once they convince enough bright Chinese kids that the principles of chemistry and genetics are all nonsense, maybe we can actually keep our edge in biotech. Bravo, Noah's Ark investors - what a brilliant Trojan horse.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Conservatives Supporting Iranian Free Elections

I take a little break from this blog, and look what happens. Iran has an election, unsurprisingly it's crooked and Ahmadinejad steals it, and historically huge numbers of people throng the streets in Tehran. American mainstream media have fallen on their faces here; about the only thing they've succeeded at is protecting audiences from seeing the ugly truth of what dictatorial governments will do to squelch democracy.

Conservatives: Iran is a theocratic dictatorship by thugs and for thugs. We should be vocally supporting any expansion of the rights we take for granted - like free elections and speech - if only to undermine Ahmedinejad's nuclear momentum. What's bad for Iranian priest-dictators is good for everyone else, including (especially) the Iranian people.

I started this blog to try to draw conservative foreign policy attention more toward East Asia, which is usually where the real action is happening. The Middle East matters only for these few moments in history, becuase oil matters. Islamic terrorism is the efforts of desperate extremist Neanderthals to turn back the tide of freedom and economic growth. East Asia is still where the long-term momentum is; but Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. That makes this a critical moment in that country's history - and ours.

So what can we do? Get on a Twitter feed or join an online community like a Facebook group and express your support (Ahmedinejad knows that this is a problem for him). Go to a rally, like the one I'm going to the night of Tuesday 16 June in Union Square in San Francisco. Email your representative that it's important to you as a conservative that the U.S. shows its solidarity with the Iranian people, especially because the guy that just stole the election is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

We're watching people fight for their freedom. Let's not let them down.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Price of Not Innovating

Full Businessweek article here. Excerpts:

The final piece of evidence [for an innovation shortfall] is the financial crisis itself. After the 2001 tech bust, trillions of dollars flowed into the U.S.—but most of it went into government bonds and housing rather than into innovative sectors of the economy. While subprime mortgages boomed, venture capital investments have more or less stagnated since 2001, with few tech startups going public...

...An innovation shortfall might also have weakened the country's underlying productivity growth, which in turn influenced real wages and the ability of consumers to spend without borrowing. Certainly economists on both the left and the right believe innovation is an essential ingredient for growth. A December 2006 paper by the Brookings Institution, co-authored by Peter R. Orszag, now head of the Office of Management & Budget, observed: 'Because the U.S. is at the frontier of modern technological and scientific advances, sustaining economic growth depends substantially on our ability to advance that frontier.'

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oakland, California to Issue ID Cards to Illegals

I'm posting a link to an entry in my local (Oakland, California) blog. The city of Oakland is proposing an ID card to half-legitimize illegals residing in the city. Being married to a legal immigrant, who jumped through a lot of hoops to be legal, I'm pretty down on any suggestion that the road should be smoothed for those who break the rules.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Humvee Purchased by Chinese Company

The irony of this deal cannot be overstated. One of the flagships of American industry has sold the Humvee unit to a Chinese firm - perhaps one of the institutions Chairman Mao founded inland (in Sichuan) to defend against invasion of the coasts by us capitalist swine.

I'm tempted to take a drive by the Hummer dealership in San Jose that I used to run by in 2003 when they were at their zenith. During the Iraq War, when owning one of these no-need-to-be-on-a-civilian-highway behemoths was considered an expression of patriotism, my own love for my country was questioned more than once when I expressed my bewilderment that anyone would want one. I prefer Jack in the Box to MREs too (what a commie!). At bottom the question is: how is it unpatriotic or unconservative to reject burning money for show?

I'm sure there are those on the "Obama is the gay socialist Antichrist" first-grade rhetorical fringe (you know, the ones currently discrediting conservatism in the eyes of moderate Americans) who will insist that that this is really part of Obama's plot to transfer America's military might to a communist nation. In truth I haven't even gone looking on the web, but I'm sure they're out there, and as with everything, my answer is: show me your evidence and I'll listen. It's worth pointing out that it's hard to see how, without government help, this same sale wouldn't have happened months earlier. One complaint I don't have about China is that their citizens and government actually know how to save money, (revolutionary! Americans should learn about this "financial discipline"!) although one negative outcome of that is that our government has been financed by theirs for the last five years.

David Brooks has an excellent piece detailing the weaknesses of the Obama rescue of GM, and how the prop-up is really a political forced move which leaves the already curiously government-like bureaucracy and culture of GM largely intact. What Brooks is talking about is customer interaction surface, and GM's lack thereof. To go abstract for a second, this is why, in biology, cells are small - the bigger a cell gets, the lower its surface area-to-volume ratio, and a cell that can't sense and exchange materials with the outside world is a dead cell. Companies' ability to react to the marketplace is directly related to their customer interaction surface. More generally, the more people you have that don't spend part of their day thinking about what goes on outside your company but that is relevant to the business, the harder it will be for you to compete over the long haul. A large part of Brooks's point is that GM is the poster child of government-like big-business bureaucracy, and this is what has brought it to where it is, and it's hard to see how the Obama plan will make it less big-government like. And it's this is exactly why companies with poor customer interaction surface go bust; success as a contributor in such a place has everything to do with satisfying inbred byzantine legacy processes and nothing to do with the customer (until the company fails; then you realize that all along, it had everything to do with the customer). GM's culture (and economic destiny) means that keeping GM on life support can only be a political move, and it's not doing American capitalism any favors.

So what do you do if you work at such a place? You focus on screwing your internal competitors, ignoring the customer, and forgetting that there's any external competition to speak of. Have you worked at a Fortune 500 company? Then you know what I'm talking about. (After watching his boss steal equipment from another division, Dilbert asked him when they would start thinking about screwing their competitors.) This is the same principle that results in the death of ideologies and moribund states, like the Ming Dynasty calling its treasure ships back, or Moctezuma's men not understanding (at first) that the Spaniards weren't there to politely participate in one of their "show-wars", or Roman generals worrying more about other Roman generals with similar designs on the imperial throne, instead of my ancestors who were busy massing at the borders to sack this curiously named Eternal City. And where are the Ming or the Aztecs or the Roman Empire today? And this is just as true of every silly theory or ideology that rejects the basic evidence of the outside world to preserve its purity and in the process disappears up its own ass (semiotics, intelligent design, Islamic legal "scholarship" and Marxism, for just a few examples). A company that pays more attention to its customers and competition is just like these - or, in a final analogy, like a whale with no eyes and ears. Who cares how well it controls its own metabolism if it's ignoring that sharks that are eating it?

* * *

Ultimately the sale of a GM division to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company is a capitalist transaction, although we do have to ask ourselves if we want the world's other superpower buying such iconic brands. Would we have allowed a consumer division of McDonnel-Douglas to be bought by the USSR twenty years ago? Why should we allow a Chinese firm to buy them today?) This is especially concerning when the country in question has a policy of trying to steal our military technology anyway, taking this ongoing espionage trial as an example. Incidentally, Republicans, this is a fantastic opportunity to start stepping up and reclaiming one of the few remaining Republican policy monopolies - national security. Reawakened Americans will be glad to have China a bigger part of our foreign policy. In the meantime enjoy Hummer's new ad campaign, courtesy Notions Capital.