Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Why is this so hard? Seal the border, deport the aliens, create a moratorium on immigration for a generation. Then we’ll talk about which people (and how many) to let in.


Just when I think common sense is dead, I get my hopes back up.


1. Who’s watching which television network? I despise Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, but they’re livelier and more interesting than the duds at Fox: Brit Hume, Juan Williams, Nina Easton, and Fred Barnes. Is this the best Fox can do?

2. John McCain has clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Do you suppose people will take the Ron Paul signs out of their yards? I have a feeling that McCain will not be on the ballot in November.

3. I can’t believe any conservative would want the Democrat contest to continue. I’ve heard it said that if Hillary Clinton stays alive, it will help the Republicans. Maybe so, but she needs to be put down. The Clintons are vampiric. When you get a chance to kill them, you must do so. Take my word for it: Barack Obama will be much easier to defeat this fall than Hillary Clinton will.

4. I didn’t vote today. I saw no point in it. I will vote in November.

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Paul Krugman writes, “The 2008 campaign, it seems, will be waged on the basis of personality, not political philosophy.” Well, not exactly. His column doesn’t mention the fact that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as too many other Democrats, helped enable the Iraq invasion.

Perhaps Mr. Krugman and all voters should examine the political philosophy—or was it just plain bad judgment?—that motivated that decision.

Barack Obama is totally correct, as well as politically savvy, in attacking Mrs. Clinton as well as John McCain and President Bush on this point.

A President Obama would represent us to the world far better than a President McCain or Clinton. He would signal to the world that we had recovered from our country’s addiction to war, rather than diplomacy, as the easy solution to international issues.

Ralph West
Philadelphia, March 3, 2008

Note from KBJ: Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the war in Iraq for a simple reason: She thought it would help her in the general-election campaign in whatever year she chose to run for president. What she didn’t realize is that it would kill her in the primary campaign. She who lives by triangulation dies by triangulation.

Note 2 from KBJ: Here, in case you’ve never read it, is the text of the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.” Note that Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, and Harry Reid voted for it. That means they accepted all the propositions set out as “Whereases,” including this one:

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

and this one:

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;


John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 38

This first introduction to the highest order of mountain scenery made the deepest impression on me, and gave a colour to my tastes through life. In October we proceeded by the beautiful mountain route of Castres and St. Pons, from Toulouse to Montpellier, in which last neighbourhood Sir Samuel had just bought the estate of Restinclière, near the foot of the singular mountain of St. Loup. During this residence in France I acquired a familiar knowledge of the French language, and acquaintance with the ordinary French literature; I took lessons in various bodily exercises, in none of which however I made any proficiency; and at Montpellier I attended the excellent winter courses of lectures at the Faculté des Sciences, those of M. Anglada on chemistry, of M. Provençal on zoology, and of a very accomplished representative of the eighteenth century metaphysics, M. Gergonne, on logic, under the name of Philosophy of the Sciences. I also went through a course of the higher mathematics under the private tuition of M. Lenthéric, a professor at the Lycée of Montpellier. But the greatest, perhaps, of the many advantages which I owed to this episode in my education, was that of having breathed for a whole year, the free and genial atmosphere of Continental life. This advantage was not the less real though I could not then estimate, nor even consciously feel it. Having so little experience of English life, and the few people I knew being mostly such as had public objects, of a large and personally disinterested kind, at heart, I was ignorant of the low moral tone of what, in England, is called society; the habit of, not indeed professing, but taking for granted in every mode of implication, that conduct is of course always directed towards low and petty objects; the absence of high feelings which manifests itself by sneering depreciation of all demonstrations of them, and by general abstinence (except among a few of the stricter religionists) from professing any high principles of action at all, except in those preordained cases in which such profession is put on as part of the costume and formalities of the occasion. I could not then know or estimate the difference between this manner of existence, and that of a people like the French, whose faults, if equally real, are at all events different; among whom sentiments, which by comparison at least may be called elevated, are the current coin of human intercourse, both in books and in private life; and though often evaporating in profession, are yet kept alive in the nation at large by constant exercise, and stimulated by sympathy, so as to form a living and active part of the existence of great numbers of persons, and to be recognized and understood by all. Neither could I then appreciate the general culture of the understanding, which results from the habitual exercise of the feelings, and is thus carried down into the most uneducated classes of several countries on the Continent, in a degree not equalled in England among the so-called educated, except where an unusual tenderness of conscience leads to a habitual exercise of the intellect on questions of right and wrong. I did not know the way in which, among the ordinary English, the absence of interest in things of an unselfish kind, except occasionally in a special thing here and there, and the habit of not speaking to others, nor much even to themselves, about the things in which they do feel interest, causes both their feelings and their intellectual faculties to remain undeveloped, or to develope [sic] themselves only in some single and very limited direction; reducing them, considered as spiritual beings, to a kind of negative existence. All these things I did not perceive till long afterwards; but I even then felt, though without stating it clearly to myself, the contrast between the frank sociability and amiability of French personal intercourse, and the English mode of existence in which everybody acts as if everybody else (with few, or no exceptions) was either an enemy or a bore. In France, it is true, the bad as well as the good points, both of individual and of national character, come more to the surface, and break out more fearlessly in ordinary intercourse, than in England: but the general habit of the people is to show, as well as to expect, friendly feeling in every one towards every other, wherever there is not some positive cause for the opposite. In England it is only of the best bred people, in the upper or upper middle ranks, that anything like this can be said.

