‘Happy Abu Ghraib Day’

[H]ow far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower

Arthur Silber documents the mass scamper over the cliff of civilization. A sample (and hardly the worst) from Rush Limbaugh’s show of April 26:

    CALLER: How you doing Rush?

    RUSH: Pretty good, Kevin.

    CALLER: Love to talk to you.

    RUSH: Thank you.

    CALLER: I just want you to know that we are going to have our Abu Ghraib barbecue party tonight and we are going to be playing nude Twister.

    RUSH: (Laughing.) How many people you got coming?

    CALLER: Well, I figure we only need 8 or 10 to make it a rip roaring time. I thought that would be kind of fitting.

    RUSH: Yeah. Nude Twister? Big Abu Ghraib barbecue. (Laughter.) Okay. And that’s from Oregon. Progress here.

Would George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or hell, Ronald Reagan be proud to call these people their countrymen, much less supporters?

With the Radio On …

I’ve overcome my aversion to doing radio sufficiently to schedule two upcoming interviews: a half hour on Cincinnati’s WAIF-FM, this Thursday at 1 p.m. (you can listen live), and a full hour with the incomparable Scott Horton on Saturday at 1 p.m. [Note: We’re talking Pacific Standard Time, of course.]

In the printed media, check out the upcoming issue of Chronicles magazine, where you can read my take on the Tom DeLay scandal. And be sure to get hold of The American Conservative magazine, where you can read my review of Stephen Cox’s excellent book, The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America.

No Peaking

People are getting worked up about peak oil theory. I’ll reply to some of the deluge of mail in the next day or two but first, three things:

(1) Lawnorder, the blogger at Daily Kos who I wrote about in “Oil and Instinct,” has written a follow-up posting (“Peak Oil Myth and the Easter Island ecological disaster“) in which she corrects a previous (and unintentional) misrepresentation of my perspective on peak oil theory, while still disagreeing with my perspective. I guess this shows that it actually is possible to have a polite blog debate.

As to Lawnorder’s new arguments: I’ll repeat that societies that include significant levels of self-ownership and private property, along with a low-friction exchange system (“money”) tend to have a “price mechanism” that creates incentives for producing, conserving and replacing scarce and desired commodities. Unless the economies of Easter Island and North Korea included this price mechanism they’re not counterexamples. And North Koreans didn’t starve because of a shortage of national natural resources. There may even tend to be an inverse relationship between natural resources and wealth-creation; see for example The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria:

“Wealth in natural resources hinders both political modernization and economic growth. Two Harvard economists, Jeffrey D. Sachs and Andrew M. Warner, looked at ninety-seven developing countries over two decades (1971-89) and found that natural endowments were strongly correlated with economic failure. On average the richer a country was in mineral, agricultural, and fuel deposits, the slower its economy grew — think of Saudi Arabia or Nigeria. Countries with almost no resources — such as those in East Asia — grew the fastest. Those with some resources — as in western Europe — grew at rates between these two extremes. There are a few exceptions: Chile, Malaysia, and the United States are all resource rich yet have developed economically and politically. But the basic rule holds up strikingly well.”

(2) Reader Philip Brydon (letter below) has brought to my attention an article by geologist David Deming, “Are We Running Out of Oil?,” that makes some of the same arguments that I’ve made but that contains information that I didn’t know. Everyone interested in the subject should read this short and readable article.

(3) Republicans, Democrats and peak oil theorists seem to agree that “dependence on foreign oil” hurts Americans. As in Bush’s: “Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on the American Dream — the tax our citizens pay every day in higher gas prices, higher cost to heat and cool their homes — a tax on jobs. Worst of all, it’s a tax increasing every year.”

The Theory of Comparative Advantage is hard to understand but how hard is it to understand that oil companies import oil into the USA because foreign oil is cheaper than domestic? If oil companies depended on only domestic suppliers (all things being equal) oil would be more expensive for American consumers, so depending on foreign suppliers is like a tax rebate.

In case you think Yaron Brook is unrepresentative of the dork death cult known as Objectivism, here’s my conversation with Robert Cons, Objectivist: (unedited, all emphasis original):

    CONS: Any person who asks, “What is Objectivism?”, should do a little reading and crucial thinking. To start with I suggest he read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, The Virtue of Selfishness, The Voice of Reason, and Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism, The Philosophy of Ayn Rand .

    These are all great essential works that will help any honest seeker searching for true critical answers, that are based on reason and connected to reality, in todays dishonest culture.


Continue reading “”

Would You Buy This Car on eBay?

I meant to write this post about six weeks ago, so forgive me if anyone’s asked the question already, but: Would you buy this car on eBay?

Before all the warbloggers gave their stamp of credulity to US government photos of the car in which Italian agent Nicola Calipari was killed by US forces, they should have asked themselves that question. And I’m sure they would have, if they weren’t partisan hacks with heads full of oatmeal. Take a look at the listings on eBay Motors. Notice how almost every listing has photos of the car from at least a dozen angles, interior and exterior as well as under the hood? Now if you, dear reader, a person with a healthy amount of skepticism and your money on the line, saw a seller with only a few pics, all from one side, wouldn’t ya be a little suspicious?

The Italians sure are:

    After the killing, the United States and Italian governments agreed to conduct a joint investigation, because accounts of witnesses – including the journalist and the American soldiers – varied greatly as to whether the car had been warned to slow down and how fast it had been traveling.

    The bullet-riddled car in which Mr. Calipari and Ms. Sgrena were driving was returned to Italy today now that the evidence-gathering portion of the joint investigation was over.

    In the past two days, the Italian news media has been filled with unattributed reports that the two Italian members of the team have refused to sign the investigation’s report, because they disagree with its conclusions.

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