Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Best of the Web Today


Animal Ethics

Here is Mylan Engel’s latest post.

A Year Ago


Hall of Fame?

Garret Anderson. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

John McCain

Michelle Malkin has a longish post about John McCain and conservatism. How many of those of you who consider yourselves conservative could vote for him?

Addendum: There’s a televised Republican debate tonight at 8:00 Eastern Time, on CNN. I’ll be watching. Mitt Romney needs to hit McCain hard on immigration, judges, campaign finance, and global warming.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Of the many vexing comments in President Bush’s final State of the Union address, the one I find particularly off-putting is this: “Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I’m pleased to report that the I.R.S. accepts both checks and money orders.”

I am one of those citizens who are happy to pay taxes to support the functioning of our country and aid my fellow Americans, and am deeply offended by the president’s mockery of these sentiments.

Shari Jacobson
Selinsgrove, Pa., Jan. 29, 2008

Note from KBJ: The letter writer is unclear on the concept. President Bush was talking about those who believe that taxes are too low. He was saying that these people are free to send money to the government. He wasn’t mocking anyone, and he wasn’t talking about (or addressing) those who think taxes are just right or too high.

Paying It Forward

I’m grateful to all the people who wrote letters of recommendation in my behalf. It’s a large group, since I earned five college degrees and applied for teaching positions in two consecutive years. (My first teaching job was a one-year position at Texas A&M University. During that year, I completed my Ph.D. dissertation.) Besides expressing my gratitude to those who wrote letters for me, I vowed to pay it forward (so to speak) by writing letters for my own students. This is one part of my job I don’t mind. (Actually, the only part of my job I mind [i.e., dislike] is grading examinations, but that comes only four times a year: in the middle and at the end of each semester.) Today, near the end of my 20th year as a professor, I wrote my 100th letter of recommendation. Many of the students for whom I wrote letters have gone on to become attorneys, medical doctors, and professors. From time to time I hear from one of them. It is always gratifying.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by George Will.


Michelle Malkin was all over the Florida primary. Where that woman gets her energy, I’ll never know. I’ve been watching television coverage all evening: mostly MSNBC, but also Fox. It’s funny how Keith Olbermann acts like a grown-up when he’s around other people. When he does Countdown, he acts like a petulant child. The audience must make the difference. On Countdown, he knows that he’s addressing moonbats, so he panders to them. Tonight, by contrast, he had a diverse and more mature audience. I hate to say it, but it appears that John McCain will be the Republican nominee. I suppose it could be worse: It could be Mike Huckabee. Rudy Giuliani has announced that he’s dropping out. What the hell happened to his campaign? A few months ago, it looked like he would trounce the field. My condolences, Peg. Your man is out, and so is mine. As for Mitt Romney, I still think his Mormonism will hurt him with enough voters to put a Democrat in the White House. Can we afford to take that chance?


How bad would a Hillary Clinton presidency be? Use the following scale:

10 Horrifying
09 Revolting
08 Tragic
07 Frightening
06 Disgusting
05 Frustrating
04 Disappointing
03 Unpleasant
02 Annoying
01 Boring

This is a scientific study, so give it the serious attention it deserves.

Gregory S. Kavka (1947-1994) on Four Types of Government

Let us say that government power is divided if and only if there are distinct government bodies or institutions that must agree and concur before certain government functions (e.g., imposing a new tax) are performed, or have final control and authority over different government functions. Thus, there is a government with divided powers if a king (or president) and an independent legislature must agree to pass new laws, and also if an independent judiciary has final authority to interpret, apply, and enforce laws made by other bodies or agencies. A government is limited if there are understood to be things it is not permitted to do, certain ways that it cannot conduct itself, certain procedures it cannot follow in carrying out its functions, or certain procedures it must follow in carrying out those same functions. (The understanding in question may be embodied in a written constitution, in unwritten traditions in the political system, or—in the case of pure theory—in a State-founding social contract.) Governments can be limited without being divided, for example, if a single sovereign body is constrained by a written constitution from infringing certain well-defined rights of individual citizens. Similarly, division without limitation is possible—there might be no limitations on what a government as a whole might do, but its functions might be divided among independent bodies, or those bodies might have to concur to exercise certain powers.

(Gregory S. Kavka, Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986], 225-6 [italics in original])

Note from KBJ: If I could make a two-by-two box diagram, it would have (1) divided, limited government in the northwest cell, (2) divided, unlimited government in the northeast cell, (3) undivided, limited government in the southwest cell, and (4) undivided, unlimited government in the southeast cell. The government of the United States is in cell 1. The government defended by Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is in cell 4.


Yankee fans will not want to hear this, but the latest issue of Baseball America says that the Texas Rangers’ minor-league system is now ranked fourth in Major League Baseball, behind Tampa Bay, Boston, and Cincinnati. It was ranked 28th a year ago. If you’re 40 or more years old, you’ve probably seen your last Yankee World Series victory.

Best of the Web Today


A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Thanks to Bob Herbert for questioning the Clinton campaign. It has become obvious to me that the Clintons view the American public only as potential voters, and not as fellow citizens. While they continue to insist that political spin and negative tactics are all just in “fun,” the Clintons consistently and dangerously ignore the devastating material effects of their efforts.

As a college student growing up during the Bush-Clinton era, I have been forced to live within the wreckage of such divisiveness, learning to expect nothing but incompetence from government and complacency from citizens. Thank goodness for Barack Obama, who has encouraged my generation not only to go out and vote, but also to believe that government can play a role in uplifting its people.

Thanks to his campaign, I now know what true political leadership looks like—and it does not look like Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Leslie Allison
Philadelphia, Jan. 26, 2008

Note from KBJ: Imagine looking to government for uplift.