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May, 2010:

BP Vent

I had mentioned that I was going to gripe about British Petroleum a bit more. It turns out that I did, but as a comment on another blog:

Keep in mind that BP is the proverbial Bad Example. Theirs was the refinery in Texas City that burned down in 2005. Theirs was the pipeline in Alaska that leaked because they pushed back the maintenance cycle. (Suspiciously, it’s leaking again.) They were even (believe it or not) involved with the Exxon Valdez.

They’re the company that drives us nuts. With the regulatory agencies accepting settlements where no one admits wrongdoing, there’s no legal history to ratchet up the pressure on the bad company.

In fact, their investors don’t agree with your statement of “best economic sense”, either. Not only are they suing over the current mess, they sued over some of the previous ones, too. This is a pointed example of how screwed up the investor laws are.

Really, there is no Free Market in the United States — there’s some serious crony capitalism going on, bordering on hard-core corporatism.

Friday Links

Power Line‘s been following the SEIU protest in a Bank of America executive’s front lawn. This link is part five of a series: A Thug Too Far. The semi-hidden subplots: SEIU want to the guy’s front lawn, which means the SEIU now considers it okay to intimidate an opponent’s family; and BofA holds a $120 million dollar loan to SEIU — which might make one think this all might go away if BofA forgives their loan. Which might be the reason for the protest in the first place.

In happier news, there are New Drugs for Macular Degeneration.

Also, it looks like we’ve dodged a lethal epidemic carried by the swine flu. Debora MacKenzie breaks down what our government did right and wrong in Swine flu hoax? Get real.

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrisey summarizes a recent Harvard Business School study: Study finds increased gov’t spending results in unemployment.

Ending with doom-and-gloom: US money supply plunges at 1930s pace as Obama eyes fresh stimulus.

Some Strange Consequences of Public Accommodations Laws

From the Volokh Conspiracy. Apparently, California Civil Rights Law forces restaurants to serve Nazis wearing Swastikas.

California Primary Approaching

As some of you probably already know, I’ll be participating in the 2010 California Primary in just under two weeks. The blog will reflect that; I’ll be posting my thoughts on the elections that I’ll be voting on.

Now, these will generally be Republican elections. I found it necessary to register Republican this year, given that the Democratic Party in California is the party of government, as are the national Democrats. Since I can trust the incumbent members to maintain their views, and cannot trust rebels to resist the Party (see Stupak, Bart), this has led me to realize that I’m likely voting a Republican Party line in the fall.

So, in order to properly influence events with my vote, I am currently a Republican.

Semi-political links for 26 May 2010

I thought about linking to various commentaries about Rand Paul and Rachel Maddow, but decide instead to argue by parable: Morgan Ensberg talks about why ballplayers are such bland interviews.

If you want to ponder the substance of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, Lee Harris has a history of Barry Goldwater’s objection to it.

Finally, the Agriculture Department has shut down its subsidies database. Apparently, the Most Transparent Administration in History can’t reveal the recipients of said subsidies. (Interestingly, mention of Scottie Pippen by the linked article does lead back to Ensberg’s thoughts.)

Science Links for 26 May 2010

Eric Berman’s got a post about observations that contradict the Big Bang theory: Investigating an enigma at the edge of the universe

Ars Technica details research that suggests we’ll see Faster-Than-Light communication before we see FTL travel: Quantum teleportation achieved over ten miles of free space

Germans plan to make ‘synthetic natural’ gas from CO2 — which, off-hand, sounds like a goofy idea for a “green” energy solution. Until you realize that they’re talking about using the natural gas to store excess electricity generated during peak periods of windmill operation.

Amazingly, this is my first link about BP: Today’s Louisiana hearing: Argument on rig (updated). (Tom Fowler is the Houston Chronicle‘s energy blogger, and he’s been keeping up on the oil spill.) At some point, I’ll get around posting about British Petroleum. Until then, I’ll just insinuate that the problem isn’t oil drilling, it’s the company involved.

For those of you Borg wannabes: Man Infects Himself with Computer Virus.

Slate‘s started a series about False Memories. I’m pleased that I didn’t fall for the trick in their test, but not really surprised that so many people did.

Mullah Omar has been captured

At least, so says folks with better intelligence connections than I. Blackfive has a summary of why these folks thinks that he’s been captured by the Pakistani Intelligence Service, why we haven’t heard about it from our government and the normal media, along with links to the folks who broke the story.

Economics Links

From John Mauldin at Business Insider, a story of Greek debt, how confidence affects markets, and what this means for America: We Are So Screwed

More specifically for California, Loren Steffy looks at Which governments pose the greatest default risk?

Tim Cavanaugh over at Reason asks a different question: Why Isn’t the Government Hiring Short Sellers? looks at Democratic efforts to nationalize your 401(k): Federal Mutual Fund

It’s not that good an idea. Daniel Foster at NRO says that we have a Pain in the Fannie

Cash for Doctors

From the Weekly Standard comes a story of doctors freeing themselves from the “health insurance” trap. It’s informative for a couple of reasons, not the least of which are hard numbers on the cost of said insurance. For example:

The lab loves being paid on the spot for services rendered and allows Forrest to charge his patients $30, for example, for a prostate-cancer screening test that the company bills to an insurer at $184.

National Socialism

If you go over to the Wikipedia, and looks at the Socialism page, you’ll notice something funny with the history presented there: there’s an awful gap between the Russian Revolution and the end of World War II. (A week ago, the gap was even worse: it went from 1923 to 1946.)

So why the gap? Well, it should only take you one guess, given what I titled this post.

That the Nazis are not mentioned is not really that surprising: nobody likes being associated with Nazis, and modern socialists like computers. But control of Wikipedia’s edits doesn’t make something so: the Nazis themselves called themselves socialists, and their contemporaries (e.g. F.A. Hayek) agreed with them.

The Nazis were neither lying nor mistaken: they believed that their efforts would lead to a (German) National Socialist Utopia. Socialism wasn’t the only thing found in that utopia — Environmentalism and animal rights, of all things, also played roles in their vision. (See Blood and Soil, if you can find it.)

Given that we’re taught that the Nazis were a right-wing party, this sounds more than a little odd. However, the “right wing” label was given to them by their German contemporaries — contemporaries who’d grown up under the welfare state pioneered by Otto von Bismarck. All Germans in the 1930s were conditioned to be socialists to one degree or another, so their definition of “left” and “right” wings had nothing to do with socialism.

Instead, Germans differentiated their parties via different criteria: the most obvious is the nationalism of the Nazis, especially when compared with the internationalism of their Communist opponents. Even today, nationalist parties tend to be described as “ultra-right” parties in Europe, and supporters of the internationalist E.U. are “center-left” parties.

Now, I object to socialism in general, but it’s worth pointing out that the Nazis’ insanity was in how they expected to achieve their Utopia — similar (as Paul Berman pointed out) to the Communist insanity, and the current Islamicist insanity.