Wednesday, 17 January 2007

The Totalitarian Mindset

Academia is filled with jackbooted thugs like Brian Leiter, who, among other indecencies, threaten students, defame adversaries, insult colleagues, and encourage violence. This column by Kathleen Parker is worth your time.


Michelle Malkin is home from Iraq. Thank goodness she’s safe. Expect to read many fine reports—minus the anti-American bias of the mainstream media—about what is happening over there. Here is her first report.

Lincoln Allison on Free Speech

In practice, it is inevitable that there should be people who control the important means of communication and that they should assume certain standards in exercising such control. The extreme case of ‘free speech’ would seem to be a set of arrangements in which anybody can communicate anything at any time to any audience he chooses. This is not conceivable in a society of any size or complexity. Attempting to reach this condition could only lead to the population being forced to listen to the dreary rantings of thousands of humanist poets who would quickly emerge once the constraints of supply and demand had been removed.

(Lincoln Allison, Right Principles: A Conservative Philosophy of Politics [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984], 129)

Note from KBJ: Allison anticipated the blogosphere!

Twenty Years Ago

1-17-87 . . . I finished my first outline today: H. L. A. Hart’s collection of essays entitled Punishment and Responsibility. Talk about boring work! Reading the essays is one thing, but outlining them is quite another. I hate it. But it must be done. Now I’ve got a nine-page summary of a 277-page book. When I get close to prelims [i.e., preliminary examinations], I’ll forget about the books and concentrate on my outlines. If I continue at this pace, I’ll have over two hundred pages of outlines to review for the exams, but it’s better than 6000 pages! Now it’s on to something else, either [Robert] Nozick or some of the articles that I’ve got on my list. It feels good to finish a book.

The Arizona Wildcats won a big game this afternoon. I was overjoyed. The Wildcats beat the Washington Huskies, 73-72, in Seattle, to regain a tie for the Pac-10 lead. A few days ago the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to the UCLA Bruins on a last-second shot. Today they did the same thing to the Huskies. Trailing, 72-71, with fifteen seconds to play, the Wildcats moved upcourt for a final shot that would win or lose the game for them. The plan fell apart, so Tom Tolbert took a shot from the top of the key. It hit the rim and bounded outward. Anthony Cook caught the ball in midair with one second left on the clock and in the same motion lofted it toward the basket. It went in. The Huskie players and fans were stunned, but I was delighted. See how excited I get about a silly basketball game? Had the Wildcats lost, I would have been morose all day. As it is, I was in a good mood. I love my Wildcats. [Still do. They’re ranked 11th in the country in the Associated Press poll as I type this.]

This evening David Cortner and I saw a movie, The Mosquito Coast. [I now have this movie on DVD.] I saw it in Saginaw a couple of weeks ago with Gary and Scott [Pero], but it was so good that I wanted to see it again. I drove to David’s house, drank a cup of coffee, and headed for the Campbell Plaza. The other day I lent a book, Barry Lopez’s Winter Count, to David, and today he thanked me profusely. [Barry Holstun Lopez, Winter Count (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981); I finished reading this book on 28 February 1982.] It’s the first book by Lopez that he’s read, and he loved it. David is a big fan of Loren Eiseley [1907-1977] and Edward Abbey [1927-1989], so I knew that he’d like Lopez. I also know that David enjoys scenery, geography, history, and travel. Since Lopez is a master of bringing these subjects together, it’s natural for David to find him interesting. Now I want David to read Of Wolves and Men [Barry Holstun Lopez, Of Wolves and Men (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978); I finished reading this book on 28 December 1980], one of the most influential books that I’ve ever read. It changed the way that I view human beings and the world. What a nice treat, to turn someone on to a good writer. [On 3 July 2000, David presented me with an autographed, hardbound copy of Of Wolves and Men. He inscribed it as follows: “As a token of my gratitude for your having given me Lopez in general, please accept this Lopez in particular.  Best, DC.”] 

The high temperature in Tucson was forty degrees [Fahrenheit]. I prefer it about twice as hot.

Fissures and Conflicts

Here is a Wall Street Journal column about conservatism. The final paragraph sums it up:

The fissures and conflicts within conservatism are getting so much attention now because conservatism is still, intellectually speaking, where the principal action remains. So long as the Democratic party continues down the road it has been following, led by its aging left-wing lions and lionesses, funded and directed by the most extreme and irresponsible elements in its ranks, and finding clarity only in discrediting George W. Bush and regaining office, conservatives will always have plenty to unify around. For their own part, so long as conservatives are able to remember Ronald Reagan as a leader who not only embodied the distinctive characteristics of American conservatism but who finessed its antinomies and persevered against the contempt and condescension of his own era—including among some of his allies—they can yet regain their bearings and prevail.

Well put.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Picking Up the Pieces” (editorial, Jan. 14) might have reminded the world that we are witnessing the consequences of a bumbling, misguided presidency wielding immense power to do harm.

Nearly half a trillion dollars is down the drain and billions more in a pipeline to nowhere. Thousands of Americans and Iraqis have met violent deaths, not to mention thousands more on both sides maimed for life.

Millions have been displaced or set against one another in sectarian wars. Only more of the same can be expected in the next two years.

Republican defeat at the polls and Congressional opposition are unable to restrain or redirect an unreflective man without rational moorings.

President Bush is staying the course with a change in rhetoric. Our national future is more earnest criticism of the obvious and de facto impotence to undo or even mitigate damage from his spectacular mistakes.

Kenneth R. Stunkel
Neptune, N.J., Jan. 14, 2007

Note from KBJ: I have an admission to make. The thing I like most about the letters to the editor of The New York Times is their unhinged rhetoric. Nine of every 10 letters expresses a progressive point of view. There is no ideological balance. The letters may be representative of those submitted to the Times, or even of the elite (i.e., highly educated, wealthy) Northeast, but they’re hardly representative of the United States as a whole. Is the Times a national newspaper? If so, then it’s alienating most of its readers on a daily basis. Does anybody wonder why its readership is falling? And notice the effect of the Times‘s bias on those who submit letters. Their rhetoric becomes more shrill, more manipulative, more bizarre, and, sadly, more personal. There seems to be a contest among letter writers to see who can insult President Bush the most. He is said to be ignorant, stupid, irrational, incompetent, detached, uncurious, unreflective, misguided, bumbling, uncaring, and aloof. That anyone could believe that he is any of these things, when he manifestly is none of them, shows how detached from reality progressives have become—which would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

Hall of Fame?

Rich Gossage. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

Curro Ergo Sum

It’s been winter in Fort Worth for nearly a month, but today it looked wintry. When I awoke, shortly after seven o’clock, I was surprised to find everything covered in snow. The temperature has been hovering at 32º all day, so the snow should remain until tomorrow afternoon, when the temperature reaches the upper 30s. Shelbie had a ball running in the snow this morning, and so did I—although my running (3.1 miles) took place on the streets of my neighborhood rather than on the school grounds. I had to watch for patches of ice. The last thing I need is a broken leg (or hip). The temperature was 31.5º when I returned from the run. It was 34.2º when I ran Sunday (in the rain). I felt good today. The air was crisp and dry, which seemed to help my breathing. The best thing about today’s run is that it allowed me to eat a piece of chocolate cake without guilt. Ahh! By the way, today’s run was my 1,500th since I began keeping statistics on 14 February 1993. I’ve accumulated 7,065.07 miles in that time, which is an average of 4.7 miles per run. Curro ergo sum!

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