Thursday, 28 June 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a New York Times story by Linda Greenhouse. We are getting closer to the ideal of a colorblind Constitution. May we get there before I die.

Billy Idol

If you like guitar, you like Billy Idol. His songs have stood the test of time. I listened to them when I lived in Tucson (1983-1988), often while riding my bike in the desert. (I rode thousands of miles in the desert, by myself, in scorching heat.) Check out “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell,” “Dancing with Myself,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “Catch My Fall,” “Cradle of Love,” and “Flesh for Fantasy.” Who has the best sneer: Billy or Elvis?

Addendum: One more song this evening. Genesis is one of my favorite bands of all time, and this is one of my favorite songs. Things get interesting at 7:03 into the song.

Addendum 2: Okay, one more. I promise! Until this evening, I had never seen the video of this Genesis song, which I have heard many times. (I own the album on compact disc.) It’s every bit as irreverent (and funny) as I imagined. Don’t be offended if you’re a Christian. The song pokes fun at money-grubbing televangelists, not the Christian faith. Even Jesus would be appalled by these predators.

The Messenger and the Message

According to John McIntyre, the John Edwards campaign for the presidency is imploding. I wonder why. Could it be that there is dissonance between his message and his life? Edwards is running around the country stirring up envy and resentment. He wants poor people to think they’re poor because . . . there are rich people. But if that’s the case, then Edwards himself is a cause of poverty, for he lives like a king. Have you seen his house? Did you hear about his $400 haircuts? I get 20 haircuts for $400, and that includes a generous tip. I don’t begrudge Edwards his wealth. He earned it, fair and square (so far as I know). He played by the rules, studied hard, worked hard, and made a fortune. That’s the American way. There’s something unseemly about a self-made man railing against the wealthy. Would poor people fare better in a society in which disparities in wealth were not allowed? Edwards doesn’t address that question, perhaps because he knows the answer will not serve him well.

Addendum: Read this. Elizabeth Edwards, John’s wife, said, in reference to homosexual “marriage,” “I don’t know why someone else’s marriage has anything to do with me.” This is an interesting principle. Would she say the same about a racially motivated lynching in Alabama? That doesn’t have anything to do with her. The beheading of a journalist in Pakistan? That doesn’t have anything to do with her. Pollution by a corporation in Montana? That doesn’t have anything to do with her. Does she have no sense of justice, or is it all about her?

Addendum 2: Ann Coulter replies to the Edwards tag team here. Coulter may have an acerbic style, but there is no doubt about her intelligence. The thing I most appreciate about her is her wit.

Justice Thomas

This Los Angeles Times columnist seems surprised that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a mind of his own. Is he surprised that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a mind of her own? That John Paul Stevens has a mind of his own?

Richard John Neuhaus on the Task of the University

A prominent professor at an Ivy League school recently wrote on the op-ed page of the New York Times that he tells his students that, “if they are not more confused and uncertain at the end of my courses than they were at the beginning, I have been a failure.” Imagine that: a well-credentialed and tenured grown-up whose purpose in life is to increase confusion and uncertainty in the minds of undergraduates.

It seems to me that the great majority of young people entering college are sufficiently confused and uncertain as it is. The idea that it is the task of the university to debunk the certitudes and orthodoxies of young people is quite wrongheaded—unless, of course, one means by certitudes and orthodoxies the intellectual incoherence and mindless relativism that the young imbibe from the general culture. The task of the university is to form and inform minds by arousing curiosity about, as Matthew Arnold put it, the best that has been thought and said. The goal of the Christian university is to arouse and direct such curiosity about the unparalleled synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem, of faith and reason, that is the Christian intellectual tradition. Faith and reason, John Paul said in his encyclical Fides et Ratio, are the two wings by which the mind rises toward wisdom. The goal of the Christian university is wisdom. This is as true of those parts of the university that are most in danger of becoming merely trade schools as it is of the humanities and arts.

(Richard John Neuhaus, “A University of a Particular Kind,” First Things [April 2007]: 31-5, at 33)


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then I’m a crocodile‘s sister.

