Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Health Care

I leave you this fine evening with a column by John Stossel.


Here is an essay by Edward Oakes.

Hall of Fame?

Barry Bonds. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

A. P. Martinich on Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

In addition to his theoretical aims in political philosophy, Hobbes, as I saw him, wanted to reconcile orthodox Christian doctrine with modern science, and to show that authentic Christianity was not politically destabilizing. His project was, as I think it was bound to be, a failure, but I believe that he never realized that. Nothing in the way he lived his life suggests anything other than that he was a devoted member of the Church of England.

(A. P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], x)


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

Baseball Notes

1. Barry Bonds, who recently celebrated his 43d birthday, hit his 756th career home run yesterday in San Francisco. This makes him the all-time home-run leader in Major League Baseball (although not in professional baseball). I never thought I’d see this record broken, and, to be honest, I wish it hadn’t been, at least by Bonds. I realize that he hasn’t been convicted of anything and that MLB hasn’t found enough evidence that he did anything wrong to suspend him; but the circumstantial evidence that he used performance-enhancing substances is considerable. It doesn’t help that Bonds is an unattractive person. I’ve heard stories that even his teammates don’t like him. Bonds has never liked journalists, so they tend to emphasize his bad qualities. (Journalists are vindictive.) But even when you take this into account, Bonds doesn’t come across as likable. In short, I’m ambivalent about his accomplishment and find it hard to congratulate him. I love this great game and its records. Anything that sullies it is to be regretted (and resisted). Perhaps in a few years we’ll be watching Alex Rodriguez break Bonds’s record. Stay clean, Alex. The game can’t afford another stain.

2. I went to the Ballpark in Arlington yesterday with my friend Hawk. The official high temperature at D/FW Airport during the day was 97º Fahrenheit. It was hot and humid even at game time (7:35), but we sat in our usual seats (six dollars apiece) high above home plate. We were shielded from the sun and enjoyed a brisk southerly breeze throughout the game. I had fun. We bought Subway sandwiches on the way to the park and ate them inside, with Ozarka Natural Spring Water to wash them down and Clif bars for dessert. After the third inning, we called a vendor up and bought ice-cold sherbet swirls. Ahh! This is my reward for running and bicycling. As for the game, my adopted Texas Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics, 8-6, before 25,122 fans. (The ballpark holds 48,911.) Yankee fans will be dismayed to learn that two Red Sox fans sat by us. (They wore Red Sox hats.) I told them that Hawk is a Yankee fan, which elicited sneers and abusive comments. Hawk meekly took the abuse. He knew I wouldn’t defend him. He may be my friend, but friendship has limits.

3. Does anyone remember when Nolan Ryan pummeled Robin Ventura? They showed it on the scoreboard yesterday before the game started. It’s hilarious. When Ventura was struck by Ryan’s pitch, he hesitated momentarily, as if wondering whether he should retaliate. Then he dropped his bat and charged the mound. Before he got there, he was probably having second thoughts, because Ryan was striding toward him. When Ventura arrived, Ryan got him in a headlock and gave him several blows to the head. It looked like two kids playing. Hawk says his 14-year-old son Brett loves this incident. So do I. It reminds me of the Jim Croce song:

You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with jim


4. The following sentence appears in the New York Times report to which I linked:

Everyone in the ball park instantly realized the enormity of what they had witnessed as well, watching Bonds’s latest and most important white streak soar into the night.

Either the reporter (Jack Curry) knows what “enormity” means or he doesn’t. If he does, then he’s making an editorial comment on Bonds’s accomplishment, which is inappropriate in a news story. If he doesn’t, then he shouldn’t be in the newspaper business, because this is about as gross a mistake as anyone can make.

