Monday, 23 April 2007


Here is a scene from yesterday’s Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands, won by German Stefan Schumacher. Here is breaking news about American Floyd Landis, whose 2006 Tour de France victory is in limbo.


According to Robert Novak, 61% of Americans want partial-birth abortion (i.e., infanticide) to be prohibited by law. See here. The main Democrat candidates for president—Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson—want partial-birth abortion (i.e., infanticide) to be allowed by law. If I’m the Republican nominee, I’m describing the procedure in vivid detail at every campaign stop and pointing out that my opponent wants it to be legal. All’s fair in love and politics.


Senator Barack Obama is starting to divulge his views on foreign policy. See here. One is left wondering whether he would have allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power.

Addendum: Here is a story about two “shadow candidates”: Al Gore and Fred Thompson. Wouldn’t it be something if these two former senators from Tennessee faced off for the presidency? My friend David, a native Tennessean, would die of pride—which is not to say that he would be indifferent between the candidates. He adores Gore.

Addendum 2: I just learned that Thompson majored in philosophy and political science as an undergraduate. A man for my heart! Gore began as an English major and ended up with a degree in government.

Addendum 3: I changed “Tennesseean” to “Tennessean” on the advice of Bryan Garner.

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I’m having a fascinating (but frustrating) e-mail conversation with James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal. The question is whether Justice Antonin Scalia believes that Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) was wrongly decided. James keeps saying that Justice Scalia has never said that Griswold was wrongly decided. Maybe so, but he’s logically committed to it. Justice Scalia joined Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) the other day.  Justice Thomas wrote: “I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court’s abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution.” But Roe rested on Griswold, which purported to find a right to privacy in the Constitution. Is it possible to believe that Roe has no basis in the Constitution but that Griswold does? In other words, doesn’t the wrongness of Roe entail the wrongness of Griswold?

Addendum: I’d like to thank JJS for reminding me (in a comment to this post) that Justice Byron White voted to strike down the anti-contraception law in Griswold but voted to uphold the anti-abortion laws in Roe and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Unless Justice White contradicted himself, therefore—or changed his mind—it’s possible to believe that Roe has no basis in the Constitution but that Griswold does. Note that the basis on which Justice White voted to strike down the anti-contraception law in Griswold is that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. He did not rest his decision on the so-called right to privacy. I suppose Justice Scalia could do the same thing, in which case James Taranto is right that we don’t know what Justice Scalia thinks of Griswold. Justice Scalia hasn’t (to my knowledge) told us what he thinks of the case, and we can’t infer what he thinks of it merely from his belief (which he clearly expressed in Gonzales v. Carhart) that Roe has no basis in the Constitution. If you want my best guess, it is that Justice Scalia thinks Griswold wrongly decided. I believe James and I are in agreement on this point.

Addendum 2: You’ll notice that I wrote, “Unless Justice White contradicted himself. . . .” I’m starting to think that he did! He says that the Fourteenth Amendment confers a right to use contraception. Why does it not also confer a right to have (or perform) an abortion? What’s the relevant difference? In both cases, liberty is at stake. In both cases, there is an interest in controlling one’s procreative capacity. If these rights stand or fall together, then one cannot consistently strike down an anti-contraception law but uphold an anti-abortion law; and if that is the case, then one cannot believe that Roe has no basis in the Constitution but that Griswold does. I need to think more about this. You haven’t prevailed yet, James!

Peter Mullen on God and Morality

[O]nce God and intellectual rigour have been discarded, morality is bound to collapse. And this is just what has happened. Promiscuity to the extent of casual sexual relationships among any number of people, regardless of their sexual orientation; drinking and shopping 24/7; rampant hedonism pursuing all that is merely trivial; an infantile and narcissistic cult of celebrities—and all built on a mountain of government and personal debt and an amnesiac culture of designer drugs and oblivion. We have replaced morality by lifestyle. Anything goes. The one remaining commandment left to us is Wear a condom!

(Peter Mullen, “Eternal Life,” The Salisbury Review: The Quarterly Magazine of Conservative Thought 25 [spring 2007]: 35-6, at 35 [italics in original])


Here is a New York Times op-ed column about Pope Benedict XVI. I like the part about the papacy being a different role from that of head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is no reason why, when a person changes roles, he or she must act the same way. In our legal system, prosecutors and judges play different roles. Prosecutors are advocates; judges are not. In baseball, managers and umpires play different roles. Managers are partisan; umpires are not. During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for John Roberts and Samuel Alito, it was said by progressives that because Roberts and Alito had been advocates in the Reagan administration, they could not be impartial on the bench.  That is absurd and insulting. Justices Roberts and Alito understand, as anyone with any intelligence does, that being an advocate is a different role from being a judge. By the progressives’ logic, nobody who has ever managed or coached a team, or been a fan of a given team, could be an umpire. Being impartial is hard. It is not impossible.


The Boston Red Sox swept the New York Yankees this weekend in Fenway Park. Fittingly, the games were close and tense. I watched the first and third games on ESPN (in high definition, which is amazing) and read about the second in the newspaper. In other baseball news, my beloved Detroit Tigers have yet to show signs of dominance. No team in the Central Division stands out. My adopted Texas Rangers are playing uninspired baseball, but what’s new? You can’t expect a miracle from a new manager (former Athletics coach Ron Washington). The team has never had decent pitching, but this year even the bats are silent. I predict that the Rangers will finish in last place in the West Division. That won’t keep me from going to a few games at the Ballpark, but it does take some of the joy out of it. Finally, Barry Bonds hit his 740th home run yesterday. It won’t be long before he passes Hank Aaron. What do you suppose the reaction will be? Will there be a collective yawn? Bonds has never endeared himself to baseball fans. He’s surly, bristly, and self-absorbed. I expect fans (except those in San Francisco) to ignore his accomplishment. You reap what you sow.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Witness for the Persecution,” by James Zumwalt (Op-Ed, April 14), was disturbing. While I agree that people should not face litigation for good-faith reporting of suspicious activity, I wonder what the six imams did that counts as suspicious.

Mr. Zumwalt writes that “witnesses described conduct that suggested something ominous might in fact be in the offing.” Then he describes the imams’ conduct: they “prayed loudly in the open terminal before boarding, sat in different seats on the plane from those assigned, positioning themselves near exits, asked for unneeded seatbelt extensions (which they then placed under their seats) and, most disturbingly made anti-American comments.”

The Constitution guarantees our freedoms of speech and religion. Praying and making anti-American comments do not rise to the level of suspicious conduct. Nor do sitting in unassigned seats or asking for seatbelt extensions.

It is shocking that our collective fear of Islam has grown so acute that the imams’ innocuous behavior could be characterized as conduct suggesting that “something ominous might in fact be in the offing.”

How shocking is it? Just substitute the words rabbis or Baptist ministers for imams and it becomes starkly clear.

The imams were not taken off the plane for their behavior—they were taken off because they are Muslims.

Tom Wilentz
Scarsdale, N.Y., April 14, 2007
The writer is the president of the Muslim Education and Converts Center of America.

Note from KBJ: Innocuous behavior? More like inculpatory behavior.

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