Saturday, 8 December 2007

“Cradle-to-Grave Welfare”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Mark Steyn.

Twenty Years Ago

12-8-87 Tuesday. I neglected to mention the other day that Pete Rose, player-manager of the Cincinnati Reds, has announced his retirement as a player. He last played in 1986, but had never said publicly that his career was over. Now it is. To be inducted into the [National Baseball] Hall of Fame, a player must be retired for at least five years. So Rose, together with longtime teammate Tony Perez, will be eligible in 1991. Rose will be a unanimous choice, but Perez is questionable. He had a long, productive career, but he was never flashy and didn’t set any important league records. Rose, of course, is one of the greatest players of all time and will have no trouble being inducted. In other baseball news, Dave Parker has been traded from the Reds to the Oakland Athletics and Lee Smith was dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Boston Red Sox. That bodes ill for other American League teams such as the [Detroit] Tigers. Smith, especially, is a problem. He turns the Red Sox from a so-so team into a contender. With Wade Boggs leading the offense and Roger Clemens heading the pitching staff, Boston will contend with Detroit, Toronto [the Blue Jays], New York [the Yankees], and Milwaukee [the Brewers] for the Eastern Division title. [Boston beat Detroit by one game in the American League East Division, while Oakland beat Minnesota by a whopping 13 games in the American League West Division. Tony Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. Pete Rose is still banished from the game for wagering on baseball.]

There was a senseless killing last night. Someone entered the premises of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, cut the lock on the bighorn sheep exhibit, and shot the male bighorn to death. Then—and here’s the grisly part—the assailant cut the sheep’s head off. It has not been found. Police officers speculate that the killing was cult related. Tucson, like other communities in the southwest, has satanistic, witch, and other occult groups. There was a full moon Saturday night, which may have had something to do with it. Whatever the circumstances, I can’t help but think of the killing as a murder. It was obviously premeditated, the sheep was defenseless against a high-powered rifle, and the assailant mutilated the body. Needless to say, animal-rights and other groups are up in arms. If apprehended, the suspect should be tried and convicted of murder. He or she is an evil person.

Freedom’s Watch

Here is a website for your consideration. I will add it to the blogroll.


The Heisman Trophy
For the best college player
Timothy Tebow

From the Mailbag

Hello Sir,

I wanted to express my thanks for your thoughtful, readable and persuasive insights into philosophical debate and ethical principles, using the highly pertinent example of torture, just read at

It was and will be most useful to this trainee in psychiatry and my colleagues who I’ll insist read your words.


Dr Ben Goodfellow
Melbourne, Australia

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Mitt Romney delivered a clever speech about his faith and the role he thinks it should or should not play in his candidacy. It was thoughtful and well crafted, even as it pandered to the evangelical Christian right.

Mitt Romney is no John F. Kennedy. Kennedy stressed that Catholic or not, he would uphold without reservation the constitutional command that there be a separation of church and state. Mr. Romney did not quite make that commitment.

He said he would not “separate us from ‘the God who gave us liberty’” (I thought that it was the patriots of the American Revolution who gave us liberty) and that he would not separate us from our “religious heritage” (clearly meant to appease the Christian right, which believes that we are a Christian nation).

So while the speech was carefully worded to boost his ratings among evangelical Christians worried about his Mormonism without offending other voters, it did little to calm my concerns that a Romney presidency will try to blur the separation of church and state, a principle I view as vital to the preservation of our freedoms in this country.

Peter C. Alkalay
Scarsdale, N.Y., Dec. 7, 2007

Note from KBJ: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Ronald Dworkin on Legal Positivism

Coleman’s book is clear, philosophically ambitious, and densely argued. It therefore provides a useful occasion to inspect the state of legal positivism three decades after the challenge he treats as catalytic. Have any of the subsequent formulations of legal positivism succeeded in reconciling that theory with actual legal practice? If so, which formulation is most successful? I shall argue that the arguments Coleman advances, and those he attributes to other positivists, are not successful. Exclusive positivism, at least in Raz‘s version, is Ptolemaic dogma: it deploys artificial conceptions of law and authority whose only point seems to be to keep positivism alive at any cost. Inclusive positivism is worse: it is not positivism at all, but only an attempt to keep the name “positivism” for a conception of law and legal practice that is entirely alien to positivism. If I am right in these harsh judgments, a further question arises. Why are legal positivists so anxious to defend positivism when they can find no successful arguments for it? I shall later offer what I believe to be at least part of the answer: positivists are drawn to their conception of law not for its inherent appeal, but because it allows them to treat legal philosophy as an autonomous, analytic, and self-contained discipline.

(Ronald Dworkin, “Thirty Years On,” review of The Practice of Principle: In Defense of a Pragmatist Approach to Legal Theory, by Jules Coleman, Harvard Law Review 115 [April 2002]: 1655-87, at 1656)

A Year Ago