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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

More valid criticisms of Fahrenheit 9/11.

I see now that's Justin Raimondo has
posted some criticisms of his own of Fahrenheit 9/11, which are different from the ones I have made.

Raimondo raises good points. The sequence of photos of Bush administration people merely shaking hands with Saudi after Saudi was not persuasive. These photos prove nothing, because presumably any president's administration is going to meet with these people a lot. And certainly if anyone on the right had created such a montage to make any point the film would be condemned and perhaps even kept out of theaters because of its "racism."

Nonetheless, I continue to recommend the film highly... as long as you also read Raimondo and me.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:32 AM

Monday, June 28, 2004

I loved Fahrenheit 9/11.

With some reservations.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 1:52 AM

Friday, June 18, 2004

Hillsdale College declines, but Grove City College still worthwhile.

Thomas DiLorenzo
observes that Hillsdale College is being (has been?) lost to neoconservative Lincoln and Churchill worshippers.

Thus, as he adds, my alma mater, Grove City College, is the best place to go for "high quality and genuinely private education."

I agree, of course. GCC has a stellar economics program, which includes Austrian scholars Jeffrey Herbener and Shawn Ritenour, and seems to get better all the time. Certainly the new Austrian Student Scholars Conference is something of which the school should be extremely proud.

I was most disappointed, however, to see the school's latest Vision and Values publication (which is sort of like Hillsdale's Imprimis, but not as widely circulated), which featured a transcript of a warmongering talk by Mona Charen on "Useful Idiots" who question Bush's war plans in any way. And they even had Karl Rove on campus as a speaker a while back. Disturbing stuff.

Nonetheless, if you want an excellent educational environment (e.g., no on-campus alcohol, sex, homosexuality, etc.) and want to study Austrian economics, I can think of nowhere that I would recommend more highly.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:32 PM

Friday, June 11, 2004

Marijuana: friend of law and order.

Officials in Portugal have a great idea:
let would-be soccer hooligans smoke pot. Funny how it's taken cops this long to realize that if you let people commit victimless crimes, that's time they won't spend commiting violent ones. And in this case, it makes them less inclined to be violent at all.

Now, in honor of Jimmy Kimmel (and Karen De Coster), I recommend that the Detroit police seize upon this fine idea, and legalize pot at least until the NBA finals are over. Better to burn a joint than burn the city.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:20 AM

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Beltway libertarians love Reagan.

So-called libertarians who make their living in, or who just really like, Washington DC are showing their true colors upon the death of Ronald Reagan.

Here's David Boaz on
"the most eloquent spokesman for limited government of our time." Sure, he admits, Reagan may have actually made government bigger, but on the other hand, Ron and Nancy "were the first White House occupants to have hosted a gay couple overnight."

There's much more fawning from folks at the Cato Institute here.

Virginia Postrel, who lives in Texas but is an honorary "Beltway Libertarian" nonetheless, writes a love letter, too. As usual, she thinks everything in the whole world is getting better and better every day. And much of it is thanks to Reagan: "Amazingly, [Reagan's] prescriptions worked. The economy got worse at first--much, much worse, so bad Reagan himself called it a depression. But he stayed the course, and helped Paul Volcker stay it. The economy got better, and stayed better--mostly good and sometimes even great, except for a few short bumps--for decades." A few short bumps? I can think of at least two long ones named George Bush. And how is raising taxes after you lower them staying the course? But I digress...

Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie like's Postrel's tribute, but also admits that Murray Rothbard effectively debunked Reaganomics. Rothbard loses points, though, for quoting Gilbert & Sullivan which apparently is not hip enough for Reason.

Somewhat surprisingly, Alex Tabarrok writes: "In foreign policy of course, Reagan saw further than anyone else. Only Reagan predicted that communism would end up on the dustbin of history and at critical moments he took the actions necessary to make it happen." This is a bizarre claim, given that Mises foresaw communism's certain failure about 60 years earlier, and that this collapse would have happened even if Reagan had done nothing at all.
Anyway, there's a taste of what they're saying in some circles where the word "libertarian" is sometimes used.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 10:59 PM

Better ban Mary Poppins.

In China, anyway. From South Africa's

Hong Kong - A film fan ended up in hospital after trying to imitate Mary Poppins by leaping out of his second floor apartment window holding an umbrella, a news report said on Thursday.

The man, from Chongqing, western China, found that unlike in the Disney film the umbrella did not help him fly and he landed heavily, the South China Morning Post reported.

He later told police he decided to try the stunt because he feared his microwave oven was about to explode.
Of course, banning Mary Poppins would make about as much sense as banning Song of the South.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 2:35 PM

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Paying the devil his due.

It's interesting to see folks at the
LRC Blog disagree over whether Reagan was a good guy or a bad guy.

I'm inclined to agree with Marcus Epstein who says that Reagan's "heart was in the right place." Epstein points out Reagan's name-checking of Mises, Hazlitt, and Bastiat in a 1975 Reason interview. We can be fairly certain that these were not just names Reagan was fed by an advisor who knew that Reason readers would be thrilled by it. I recall that the library at FEE has (or had, last time I looked) a letter on display from Reagan congratulating Hazlitt on his 90th birthday. And of course, the New York Post's front page once depicted Reagan on a plane reading The Freeman. Also, Reagan sent condolences to FEE upon Leonard Read's passing.

