Monday, 11 February 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Susan Estrich, who says—gasp!—that there are racist Democrats. There goes the narrative about wholesome Democrats and racist Republicans.


Here is your entertainment for this Monday evening.

Addendum: You’ve been good today, so I’m going to give you two versions of “Shake Your Head (Let’s Go to Bed).” The first features the beautiful and talented Kim Basinger. The second features the inimitable Ozzy Osbourne (who also appears on the first version, just not so prominently). Listen to the lyrics.

Addendum 2: You don’t deserve it, so justice doesn’t require it, but I’m in a charitable mood this evening, so here is my final offering.

Addendum 3: This isn’t music, so it doesn’t really belong in this post, but it’s entertaining, like the songs to which I linked, so perhaps it does; but even if it doesn’t, I’m putting it here anyway, so shut up. (Thanks to my niece Danielle for the link.)


I keep hearing that Barack Obama has a better chance of beating John McCain than Hillary Clinton does. William Kristol is the latest pundit to say so. I don’t believe it for one second. Republicans will destroy Obama, who is not fit to be a senator, much less president of the United States. He could do worse than George McGovern and Walter Mondale, if that’s possible.


Speaking as a lawyer, I would have to say that Roger Clemens needs a new lawyer. This Rusty Hardin fellow is throwing gas on the fire. Prediction: Five years from now, when Clemens will be eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he will be in a federal penitentiary for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Addendum: Is it plausible that Andy Pettitte used performance-enhancing substances but that Roger Clemens did not? We know that Clemens is a competitor. Can’t you just envision him deciding to deny everything and destroy anyone who claimed otherwise? His friend Pettitte is caught in the middle. If he implicates Clemens, their friendship is over. If he lies for his friend, he risks being sent to prison. I hope kids learn from this incident that honesty is the best policy.

From the Mailbag

Hello Dr. Burgess-Jackson,

I have read and commented on your views of globalization . . . and I hope to read more. I wanted to bring the following article that appeared in today’s NYT to your attention: “You Are What You Spend” By W. MICHAEL COX and RICHARD ALM.

The summary sentence: “Globalization extends and deepens a capitalist system that has for generations been lifting American living standards—for high-income households, of course, but for low-income ones as well.”

Michael Giampaoli

Note from KBJ: I have never denied that free trade increases material welfare. What I deny is that only material welfare matters.

Alan Donagan (1925-1991) on the Duty of Beneficence

The duty of beneficence in the Hebrew-Christian tradition is not the indiscriminate and unlimited maximizing of good imposed by utilitarianism. It is the duty to do what good one reasonably can, without omitting any perfect duty. The religious ideal of charity goes far beyond it. But beneficence and charity alike have to do only with those consequences of actions that are within human foresight. Nor is that all. Some portion of the evil in the world is a consequence of human wrongdoing and culpable folly; of that portion, at least some does not fall upon the blameless but returns to plague its inventors. Utilitarianism pays little attention to this. The task it lays upon the benevolent is to maximize good; and it will not relieve them of that task even if it may happen largely to consist in rescuing the idle, the headstrong, and the wicked from the ill consequences of their own conduct. [Bernard] Williams has denounced utilitarianism as an attack on human integrity, because it reduces each individual to “a channel between the input of everyone’s projects, including his own, and an output of optimific decision.” That is perhaps extreme. Nobody’s integrity is attacked by requiring him to defer his own projects in order to shield some innocent from violence or fraud. But at bottom it is an unanswerable criticism of the utilitarian concept of benevolence. Genuine benevolence, or willing the well-being of others, is willing that they live a decent human life, and so being prepared to help them in their efforts to do so; it is not an interminable bondage to alleviating the woes brought upon themselves by those who make little or no effort to live well.

(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 61-2 [footnote omitted] [essay first published in 1977])

Note from KBJ: Notice the difference between beneficence and benevolence. The former is the doing of good; the latter is the disposition, will, or motivation to do good. One can have a duty of beneficence, but not of benevolence. Beneficence is to maleficence as benevolence is to malevolence. Christians say that God is not just benevolent, but omnibenevolent. Is there an omnimalevolent being? (Besides Paul Krugman, I mean.)

Why Greg Boyd Became a Vegetarian

See here.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

No remarkable abilities emerge suddenly at age 16—or, for that matter, at age 18 or 21. In fact, as I show in a new book on adolescence, human cognitive abilities peak between ages 13 and 15, and American adults are no more competent than American teenagers across a wide range of competencies.

Does this mean we should lower the voting age to 13? Absolutely not. Age should simply not be part of the voting equation. It’s a stale remnant from eras that restricted voting to 21-year-old male landowners.

What we really need are individual voters who can show themselves to be competent, not who fit our demographic biases: voters who can reason and who know the basics about government, the issues and the candidates. People of any age, gender or race who can demonstrate relevant competence should be allowed to vote, and the less competent should be excluded.

Whom would we elect if the electorate were actually competent? And whom would we have never elected?

Robert Epstein
San Diego, Feb. 6, 2008
The writer, a visiting scholar at the University of California at San Diego, is former editor in chief of Psychology Today.

Note from KBJ: If we limit the franchise to the competent, there will never be another Democrat elected president.

Best of the Web Today


Bush-Hatin’ Paul

This column by Paul Krugman¹ is funny. He is just now noticing that progressives are filled with hate. Had he read any of his own columns for the past five years, he would have known that.


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).

A Year Ago