Friday, 21 March 2008

Twenty Years Ago

3-21-88 . . . David Cortner is afraid of spiders. I’m afraid of snakes. Actually, it’s not so much fear as discomfort. I just don’t like thinking about, seeing, or being around snakes. Naturally, when David came over the other day to tell me about his hike, he had to throw in a story about a snake he saw. It was four feet long and fat. He (David) stood there for a moment, then backed off. The snake didn’t have a rattle, so he felt safe. This, of course, led to a discussion of our respective fears, dislikes, or whatever they are. I told David that snakes, but not spiders, are fundamentally unlike us. Snakes lack arms and legs; they don’t get around like we do. They’re just—well, different. Spiders, in contrast, have legs, joints, and a similar sort of movement. But David wasn’t impressed with this analysis. He came back with this. Snakes, like us and unlike spiders, have eyes, a mouth, a tongue, and a discrete head. Spiders are crawly and mysterious. So there you have it: a rationalization of two fears by two philosophers. This is what philosophy will do to you if you give it a chance.


What is it with Democrats? This was to be their year, and they’ve already blown it. Hillary Clinton can’t catch Barack Obama, and Obama can’t defeat John McCain. The presidency stays in Republican hands. Someone on one of the cable-television talk shows said the other day that the parties choose candidates differently. Republicans reward those who pay their dues. This year, it’s John McCain’s turn. Democrats choose the flashiest, prettiest, or most exciting candidate, however inexperienced he or she may be. Four years ago, Democrats were infatuated with Howard Dean before settling on John Kerry, who was thought to be impervious to charges of weakness on national defense. (I guess his supporters didn’t examine his senatorial voting record.) Now they’re infatuated with Barack Obama. Neither has the gravitas necessary to be president. Maybe there’s nothing to this theory. It does seem, however, as though Democrats are self-destructive. They are about to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

Addendum: I’m no fan of John McCain, as anyone who has been reading this blog knows, but I’d rather have McCain nominating Supreme Court justices than Clinton or Obama. Here, to refresh your memory, are the ages of the justices as of inauguration day 2009:

John Roberts: 54
Samuel Alito: 58
Clarence Thomas: 60
Anthony Kennedy: 72
Antonin Scalia: 72
Stephen Breyer: 70
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 75
David Souter: 69
John Paul Stevens: 88

Vote wisely.


This (courtesy of Carlos) is good for a chuckle.


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

The Blogosphere

Here is a review of a new book about blogs.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Marking 5 Years, Bush Insists U.S. Must Win in Iraq” (front page, March 20) and “Mission Still Not Accomplished” (editorial, March 20):

Five years of war with Iraq blown to bits and shards cannot be sugarcoated by the false rhetoric of a waning administration that remains bent for war at any cost.

The United States has waged this war unleashing cluster bombs, inflicting torture, institutionalizing violence against civilians in its military operations and thumbing its nose at international law. There is no nobility that can be claimed in this, there are no gains, and the destruction of one country while imperiling our own cannot be called progress.

It is possible that when President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney refer to gains, they are referring to their stealth advances toward control of Iraqi oil. Those gains dangle just off the horizon, a lure the United States is willing to follow at the price of an obliterated Iraq, a bankrupt United States and a future of occupation.

We, the people, are calling for no more; we are calling for peace.

Nancy Dickeman
Seattle, March 20, 2008

Note from KBJ: How very nice of you to speak for “the people,” Nancy.

Best of the Web Today



Here is the blurb accompanying one of today’s editorial opinions in the New York Times:

Until bankers face a real risk of losing their shirts, they will keep ratcheting up risks to collect rewards while letting the rest of us carry the bag when their punts go bad.

That’s four metaphors in one sentence. Have you ever seen such sloppy writing?

Richard A. Posner on Rights

The English have fewer rights than Americans do not only because of the absence of a written, judicially enforceable constitution but also because the array of statutory and common law rights is much smaller. Whether this is a good or a bad thing would require going right by right, law by law, through the entire corpus juris of the United States and England, evaluating the effects of each right, each law, on the social welfare. It is unclear what the result of that gargantuan undertaking would be. There is no doubt that the United States has many foolish, litigation-spawning statutes that England has been spared. But what the overall balance would be I do not know.

(Richard A. Posner, Law and Legal Theory in England and America [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996], 84 [footnotes omitted])


Spring has sprung here in North Texas, which is fitting, since I’m on spring break. Our weather has been gorgeous. I spend my mornings reading on the back patio and my afternoons sitting at the computer. In between, I run. Today, before running, I mowed the front yard. Grass is growing; trees are budding; birds are chirping. Baseball is on its way. I hope the weather is beautiful in your neck of the woods.

Addendum: There’s a full moon tonight.

A Year Ago