Friday, March 03, 2006

The Browne/Bush package deal

Harry Browne has died. Some idiot on the von Mises blog gets this part of his legacy right:
As we look back on the history of the libertarian movement, and we think of those who have contributed mightily to making the idea of radical liberty more mainstream and popular, Harry Browne emerges as a giant. He was talented, dignified, sincere, and dedicated, and he showed genuine courage in the face of fantastic pressure to get him to cave in. All lovers of liberty should be grateful for him, his life, his writings, and his legacy.

But completely blows it here:
In the early 1980s, he went in the opposite direction, sympathizing far too much with the Republican agenda and even temporarily showing sympathies for Reaganite foreign policy. In this he foreshadowed the sad descent of many current-day libertarians into the miasma of DC policy wonkery and political gamesmanship.

I don't even know what that last sentence means. At least Browne never left you in doubt about his stance on an issue. So I had to drop a comment/hammer on the deluded libertarians:

Harry Browne was a great writer. His only flaw was his blind spot about the threats to individual freedom. His naive thinking about the Islamic menace would have abandoned fifty million people to Saddamism and the Taliban and put all our freedoms in mortal danger. Thank God we have George W. Bush. A combination of Bush for foreign policy and Browne for domestic policy would be perfect.

The other problem Browne had was that he just loved the spotlight. I remember in How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World that he confessed that he wouldn't be able to enjoy some of the freedoms he urged on others because his outspokenness made him too easy a target. But I'm glad he did speak out.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Last time

OK, this is the last time I'm going to post a comment like this anywhere:
Perhaps the essential fact that makes some religions more dangerous than others is how much tolerance they have for amendment of their doctrines to accept new realities. Rodney Stark has convinced me that Europe developed only because Christianity allowed, even encouraged reasoned analysis of man's relationship to the world. Real practical science arose in "Medieval" Europe long before the Renaissance, before Aquinas even. Since Christianity was dominant then, it must get some of the credit. Comparing the state of cultures that have suffered under Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism and Shinto to the progress in Europe under some forms of Christianity it's impossible not to see that Christianity is somehow more amenable to life and prosperity. It's not perfect. And certainly not every Christian country has developed. We have improved tremendously by putting some safeguards between the power of the Christian church and the culture of science and industry. But I can't get away from the necessity of crediting some characteristic of Christianity - I'm still unclear as to exactly what - for the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy today.

I feel like I've done it a hundred times. This one's on Noodlefood's post about the differential ferocity of various religions, so I thought it was appropriate. But that's it. I'd like to get some real fightback about it, but no one seems so inclined.
AIDS again

This comment
Speaking of AIDS, this month's Harper's, usually a stupid collectivist piece of nonsense, has a Celia Farber article shooting down the AIDS=HIV hypothesis. Mainstream ahead!

on an otherwise unremarkable post on Diana Hsieh's Noodlefood blog led to some questions about the HIV=AIDS hypothesis:
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 22:54:31 mst
Comment ID: #7 (link)
Name: Spoudaios
E-mail: spoudaios(at)

How does the "HIV leads to AIDS hypothesis" result from collectivism?

So I sighed, thinking of the many comments Dean Esmay collected before I decided to abandon his blog (or did he ban me? I still don't know) but I replied thusly:
The collectivist link is in the way that big medicine, like big government, imposes its views on doctors, and possibly endangers patients by giving them highly toxic drugs. Duesberg and Nobel Prizewinner Kary Mullis have done a lot of work on this. The African AIDS "epidemic" is another factor. Many, if not most of the so-called AIDS cases in Africa never had a PCR test to detect HIV. It was just assumed because they were sick, they had AIDS. It was perhaps not a coincidence that billions of foreign aid dollars were available if the collectivists ranted long enough about the West's obligation to fight AIDS in Africa. The debate rages on, but I was surprised that Harper's, normally a liberal rag that attacks anything America does, printed some of the questions that continue to be raised. And I don't trust a word put out by the NIH. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong. But what if the skeptics are right? It's worth checking out. Dean Esmay's blog has much, much more:

I'm not sure whether Harper's realizes how many wacky right-wing (as they would say) objectivists and libertarians have profound skepticism about AIDS. But something tells me they're about to find out.
By George, I think they've done it

The Israelis have solved the key/lock problem:
The Israeli company E-lock has developed the first lock technology based on a Knock Code. This innovation is based on patented technology which uses a series of quick knocking sounds. The discrete mechanical knocks open the lock and are produced by a small device that can be carried by any authorized person.

They appear to have ruled out a number of possible evasive techniques. There's got to be a joke to go with this.
"Knock, knock, who's there?
Allah who?
Allah blow myself up if you don't let me in."

A few of the KnocKey devices on the Israeli wall and Palestinian terrorism is a thing of the past.
Choice in schools is not absolute

A Pejman-post on Redstate explores aspects of the school voucher issue:
Arguing against school vouchers by claiming that they could be used to send children to schools run by jihadists and or white supremacists is a bit over the top. One should not, of course, be surprised--after all, the arguments against school vouchers are in such a parlous state that overreactions and rhetorical excesses such as the one linked to in this post become de rigeur for those desperate for something--anything--to stop school vouchers.

So I thought, why should schools be any different from anywhere else? Is this or is this not the land of the free? But that principle can be taken too far:
Is it not obvious that the constraints on freedom of speech in a school should not be any different than those anywhere else? It may be a good idea to have a discussion about what should be tolerated in public discourse. And about the apparently difficult-to-understand principle that toleration does not mean agreement. A KKK school has a constitutional right to preach idiotic racial hatred. It doesn't have a right to public funding, but that's another issue. To my mind no schools should be publicly funded. But isn't it clear to just about everyone that a school that teaches its students to blow themselves up in crowded shopping malls in order to get into Paradise has stepped over a line that no sane society can allow to be crossed?

How far is too far, short of actual incitement to murderous violence? That's up to the parents, who would think more carefully about the question if they were paying for the schooling.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Spengler in the Asia Times again. This time I really don't know what he's talking about:
In fact, the worst outcome from the vantage point of Washington's interest would be a stable constitutional government in Iraq.
Instability favors the side with the greatest strategic flexibility, and that is the United States. The Russian Federation, not an enemy but at least a competitor of the United States, wants to reduce US flexibility.

Now wait a minute, that's sounding a little better, a bit more like me a few years ago, when people were saying, "We can't invade Iraq! We'd destabilize the Middle East!" And I thought, but isn't that what we want? If the Middle East, the Arabs in particular and Islam in general is the enemy, is in fact responsible for 9/11 and threatens our civilization, what could be better than to have them fighting each other, inside and outside their borders? When was the Middle East most peaceful in recent decades? Right! During the Iran-Iraq war, when a million Muslims died with absolutely no effect on Western security. When the war ended, the mujihadeen were free to go throw the Soviets out of Afghanistan. So that explains why:
One reads dire predictions everywhere that civil conflict in Iraq might lead to regional war. That is true, but no one fears this more than the government of Iran.
Iran's regime cannot be subverted, unless, of course, it becomes embroiled in a foreign military adventure in which President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's supporters come to dislike their role as cannon fodder.

Could the mullahs withstand another million-casualty war with the Sunni military, reconstituted this time with American weapons? One thinks not. Read the whole thing. You'll feel so much better!