Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rand, Rothbard, Friedman, and Climate on Video -- plus Feb. Book and Debate Teases

Just as two people in an argument who are each screaming “You’re a jerk!” are often both right, so too do a lot of philosophers do a very convincing job of eviscerating other thinkers shortly before getting gutted themselves.

Along those lines, some enjoyable video clips:

•Why, look, it’s the annoying TV host who did so much to define “liberal” in my mind when I was a child, Phil Donahue, who happily went on to co-host a show with former Soviet mouthpiece Vladimir Pozner. Don’t tell me Ann Coulter’s simply crazy when she says liberals’ first instinct is always “treason” (as she said in a book by that title that I reviewed positively for People) — I haven’t forgotten the highly popular Phil Donahue saying over and over again in my childhood that we simply didn’t “understand” the Soviet Union and that its people might consider themselves as free and happy as us. Rotten, traitorous bastard.

But wait! Here’s Donahue interviewing a very different breed of Russian — libertarian philosopher Ayn Rand, who made far less sense to him than Pozner did.

•But Rand was no paragon of reason herself, as suggested in the one-act play Mozart Was a Red by Murray Rothbard (who is visible standing and applauding in the audience at the end) about his jarring introduction to Rand’s circle (thanks to Dimitri Cavalli for this link and the prior one). One of those actors, by the way, is a young Jeffrey Tucker (the pacing guy), himself a close associate of — Lew Rockwell, the man now assumed to have written the long-ago racist newsletters that recently embarrassed a certain libertarian presidential candidate. Perhaps someone will in turn write a scathing one-act about Rothbard, Rockwell, and Tucker?

•But even being as nice and patient and rational as Nobel-winning libertarian economist Milton Friedman is no guarantee you won’t get made to look like a fascist monster — witness this video (noted in a mass-e-mail from economist Donald Boudreaux) contrasting Friedman’s own words with the vicious, nearly deranged caricature of his thinking presented by highly popular left-wing writer Naomi Klein, who has likened market-based reforms to the sadistic thrill of being a torturer (and like so many people, proceeds to believe her own metaphor).

•My evolutionary psychologist pal Diana Fleischman is no free-market ideologue yet sent a link to this swell hour-plus video of The Great Global Warming Swindle, a British documentary that, while inevitably imperfect, does a great job of briefly sketching why the current hysteria over climate change is utterly insane and misguided.

•Diana also points out this ongoing podcast of skeptical arguments, debunking UFOs, psychic claims, and the like: Skeptoid. These are the sort of relatively simple take-downs of modern myths that led me in time to realize that government and religion are also packs of lies, albeit slightly more subtle ones than space aliens getting the blame for someone falling out of bed in the middle of the night. Slightly. But still not things adults should believe in.

For more skepticism, though, be sure to check out in February, when the Book Selections of the Month will be the opposing tomes Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray and The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day (with some H.P. Lovecraft for good measure), as good an excuse as any for me officially to declare a “Month Without God” in which to hash out a host of related issues — with more rapid-fire posts than heretofore — just in case any of my seemingly-intelligent readers still think they’re going “somewhere” after death.

P.S. And speaking of religion, regardless of what happens in South Carolina with Obama and Hillary this Saturday, I’m glad to see that in Florida (for Tuesday), Huckabee’s currently polling well behind McCain and Romney (though not, alas, far behind poor Giuliani). Huckabee would be disastrous for the Republican Party, but I increasingly think a President Romney would be both harmless in a theocratic sense (he won’t be eager to remind a wary populace he’s Mormon) and highly educational for the religious rightists, many of whom might for the first time have to ask themselves how literally they want to take all this religion stuff: “I, uh, have firm beliefs like the President does…well, not exactly like the President — I mean, I don’t expect to get my own planet when I die, but, I mean, he loves Jesus and all…” As long as he believes in budget cuts — something I don’t take on faith.

And remember: come discuss the primaries with us on Wed., Feb. 6 at 8pm (the night after Super Duper Tuesday) at Lolita Bar — now featuring not only National Review’s John Derbyshire (himself NR’s resident non-religious guy [UPDATE 2/7/08: At last night's debate, Derb said he is not an atheist]) but Seth Colter Walls, whose work has appeared in Newsweek, HuffingtonPost, and MSNBC. I vow to enjoy myself that night even if it turns out to be a Kucinich vs. Huckabee year.

UPDATE 1/24/08: A reminder from Associated Press that neither party’s eventual nominee will have been able to secure enough delegates even on Super Duper Tuesday to officially lock up the nomination — but there may well be a near-conclusive trend in either party by then (and certainly much to discuss). Nearly a four-way GOP tie in Florida as I type this, by the way.

1 comment:

Stan Islovsky said...

Someone mentioned having difficulty posting a comment to this entry, so I just wanted to check whether it’s working (pardon me).