Tuesday, 17 July 2007


My beloved Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins this evening, 1-0. The Tigers now have the best record (55-36, .604) in Major League Baseball. At their current pace, they’ll finish 98-64. In 2006, they finished 95-67. Did I mention that the Yankees suck?


David Limbaugh respectfully disagrees with Peggy Noonan. Wouldn’t it be nice if all discourse were this civil?

Addendum: In your opinion, who is most civil: conservatives or progressives? Having answered that question, please explain why.

Advocacy Journalism

According to this New York Times “report,” the terrorist threat facing the United States is as serious as ever. I put the word “report” in quotation marks because it’s closer to an opinion piece than a news report. The Times is determined not to let President Bush get any mileage out of the fact that Al Qaeda is operating in Iraq. Consider the following paragraph:

Al Qaeda is expected to cultivate more cooperation with regional terrorist groups, the document said. Perhaps most significantly, Al Qaeda will probably try to use contacts with a separate group called Al Qaeda in Iraq to foment Sunni extremists, raise resources and recruit operatives for more attacks in the United States, the document said. The intelligence estimated was released by the office of Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence.

Let’s parse it. First, the reporter says that there are two groups, not just one: regular “Al Qaeda” and what he calls “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” This is the reporter’s way of telling the reader, “Don’t for a moment confuse these two groups. The first is the group that attacked the United States on 9-11; the second had nothing to do with that; in fact, had President Bush not invaded Iraq, it would not exist.” Second, there are said to be “contacts” between the groups, which reinforces the idea that the groups are distinct, rather than, as they in fact are, ideologically and strategically continuous. Third, the reporter uses the word “separate,” just to emphasize the fact, in case it is not yet clear, that the groups are Not the Same. It’s hilarious. This is what journalism has come to, folks. Attribute base motives to President Bush (or whichever conservative you’re trying to undermine); assume that everything he says is manipulative rhetoric; then bend over backward to counter his manipulativeness with manipulative rhetoric of your own.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France, won by Mauricio Soler. The Colombian rider averaged 23.37 miles per hour on the 99.1-mile course. Here is the story. Here is the New York Times report. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Curro Ergo Sum

This New York Times story confirms something I have known since September 1996, when I began training for my first marathon, namely, that “cycling, while grueling, is not as demanding as running.” Most people who go from one of these sports to the other go from running to bicycling, often because of an injury that prevents them from running. I’m perverse; I went from bicycling to running. I had been bicycling in earnest for 15 years by the time I took up running. I never gave up bicycling, obviously; I simply cut back on the mileage. I have what I consider the perfect athletic regimen. I run three days a week (distance varying by time of year) and ride once. (I also take two long walks a day with Shelbie, do 75 sit-ups, and do chest, arm, and leg exercises on my Soloflex machine.) During the winter, all I do is run, both recreationally and competitively. Please don’t think that you have to be an athlete to run or ride. You can do these things at any level. The more you do them, the stronger and faster you get. You’ll see the pounds come off (assuming you don’t compensate by eating more); you’ll feel better, physically; and you’ll feel good about yourself for doing something difficult. If you have questions about either running or bicycling, I’ll be happy to answer them.


Must a libertarian oppose the war in Iraq? Law professor Randy Barnett says no.

Richard John Neuhaus on Christianity

Christianity that is indifferent to its cultural context is captive to its cultural context. Indeed, it reinforces the cultural definitions to which it is captive. Nowhere is this so evident as in the ready Christian acceptance of the cultural dogma that religion is essentially a private matter of spiritual experience. Against that assumption, we must insist that Christian faith is intensely personal but never private. The Christian gospel is an emphatically public proposal about the nature of the world and our place in it.

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [April 2007]: 55-72, at 58)

Best of the Web Today


Animal Ethics

Here is Mylan Engel’s latest post.

Bush Hatred

Read this. The editorial board of The New York Times is so heavily invested in the idea that the Bush administration is a disaster that it cannot praise President Bush when, by the board’s standards, things go well. To the Times, things go poorly (when they do) because of President Bush. Things go well (when they do) in spite of President Bush. Heads I win; tails you lose.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Radicalism Among Muslim Professionals Worry [sic] Many” (news article, July 14) offers many plausible reasons why physicians—trained as healers—sometimes become fanatical killers.

None strike as deep, however, as the psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton’s “healing-killing paradox.” Dr. Lifton explained how Nazi doctors convinced themselves that they were “killing Jews in order to heal the Nordic race.”

By so conjoining acts of murder with a function traditionally performed by physicians, these doctors were able to do the unthinkable.

I suspect that we shall eventually discover a similarly twisted paradox beneath the actions of the more recent physician terrorists.

Ronald Pies, M.D.
Lexington, Mass., July 14, 2007
The writer is a professor of psychiatry at State University of New York Upstate Medical University.

Note from KBJ: Why is everyone puzzled by the fact that doctors kill? I’m not the least bit puzzled by it. Doctors are highly trained, efficient, enthusiastic killers. Every day, they do their damnedest to destroy bacteria, viruses, germs, and tumors. How many fetuses are killed every day by otherwise normal physicians? Think of it this way: In order for an organism to live, other organisms must die. If the task of medicine is to promote life, then doctors not only may, but must, be killers. I’ll leave the rest of the explanation to you.

Note 2 from KBJ: I got a kick out of the following sentence from the New York Times story:

The whole purpose of science for some Islamists is using it to reinforce faith; it really has nothing to do with science itself.

Replace “Islamists” with “progressives” and the statement remains true. Think of all the questions that progressives refuse to ask, for fear that they will not like the answers: questions about innate sex differences, about racial differences, about intelligence, about the etiology of homosexuality, and so forth. When progressives accuse conservatives of letting ideology trump science, they know whereof they speak!

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


Thanks for posting my ramblings. You are right . . . it is all fine fun.

A couple of points. This has been a rather surprising year in the American League from many points of view. If you have followed the Red Sox/Yankees over the years the way I have, you know that the Red Sox have traditionally had mediocre pitching and dangerous, sometimes awesome hitting, at least at Fenway Park. This year, the Red Sox have fantastic pitching, much better than anyone in the league and rather mediocre hitting . . . much worse than the Yankees for instance, even though the latter have only begun (if it is a beginning) to hit well. Note that Alex Rodriguez has more home runs at this point than Ramirez and Ortiz combined, even though the latter two play in the bandbox of Fenway (which should have been demolished by federal law decades ago on grounds of human decency).

Second, the Yankees have little chance  of catching the Red Sox, but at this point no longer none. On June 2, the Red Sox were 37 and 17, since then a mediocre 19 and 19 . . . the Yankees since then 23 and 14, 24 and 14 if you count a suspended game at Baltimore in which they were ahead in the 8th inning. That is, far from being a powerhouse, the Red Sox have proven to be a flawed team and are being carried by their pitching. A sore arm or two and they could really plunge. One could think that if the Yankees got decent starting pitching for the rest of the year, they could in fact catch the Red Sox. Of course, since there is no sign of that, and they dug themselves such a huge hole, they won’t.


Note from KBJ: I’m surprised by all the Yankee fans who read my blog. Actually, I’m surprised that there are Yankee fans, given how the Yankees cheat by spending far more money for players than any other team. (How can you take pride in victory when it’s attributable simply to outspending everyone?) Sometimes I think Yankee fans aren’t wired properly. Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for maggots.