Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley est Mort


28 February update: Selected commentary on Bill Buckley's legacy:

The CIA agent, founder of the modern conservative movement, enforcer of warfare-state discipline on the right, brilliant writer and editor, transoceanic sailor, harpsichordist, TV star, charming aristocrat, founder of National Review and Young Americans for Freedom, enabler of neoconservatism, expeller of heretics from Birchers to Rothbardians, and thoroughly bad ideological influence in general, is dead at 82.

29 February update: James Wolcott links to Dennis Perrin, who doesn't hesitate to speak ill of the dead.

Rich Lowry's retrospective on Buckley, originally from a 2004 issue of National Review.

Lew Rockwell and company have many posts on Buckley, diverging greatly from the standard line that Buckley was the saviour of modern conservatism. Below, a choice example:

Buckley's Tainted Coup
Posted by Lew Rockwell at February 29, 2008 10:44 AM
Writes Kevin Griffin: "William F. Buckley, Jr., was a favorite among 'liberals' (albeit, not classical liberals) because he purged the conservative movement of their nemeses: the Original Rightists. Buckley was the prototypical Big-Government conservative, i.e., the Cold War Democrats' Republican. His 'New Right' movement has since been augmented by the statist force of the neoconservatives. Thus, behold the end result of Buckley's tainted coup: John Sidney McCain III."

And a McCainite praises Buckley:
When he founded National Review more than 50 years ago (and to me, it does seem like only yesterday), conservatism looked like a dead philosophy. Prior to World War II, the dominant Republican philosophy on foreign policy was isolationism. In fiscal affairs, Republicans -- well, most of them -- were in favor of a balanced budget, something that was unlikely during World War II and in the subsequent Cold War.

Buckley's conservatism contained a strong element of traditional Roman Catholicism, although with a deep suspicion of Rooseveltian governmental intervention in people's affairs. Most of all, Buckley was opposed to collectivism, the dominant viewpoint underlying Communism, which appeared at the time to be the main competitor for mankind's hearts and minds.

1 March update: Cockburn weighs in.

17 March update: Grant Jones's Dougout posts Edward Cline's good-riddance.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Nutty CEO

Kunstler's latest Grunt takes on overly optimistic claims that airplanes can run on palm-oil derived biofuel. I've heard of the coconut wireless, and coconut radio, but coconut airplanes?

February 25, 2008

Blowing More Green Smoke Up Our Own Ass

Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson announced the beginning of "green" air travel with great fanfare over the weekend by flying a big Airbus jet plane on a combination of coconut and palm oil derived fuel. Now the public is supposed to rest assured that the airline industry has been "saved" by "new technology." It's possible that Branson actually believes this bullshit -- since, contrary to conventional belief, you don't have to be especially intelligent to succeed in business. But the public is sure to be disappointed as reality asserts itself and they discover that the stunt doesn't scale world-wide. That is, sure, you can demonstrate that "a" jet plane can fly on bio-fuel. But can you run the entire global airline fleet on coconut and palm oil, or even a fraction of it? Of course not -- unless you cut down the entire Amazon rain forest and replant it with oil tree crops. Not to mention that the CO2 emissions spraying out of bio-fuel jets at 38,000 feet is not materially different from regular jet fuel exhaust. This is just another tragic attempt to persuade ourselves that we don't have to change our behavior.

This Guardian article is also skeptical:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Long Emergency in South Africa

February 4, 2008:
I got a letter from a lady in South Africa:
"I am watching South Africa with an eye on what, when and how the global trends contributing to your Long Emergency will start taking effect. But the government here, together with some outside influences of the stock market, have plunged South Africa into the Premature Long Emergency. It has only been a couple of weeks, but the country is in dire straits. . . ."


