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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Liberventionists: The Nationalist Internationalists

Another gem from Anthony Gregory, writing on LRC. An excerpt:
This war is not good for America, or for Iraq. That’s the plain-as-day truth. Yes, Saddam was a very, very bad man, who did very evil things – especially when he was a US ally – but over the last quarter of a century, US intervention has consistently brought to Iraq nothing but Ba’athist tyranny, war, suffering, mass starvation, bombings, puppet dictatorships, military occupations, censorship, death and destruction on a hardly imaginable scale. The idea that one more year of fighting – one more smart bomb – one more US puppet regime – one more intervention – will somehow bring freedom, peace and security to the country, would be hilarious, if such dangerous misconceptions weren’t responsible for so much human suffering when applied to the real world.

Libertarians are supposed to recognize the limitations of government – any government – to do good. That includes our government as well as the governments abroad that our government put in place.

Libertarians don’t oppose war because we don’t care about the liberty of foreigners or the safety and lives of Americans. We oppose war because we realize that it is bad for virtually everyone involved.

The liberventionists who want to have it both ways – who think that sacrificing American lives will bring freedom to people abroad, and yet killing innocents abroad will save American lives – are a bizarre group of nationalist internationalists. They believe that the US warfare state can be a great blessing, on balance, for both Americans and foreigners. They believe that, when the score-sheets are tallied and the dust has cleared, the large-scale initiations of force, central planning and government spending involved in war will be a good deal for both Americans and for the world. Killing innocent foreigners to protect Americans and sacrificing young Americans to save foreign innocents is their strange and deadly formula for international peace and national security. They claim to be both altruists and patriots, but they are simply both naïve internationalists and blind nationalists. It’s a paradox, as is their general philosophy.

This is why liberventionists are not really libertarians. They believe in and advocate the US nation-state’s ability to centrally plan the world toward liberty. Indeed, these people believe the US government is capable of accomplishments that border on the Messianic. They worship the state, as if it were some sort of omnipotent deity that can, through the omnisciently chosen applications of miraculous violence, bring about what’s best for everyone. If we weren’t actually at war, this might me a cute philosophy, in some ways, but it is not libertarian.

Real love of country and real concern for the plight of foreigners fit much better with a consistent love of peace, than they do with warmongering. A love of peace is the rational, humane, and, indeed, libertarian principle to guide one’s views on human relations, including in foreign policy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Libertarians and the Warfare State by Anthony Gregory

My retirement be damned, this article by Anthony Gregory is simply too perfect to not pass on.

Pro-war libertarians remind me of the criticism (libel?) of libertarians in general that they are simply conservatives who want their pot to be legalized.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Postscript 2

To those who believe that I hold a "pre-9/11" mindset, and that the towers coming down should have changed my opinions on how my government conducts itself, bear in mind that I was working in Manhattan on 9/11, and I watched the towers burning, the second plane crash and explosion, and the collapse of both the towers directly from my office window on East 28th Street, not from the safety of a television screen. I feared for my life. My greatest fear at the moment was that another plane would hit the Empire State Building, much closer to my location. I watched the streams of thousands of soot-covered people walking away from ground zero. I waited for the train restrictions to be lifted late in the afternoon so I could go home that day, or I would have been stranded. The company I worked for set up a pool of people who had apartments in the city, in case anyone couldn't get home. I had friends in the police department and fire departments who lost dozens of friends and coworkers. The column of smoke rising from the ground lasted for days and was visible for miles around. For weeks afterwards, I saw the thousands of flyers plastered on walls throughout Manhattan from friends and relatives with photos of missing loved ones. I worked a block away from the Armory where the injured were tended, and where hopeful people would come, looking for any sign that someone missing would turn up. So to anyone who believes I am being too intellectual in my opinions and not putting a human face to things: you don't know what you're talking about.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My Personal Manifesto

I have said more than once that I felt neither the need nor the desire to convince anyone of anything. I have my beliefs, my opinions, my likes and dislikes, and they are mine. I do not wear any colored ribbons; I do not put bumper stickers on my cars; I do not get into debates with those whose opinions differ from mine. I have said more than once that such debates serve no purpose. People's opinions are very rarely changed by listening to or engaging in debate. The most that can generally be hoped for is that no feelings are hurt. In many cases, people become angry or frustrated.

Why, then, have I been blogging, in part, about ideas which can be politically or socially divisive? I have come to the point where I can now say "I don't know" as an answer. At first, I might have believed that I blogged about my personal opinions as an experiment, or that I wanted to engage in discourse with like-minded individuals. Never did I want to receive negative comments on any post of mine (not that I have received many), nor did I want to debate with anyone who disagreed with me. Did I fancy myself a pundit? An Andrew Sullivan? A Glenn Reynolds? A NICK GILLESPIE??? I no longer know. For the most part, my political postings have devolved to re-posting articles I've read elsewhere.

