- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sultan of swing

“Thank God the Sultan of Brunei’s fortunes are based on his state’s economy being almost entirely supported by exports of crude oil and natural gas. The mega-wealthy monarch is said to have owned between 1,000 and 5,000 cars — 200 of which are Rolls-Royces. … In 2003, Forbes estimated the eccentric leader’s assets as valuing more than $11 billion (which has dwindled significantly since its initial estimation of $40 billion).

“In 1997, the absolute monarch was sued by former Miss U.S.A. Shannon Marketic. … Marketic had alleged that he regularly imported American women as high-end prostitutes for six-week bouts of orgiastic partying and then would not allow them to leave the nation. Price of a lawsuit claiming sexual enslavement: $90 million. Being an absolute monarch with immunity against lawsuits: priceless.”

— Shana Ting Lipton, writing on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Fascist,” Tuesday in Radar Online at www.radaronline.com

Native liberty

“A liberal, in the current sense of the term, is a person who favors a massive welfare state, expansive and intrusive government, high taxation, preferential allocation of social goods to designated ‘victim’ groups, and deference to international bureaucracies in matters of foreign policy.

“It is not difficult to see why such a person would favor lax policies towards both legal and illegal immigration. Immigration, legal or otherwise, concerns the crossing of borders, and a liberal regards borders, along with all other manifestations of the nation-state, with distaste. … The preferences a citizen might have for his own countrymen over foreigners, for his own language over other tongues, for his own traditions and folkways over imported ones, are all, in the minds of a modern liberal, manifestations of ugly, primitive, and outdated notions — nativism, xenophobia, racism. The liberal proudly declares himself a citizen of the world, and looks with scorn and contempt on those narrow souls who limit their citizenly affections to just one nation. …

“There is no contradiction between maximum liberty within a nation and maximum vigilance on the nation’s borders. Not only is there no contradiction between the two things, in fact, it may be that the second a precondition for the first.”

— John Derbyshire, writing on “Libertarianism in One Country,” Monday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Meet the new boss

“During the government of President Hugo Chavez … corruption has exploded to unprecedented levels. Billions of dollars are being stolen or are otherwise unaccounted for, squandering Venezuelan resources and enriching high-level officials and their cronies.

“The windfall of oil revenues has encouraged the rise in corruption. In the approximately eight years Chavez has been in power, his government has received between $175 billion and $225 billion from oil and new debt. Along with the increase in revenues has come a simultaneous reduction in transparency. For example, the state-owned oil company ceased publishing its consolidated annual financial statements in 2003, and Chavez has created new state-run financial institutions, whose operations are also opaque, that spend funds at the discretion of the executive.

“Corruption now permeates all levels of Venezuelan society. …

“The dramatic rise in corruption under Chavez is ironic since he came to power largely on an anti-corruption campaign platform.”

— Gustavo Coronel, writing on “Corruption, Mismanagement, and Abuse of Power in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela,” a Nov. 27 policy analysis from the Cato Institute

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