Monday, 24 December 2007


I leave you this fine evening with an essay by Cass Sunstein.

Bush-Hatin’ Paul

I’m enjoying Paul Krugman’s* war against Barack Obama. Obama’s sin is being reasonable. Where Obama sees adversaries, Krugman sees enemies. Where Obama sees conciliation, Krugman sees capitulation.

* “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults” (Daniel Okrent, “13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did,” The New York Times, 22 May 2005).


Merry Christmas, everyone. This video provides background on the song.

Addendum: Here is my favorite rendering of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” This one is also good.

Addendum 2: Dr John J. Ray has Christmas greetings from Australia, which is now in summer.

Addendum 3: Bill Keezer has some reflections on peace and goodwill.


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then I’m Saint Nicholas.

Addendum: Here is a live performance of “Sails.”

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

In “The Obama-Clinton Issue” (column, Dec. 18), David Brooks writes that Barack Obama has the ideal qualities for leadership: self-possession, independence, tranquillity, inner-direction, constancy, equipoise, synthesis, sympathy with rivals, restraint and, most conspicuous by its absence in our current chief executive, “the ability to step outside his own ego and look at reality in uninhibited and honest ways.”

This is a dream that I (and many others, to be sure) find nearly unimaginable today: a president of the people and for the people who transcends polarization.

I’d vote for Mr. Obama if only to test whether this fantasy is still possible amid the grinding ruins of American politics.

Robert Becker
Mendocino, Calif., Dec. 18, 2007

Note from KBJ: I want my president to do three things: kill the terrorists, protect the borders, and punch the hippies.

Gregory S. Kavka (1947-1994) on the Marxist Objection to Predominant Egoism

Defenders of the objection under consideration may acknowledge that socialist countries have not yet eradicated or contained egoistic motives among their citizens, but they may contend that citizen egoism is a carryover from the capitalist past and/or is a result of socialist governments having to use capitalist motivational techniques in the short run to develop their countries and to protect them against capitalist competition, aggression, and interference. This may conceivably be true, even if it has the appearance of an excuse or an ad hoc explanation. But its mere possibility or conceivability poses no real threat to Predominant Egoism. If the objector wishes us to believe that predominantly egoistic motivation and behavior is an artifact of capitalist (or private property) systems, he must provide evidence of its absence elsewhere. To concede its presence but to attribute this to alleged factors that distort socialist society does not succeed in rebutting the positive descriptive evidence for Predominant Egoism. In effect, the objector who adopts this line is like a defense attorney who concedes that both prosecution and defense witnesses confirm the State’s charges against the accused but rests the defense on the unsubstantiated claim that defense witnesses have been unduly influenced by the prosecution.

(Gregory S. Kavka, Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986], 77 [footnote omitted])

A Year Ago