Note from KBJ: In the summer of 1964, when I was seven years old, my mother, father, and two of my three brothers (Gary was not yet born) drove from Michigan to California in the family Buick. (My aunt lived in South El Monte, near Disneyland.) We camped along the way. This vacation shaped my life. I knew from an early age that there was a big, exciting world out there: a world of oceans, mountains, plains, canyons, rivers, lakes, deserts, and forests. We visited the Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore, the Custer Battlefield, and many other historic and scenic places. From that summer forward, I wanted to go west. It beckoned to me throughout my childhood and adolescence. I read biographies of mountain men while my friends read science fiction. I read about Indians, pioneers, explorers, soldiers, gunfighters, cowboys, and gold miners. During law school, I planned to move to Rapid City, South Dakota, to practice law. Why Rapid City? Because it’s historic and scenic. George Armstrong Custer explored the Black Hills in 1874. I wrote a term paper about the expedition while I was an undergraduate. Wild Bill Hickok was murdered in Deadwood in 1876. The Badlands are nearby. Later in law school, when I decided to be a philosophy professor instead of a lawyer, I applied to graduate programs in the West, eventually choosing the University of Arizona. (I turned down offers at the University of Calgary, the University of New Mexico, Colorado State University, and the University of Washington, among other places.) I hate the East. I’ve been to New York City twice: both times involuntarily. I’m not as far west as I’d like to be, but I’m close. I’m on the west side of the Mississippi River. I live in the Southern Great Plains, where cowboys still walk the streets. I live in Fort Worth, for God’s sake. All of which is to say that I understand Mill’s experience in southern France. He says it affected him for life. So did my vacation in 1964.


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then I’m the world’s biggest Yankee fan.

Addendum: Here is “Faith Healer.”


John Hawkins of Right Wing News interviewed five conservative female bloggers.


Bryan Garner says that “inclement,” as in “inclement weather,” should be pronounced with the stress on the second syllable (in-CLEM-ent), not the first (IN-clem-ent). I’ve always stressed the first syllable. How about you?

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From the Mailbag

Wouldn’t it be nice if they had a haiku festival in a town that is “haiku” spelled backwards?

—Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)

P.S. Hmmm, that brings up an idea. Are there any other towns that would be the perfect venue for some activity? An Irish festival in Erie, Pennsylvania? A salad festival in Dallas? What kind of festival could they have in Tulsa? In Modoc, California?

Note from KBJ:

No, Mark, it would not;
To be perfectly honest,
Ukiah sucks—big