Sunday, 5 August 2007


Congratulations to Tom Glavine of the New York Mets, who won his 300th game this evening. He becomes the 23d player in Major League Baseball history to reach that milestone.

Addendum: Here is the New York Times story.

Twenty Years Ago

8-5-87 . . . The Ayatollah [Ruhollah] Khomeini [1902-1989] is still ruling Iran. He’s an aged, Islamic fundamentalist who, in the past several years, has focused much hatred and animosity on the United States and on Western societies generally. I’m not sure why Iranians hate us so much, but it probably has something to do with our modern way of life and political and religious liberalism. The Ayatollah wants to return to fundamentals, such as the oppression of women and lex talionis (“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”) justice. The United States represents opposite values: openness, equality before the law, free speech and religion, and so forth. In any event, the political situation in Iran is becoming increasingly volatile. Almost nightly, we are shown film footage of Iranian youths being trained to carry out suicide missions against Americans. They seem gleeful in their eagerness to die for their ruler, their nation, and their religion.

Tonight, for example, I saw [on television] hundreds of small fishing boats, not unlike Jerry’s Boston Whaler, being outfitted with explosives. The Iranians have threatened to blow up our vessels if we don’t get out of the Straits of Hormuz immediately. I also saw massive demonstrations in Iranian streets. Thousands of people engaged in chanting and gesturing as their leaders riled them from podia [sic; should be “lecterns”]. It reminds me of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. So the Middle East remains a tense area. Americans are already profoundly anti-Iranian because of the hostage crisis during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, so I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before we engage them in military conflict. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Ayatollah fall, provided, of course, that he takes his fundamentalist, fascist regime with him.


Michael Goodwin says that either Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giuliani will be our next president. I love the following paragraphs from his column:

John Edwards, deservedly slipping from a serious contender to a distant third behind Clinton and Obama, got caught in a trap of his own making. Proving again he’ll say anything to get attention, he demanded Clinton give back a few thousand dollars in contributions from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox empire. The ploy was designed to stir up the far-left base, which hates Murdoch, but it backfired when it was revealed that Edwards took $800,000 from a Murdoch publishing house in a book deal on poverty.

Whatever else he accomplishes in the campaign, Edwards has proved that poverty pays. In addition to the book loot, he collected tens of thousands for speeches on poverty and earned more than $400,000 in a hedge fund, where he said he wanted to learn more about the markets and poverty. Throw in his penchant for $400 haircuts and it’s amazing that any one in the country still thinks Edwards should be President.

Indeed. Edwards may give Andrew Sullivan an erection, but he gives most Americans a headache.

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 45.

Curro Ergo Sum

Mark your calendars. On 30 September, Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie will attempt to break the world marathon record of 2:04:55 (held by Kenyan Paul Tergat) in Berlin. Today, he won the New York City Half-Marathon. See here for the story.


Here is an essay by Michael Ignatieff. The following passage from Ignatieff’s web page cracks me up:

In his keynote address to the Liberal Party of Canada’s Biennial Policy Convention in March 2005, Mr. Ignatieff stressed the importance of remaining true to our cherished Liberal values—“generosity, unity, sovereignty, justice, and the courage to choose, the will to govern.”

Who is opposed to generosity, unity, sovereignty, justice, the courage to choose, and the will to govern? Who, in other words, wishes to remain true to the “values” of stinginess, disunity, heteronomy, injustice, cowardice, and weakness of will? If the answer is “Nobody,” then being in favor of their opposites is sheer banality. And then there is this stunning paragraph from Ignatieff’s essay:

In politics, learning from failure matters as much as exploiting success. Samuel Beckett’s “Fail again. Fail better” captures the inner obstinacy necessary to the political art. Churchill and De Gaulle kept faith with their own judgment when smart opinion believed them to be mistaken. Their willingness to wait for historical validation, even if far off, looks now like greatness. In the current president the same faith that history will judge him kindly seems like brute stubbornness.

First, Ignatieff distinguishes between being right and appearing to be right. It is possible to be right without appearing to be right (as in the case of Churchill and De Gaulle), and it is possible to appear to be right without being right. This is a useful distinction. Then, seemingly without realizing what he has just said, Ignatieff asserts that President Bush doesn’t appear to be right. What is supposed to follow from that? That he’s not right? What work was the distinction supposed to do, if this follows? Isn’t it at least conceivable that President Bush, like Churchill and De Gaulle, will one day “look great,” even though smart people such as Ignatieff think he’s mistaken? How does Ignatieff know that he won’t? It makes you wonder what Ignatieff would have said about Churchill and De Gaulle.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

It was disappointing to see Paul Krugman (“The French Connection,” column, July 23) dismiss the significant progress of American broadband deployment.

Mr. Krugman says that broadband adoption in the United States falls short of France, Germany and Japan. Yet there are 340 people per square kilometer in Japan, 236 in Germany, 116 in France and only 33 in the United States. Our nation’s broadband providers must reach 301 million people, more than the populations of France, Germany and Japan combined.

Rather than insist that apples are oranges, economists should ask three simple questions: Is American broadband capacity growing? Are prices falling? And are choices and services expanding? The answer to all three queries is a resounding “oui.”

Walter B. McCormick Jr.
President and Chief Executive, United States Telecom Assn.
Washington, July 26, 2007

Note from KBJ: If France is such a great country, why doesn’t Krugman move there? It would be a Pareto-superior move. Krugman would be happy, since he wouldn’t have to live among yahoos. The French would be happy to have another socialist in their ranks. Americans would be happy to be rid of a hater.

A Year Ago


Sidney Hook (1902-1989) on Intellectual Disengagement

Finally, the philosopher must bring to his analysis of public affairs, no matter how passionate his moral concern, a kind of intellectual disengagement as a safeguard against one-sidedness, bias, and parti pris. We have plenty of fanatics and partisans at hand. There is no need for the philosopher to reinforce their shrill voices. In a world of widespread commitment to fixed causes and antecedently held conclusions, the philosopher must never surrender his objectivity. He must be prepared to recognize the truth when it is uttered even by those who are hated or condemned. This is extremely difficult, especially in the field of foreign policy, where a great deal of guesswork is involved. More important, it is a field in which errors are difficult to retrieve because even when they are acknowledged, the consequences of the original mistakes may alter the position to a point where what would have originally been the best alternative to begin with is no longer possible. To say that the foreign policy of the United States is not wise or sensible is not to say, as some philosophers have said, that it is all morally outrageous. And to deny that its policy is all morally outrageous is not to say that all of it is wise or sensible.

(Sidney Hook, “Philosophy and Public Policy,” chap. 3 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 73-87, at 84 [essay first published in 1970])

Safire on Language


Yankee Watch

Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees won yesterday. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 46.

Addendum: At the beginning of a season, there is no magic number to win a division. There is, however, a magic number to tie for the title: 162. Boston has reduced its magic number to tie New York from 162 to 45 in just four months. I expect the Yankees to be eliminated by the middle of September.