Saturday, February 08, 2014

Cruising the Web

Mark Steyn explains why we need more free-speech absolutists.

Steven Malanga explains how some states are trying to beef up their revenue collection by finding sneaky ways to tax businesses that do not have a physical presence in their state. It sounds like the situation during the Articles of Confederation that led to the Constitutional Convention and the need for Congress to have the power to regulate interstate commerce, not the states.

Here is an amazingly aggravating story of how Trader Joe's was planning to place an outlet in a poor neighborhood in northeastern Portland on a location which had been vacant for 20 years. The residents were happy to get the new store and the possibility of jobs. Businesses in the area were happy. It was all good until an African-American group protested because they feared what gentrification would do to the community. They aren't even from the neighborhood. They would prefer a vacant lot to a business that the community itself is happy to welcome. Well, they got their way. Trader Joe's cancelled plans for the store.
Some local businessmen also expressed their frustration. “There are no winners today,” said Adam Milne, owner of Old Town Brewing Co., which is located near the proposed Trader Joe’s complex. “Only missed tax revenue, lost jobs, less foot traffic, an empty lot and a boulevard still struggling to support its local small businesses.” Another resident, Kymberly Jeka, an artist, wondered: “Was there a vote? This should be re-evaluated. This is not what the neighborhood people want. This is terrible.”
I guess the civil rights activists would rather see an empty lot than a Trader Joe's. Their grievance industry will keep them going, but what will help the inhabitants of northeastern Portland?

David Harsanyi explains why we're having so much enjoyable schadenfreude of the exposure of the inadequacies of Putin's Russia on display at the Sochi Olympics.
We don’t even have to bring up the fact that Putin has consistently undermined American interests, abetting brutal dictatorships in Syria and North Korea – not to mention, shielding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Surrounded by an army of 40,000 soldiers and police in a “ring of steel,” Bob Costas can whitewash his host’s misdeeds, but Russia’s government is not only corrupt, and not only is it intolerant of gays, but according to Amnesty International, human rights violations by the government include killings, enforced disappearances and torture, and they are “frequent.” According to Freedom of Information index by Reporters Without Borders, Putin belongs on a list with Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Italian Mafia and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.

That’s not to say that Russians, with or without Putin, don’t have a long way to go. It’s not to say that the Russian people don’t have their quirks. But if Sochi is, as Putin claims, a vision a “new Russia,” lots of people around the world will see that the new Russia is extraordinarily similar to the old Russia.

This is his Olympics. We should all get in a good laugh at his misfortune.
I'm with Charles Lane that it is time to put an end to all they mythology about the Olympics. Just as the United Nations is not the force for peace that so many like to paint it as, the Olympics is not the peaceful international moment of understanding that people pretend.

Noemie Emery marvels at how Obama still doesn't seem to get it about why so many people oppose his policies.

Ed Driscoll is rightfully angry at the fatuous comments from the NBC sport commentary that labeled communism as "one of modern history's pivotal experiments." sure just ignore the tens of millions killed in Stalin's "pivotal experiment." Forget about the gulags, the deliberate famine imposed on the Ukrainian people, or the force with which it put down efforts by Eastern European countries to break free of its tyrannical yoke. Why should Bob Costas want to serve as a propagandist for Vladimir Putin? And NBC was also kind enough to edit out the IOC president's remarks about how the Olympics should be against all kinds of discrimination. Why should NBC have edited those remarks out of its broadcast for American audiences?

If you're not outraged on Putin's denial of human rights and his imprisonment of those who criticize him or stand in his way, how about his denial of rights to gays? Shouldn't something in his record be enough for Costas to stop puffing him up?