Sunday, 24 February 2008


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


Ralph Nader is running for president. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are already attacking him. Can you imagine anything dumber? Ralph Nader is a hero to many progressives. If you attack him, you attack them.


I was just watching Matt Pinfield’s interview with Steven Van Zandt, who said that his life changed when he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. This is what he saw.


Here is an eye-opening essay by Heather Mac Donald. (Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link.)

Twenty Years Ago

2-24-88 . . . Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz was on television this evening. I watched part of it—where Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion—during the boring parts of the Olympic games. It occurred to me that, among other things, this movie is an allegory of life. Imagine. There’s a continuous yellow brick road that runs through the deepest, darkest forests—forests inhabited by “lions, tigers, and bears”, angry apple trees, and the Wicked Witch of the West. At any point, if you leave the road, you could perish; but if you stay on the straight and narrow, with your goal (Emerald City and the Wizard) clearly in mind, you’ll be safe. The idea, I think, is that life is a long road fraught with peril. Things come up that must be dealt with, but they can be dealt with. You must have character and fortitude to survive.

The disturbing part of the show is that, at one point, the group relies on the Good Witch (Gamelda [sic; should be “Glinda”]) to help them. They’ve left the forest and are crossing the poppy field when Dorothy and the Lion succumb to the Wicked Witch’s spell. The Scarecrow and the Tin Man don’t know what to do, so Gamelda makes it snow, thus waking Dorothy and the Lion. They continue on their way to Emerald City, unaware of the cause of their good fortune. To me, Gamelda represents the Christian god, or some force for good. Unfortunately, the audience for this movie is mostly children, who come to believe that there are forces of good and evil in the real world. But it’s just a movie, and one reason I like it is that it’s full of allegory.

President [Ronald] Reagan gave a press conference this evening.  I can’t believe how dimwitted he is. One question was how he distinguishes the Nicaraguan “freedom fighters” from black South Africans. “Duh”, he says, then cites an irrelevant difference. According to Reagan, black South Africans are themselves divided by tribes, so it’s a “tribal matter”. In fact, the difference is this: The Nicaraguan “freedom fighters” are anticommunist, while the black South Africans are sympathetic to communism and rebelling against a racist white regime. Reagan’s entire foreign policy is motivated by anticommunism—not by human rights, as he says, and not by democracy. If the choice were between human rights and anticommunism, Reagan and his minions would opt for anticommunism every time. We live in a world of idiocy and doublespeak, where a person like Reagan can say one thing and mean another. It’s frustrating to be a philosopher.


Here is a scene from yesterday’s stage of the Tour of California, which I watched on Versus all week. Today’s coverage just ended. George Hincapie won the rain-soaked final stage, while his fellow American Levi Leipheimer took the overall prize for the second straight year. On to Europe!

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Your article was troubling. I know that this is a complex subject, but apart from chronic depression or medical problems, perhaps one explanation is the sense of defeat that many people feel.

We read about many people earning unimaginable incomes and living a lifestyle that seems like an unobtainable fantasy. The middle-class American dream has been so diluted that many people may feel so discouraged they just give up.

The baby boomers that comprise the substantial rise in suicides may decide to take their own lives because of their disillusionment with a reality that falls far short of the 1950s’ optimism and 60s’ hedonism they knew. Heightened expectations can lead to greater falls and despair. I hope the researchers figure it out.

Steven A. Ludsin
East Hampton, N.Y., Feb. 19, 2008

Note from KBJ: It’s President Bush’s fault!

Thomas Nagel on Murder

Everyone is entitled to commit murder in the imagination once in a while, not to mention lesser infractions.

(Thomas Nagel, “Concealment and Exposure,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 27 [winter 1998]: 3-30, at 7)

Safire on Language