Quick Roundup 16

Thursday, February 02, 2006

More Meddling from Chavez

At least this newspaper came out against it.

If New Hampshire accepts discounted home heating oil from Venezuela, the state will play into the hands of an anti-American, anti-democratic ruler.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is offering reduced-priced heating oil from his country's puppet oil company, Citgo. Gov. John Lynch is considering taking it.

While Citgo is nominally an American firm based in Texas (it is a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company), Chavez has packed its board and many top offices with hand-picked cronies, USA Today reported last month. Its president is a former Venezuelan army general, Felix Rodriguez, loyal to Chavez.

Chavez pretends he is selling discounted oil out of an altruistic impulse to help poor Americans. He is not. He is trying to buy political legitimacy. In exchange for $5.5 million given to Maine in lieu of discounted oil, Citgo asked Maine Gov. John Baldacci to pose for a photo with the company president, Chavez's former general. Baldacci agreed. Now Chavez can use that photo to promote himself as a helper of the needy and a friend of respectable American politicians -- and to suggest that America needs the help of a socialist country to keep its poor from freezing.

The Maine deal was reported favorably in the Communist newspaper the People's Weekly World, which portrayed it as an American state accepting a generous humanitarian handout from socialist Venezuela. No doubt that will be very useful propaganda for Chavez's socialist regime.

Chavez has urged Puerto Ricans to rebel against the United States, called President Bush a "genocidal murderer," and repeatedly denounced "the American empire." According to Human Rights Watch, Chavez has pushed through new laws censoring the press, packed his nation's supreme court with his political allies and might be using state security forces to suppress -- and even kill -- political opponents. New Hampshire must not assist the propaganda machine of this America-hating tyrant in training.
How many times does this have to happen before Bush wakes up to what's going on in his own back yard? I have discussed this silly "aid" program before here and here. And Chavez, enabled by petrodollars does the same thing within his own country and throughout Latin America.

If Chavez really cared about America's poor enough to want to save them money on heating oil, he'd either push for OPEC to lower its prices or simply charge less than the other OPEC members. But we are, of course, setting aside the whole matter of his government's illegitimate abrogation of the property rights of foreigners and its own citizens within the Venezuelan energy sector.

Islam vs. Freedom of Speech

Many Moslems, including governments of American "allies" against terrorism, continue to show that they are fundamentally hostile to a pluralistic society with their reactions to the decision of a Danish newspaper some time back to portray images of Mohammed. Here are a few reactions.
(1) This week, crowds in Gaza City burned Danish flags and images of the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and fired guns into the air.

(2) [I]n Baghdad and in Yemen, ... the Danish Red Cross has already withdrawn aid workers because of threats against its staff. Threats have been made to harm Danish citizens in Muslim countries.

(3) [Self-proclaimed American "ally"] Saudi Arabia has removed its ambassador in Copenhagen because of the cartoons. Libya has closed its embassy altogether. The governments of Qatar and Iran have lodged protests.

(4) Danish Muslim groups, some of which were responsible for publicising the cartoons in the first place, have since tried to calm the furore. Although neither Jyllands-Posten and Mr Rasmussen have apologised for printing the images, prominent imams in Copenhagen said yesterday they were shocked by the extent of the protests, which have let to widespread boycotts of Danish goods across the Middle East. [This is what passes for a "voice of reason", I am afraid. --ed]

(5) Arla Foods, Europe's largest dairy group which is headquartered in Denmark, said today it was losing 10 million kroner (£916,000) a day because of the boycott. The world's biggest maker of insulin, Novo Nordisk, has also been hit after pharmacies and hospitals in Saudi Arabia refused to offer its products. [emphasis and link added]
For more on this matter, stop by this roundup at PigBoatSailor's blog, The Discomfort of Thought. Also, Michelle Malkin turns in a column that reminds me of the Malkin of old over at RealClear Politics. In addition to providing more details, she offers the following timely warning:
On the Internet, supporters of free speech have launched a "Buy Danish" campaign in solidarity with the nation under siege. But this isn't just about Denmark. American-based Muslim activists are on an angry campaign to stifle the speech of talk show hosts (most recently, KFI morning host Bill Handel in Los Angeles) who offend their sensibilities. And on Tuesday afternoon in advance of the State of the Union address, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued an ultimatum warning President Bush to "avoid the use of hot-button terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' 'militant jihadism,' 'Islamic radicalism' or 'totalitarian Islamic empire'" in his speech -- in other words, advising Bush not to identify our enemies for the sake of tolerance and diversity.

