Friday, 1 February 2008


Small-market teams such as the Minnesota Twins are little more than farm teams for big spenders such as the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Angels, and the New York Mets. Here is the latest outrage.


Paul Johnson reviews Jonah Goldberg’s new book Liberal Fascism. Progressives persuasively define “fascism” so that it applies to anyone with whom they disagree. Let me explain, briefly, what a persuasive definition is. There are two types of meaning: cognitive and emotive. The word “fascism,” which refers to Benito Mussolini‘s doctrine of government, has, as I’m sure you know, negative emotive meaning. By applying it to conservatives, one tries to transfer the negativity of the word to conservatives. This can happen in the other direction as well. The word “democracy” has positive emotive meaning. If I apply it to, say, Cuba, I am trying to transfer the positivity of the word to Cuba. Persuasive definition is the first resort of those, such as Brian Leiter, who lack argumentative skills. When you conjoin this cognitive deficiency with narcissism, you get thuggery.

Running Mates

Michelle Malkin has some speculations about vice-presidential candidates. I agree with her that there is no chance of a Clinton-Obama ticket. There is too much bad blood between these candidates. Also, how are you going to get white men to vote for you?

Richard A. Posner on Frivolous Lawsuits

Rare it is in the United States for a paying client to be unable to find a lawyer willing to file his case, even if the case is frivolous and even though there are sanctions for filing frivolous cases.

(Richard A. Posner, Law and Legal Theory in England and America [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996], 24)

Bush-Hatin’ Paul

Paul Krugman¹ says that John Edwards “ran a campaign based on ideas.” I agree. Bad ideas.


¹“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).


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


Ever wonder how academia became impotent? R. R. Reno has the explanation.

Addendum: Impotence is compatible with loudness. Academics are loud. Perhaps they are loud because they are impotent. It’s been noted that the vehemence of academic fights is inversely proportional to the importance of what’s at stake. Most of the academics I have known thought that their intelligence qualifies them to rule. They view themselves as philosopher-kings (or queens). That ordinary people pay them no attention—and even ridicule them as eggheads, bookworms, inhabitants of ivory towers, and the like—infuriates them. But think about it: Would you want to be ruled by someone who has only a narrow slice of life experience? I wouldn’t. I want someone who has built a business, run a farm, practiced a profession (such as law, medicine, accounting, or engineering), mastered a craft, served in the military, or done manual labor. I want someone who respects tradition, understands the limits of reason, and loves his or her country. The last thing I want is an academic.

Best of the Web Today


The Internet

Here is a review of a new book about the Internet. Key sentence:

Anonymity may be a desirable quality for a corporate whistle-blower or a Chinese political blogger, but it is an almost entirely destructive force in the online discourse of the West, and Siegel is right to say so.

Anonymity is nothing more and nothing less than an evasion of responsibility. Anonymous people say and do things that they would never think of doing in person. In most cases, it is because they are cowards. I had no idea until I started blogging that there are so many cowardly people in the world. Is it any wonder that the Internet is such a nasty place? For the record, I have never written anything anonymously, not even a comment on someone’s blog.

Addendum: One reason I don’t read student evaluations is that they’re anonymous. My university makes me distribute the evaluation forms; it can’t make me read them. I would gladly read evaluations written on students’ exams.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

It seems from your article that Americans in their 30s and 40s have no idea how to save, budget, do without and survive on their own. Having lived through three layoffs and three bankruptcies in my husband’s industry, we learned to do all four. Now in our mid-60s, we live comfortably and without debt.

We are not one of the dark-mood voters who expects the government to solve all our daily problems. A little self-discipline from these young whiners could go a long way in keeping our country strong—we don’t need everything instantly—for some things are worth saving and waiting for.

Sarah Sheads
Austin, Tex., Jan. 24, 2008

A Year Ago