Nov 24 2008

We send milk; Russia sends guns

Category: energy,national security,Russia,venezuelaharmonicminer @ 8:56 pm

Russian Navy Increases Activity in Foreign Waters

Russian Navy spokesman Dygalo also issued a statement saying ships from the Northern fleet will arrive Tuesday in Venezuela and will conduct joint maneuvers with that country on December 1. The statement says the exercise would involve operational planning, helping distressed vessels, and supplying ships underway.

In Moscow, independent Russian military analyst Alexander Konovalov told VOA that Russia’s increased naval presence in the Gulf of Aden is a practical response to intolerable piracy. But he characterized the naval maneuvers with Venezuela as an empty political gesture aimed at the United States in response to NATO ships that delivered humanitarian supplies to Georgia during that country’s conflict with Russia in August.

Konovalov says, “you Americans send a ship to the Georgian port of Batumi with powdered milk and hygiene supplies, we send you the Peter the Great, a heavy nuclear-powered cruiser, to the Caribbean Sea.”

It’s OK Congressman Frank, we really don’t have to worry about those nice Russians and Venezuelan President Chavez. They just want to be friends. With each other, that is.  Not us.

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Nov 24 2008

Tolerance has its limits, I guess

Category: gay marriageharmonicminer @ 2:46 pm

Radical gay marriage activists, angry that Proposition 8 passed in California, are committing hate crimes, by any reasonable definition, but they’re still basically cowardly in their approach.   (Much more, worth reading, at the link.)

Last week in a Denver suburb, someone lit a Book of Mormon on fire and dropped it on the doorstep of a Mormon temple, presumably as a statement about the church’s support of Proposition 8 in California, an initiative that amended the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In a move that may make gay-rights supporters’ heads spin, the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

As I’ve mentioned before, if they had real guts, they’d drop burning Korans on the front steps of a few mosques here and there, and then stand out front with signs saying things like “Muhammed’s followers are haters” and the like. After all, Islam teaches that gays should be killed, and the teaching has never really been repudiated or revised (simply ignored when not convenient, but practiced in many Islamic cultures still). Mormon’s have not advocated any such thing, nor have Evangelicals or Catholics, anywhere in the world.

So who is the appropriate target for gay marriage angst? It’s pretty simple: they just insult the ones who they know won’t fight back.

I’m waiting for the day when they picket a mosque, and stay out there long enough to be identified by the Muslims whose beliefs they’re protesting.  That should be REALLY interesting, especially the follow up coverage.  Just for extra laughs, they could carry drawings of a gay Muhammed, as they’ve done with Jesus Christ

But that would take actual courage, wouldn’t it?


Nov 24 2008

Words mean things

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:45 am

One way to win an argument is to control the usage of words. If you can get the other side to use your definitions, or even just to use your terms with different definitions (which differences may be lost on those watching the argument), you’ve won half the battle. You’re certainly in better shape than if you have to use your opponent’s terms. We see this in lots of areas, the prochoice/prolife debate being the most obvious, but there are many others.

I’m reminded of the old Sci-Fi story, “To Serve Man“, which often seems to reflect the way our government “serves” us, at least economically.
Continue reading “Words mean things”

Nov 24 2008

One of the more depressing columns I’ve read lately

Category: socialism,taxesharmonicminer @ 9:16 am

George Will reminds us that “spread the wealth” has been the order of business for quite some time in Washington DC, and suggests that we use the term “socialism” a bit more circumspectly. (More at the link, and all worth reading.)

McCain and Palin, plucky foes of spreading the wealth, must have known that such spreading is most what Washington does. Here, the Constitution is an afterthought; the supreme law of the land is the principle of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs. Sugar import quotas cost the American people approximately $2 billion a year, but that sum is siphoned from 300 million consumers in small, hidden increments that are not noticed. The few thousand sugar producers on whom billions are thereby conferred do notice and are grateful to the government that bilks the many for the enrichment of the few.

Conservatives rightly think, or once did, that much, indeed most, government spreading of wealth is economically destructive and morally dubious — destructive because, by directing capital to suboptimum uses, it slows wealth creation; morally dubious because the wealth being spread belongs to those who created it, not government. But if conservatives call all such spreading by government “socialism,” that becomes a classification that no longer classifies: It includes almost everything, including the refundable tax credit on which McCain’s health care plan depended.

Hyperbole is not harmless; careless language bewitches the speaker’s intelligence. And falsely shouting “socialism!” in a crowded theater such as Washington causes an epidemic of yawning. This is the only major industrial society that has never had a large socialist party ideologically, meaning candidly, committed to redistribution of wealth. This is partly because Americans are an aspirational, not an envious people. It is also because the socialism we do have is the surreptitious socialism of the strong, e.g. sugar producers represented by their Washington hirelings.

In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking — bending government for the benefit of private factions. The difference is in degree, including the degree of candor. The rehabilitation of conservatism cannot begin until conservatives are candid about their complicity in what government has become.

The power to tax, in any amount, for any purpose whatsoever is at the root of the corruption of the American ideal.   The founders understood this, and carefully limited what Congress could do.  But Amendments since then, put in place by a people with less wisdom than the founders, have allowed essentially unlimited taxation of anyone for any purpose, limited only by what is politically feasible, and does not produce immediate economic disaster (long term disaster being just fine, it seems).  We may be about to find out, the hard way, exactly what those limits are.

There is one sentence in Will’s article that I’m sure has been true in the past, but I’m not so sure is true in the present: “Americans are an aspirational, not an envious people.”

I am afraid that, for a majority of Americans, their main aspiration may be to acquire the objects of their envy, by any means necessary, except actually earning them.

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