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July 15, 2005

Utter Stupidity

Matthew Yglesias observes that the competition among National Review writers for the "stupidest man alive" crown is quite fierce:

TPMCafe || Light, Sweet, Canadian Crude: ...yet another person who doesn't seem to understand how oil markets work... James S. Robbins in National Review Online:

...energy is both a critical requirement for the U.S. economy, and also an element of national power.... The United States should exploit its power by... imposing free market discipline on the oil bazaar. The OPEC cartel would be the ultimate target of this strategic focus.... Diminishing or ending OPEC's influence over the oil market... tax incentives for non-OPEC purchases... outright restrictions on importation of OPEC oil. The United States should also... shift [oil] purchases away from unstable regions.... Dollars flowing to Canada or Norway, for example, are unlikely to be converted into national security threats....

[O]il is a global commodity sold on an open market.... [W]e don't... import a huge proportion of our oil from the Middle East... the Middle East is closer to Europe and East Asia... it doesn't make a huge amount of sense to ship Middle Eastern crude all the way over here.... That notwithstanding, if we shifted our purchases away from the Middle East even further, we would only crowd out buyers of non-ME oil and lead them to increase their purchases of Middle Eastern oil. The only relevant features of the situation are global demand and global supply. Even a country that doesn't import any Middle Eastern oil -- indeed, even a country that doesn't import any oil at all -- would still see prices skyrocket in the wake of a major supply disruption in Saudi Arabia...

Yet more conclusive proof that being not-stupid, or even being stupid and yet knowing something, is a positive disability as far as writing for National Review is concerned. People who are not-stupid are unlikely to be able to make whatever arguments the Bush administration wants made today with a straight face. People who are stupid yet who know something are likely to slip, and accidently say something about the world that's inconsistent with Bush fantasies.

From the standpoint of the editors of National Review, only those who are both stupid and enmeshed in fantasy are safe.

Posted by DeLong at July 15, 2005 11:33 AM