Friday, 21 December 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Ronald Cass.

Twenty Years Ago

12-21-87 . . . At long last, the Arizona Wildcats are ranked number one in the nation in basketball. The Wildcats passed Kentucky [also the Wildcats] in two of the three major polls after yesterday’s resounding victory over Washington [the Huskies]. Kentucky has a narrow lead in the other poll. As I understand it, this is the first time a Wildcat team has been ranked number one in either basketball or football. Before this year, our highest basketball ranking was tenth. Much of the credit must go to Lute Olson, the Wildcat coach. In just five years he has taken the Cats from a pitiful record to the best team in the nation. McKale Center is sold out for who knows how many more games. I’m tickled. I was a Wildcat basketball fan from the moment I arrived in Tucson [in August 1983]. Mike Spille and I went to two or three games when they were struggling. It would be nice to attend one more game before I leave, but I’m not sure that I can get a ticket. I’ll have to buy it from a scalper.


I have never understood why people dislike fruitcakes. I love them! If you receive one as a gift and don’t want it, send it to me.


Which of these houses do you like best, and why?


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.

National Parks

Here is a New York Times story about our national parks. I’d like to hear from my libertarian readers. If it were up to you, what would you do about the national parks?

Brian Leiter on Ronald Dworkin

On the happy occasion of the establishment of the Rutgers Institute for Law and Philosophy—happy not only for the faculty and students of Rutgers University, but also for the field of jurisprudence more generally—it seems appropriate to take stock of the field of law and philosophy over the past quarter-century, to see where the field has been, where it is going, and what it is now time to leave behind. On the latter score, I shall focus, in particular, on the well-known and distinctive jurisprudential contributions of Ronald Dworkin, especially as crystallized in his 1986 book Law’s Empire, which are now, I fear, a prime candidate for views the field has outgrown. This may seem a surprising suggestion to many outside the field of legal philosophy, but, as I shall suggest, it is increasingly the sotto voce—and sometimes manifest—consensus within.

(Brian Leiter, “The End of Empire: Dworkin and Jurisprudence in the 21st Century,” Rutgers Law Journal 36 [fall 2004]: 165-81, at 165)

Note from KBJ: Brian Leiter’s thuggery is not limited to his blog. In case you haven’t been paying attention, he has done such things as (1) call Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts “depraved and repellent,” (2) call Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “lunatic,” (3) describe the Bush administration as a “bestiary of madmen,” (4) refer to University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds as “InstaIgnorance,” (5) describe UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh as “juvenile,” “sleazy,” “hypocritical,” and “intellectually limited,” (6) call Michelle Malkin a “crypto-fascist,” (7) call two of his colleagues “latent homosexuals” for opposing homosexual “marriage,” (8) “out” a former graduate-school classmate who had the gall to criticize Leiter, (9) threaten a graduate student, (10) try to keep untenured professors at other universities from being tenured, (11) try to keep a law student who wrote a favorable review of a book on Design Theory from being hired by law firms, (12) incite violence against James Taranto, (13) encourage his sycophants to make anonymous personal attacks on various conservative professors (including yours truly), (14) defame me by making outrageously false statements in private correspondence (I have the letters, which will come out in due course), and (15) try to keep a professor from being hired by another department at his university—for ideological reasons. University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse calls Leiter a “jackass.”  Yale University law professor Jules Coleman, who knows Leiter well, told me, in response to my query whether Leiter is mentally ill, that Leiter is “complicated.” Three years ago, in the Rutgers Law Journal, Leiter did a hatchet job on Ronald Dworkin, who has been described by Coleman as one of two “giants of contemporary analytic jurisprudence” (the other being H. L. A. Hart). Why would Leiter stoop to such a thing? I’ve come up with five explanations:

1. Dworkin ignores Leiter. To my knowledge, Dworkin has never mentioned Leiter in any published work. This, to a megalomaniac like Leiter, is an unpardonable sin.

2. Dworkin wrote a scathing review of Jules Coleman’s book The Practice of Principle. Coleman is Leiter’s patron. Leiter is repaying Coleman by serving as his henchman.

3. Dworkin, a liberal, is too conservative for Leiter, whose politics are on the lunatic fringe. Dworkin believes that judges must not make policy. Leiter believes that judges are legislators who do nothing but make policy.

4. Dworkin believes that there are right answers to legal questions. Leiter thinks this is absurd.

5. Dworkin views law as an autonomous institution. Leiter views law as politics.

It’s one thing to rant in a blog; it’s quite another to devote an entire scholarly article to attacking someone.


Here is a review of a new book about Antony Flew’s “conversion” to theism.

A Year Ago



Here is the latest on Roger Clemens. Does it seem strange to any of you that Clemens found a new gear when he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997? Take a look at his numbers. By the way, I love this quotation from Joba Chamberlain:

It’s a question that’s going to be brought up for a long time, but the man has been successful for so long, he’s obviously doing something right.

I would change “right” to “wrong.”

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Reid’s Chilly Relationship With Bush Enters a Deep Freeze” (news article, Dec. 19):

I, too, struggle to control the feelings of contempt and fury evoked by an administration that is so demonstrably unethical, duplicitous and uninterested in adhering to the strictures laid out in our Constitution.

That Senator Harry Reid rages against the terrible machine that is the Bush administration should hardly be cause for surprise. That so many Americans still don’t rage, should.

Jessica Craven
Los Angeles, Dec. 19, 2007

Note from KBJ: This woman all but admits to suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome. I hope she gets the help she needs. In the meantime, she should try to wrap her mind around the fact that many of us—a majority of us, based on the 2004 election results—are happy with President Bush.

John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 29

I am thus one of the very few examples, in this country, of one who has, not thrown off religious belief, but never had it: I grew up in a negative state with regard to it. I looked upon the modern exactly as I did upon the ancient religion, as something which in no way concerned me. It did not seem to me more strange that English people should believe what I did not, than that the men I read of in Herodotus should have done so. History had made the variety of opinions among mankind a fact familiar to me, and this was but a prolongation of that fact. This point in my early education had, however, incidentally one bad consequence deserving notice. In giving me an opinion contrary to that of the world, my father thought it necessary to give it as one which could not prudently be avowed to the world. This lesson of keeping my thoughts to myself, at that early age, was attended with some moral disadvantages; though my limited intercourse with strangers, especially such as were likely to speak to me on religion, prevented me from being placed in the alternative of avowal or hypocrisy. I remember two occasions in my boyhood, on which I felt myself in this alternative, and in both cases I avowed my disbelief and defended it. My opponents were boys, considerably older than myself: one of them I certainly staggered at the time, but the subject was never renewed between us: the other who was surprised, and somewhat shocked, did his best to convince me for some time, without effect.

Note from KBJ: Like Mill, I never had religious belief. I was never prevented from going to church, from reading religious books, or from associating with religious people, but I was never required to do any of these things, either. It was left up to me. I am grateful to my parents for raising me this way. Some of you will say that I was deprived of something important by this method of childrearing. What? It’s always possible to go from detachment to immersion, just as it’s possible to go from immersion to detachment. Of the two, the latter is less common, because more difficult.