Sunday, 22 July 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a blog post by Jan Crawford Greenburg.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France, won by Alberto Contador. The Spanish rider averaged 22.54 miles per hour on the 122.4-mile course. Here is the story. Here is the New York Times report. Here is tomorrow’s stage. I correctly picked Contador to win.

Addendum: I was unable to watch today’s stage. All of my cable channels except Versus are working. I kid you not. Someone please confirm that Versus is working. I’ve had nothing but a gray screen all day.

Addendum 2: Here is a New York Times story about the difficulty of the Tour de France. I’m not a world-class athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve done a 4:29:19 Hotter ’n Hell Hundred bike ride (average speed = 21.69 miles per hour) and a 3:07:14.30 Dallas White Rock marathon (good for a medal). Both were difficult. The bike ride was fatiguing. The marathon was devastating. Remember what Lance Armstrong said about the 2006 New York City Marathon.

Richard John Neuhaus on Faith and Reason

But the bulk of the Regensburg address was directed to Christian intellectuals who, in the name of “de-Hellenizing” Christianity, pit biblical faith against the great synthesis of faith and reason achieved over the centuries of the Christian intellectual tradition. At Regensburg and elsewhere, Benedict has challenged also non-Christian intellectuals to free themselves from the truncated and stifling definition of rationality imposed by the Enlightenment. It is not reasonable, he argues with great intellectual sophistication, to hold that atheism or agnosticism is the default position of rationality. Nor, he insists, can the undoubted achievements of modernity be sustained without reference to transcendent truth.

Since we cannot prove beyond all reasonable doubt that God is, the rational position is not to live as though God does not exist but to live as though God does exist. Here he is urging a form of Pascal’s wager. As you remember, the seventeenth-century genius Blaise Pascal proposed that it is more rational, in view of the benefits to be gained, to believe that God exists than to believe he does not exist. If the believer turns out to be wrong, he has lost what he had hoped for; if the nonbeliever turns out to be wrong, he has lost, quite simply and catastrophically, everything, including life eternal. In short, what is at stake is the infinite or the finite, and there is no commensurability between the infinite and the finite. C. S. Lewis rephrased Pascal’s wager this way: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, is of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

(Richard John Neuhaus, “The Public Square,” First Things [April 2007]: 55-72, at 59-60)


Our system of checks and balances is designed to prevent any one branch of government from dominating the others. The Bush administration believes that the executive branch has been dominated by the others (or at least by the legislative branch) for too long, and it is determined to reassert its rightful power. This is as it should be. Each branch should try to do as much as it can vis-à-vis the other branches. It is the responsibility of the other branches to prevent it. The editorial board of The New York Times wants President Bush to roll over for the other branches. See here. Note the nature of the disagreement:

Bush administration: We’re reasserting executive power after years of submission.

New York Times: The Bush administration is trying to dominate the other branches.

I’m with the Bush administration on this one. By the way, I love the following paragraph:

This showdown between a Democratic Congress and a Republican president may look partisan, but it should not. In a year and a half, there could be a Democratic president, and such extreme claims of executive power would be just as disturbing if that chief executive made them.

When the editorial board of the Times denies being partisan, you know that it’s being hyper-partisan. A Democrat president doing precisely what President Bush is doing would be merely defending the executive branch from the encroachments of the other branches.


Mitt Romney is on the warpath against Democrats. I love it.


Will Nehs sent a link to this news story.

A Year Ago


Yankee Watch

Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees won today. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 58.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Same People, Same Threat” (news analysis, front page, July 18):

It is disappointing to read the twist that the Democrats and the mainstream media put on the recent National Intelligence Estimate.

Your news analysis asks, “Are we safer?” The answer is emphatically yes. Our efforts to combat terrorism worldwide have prevented Al Qaeda from attacking the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, and have disrupted known terrorist plots to carry out further attacks on American soil.

In addition, other terrorist groups now perceive the United States as a harder target to strike. This means that the hard work of our men and women in the military, our intelligence services and our first responders has paid off.

It is clear that if we abandon Iraq as some want us to do right now, Al Qaeda will establish a safe haven there. This would give terrorists the resources of the petroleum-rich country to finance their operations, significantly increasing the threat of future attacks on the United States.

While I agree that we had the wrong plan for three years, we now have the right one, and the right man to lead it. The proper conclusion to be drawn from the N.I.E. findings is that Congress and the American people must remain vigilant and committed to the war on terror and its central front in Iraq.

(Senator) Kit Bond
Washington, July 19, 2007
The writer is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Twenty Years Ago

7-22-87 . . . Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics, a rookie, hit his thirty-sixth home run tonight against the Detroit Tigers. By my calculations, he’ll hit sixty-two home runs if he maintains this pace. [He hit 49.] That would break the 162-game record of sixty-one set by Roger Maris in 1961. I’ve always thought that it was unfair to Maris to put an asterisk beside his name in the record book. Babe Ruth hit sixty home runs while playing a 154-game schedule, while Maris hit his sixty-one home runs during a 162-game schedule. If McGwire breaks Ruth’s record, he, too, will have an asterisk beside his name—unless, it seems to me, he does it in 154 games or less [sic; should be “fewer”]. That would really throw the record book into disarray. First there would be Ruth, with sixty home runs during a 154-game schedule; then Maris, with sixty-one home runs during a 162-game schedule; and finally McGwire, with sixty-two home runs during a 162-game schedule, but in 154 games or less [sic]. I guess we’d need a double asterisk or some other symbol to draw attention to this fact. [In 1998, McGwire hit his 62d home run in his team’s 145th game. He finished the season with 70.]

Rosenthal on Language