Wednesday, 22 August 2007


Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is the heartthrob of progressives, including academic thugs like Brian Leiter and publicity hounds like Cindy Sheehan, Danny Glover, and Sean Penn. This shows how desperate progressives are for a successful socialist society. Every socialist society to date has failed, usually at great human cost, but progressives keep hoping for a success in order to vindicate their utopian dreams. To anyone but a socialist zealot, Chavez is a tyrant, concerned only with his own power. See here for a New York Times editorial opinion about his self-aggrandizing behavior. I think much of the love for Chavez among progressives stems from his anti-Americanism. Self-loathing American intellectuals such as Leiter hate their country and therefore adore anyone who feels likewise. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.


My adopted Texas Rangers fell behind the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon, 3-0. The score now is Texas 30, Baltimore 3. Thirty unanswered runs! Maybe Baltimore will tie it in the bottom of the ninth and send the game into extra innings. What do you think?

Addendum: The game is over. Too bad there isn’t a mercy rule in Major League Baseball. Here is the box score. How much do you want to bet that the Rangers lose the nightcap, 1-0?

Addendum 2: No team has scored 30 runs in a game since 1897. See here for the story.

Addendum 3: Here is the New York Times story.

A Year Ago



In case you’ve been wondering why The Wall Street Journal supported the immigration-reform bill, now you know. It’s not because it cares about illegal workers. That’s why progressives supported the bill. It’s because it cares about the profits of businesses who hire illegal workers. Unbelievable. By the way, the Journal continues to bash those of us who favor law and order. We’re “the restrictionist right.” If that’s the case, then the Journal and its ilk are the lawless right.

Addendum: The following paragraph from the editorial opinion shows the economic ignorance of the author(s):

The industry expected to be hardest hit by more worksite enforcement is agriculture, where it’s an open secret that at least half of the work force may be illegal. Because Americans have better options than working as seasonal strawberry pickers in Arizona, growers will have to decide whether to shut down, move operations somewhere with a steady supply of legal workers, or pay illegals off the books and hope they’re not raided.

Obviously, there is another option: Increase wages to entice Americans to do the work.

Addendum 2: Someone with poor reading comprehension wrote to me to say that the business of business is to make a profit, as if something I said in this post is incompatible with that. The business of business is to maximize profit within the bounds of the law. Enforce the immigration laws! If businesses find it hard to secure the labor they need, they will have to entice workers with higher wages and benefits. If they can’t make a profit by doing this, then they should go out of business. There is no God-given right to cheap labor, especially when that cheap labor undermines the rule of law and contributes to the destruction of our culture.

Addendum 3: Does anyone besides me find it curious that both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal supported the immigration-reform bill? This is a case of politics making strange bedfellows. The Times supported the bill on humanitarian grounds. The Journal supported the bill because it sustains or increases business profits. This isn’t cynicism on my part; I’m not imputing base motives to these newspapers. The Times and the Journal are quite clear about the grounds of their support.

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

American tap water may be a national treasure, but ancient Roman water experts probably said the same thing about Rome’s system of aqueducts and modern lead pipes, which delivered “pure” mountain water to that “modern” city more than 2,000 years ago. Today we know better.

Today we also know that microconstituents of tap water, like residual synthetic estrogens from birth control pills, are causing deformities in fish in many rivers in this country.

I don’t know if bottled water protects us from those microconstituents, but I do know that I want to be able to choose whether or not to drink water from the tap. Will this cause America to have “two water streams—one for the rich and another for the rest of us”? That’s what I think “choice” is all about.

Rod Sullivan
Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 18, 2007

Note from KBJ: God forbid the rich should have something the poor do not.

Hall of Fame?

Jeff Kent. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)


My city council (Fort Worth, Texas) just banned smoking in restaurants, as of 1 January 2008. See here for the story. The ordinance isn’t as sweeping as it could be, for it exempts certain types of establishment:

Smoking will be illegal in most public places, including restaurants. The exceptions will be bars, bingo halls, retail tobacco stores, designated hotel rooms, outdoor patios at restaurants, sexually oriented businesses and private clubs such as fraternal organizations.

Is there a principled rationale for these exemptions? What do you think about smoking bans? Some people argue that private entities (e.g., businesses) should be able to do as they please. If they choose to allow smoking, they risk alienating nonsmokers; if they choose to prohibit smoking, they risk alienating smokers. The argument is that they should be able to decide which risk to run, i.e., that government should stay out of it. If you don’t like a business’s smoking policy, don’t patronize it. On the other side is the public-health argument, which holds that it is a legitimate function of government to promote the health, safety, and welfare of citizens.

Addendum: Believe it or not, smoking (or rather, the public policy of smoking) is philosophically fascinating. This book by philosopher Robert Goodin is well worth your time. I read it 15 years ago.

Temperature Check

John Hawkins of Right Wing News has taken a “Rightosphere Temperature Check for August.” Here are my answers to his questions:

1. No
2. No
3. Yes
4. No
5. No
6. A
7. B

Tell me where I’m wrong.

Michael Martin on Atheism and Agnosticism

In common understanding, agnosticism is contrasted with atheism. In the popular sense an agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves that God exists, while an atheist disbelieves that God exists. However, this common contrast of agnosticism with atheism will hold only if one assumes that atheism means positive atheism. In the popular sense, agnosticism is compatible with negative atheism. Since negative atheism by definition simply means not holding any concept of God, it is compatible with neither believing nor disbelieving in God.

Putting aside the current popular sense of the term, “agnosticism” was coined by T. H. Huxley in 1869. According to Huxley, “Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle. Positively the principle may be expressed as, in matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it can carry you without other considerations. And negatively, in matters of the intellect, do not pretend the conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable. It is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.”

It should be clear that agnosticism understood in this way does not entail atheism even of a negative sort, although it is compatible with it. Indeed, it could be compatible with theism, since some theists have argued that one can demonstrate the existence of God. Huxley’s agnosticism would entail negative atheism only if the existence or nonexistence of God was not capable of proof and it was assumed that one should not believe or disbelieve something unless it was capable of proof or disproof.

Certainly some agnostics have intended more by agnosticism than simply a methodology. On this view an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves that a god or gods exist since their existence or nonexistence cannot be proved by reason. Agnosticism so understood is identical with one type of rationalism considered below and is compatible with a negative atheism in which belief or disbelief in God should be based on reason.

According to some dictionary definitions, an agnostic is a person who claims one cannot know whether god exists or not. This view is compatible with theism, since a theist need not base this belief on knowledge. Belief may be based on a leap of faith. So unless one assumes that one ought not to believe something unless one can have knowledge of it, agnosticism in this sense is compatible with either theism or positive atheism.

(Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification [Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990], 466-7 [endnotes omitted])