February 4, 2008

It began with a few potholes in the roads, the odd interruption to the water supply in the suburbs, a couple of days with strike action preventing the delivery of municipal services – no garbage collection, protest action disrupting the mining industry and picketing & toy toying at shopping malls…It continued over the next couple of years, largely with disregard for the disruptions, a little irritation to daily commercial and home life by the lack of service provision in food, gas, water and power. In recent months, at the receivables end of the supply chain, there was a little aggravation at the delays, the lack of service, the shortage of a few consumer luxuries in the retail shops…, ‘but hey, what the hell, this is a great country, we cannot fault the lifestyle, the weather…’. For a couple of months, perhaps a year back or so, there seemed little or no reason to change our way of life, our lifestyles…a little further down the road and the disruptions become more frequent, we learn to cope, learn to accept the rising cost of living, gas supply shortages in the Winter of 2007, the intermittent water disruptions, the odd power outage and the potholes. Potholes may well be the singular measure of the calamity we are in or about to face. We accept the transitions in South Africa, but it is all very well passing over these problems in the name of development, infrastructure development, greater housing plans and urbanization as a promised deliverable by the ANC government, together with the balancing of the wealth quotient. Access to finance and the shift of the material wealth are an indication of the success of the plans for economic growth in the New South Africa. So, there have been interesting times, a few PDI’s (previously disadvantaged individuals), through black economic empowerment, becoming significantly enriched through commerce and business and, dare I say, politics. But the cracks that are now evident are tell tails signs, not only of the effectivity of the New South Africa and an explanation of the path traveled to this point in time, but more of what is promised for the future. And the future may be more a by product of global issues than issues unique and unfortunate to South Africa.

So what do we have at hand, what are the reactions and what are the consequences??? South Africa has been flung full tilt into a Premature Long Emergency. In the up market suburbs, not least to say generally all over the urban landscape, there is not a 1km (1/2 mile) strip of tarred road that is not full of potholes (hugh gapping holes, across which vehicles cannot drive), the roadside curbs are disintegrating, the road maintenance programmes over the last 10 years have failed to maintain the roads in a serviceable and passable state. The nation is gripped in a crisis of rolling power outages caused by the incompetence of highly paid government ministers and their charges. The news of the weekend is that the nation is in dire straits with the supply of clean, drinkable water to households and business alike. We are faced with unusual weather patterns, floods at the moment, high rain fall for the Summer, the expectation of an early, long cold Winter.


The rolling power outages are resulting in about a 25% national power outage per month. The ramifications of this can be related directly to an income loss of the same amount, retail supplies are being interrupted and from a security point of view it is dangerous to shop in malls. The Electricity Supply Commission – ESKOM are indicating a forced reduction on power usage by 10%, further, the mines have been told not to work on Fridays. There are revenue and cost implications here that extend beyond the obvious monthly figures. What of the power saving measures that may in turn lead to greater problems, the mines are unable to pump excess ground water from the shafts, the maintenance programmes are due to suffer. And what of the safety indications, miners are protesting the possibility of being caught under ground or in lift shafts as the random power cuts hit the service grids. It is not only that ESKOM have not maintained or expanded their operations in the last 15 years, but the next big whammy is that there is no coal to keep the power stations running…at most times, there is a couple of months supply of coal onsite for electricity operations, today there is hardly a few days supply. Incidentally the reason given for this catastrophe is that the trucks delivering the coal have been unable to get to the power stations as the road infrastructure has deteriorated- potholes again. In the Afrikaans language: ‘slaggate’ – a direct translation to ‘slaughter holes’. As this is written, we wait for the next couple of days to see the effect of the ‘coal emergency’.


At some point the effect of the power emergency on water and sanitation supply should be considered and this would be part of the roll out of unexpected events resultant of the collapse of the power supply, but the water board have usurped the power supply with homegrown problems of their own…

So here we have it, 43% of the dams have safety problems and are in danger of collapsing. Further to this, the ground water in Gauteng, the province of Johannesburg, has radioactive contamination from mining operations. Now, as a matter of interest, Johannesburg is one of the few cities in the world that is built on a hill and water has to be pumped up into the city!!!