First, they came for the cartoonists. Then, they came for the filmmakers and talk show hosts and namers of evil. Next, who knows? [link added]
It is encouraging to see the Europeans, especially the Danes, showing some spine. This comes not a moment too soon.

Our Rising Standard of Living

Myrhaf has been a great addition to the Objectivist blogosphere, except for one minor inconvenience to yours truly: I now have to make sure he hasn't already blogged whatever it is I'm thinking about discussing. Fortunately, I can irritate him by using the word "meme" from time to time to balance things out.

Actually, I have found myself about to collide with him much less often than I thought I would, and he frequently uncovers things I would have completely missed, like a fascinating story he passes on about someone who measured our standard of living against 1975 by means of hours of labor.
Sears' lowest-priced 10-inch table saw: 52.35 hours of work required in 1975; 7.34 hours of work required in 2006.

Sears' lowest-priced gasoline-powered lawn mower: 13.14 hours of work required in 1975 (to buy a lawn-mower that cuts a 20-inch swathe); 8.56 hours of work required in 2006 (to buy a lawn-mower that cuts a 22-inch swathe. Sears no longer sells a power mower that cuts a swathe smaller than 22 inches.)

Sears Best freezer: 79 hours of work required in 1975 (to buy a freezer with 22.3 cubic feet of storage capacity); 39.77 hours of work required in 2006 (to buy a freezer with 24.9 cubic feet of storage capacity; this size freezer is the closest size available today to that of Sears Best in 1975.)
I really enjoy Myrhaf's blogging and hope he keeps it up.

Texas Gets Around to Banning Arson

Awhile back, I mentioned that with its drought and wildfires, Texas had been using electronic highway signs to warn its citizens not to start any fires. (After all, that's the government's job.)

But I never got around to mentioning that the signs were changed at least a couple of weeks ago to proclaim not just a "burning ban", but a ban on arson as well!

Richard Connelly of the Houston Press ends up asking the very question I had when I first saw that.
If you've driven along any of Texas's major highways lately you've seen the signs. A drought has raised the threat of wildfires to dangerous levels, so -- as the signs say -- there is a "Statewide Fire Danger," and therefore we are under an "Arson/Burn Ban." Motorists are urged to call the number listed if they see any violations.

The first 50 times we saw the sign, we didn't think much of it. And then it was pointed out to us -- isn't "arson" always banned, pretty much?

We decided to go undercover and had this conversation with the woman who answered the phone number listed on the signs:

A. Arson hot line.

Q. Hi, I'm calling about the arson-ban signs that I see on I-10. When is the arson ban going to be lifted?

A. Lifted up? It's probably going to be in March.

Q. In March? OK. Because, you know, I'm kind of not doing too well financially right now. And I have a restaurant that not too many people like to eat at. So, when the arson ban is going to be lifted, things might get a little easier for me, you know what I'm saying?

Of course, after seeing how faithfully our government officials stuck to the mere burn ban -- by setting Brazoria County ablaze (link above at "government's job") -- I wonder whether we'll see the capitol burned for the insurance money some time soon.

-- CAV

This was posted in advance.


Myrhaf said...

Thanks for the good words, Gus. The blogosphere is a big place, room for us all to run around in.

I considered linking to the gay submariner story just to tease you, but decided that would be too obnoxious. (I'm resisting that joke with the punchline, "they'll go down on anything.")

Anonymous said...

"This was posted in advance."

What does that mean? I've been noticing it quite frequently in your roundups lately.

Gus Van Horn said...


You're welcome!

Sounds like I was one "meme" short of getting a submarine joke. I'll have to try harder.


I often write at least part of my morning roundups ahead of time, but if I know I won't have time to blog in the morning, I'll post early, but set a morning time.

In Blogger, the moment you begin composing a post, not when you post it, is used to set the time stamp unless you change it manually. I set the morning time because these posts would often get buried behind posts I started later.

Funny that you asked, though. I decided it was silly and decided to stop doing that shortly after I made the post.


Vigilis said...

Gus, I suspect the "spontaneous" cartooning of the prophet startrd as an allied object lesson in values.

Failing this test, radical muslims would be shark bait in all mixed liferafts; their choice, of course.

Note: Sovereign nations, by definition, cannot be involved in jpoint conspiracies, so my theory is not that kind. -Vigilis

Gus Van Horn said...


It's an interesting idea, but I have two problems with it. (1) Given that so many of our allies seem to have forgotten our values (e.g., by outlawing "hate speech" -- recall Piglet in England), I think this gives our governments too much credit. (2) The Moslems get their panties in a wad so easily that something like this would occur sooner or later. No action necessary!