Thursday, 31 January 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a New York Times story about conservatism.

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith:

Here’s a hyperlink to a new article by Victor Davis Hanson about the inherent uncertainties in waging war. If you are not comfortable clicking on a hyperlink, I can send you the full text in a message, or send the text as an attachment.

Although I am a historian, my field of expertise is NOT military history. Hence most of the information in the article was news to me—as it probably will be to you and to most of your readers too. Hanson has written a brilliant essay, placing the conduct of the current Iraq war into historical context.


The Debate

I have only one comment on tonight’s Democrat debate: It’s imperative that we not elect Hillary Clinton. Did you notice how many times she used that word? What a scold!

Home Sweet Home

Check out this house.

Alan Donagan (1925-1991) on Torture

[O]ne condition of immunity to violence is that one not be participating in an attempt on the lives or the bodily security of other innocent persons; and the terrorist ex hypothesi is so participating: he is, at the very least, deliberately allowing innocent persons to be killed and mutilated by withholding his knowledge; and if he had a hand in placing the bombs, he is allowing the consummation of murders and mutilations he himself has set in train. Until the nineteenth century, positive law and moral opinion joined in permitting torture in such a case. In the past century and a half, torture has come to be prohibited by law in all civilized countries; and rightly, because it has been found practically impossible, while allowing it at all, to confine its use to the very few cases in which it would be morally permissible.

(Alan Donagan, “Cases of Necessity,” chap. 4 in Absolutism and Its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Joram Graf Haber [Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994], 41-62, at 57 [essay first published in 1977])


The debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama begins in 34 minutes. It’ll be televised on CNN. Obama should call attention to the Clintons’ dirty tricks. He should ask Hillary, point blank, “Why has your husband been bringing race into this campaign? Is there anything you won’t do to get elected?”

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

I think Paul Krugman has drawn the wrong lessons from 1992. The nastiness of the 1990s was a consequence of who the Clintons are and how they do business.

The Clintons evoke negative visceral reactions in a large part of the electorate, and their actions over the past weeks in playing down-and-dirty politics has reinvigorated their negatives and sent a reminder of what the bad old days were like.

The lesson from 1992 is that the Democrats need a candidate who is inspiring and doesn’t have a lot of baggage, who is tough and will fight back but will stay out of the gutter.

It better [sic] to remember the lesson from 1994, when the Democrats lost both houses of Congress: We need a Democratic president who will vigorously and successfully campaign for Democratic senators and representatives. No one can do that better than Barack Obama.

William Terry
Newton, Mass., Jan. 28, 2008

Note from KBJ: I have a question for my readers. Which Democrat will be easier to defeat this fall: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? Does your answer change as you consider different Republican opponents?

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