Thursday, 31 May 2007

Richard John Neuhaus on Canada

In its determined effort to distinguish itself from the U.S., Canada has in some ways become more like the U.S. For instance, the 1982 charter has pushed Canadian jurisprudence into the American pattern of activist judges becoming the agents of social change. On the usual hot-button issues (e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage), the national and provincial parliaments have become junior partners as the judicial usurpation of politics proceeds apace.

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [March 2007]: 56-72, at 58)

Weather

We have had five consecutive 79ยบ high temperatures. What are the chances of that?

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Iraq

One of my readers (Alec) sent a link to these images.

Hillary

Is Hillary Clinton a fascist? Well, that depends on what a fascist is. Neal Boortz classifies Hillary as a fascist because she is a collectivist rather than an individualist. I think what Hillary is saying is that each of us is responsible for the other members of society, whether we know them or not. She is attacking the idea that responsibility is voluntarily undertaken, as by marrying, making a friend, joining a club, or having children. The mere fact that we live in communities with others, she believes, makes us responsible for their welfare. This responsibility means, at a minimum, providing resources for those who can’t provide for themselves. It’s not that Hillary rejects the ideal of self-sufficiency; she just thinks that there are other, equally important ideals, such as meeting needs. We should strive to be self-sufficient and beneficent.

One function of the state, in Hillary’s view, is to see that basic needs are met. Since we live in a world of scarcity, this will require coercive taxation of those who have benefited the most from the system. It’s not that she thinks coercion a good thing. It’s simply less bad than forcing individuals to fend for themselves. Hillary wants to change attitudes as well as behavior. She wants people to stop thinking in terms of “mine” and “yours” and to start thinking in terms of “ours.” She wants people to stop thinking that their resources are deserved and to start thinking that what people have depends largely on luck. Some people are born into poor families and others into wealthy families. Some people are born with intelligence, creativity, good health, and ambition; others are born with less of these qualities, which puts them at a disadvantage. The poor don’t deserve to be poor, and the wealthy don’t deserve to be wealthy. Since nobody really deserves anything, no injustice is done to anyone when the state takes resources from the haves and distributes them to the have-nots. Isn’t that what a benevolent parent would do? The primary virtue in a family is benevolence, not justice.

It’s no accident that Hillary has these views. Women are far more likely than men to view society as a family. Men tend to view society as a competitive, rule-governed environment—a game—in which individuals strive to acquire resources. Those who break the rules—cheaters—are punished for it. This process will have winners as well as losers, but everyone is better off by having such a system, for it creates wealth. Women do not like it that there are losers. But if you force the winners to “compensate” the losers, you destroy the integrity of the competition, and everyone suffers. The proper response to Hillary is that society is not a family. It is, at best, a loose confederation of families. The Republicans need a candidate who can make this case to the American people, in language they can understand. I believe Fred Thompson is that candidate. Won’t it be great to see Fred the individualist take on Hillary the collectivist?

Addendum: This pretty well summarizes Hillary Clinton’s thought.

Political Posturing

Here is an interesting column about so-called hate crimes.

Cycling

Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, won by Italian Gilberto Simoni, who is one of the best pure climbers in the sport. Here is another scene.

Paper-Based Computing

This technology has no more appeal to me than does a cellphone. Does it appeal to you? If so, why?

Addendum: This technology is just plain stupid.

Iran

Should we bomb Iran? See here for one man’s answer.

R. M. Hare (1919-2002) on Fanaticism

Fanatics will always be with us. If there are people so wedded to some fanatical ideal that they are able to imagine, in their full vividness, the sufferings of the persecuted, and who can still prescribe universally that this persecution should go on in the service of their ideals, even if it were they themselves who had to suffer thus, then they will remain unshaken by any argument that I have been able to discover. And it seems that there will always be such people—few, perhaps, who go to the lengths of persecution reached by the Nazis, or by some religious persecutors; but more who take what is formally a similar attitude to the less violent and wholesale kinds of persecution.

(R. M. Hare, Freedom and Reason [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963], 184)

Best of the Web Today

Here.

All Fred, All the Time

I hope this report is accurate.

Hall of Fame?

Carlton Fisk. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Your headline article states the obvious: if United States troops pull out of Iraq, chaos will follow. It should be obvious that such chaos will follow whether American troops are pulled out sooner or later.

Let’s face facts: The dictator Saddam Hussein kept Iraq under control through sheer brutality, and he kept Al Qaeda out of the country completely. The United States entered into war against Iraq irrationally, fed by lies and gross exaggerations, not the least of which was the implicit claim that Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

Whatever is entered into irrationally cannot be exited rationally. The debate of whether to leave now or later tries to bring rationality into a picture that has been utterly irrational from the start.

The United States had no business going to war in Iraq. The United States completely destabilized the country by overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

Stabilization will occur on Iraqi terms whenever the American military departs, and it will be bloody. The only difference between leaving now or later is how many Americans will be killed, wounded or psychologically destroyed for life; how much money the United States wastes in Iraq rather than spending it on critically needed infrastructure here; and how many more enemies we make by remaining there.

Bruce Barnbaum
Granite Falls, Wash., May 27, 2007

Note from KBJ: Three things. First, the letter writer says that “chaos” will attend our withdrawal from Iraq, whenever it occurs, the implication being that we should leave soon. Chaos is an amorphous concept. Can we not estimate how many innocent lives will be lost if we withdraw now rather than later? If even one more life would be lost by doing A rather than B, then that is a reason to prefer B to A. Second, the letter writer says that “Whatever is entered into irrationally cannot be exited rationally.” Really? Suppose I marry hastily, while vacationing in Las Vegas. Does that mean I can’t make a rational decision, months or years later, about whether to end the marriage? What an absurd principle! The question of what the United States should do now, given all that has occurred, is entirely separate from whether the invasion was justified. Third, the letter writer implies that American lives are worth more, ceteris paribus, than Iraqi lives. Does he really believe that? Aren’t progressives supposed to be cosmopolitan rather than parochial in their outlook? Isn’t patriotism just as odious as racism?

Immigration

John Hawkins of Right Wing News conducted a poll of conservative bloggers on the topic of immigration. Here are the results. My answers were as follows:

1. No
2. Fails
3. No
4. Yes
5. No
6. Yes

Feel free to provide your own answers in the comments section of this blog.

A Year Ago

Here. For the record, I weighed 155.5 pounds this morning.