Sunday, 14 January 2007

The Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell

See here. My favorite “random thought” is this:

What is especially disturbing about the political left is that they seem to have no sense of the tragedy of the human condition. Instead, they tend to see the problems of the world as due to other people not being as wise or as noble as themselves.

Which one is your favorite, and why?


Susan Estrich thinks Condoleezza Rice has ruined her chance of becoming the 2008 Republican presidential (or vice-presidential) candidate. Ha! Whenever I read a political analysis by Estrich, I recall that she was Michael Dukakis’s campaign manager. Res ipsa loquitur.

Population Clocks

Be honest. Just before you came to this blog, you were wondering how many people there are in (1) the world and (2) the United States. Click here for the answer. Note that the clock is “ticking” as you look at it. For the record, there are 6,569,855,310 people in the world.  One in every 21.8 of them (300,971,732) is in the United States. About half of those 300 million people were in line in front of me yesterday at Wal-Mart Market.


Tom Anger, whose only discernible fault is being a New York Yankees fan, drew my attention to this story about Mark McGwire. Let me be clear about something. I object to the use of performance-enhancing drugs only if they are banned by the league in question. Major League Baseball did not ban steroids until 2002, which is four years after McGwire broke Roger Maris’s home-run record. Even if he used steroids, it wasn’t prohibited at the time. Major League Baseball should have been on top of the situation long before 2002. If it had been, the statistical integrity of the game would be intact. As it is, we have rumors, suspicion, innuendo, and confusion. It breaks my heart to see my beloved game torn asunder.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Kudos to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his bold plan to insure every resident of California and to make health insurance obligatory to fairly spread the risk.

The governor is a Republican, but his European background may have saved him from the cruel extremes of the “ownership society” supported by so many others in his party.

To the European mind-set, it is astounding and amoral to deny people access to health care because they are poor or have pre-existing conditions. Add to this the fact that Mr. Schwarzenegger knows from personal experience that the need for medical care can confront anyone.

Further add in the supreme self-confidence of a man who has always been successful in every endeavor, and perhaps we have the man who can propel our society into finally becoming civilized.

Andrea Gasten
[City and state removed by request], Jan. 9, 2007

Note from KBJ: Note the manipulative rhetoric: “deny[ing] people access to health care.” I’m not denying anyone access to health care. Have at it! But don’t expect me to pay for your health care. That’s your responsibility. And what’s this business about Europeans being “moral,” with the implication that we Americans aren’t? Europeans gave the world fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism, among other enormities. With morality like that, who needs immorality? With civilization like that, who needs barbarism?

Richard John Neuhaus on Compassion

The notion that liberals are caring and compassionate while conservatives are selfish and hard-hearted is still being peddled long after its sell-by date. For instance, a day hardly passes that one does not read an article about the need for evangelical Protestants or Catholics to close the gap between the conservative pro-life cause and the liberal “social justice agenda.” I am always puzzled by that way of putting the question. First, because there is no more elementary cause of social justice than reforming a society that permits the killing of millions of its babies. Second, because of the implied assumption that liberals care more abut helping the already born who are in need. That is counterintuitive, and counter to my experience with the many liberals and conservatives whom I have known.

But, in case there is any doubt, we need not rely on intuition or anecdotal experience. There is a growing literature demonstrating that conservatives are much more generous in helping people in need than are liberals. The record of those further to the left than liberal is even clearer.

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [December 2006]: 59-80, at 59)

From Yesterday’s New York Times

To the Editor:

“Love Among the Ruins,” by Maureen Dowd (column, Jan. 10), lists the many metaphors that have been used recently “to describe our deadly embrace of Iraq.”

Many are clever, some entertaining, but all distance us from the absolute horror of what is actually taking place there.

Those interested in communicating the true story of Iraq to Americans who live comfortably and at a safe distance from the killing fields would do better to resist metaphoric thinking altogether.

Rather, they should take on the more challenging task of accurately describing, for example, the death of a soldier blown up by a roadside bomb, or an Iraqi mother holding the shattered remains of her child in her arms.

Ronald Rubin
Topanga, Calif., Jan. 10, 2007

Note from KBJ: Who killed the child: Americans or Iraqis? If Americans did the killing, was it intentional or accidental? These are important questions, no?

A Year Ago


Curro Ergo Sum

If you’re not a runner, think long and hard before becoming one. You’ll get addicted to it in no time and find yourself doing foolish things, such as running 3.1 miles in the rain when the temperature is 34º Fahrenheit. I had to get out. My brother Mark was here from Friday afternoon to this morning, so I didn’t run either Friday or Saturday. Two days off was too much, both mentally and physically, especially since I ate more than usual while he was here. I wore Gore-Tex pants, a Gore-Tex jacket, and cotton gloves, but had nothing on my head. My head got soaked right away and was ice cold for 20 minutes. I thought it might freeze solid, especially when I turned into the wind. If my posts today come out garbled, you’ll know why.

Safire on Language