5. Ouch.

6. My friend Carlos posted a clip from South Park.

7. Here I am.

Best of the Web Today


Addendum: I like James Taranto personally (we’ve corresponded many times) and enjoy his columns, but I don’t like the way he treats bloggers. Like many members of the mainstream media, he looks down on them. Whenever he gets a chance, he disparages them. How many typographical or grammatical errors have you seen in my blog? How many have you seen in Michelle Malkin’s blog? Many bloggers take great pride in the quality of their postings. Taranto’s columns, by contrast, are riddled with errors. I used to draw his attention to them, but I stopped. I was becoming his editor. In today’s column, for example, we find these howlers (my boldface):

• director of the UCLA’s Burkle Center

• Here is there argument

• a “crime” that has not yet been convicted

Taranto is a “professional” journalist, with assistants (including, I assume, fact-checkers) and editors. I blog alone. Taranto should either shut up about the quality of blogs or get better editors.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Fear of Fear Itself” (editorial, Aug. 7):

To their shame, 16 Democrats in the Senate and 41 in the House voted to hand the president monarchical powers that the signers of the Constitution had withheld. The Fourth Amendment has served to safeguard citizens against warrantless searches and seizures; this president says instead: Just trust me.

These Democrats will no doubt be astonished, but Republicans will not stop calling them weak on terrorism. The rest of us just think they’re weak, period.

Fred Roberts
Decatur, Ga., Aug. 7, 2007

To the Editor:

In their latest display of spinelessness, Congressional Democrats approved another unjustified and probably unconstitutional expansion of presidential power to snoop into private communications (editorial, Aug. 7).

But the expiration of this policy in six months is not a “saving grace.” If Democrats were afraid to oppose this expansion of power now, they will surely be afraid to oppose its continuation six months from now.

It is infuriating that America continues to support these worse-than-worthless political parties—one hypocritically wrapping itself in the flag and the Bible to practice demagogy, and the other just standing by and making ineffectual bleating noises.

Steven Tiger
Philadelphia, Aug. 7, 2007

To the Editor:

I have no objection to increasing powers of surveillance by the administration as long as there is a quid pro quo: give the voting public the same rights of surveillance of their elected executive branch.

We could start with records of the lies leading up to the invasion of Iraq; continue with the list of those attending Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy conference; include phone records on the role of Alberto R. Gonzales and others in the firing of United States attorneys and ascertain who was responsible for inadequately protecting our troops with proper equipment and support.

After all, these are matters of national security.

Carol Schlesinger
Livingston, N.J., Aug. 7, 2007

To the Editor:

Re “Bush Signs Law to Widen Reach for Wiretapping” (front page, Aug. 6):

Our courts decided that the methods used by the White House for tracing calls were illegal. So the Bush administration sets out to change the procedures just enough to avoid the legal restrictions and allow it to do what it wants to do.

Then it has the audacity to put the completely discredited attorney general in the loop to approve its new procedures!

Congress goes limp with reputation paralysis and lets the measure pass. When will this Congress get the political courage to say “Enough!” to this hubris-sodden imperial presidency?

Robert W. Gaines Sr.
Columbia, Mo., Aug. 6, 2007

To the Editor:

Re “Wielding the Threat of Terrorism, Bush Outmaneuvers the Democrats” (news analysis, Aug. 7):

Once the seed of terrorism is planted it, it’s hard to uproot. Ever since 9/11, President Bush has been able to exploit this weakness in our psyches due in large part to the incompetence and ineptitude of his administration’s foreign policy.

His disastrous decision to invade Iraq unnecessarily and without a plan has, for all intents and purposes, resulted in a terrorist breeding ground there, while his coddling of governments who shield terrorists such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has made the world safe for them.

By kowtowing to him and rushing to their summer recess, the Democratic Congress has only enabled the president to continue his charade of being a decisive and effective leader on the national security front.

Bruce Ellerstein
New York, Aug. 7, 2007

Note from KBJ: The letter writers (I reprinted all of the letters on this topic; how’s that for fair and balanced?) are furious that the will of the American people is being done. Thank God they are not responsible for our national security.

Note 2 from KBJ: Here is a Wall Street Journal editorial opinion about surveillance.

Yankee Watch

Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is still 45. The Yankees have been playing better baseball than the Red Sox of late. The Bronx Bombs are now five games behind the Bosox. But look at the schedule. New York has been beating up on teams with losing records. That is about to change, as the Yankees begin a stretch in which they play (mostly) teams with winning records. I expect the Red Sox to pull ahead in the standings during the next three weeks. I might add that I have a pleasant fall-back position, for I hate the Red Sox almost as much as I hate the Yankees. If New York wins the division, I can delight in Boston’s loss. If Boston wins, I can exult in New York’s loss. The best-case scenario for me is having the Toronto Blue Jays win the division. It would be a case of killing two stones with one bird.

A Year Ago