G. K. Chesterton's assessment of fundamental liberty:
"The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog." -- Broadcast talk 6-11-35
Nanny Bloomberg is now going after popcorn and milk products, because he's very enlightened, as is our self-congratulatory and appallingly smug 21st century.
And everything he is doing was understood in the 19th century as a fundamental tyranny. Particularly by Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, two pretty damned enlightened men.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences." --C.S. Lewis"
Two Englishmen warning us from the early 20th Century, that to give up our freedom "for our own good," is not freedom. It is acquiescing to tyranny with thumb in the mouth, iPod buds in the ear and the tv set on an endless loop of Dancing with the Stars and Say Yes to the Dress reruns. And as Kathy Tyers pointed out through a character in One Mind's Eye, yes a free person may be harmed, but so can the slave, and they have no choice.
OPEC oil producers are not worried about the shale revolution. They might need to re-run their numbers.
Stay dumb, boys, stay dumb...
The United States imported 4.5 million barrels a day of OPEC crude last year, 20 percent of the cartel's exports and about half the country's import needs.
But thanks to new technologies like hydraulic fracturing now sucking away on North American soil, the continent is already self sufficient in natural gas, and is eyeing an even bigger landmark -- OPEC-free oil supplies.
The U.S. was the fastest-growing non-OPEC oil producer in 2011 for the third year in succession, the annual BP statistical review released on Wednesday said. U.S. oil production is up 1 million bpd since 2006 to 7.84 million bpd, consumption is down 1.85 million to 18.84 million.
"In 1990, North American reserves and production were falling but thanks to unconventional, proved reserves have risen 68 percent since then," ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance told an audience of OPEC ministers on Wednesday.
"North America could become self sufficient in oil as well (as gas) by 2025," he said at a conference before OPEC's policy-setting meeting in Vienna.
State oil company Saudi Aramco, the world number-one oil producer, has acknowledged the North American boom in shale, tar sands and other so-called unconventional production, but its prediction in November was far less explosive, at 6.6 million barrels a day - still well short of U.S. needs, and not until 2035.
And OPEC ministers gathering to decide output policy caps took a very relaxed view of the threat that shale oil might pose.
"Oil from the Middle East will always find a home," said Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussein. "And we have to wait to see more research to get a better idea about the impact of shale oil development."
"No, I'm not worried at all, they are only projections," agreed Rafael Ramirez, his Venezuelan counterpart. He scoffed at the idea that "shale oil will come to the rescue of consumers, allowing them to shake off the yoke of OPEC."
But the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration has repeatedly torn up its forecasts as shale and oil sands change the game at pace.
So should OPEC fret a little more?
"In some ways they should. Not because North America may become self sufficient, but for the reasons why," said Paul Stevens, a senior research fellow at the Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.
"Given the changes in technology involved, if that is applied elsewhere then the assumption that all future increase in global demand will be filled by OPEC is called into question."
Stevens makes an important point. Unconventional oil reserves are spread in a different pattern from traditional ones. Even resource starved world number-one oil importer China has some, and non-OPEC Russia appears to have the biggest of them all.
"If I was an OPEC minister I would be concerned," he said. "This could be significant."
SteveS: If I were an OPEC minister, I would publicly scoff, but privately shovel as much money as I could to environmental groups dedicated to stopping anything to do with exploration and production.
Good summary of the situation, but he lost me at this point: find Syrian rebel leaders who are truly secular and who oppose radical Islam; who will disavow al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups; and who will reject Russian and Iranian hegemony over their country. We will need some reason to believe that this opposition can prevail against not only the Assad regime but also the terrorists and fanatics who also oppose Assad. This must be not a faith-based judgment but a clear-eyed assessment of reality. If such opposition exists, it is marginal.
I like Bolton, but he's been a disaster for American foreign policy. Neo-conservatism is not only a contradiction in terms, it's a bust. We have gone out into the world looking for monsters to slay, and have discovered that these monsters include not just the leadership but the vast majority of the population we have gone over to liberate. And in so doing, we have lost 7,000 men to date, not counting the lives of allied troops, and spent $1T which, while a relative pittance compared to Vietnam War expenditures, was much more than the American public was prepared to spend.
The problem with neo-conservatism is that it tries to apply the lessons of post-WWII Allied governance of Germany, Italy and Japan to nations that were
much less developed,
religious fanatics (even in Iraq, where a thin veneer of secular Baathism convinced neo-cons that inside every Iraqi was a modern cosmopolite waiting to jump out),
not completely defeated (unlike Japan and Germany, which lost 5% and 10% of their populations, respectively),
in the "modern" era, not susceptible to decades of dictatorial oversight the way the defeated Axis Powers were, which is why Iraq and Afghanistan are now sharia states
If Romney is elected and jumps into these pointless foreign policy quagmires the way Bolton recommends, he will be a one-term president who paves the way for yet another Democratic landslide and god-knows-what new laundry list of welfare state programs and environmental nuttiness. The issue has never been whether we can win these wars - it's whether we can win them at what the electorate considers a reasonable cost and whether the outcome is better than what existed before, from a national interest standpoint. So far, the Arab Spring has converted three neutral or allied regimes to semi-hostile or hostile regimes.
The real lesson of WWII is that nation smashing must precede nation building. During WWII, Bomber Harris said "We shall destroy Germany's will to fight. Now that we have the planes and crews, in 1943 and 1944 we shall drop one and a quarter million tons of bombs, render 25 million Germans homeless, kill 900,000 and seriously injure one million." The German public screamed defiance but was so shell-shocked at the war's conclusion that they submitted tamely to Allied rule on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Such an opposition exists. Its called the Kurds.
If we could simply pick some dictator to back, things would be just peachy. In reality, we are required by human rights groups and the State Department to back the amorphous will of the people which, in Syria, means the will of the troglodyte Sunni Arab majority. Which translates to an Ikhwan regime.