Wednesday, 4 July 2007

J. J. C. Smart on the Aim of Argumentation

[Y]ou cannot refute another philosopher merely by a priori argument, but you may use argument in order to push him into having to rely on premises which he (or others) may feel to be unplausible [sic] in the light of total science.

(J. J. C. Smart, “My Semantic Ascents and Descents,” chap. 2 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 57-72, at 66-7)


According to this New York Times story, progressives are energized by the recent Supreme Court term. They now realize (supposedly) that it’s important to have a progressive president. Have they been sleeping? Are they stupid? Conservatives have long known that unless there are law-abiding justices on the Supreme Court, all is lost. Progressives want lawless justices—justices who will read their own values into the Constitution and aggrandize the federal government at the expense of the states and the people. Did you catch the reporter’s euphemism about race? She wrote that the Supreme Court limited school districts’ ability to use “racially conscious criteria to achieve or maintain integration.” In other words, the Court limited school districts’ ability to use race as a criterion. To progressives, that’s a bad thing.

Resting Heart Rate

My resting heart rate this morning was 42. That’s the lowest I’ve ever recorded. I’ve been recording my resting heart rate every other Wednesday (first thing in the morning) for more than 21 years. This is the third time I’ve been as low as 42. I’m usually in the mid- to high 40s. I read somewhere that the average adult’s resting heart rate is 72. Wanna get your resting heart rate down? Take up cycling and running. They go well together.


Mark Spahn sent a link to this blog post by Steve Sailer. I’m delighted to learn that Sailer is a baseball fan. All the best people (and writers) are baseball fans. (I might add that baseball is the conservative’s sport.) Sailer makes a good point about a team’s most valuable player. As I said yesterday, I watched Alan Trammell day in and day out for two decades. It’s incredible how many little things he did—whether at the plate, on the bases, or in the field—to help his team win games. Many of these things didn’t show up in the box score, or indeed in any statistic. That he was beaten out for the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1987 by George Bell still sickens me. Bell had more home runs than Trammell, but that’s about it. Home runs are vastly overrated. Why? Because they awe casual fans. They are the Grand Canyon of baseball statistics. Anyone can be awestruck by a big hole in the ground. It takes a more sophisticated person to be awestruck by, say, a properly executed rundown, a perfectly placed bunt, a clutch hit, or a deft cutoff of a throw to the plate. Alan Trammell was Derek Jeter before there was a Derek Jeter.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he presided over more than 150 executions. In more than one-third of the cases—57 in all—lawyers representing condemned inmates asked then-Governor Bush for a commutation of sentence, so that the inmates would serve life in prison rather than face execution.

Some of these inmates had been represented by lawyers who slept during trials. Some were mentally retarded. Some were juveniles at the time they committed the crime for which they were sentenced to death.

In all these cases, Governor Bush refused to commute their sentences, saying that the inmates had had full access to the judicial system.

I. Lewis Libby Jr. had the best lawyers money can buy. His crime cannot be attributed to youth or retardation. He has expressed no remorse whatsoever for lying to a grand jury or participating in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the war in Iraq. President Bush’s commutation of Mr. Libby’s sentence is certainly legal, but it just as surely offends the fundamental constitutional value of equality.

Because President Bush signed a commutation, a rich and powerful man will spend not a day in prison, while 57 poor and poorly connected human beings died because Governor Bush refused to lift a pen for them.

David R. Dow
Houston, July 3, 2007
The writer is a professor at the University of Houston Law Center who represents death row inmates, including several who sought commutation from then-Governor Bush.

Note from KBJ: Professor Dow is arguing, I take it, that President Bush should have commuted the death sentences of the murderers. There are two other possibilities. The first is that there is a morally relevant difference between the murderers and the perjurer (Scooter Libby). The second is that President Bush should not have commuted the prison sentence of Scooter Libby.

A Year Ago


The Fourth of July

Must every holiday be an occasion for bashing President Bush? What is it with these creeps at The New York Times? The editorial board writes:

But the idea of freedom is not local. It is universal. Even in these very difficult times, four years deep into a war that has turned much of the world against this country, when some political leaders seek to arrogate the idea of freedom as their own political preserve, the universal freedom described in the Declaration of Independence remains a fundamental truth.

Hasn’t President Bush been saying, ad nauseam, that the war in Iraq is designed (among other things) to bring freedom to the Iraqi people? Hasn’t he been saying that freedom is universal rather than local? And why should Americans care that “much of the world” has turned against us? Is the world against liberation? Is the world against giving the Iraqi people a chance for democracy? In an ideal world, there would be no difference between doing what’s right and doing what’s popular. In the real world, we sometimes have to choose between these things. When that’s the case, we should do what’s right, not what’s popular.

Addendum: Here is Michelle Malkin’s birthday card to this great country. Thank you, Michelle. Have a wonderful holiday!

Addendum 2: If you haven’t read the Declaration of Independence in a while, you should read it again. Here it is.

Hall of Fame?

Keith Hernandez. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)