As a member of BlogExplosion, I have been surfing other members' blogs. I have come across all manners of blogs: mommy blogs, knitting blogs, kid blogs, what-i-did-today blogs, but most of all political blogs. Blogs on the left, on the right... blogs pro-Bush, anti-Bush... pro-America, anti-America. Very occasionally I would come across a blog with a political sensibility similar to mine. On a very few of those, I offered an occasional comment. And now, in the midst of what I essentially considered a safe haven, I have, predictably, encountered opposition to my views. This should have been anticipated, alas I did not do so. And upon receiving such opposition, I experienced those feelings I described earlier: frustration at being forced to defend my position, followed shortly by the realization that I had no desire to produce such a defense. My position is mine and does not need defending. I do not need my opinion to be someone else's. Hence I do not need to post my opinion. On this blog or on anyone else's.

I hereby cease to be an active member of the opinion-oriented blogosphere. I will no longer be posting articles expressing political ideas, nor will I be commenting on others' political articles. Since my political ideas, opinions, and philosophy are fairly well-formed and built on sound foundations, I have also decided to (at least temporarily) cease perusing political opinion sites and to try to essentially stop thinking about things political at all, as politics has essentially no bearing on my day to day life.

I doubt that I have any regular readers, since I am an irregular poster, and I know my site traffic is not very high. So I am very well aware that this announcement is as self-indulgent as my original decision to start this blog in the first place. Nonetheless, I felt the desire to put a punctuation mark here.

I may, in the future, blog about innocuous things: entertainment, humor, technology. But I am officially burnt out on politics.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

POSTSCRIPT: Lest anyone think otherwise, no one particular post or response led to this decision. It accumulated exhaustion from the overall process.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Who links to me?

More importantly, who cares?

Friday, December 10, 2004

SpaceShip Zero

From Yahoo News -- ISS Crew Counts Calories as Food Supply Runs Low:
With food stores running low, the two astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are cutting back their meal intake and awaiting a critical cargo delivery expected to arrive on Dec. 25.

Yes, we should leave space exploration to the government. That makes the most sense.

Ronald Bailey reviews a Michael Crichton novel

On Wall Street Journal online, a review by Ronald Bailey of the new Michael Crichton novel State of Fear:
"State of Fear" is, in a sense, the novelization of a speech that Mr. Crichton delivered in September 2003 at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. He argued there that environmentalism is essentially a religion, a belief-system based on faith, not fact. To make this point, the novel weaves real scientific data and all too real political machinations into the twists and turns of its gripping story.

For example, the climate computer models relied upon by global-warming proponents like [the novel's Ralph Nader-like character] Drake -- or, in real life, by John Adams (NRDC), Carl Pope (Sierra Club), Kevin Knobloch (Union of Concerned Scientists) and John Passacantando (Greenpeace USA) -- predict that such warming will be strongest at the earth's poles, turning glaciers into floods and raising sea levels. In "State of Fear," Drake warns that Greenland's ice cap is melting and will push the sea level up by 20 feet. (As it happens, on Wednesday of this week Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, testified with similar alarm before a British legislative committee, saying: "If the ice-sheets in Greenland melt, sea levels would rise 6.5 metres and London would be underwater.")

Yet as Mr. Crichton has his scientist Kenner correctly note, Greenland's ice cap is in no imminent danger of melting away. It is well established scientifically that average temperatures in Greenland and Iceland have been falling at the rather steep rate of 2.2 degrees Celsius per decade since 1987. As for temperatures in most of Antarctica, they have been falling for nearly 50 years, and ice there has been accumulating rather than melting. And those sea levels? Nils-Axel Mörner, a professor of geodynamics at Stockholm University, has been studying the low-lying atolls of the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. He has found "a total absence of any recent sea level rise" and has instead found evidence of a fall in sea level in the past 20 years -- a fact that Mr. Crichton has the good instinct to report in the course of pushing his plot forward.

And what about the trend in actual global average temperatures, a question central to the debate in "State of Fear"? According to satellite data, since 1978 the planet has been warming up at a rate, per decade, of 0.08 degrees Celsius. Simple arithmetic reveals that, if the rate continues, the planet will warm by 0.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That compares with an increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius during the 20th century. No catastrophe there. Indeed, Mr. Crichton has one of his characters note the costly uselessness of the supposedly heat-reducing Kyoto Protocols.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More Rushy goodness

Rush have been nominated for a Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy Award for the Track “O Baterista” from Rush In Rio (For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Includes Rock, Hard Rock and Metal. Singles or Tracks only.)

Monday, December 06, 2004

What drives your life?

One of the sites I keep coming across in my travels through the BlogExplosionosphere is titled "Reflections of a Business-Driven Life". Every time I read that title (I can't bring myself to read any articles in a site with that title), I'm saddened. Saddened by the fact that anyone would let business drive his or her life. No disrespect intended to the owner / author of that particular site; if business is your thing, then enjoy. But of late, I have emerged from a situation where the "business-driven life" was the norm, and was expected. I am happy that I am no longer involved in that situation. In my current situation, "life" is the norm. Life outside of business. Life lived for the purpose of living for oneself and/or one's family. Where the purpose of employment is to provide the means by which one can support one's life, not to provide the purpose or motivation or drive for life.

I am saddened by those for whom business provides the drive for his or her life.

Anyone else's thoughts?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Anyone have GMail invites?

Ok, I'm giving in. I'll be assimilated. I'll plug in to the Matrix. Anyone have a GMail invite they care to share?


UPDATE: Thanks to those who sent. No need for more... unless you really really want to...