From the Mailbag

Mr. Burgess-Jackson,

I am a fan of your blog, and have been a loyal reader for over a year now. I hope this gives me some credibility when I say that there is another blog that I read that I think you would really enjoy. The author, Ben Bateman, is not the most frequent poster, but his posts are so well thought out and well written that he really deserves a wider readership than he currently enjoys. Disclaimer: I do not know the author, and only discovered him myself because he occasionally comments on another blog I frequent. I want more people to read his work because it is just that good. Most of what he writes is of publishable quality.

Bateman writes about politics, philosophy, language, religion (including “secular religion”), conservatism, and “the Left,” among other things. Often he writes in a manner that makes him sound like a Christian, but he has stated a few times that he does not really believe in God. Like you, he seems to be a supporter of religion even when he does not share it (though his perspective on religion is probably a bit different).

I really hope you take a look. I promise that it will be worth your time. The link is here.




All I can say after reading this column by Daniel Henninger is, “Amen.”

All Fred, All the Time

Does Fred Thompson have fire in his belly? See here.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Justices Loosen Ad Restrictions in Campaign Law” (front page, June 26):

The publishers, editors, reporters, columnists and talking heads of the news media have no government restrictions on their free speech regarding candidates and elections. Their coverage is whatever and whenever they want it to be.

Neither should individuals, corporations, unions or special interests be restricted. Everyone should be as free as the free press to express political opinion or advocacy at any time.

Mark R. Godburn
Sheffield, Mass., June 26, 2007

To the Editor:

Those who say the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling on Monday is a free speech victory for most American citizens are dead wrong.

It is a victory for a moneyed, powerful minority that corrupts the political process with its greedy, selfish special-interest shenanigans. The ruling is a loss for democracy. It is a win for those who favor government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Louisville, Ky., June 26, 2007

Note from KBJ: You would think, from reading the second letter, that rich people are buying votes (instead of trying to persuade people to vote one way rather than another). How stupid does he think people are?

Killing and Letting Die

It used to be said, with moralistic fervor, that we in the affluent West were allowing people in Third-World countries to die. The implication was that we have a duty to keep them alive, whatever the cost. Now, according to Nicholas Kristof, we’re killing them!

Addendum: Consequentialists such as Peter Singer deny that the distinction between killing and letting die has intrinsic moral significance. They hold that, other things being equal, it’s as wrong to allow someone to die as it is to kill him or her. But most people are deontologists rather than consequentialists, so they believe that the distinction has intrinsic moral significance. In other words, most people believe that, however wrong it is to let someone die, it’s worse (morally) to kill him or her. This is why Kristof’s claim is important. If we’re killing Third-World people, as opposed to letting them die, that will matter to most people. Note that Kristof himself needn’t be a deontologist to make this argument. To persuade someone, you must use only premises that he or she accepts. See here.

Dissecting Leftism

One of the blogs I read every day is by my Australian friend Dr John J. Ray. Here is his latest batch of posts. Enjoy!

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag

Caught Newt again on Hannity & Colmes last night. Once again he did not disappoint.

We are in dire need of open debates amongst candidates to flesh them out. Instead, our future will be determined by memorized stump-speech sound-bites, tightly managed appearances, sun tans and spinmeisters. This, of course, is viscerally opposed by those who do not WANT to be fleshed out: most candidates running for office—and ESPECIALLY Pantsuit whose entire personality is borderline noxious.

It is once again time for someone to look into that camera and connect with the hinterlands in SPITE of the deck being stacked against it. Someone must rise above the rabble—then hope there are enough of us out here who can still appreciate (and act upon) it.

No matter who is selected, the Shrew must be unmasked as an empty opportunist and be diminished by her opponent’s very presence. Perhaps a certain charming southern gentleman? Or a handsome governor? Or a feisty ex-mayor? But first let’s see them think on their feet. Let’s see if they can muster cogent arguments on the fly like Newt.


Best of the Web Today