I can think of no political purpose that Reagan could have had in doing any of that, so it seems likely to me that he was, to some extent, a sincere student of the free market.

On the other hand, in this life, good intentions count for nothing at all. Neither does "trying" to do the right thing. Only actions and results count. And when we look at Reagan's actions, and their results, his legacy is nothing to be proud of, and has led us down the road to ever more government oppression.

Surely a person who says the right things and perpetrates evil is more dangerous than someone who is openly on the wrong side. This is why we must renounce Reagan. To do anything less would be to support the statist cause, and essentially add our voices to those of the people who say, "Even Reagan supported social security," "Even Reagan supported the U.N.," and so forth.

For similar reasons, it is important that we not soften our stance toward Reagan at the time of his death. Jeffrey Tucker has pointed out the similarity between the media’s fawning over Reagan and the emperor worship of Rome. This evening, I was pleased to hear the sometimes-vile, sometimes-great radio host Michael Savage refuse to join in the chorus of Reagan worship for this very reason--i.e., because political leaders do not deserve this kind of excessive praise and attention, no matter how good they may have been. He quite rightly compared this to the sort of compulsory mourning for dead leaders that occurred in the Soviet Union, and noted that the media’s weeklong Reaganfest moves us one step closer to this kind of leader worship.

Even if we are as charitable as possible to Reagan regarding where his heart was, we must consider his presidency an example of why even people with the best of intentions should not be given the kind of power that an American president has--and why libertarians should never become too enthusiastic about anyone who reaches that office.

UPDATE: It is not surprising at all to see that Rothbard said it all about Reagan, first and best, years ago.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 12:49 AM

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Thank you, Ronald Reagan!

On the occasion of his death, I would like to thank former president Ronald Reagan for all he did for the cause of freedom in the United States and around the world.

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for
eliminating the national debt, so that we, our children, and our grandchildren will not have to be taxed someday to pay it off!

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for saving social security!

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for not supporting any evil dictators like Saddam Hussein!

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for bringing down "big government"!

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for opposing tax increases!

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for only appointing conservative judges, who strictly adhere to the text of the constitution!

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for filling the world with nuclear weapons, which keep us safe from people with nuclear weapons!

And thank you most of all for using the rhetoric of liberty and religion so much and so well, so we know that no matter how obscenely offensive anything you have done may seem, we know it really must be okay!

(Note to readers: feel free to send in more suggestions of things for which we should thank the Gipper. The above are just a few off the top of my head.)

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:22 PM

Queer decision.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but alleging that a heterosexual is a homosexual is defamation,
regardless of what any activist judge who does not live in reality says.

Whether that or any defamation should create legal liability is, of course, a different question.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 11:13 PM

I was a merchant of death!

But my conscience isn't bothered.
Read the details at

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 4:54 AM

Thursday, June 03, 2004

That deserves a medal.

Via Eugene Volokh, whom I suspect has a rather different attitude toward the matter:

The . . . [Spanish] Defence Minister handed back a medal he was given for his role in withdrawing troops from Iraq, it emerged Wednesday.

José Bono sent a letter to the prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero saying he would give back the Cross of Military Merit, according to sources close to the minister.

The move comes after Bono was heavily criticised when he was given the award last week.

It was awarded by Zapatero for Bono's "merits" as a minister, including his role in the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.

But Opposition political figures said Bono should not have received the award only six weeks after taking over as Defence Minister.

Zapatero granted the award to all those who helped in the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. . . .
The only problem with this story that I can see is that Bono gave it back.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 6:33 PM

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

War, politics, and other anti-libertarian activities.

Will Baude
is right to think that the Libertarian Party isn't a good vehicle for advancing liberty.

Instead, unfortunately, he wants someone to produce libertarian scorecards grading members of Congress. These lists would announce "how closely [Congressmen] hewed to libertarian orthodoxy (on those things-- unlike, say, war-- where such an orthodoxy exists)."

Of course there is an "orthodox" libertarian view on war: you can't aggress against innocent people, even if you call it a war, and even if you kill some alleged bad guys in the process.

It should be obvious now, if it wasn't before, that the state poses its biggest threat to freedom at home and abroad when it is at war. This is not simply a libertarian issue, it is one of the most important libertarian issues, if not the most important issue, because only through a nuclear war could the state possibly destroy all life on earth and with it all prospects for human freedom in the future.

Being prohibited from smoking pot is a trivial offense compared to being annihiliated.

For further details, I recommend Murray N. Rothbard's essay, "War, Peace, and the State," and of course the entire book, The Costs of War.

As for the idea of producing a scorecard, with or without war on it, I don't really see a point. Even if you can identify a group of guys who are slightly better than the others on some issues that are important to you, and even if they win, little or no good will come of it. (See, for example, the so-called Republican revolution of the 1990's.)

Democracy is inherently hopeless, and pinning hopes on politicians--Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian--is a waste of time and effort.

- posted by J. H. Huebert at 6:00 PM

Copyright 2004 J. H. Huebert.