And what of the peoples reaction? Complacency does not even come close, the nation is either brain dead or ignorant, or just plain ‘frog in a pot’ of water with the temperature rising. The first reaction to the power emergency took the form of a rush for candles, refilling of gas bottles and the purchasing of generators (if you could get them). Then the complacency set it, business learnt to sit through power outages, retail shops were forced to close their doors for a few hours a day. There was and is a shortage of food supplies, food went bad in the fridges and had to been thrown away. It was kind of charming in a strange kind of way, to eat dinner by candle light and forgo the ‘soapies’ on TV. Traffic lights were out over a large number of suburbs and delays in getting to business meetings became the norm. The schools are unable to teach a full day’s lesson. The internet service providers and the mobile phone companies’ frequently have service delays or are just plain ‘off line’. The battery runs out on your laptop and that’s the days productive work is over until the power is back on…Patients in ICU or undergoing operations, as the power grid went down, were at risk of and did, die.

As we head into February, it will be interesting to see the economic figures; theoretically the revenue generation for the period should be down by at least 25% or something similar to the power outage percentages. Notwithstanding that the stock market took a bend downwards and followed the USA crash and the antics of the Societé General rogue trader. (Well done on the foresight, James). The South African property market is following suit, as well. And just as we were wondering how the effect, implications and opinions of an emergency would pan out into daily life, what the tell tail signs would be… it happened, all of this is the short space of about 2-3 weeks, the realization dawns that it has begun, the country is experiencing and living through the beginning of the Long Emergency, rather unexpectedly and certainly too prematurely. I proffer that the events in South Africa, tragic as they are, as they play themselves out, will give a good indication of the events that the USA and other countries will realize in the years to come as The Long Emergency’ comes to pass.[Ha! Just as I finish this, guess what… the power is out, the battery life in my laptop is about 5 mins, so at 11am, I cannot be productive for the rest of the day… the networks are down, so this cannot be mailed for the moment.]

17 February update: More on South Africa's electricity shortage:

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ron Paul Scales Back Campaign

Ron's message in full:

February 08, 2008
Message from Ron

Whoa! What a year this has been. And what achievements we have had. If I may quote Trotsky of all people, this Revolution is permanent. It will not end at the Republican convention. It will not end in November. It will not end until we have won the great battle on which we have embarked. Not because of me, but because of you. Millions of Americans -- and friends in many other countries -- have dedicated themselves to the principles of liberty: to free enterprise, limited government, sound money, no income tax, and peace. We will not falter so long as there is one restriction on our persons, our property, our civil liberties. How much I owe you. I can never possibly repay your generous donations, hard work, whole-hearted dedication and love of freedom. How blessed I am to be associated with you. Carol, of course, sends her love as well.
Let me tell you my thoughts. With Romney gone, the chances of a brokered convention are nearly zero. But that does not affect my determination to fight on, in every caucus and primary remaining, and at the convention for our ideas, with just as many delegates as I can get. But with so many primaries and caucuses now over, we do not now need so big a national campaign staff, and so I am making it leaner and tighter. Of course, I am committed to fighting for our ideas within the Republican party, so there will be no third party run. I do not denigrate third parties -- just the opposite, and I have long worked to remove the ballot-access restrictions on them. But I am a Republican, and I will remain a Republican.

I also have another priority. I have constituents in my home district that I must serve. I cannot and will not let them down. And I have another battle I must face here as well. If I were to lose the primary for my congressional seat, all our opponents would react with glee, and pretend it was a rejection of our ideas. I cannot and will not let that happen.

In the presidential race and the congressional race, I need your support, as always. And I have plans to continue fighting for our ideas in politics and education that I will share with you when I can, for I will need you at my side. In the meantime, onward and upward! The neocons, the warmongers, the socialists, the advocates of inflation will be hearing much from you and me.

Lookalikes: Barack Obama and Aubrey Graham

For a long time I've noticed how much Barack Obama looks like Aubrey Graham ("Jimmy Brooks" in Degrassi: The Next Generation). And now I've finally gotten around to posting photos of the two so you can decide for yourself how similar they look.

13 February update: The New York Times erred in comparing Barack with Lenny Kravitz, thus inviting this sarcastic post from--Carrot Top?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

R.I.P. James Capozzola

While looking through this blog's list of political links, I clicked on The Rittenhouse Review. The last post was in July 2007. Googling James Capozzola's name in hopes of finding what he's been up to lately, I found out that he had died. I offer my very belated condolences to any friends or family of his who may read this. And I recommend that you check out The Rittenhouse Review, whose link I will leave in the Politics section of the list of links.