Friday, 28 March 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Kimberley Strassel. I’ve been saying for some time that Hillary Clinton prefers a John McCain presidency to a Barack Obama presidency, since that would allow her to run again in 2012. The best way for her to ensure an Obama defeat is to stay in the race until the bitter end. But if she stays in the race too long, she will be blamed by Democrats for Obama’s defeat and punished for it in 2012 by being denied the nomination. She’s in a bind.

Bush-Hatin’ Paul

Paul Krugman¹ never ceases to amaze me. In today’s op-ed column, he says this about John McCain:

[H]e panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

You would think, then, that Hillary Clinton panders shamelessly to left-wing ideologues. Nope:

[H]er policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

It’s called brownnosing. Krugman wants a cabinet position.


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).

Twenty Years Ago

3-28-88 . . . In other news, Richard Gephardt has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was an early leader, but faltered in the southern and later primaries. That leaves only four Democrats—Michael Dukakis, Jesse Jackson, Albert Gore, and Paul Simon—in the race. Amazingly, Jackson has more delegates than anyone else. It’s a close race. I still don’t think he can be elected president, though, because of the racism in this country, so I wonder what will happen at the convention this summer in Atlanta. Will the party be suicidal and drape a banner around Jackson’s neck? That’s a sure way of reelecting a Republican. Or will the party be realistic and go with Dukakis, perhaps guaranteeing Jackson a cabinet position? There’s also the chance that an outsider will be brought in to unify the party. The obvious choices to play this role are Mario Cuomo, Sam Nunn, and Bill Bradley. Things are getting interesting in the political world.


Only a Republican could have normalized relations with China. Only a Democrat could have implemented workfare. The first female president will be a Republican. The first black president will be a Republican.


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

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Bravo, Nicholas D. Kristof. If Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton don’t understand that the most important outcome in the 2008 election is that a Democrat become president, then neither may deserve to be president.

Both candidates are qualified, and the election of one of them is far more important than which one. If they truly have the interests of this nation at heart, they will immediately stop the personal attacks, which demean the attacker as much as the one attacked, and agree to disagree only on the many important policy problems facing us.

They should also agree to treat each other with the respect each deserves, and state clearly that the one who does not win the nomination will do everything he or she can to support the nominee.

Harry W. Schoenberg
Sedona, Ariz., March 27, 2008

Note from KBJ: It boggles my mind that anyone could think Hillary Clinton has “the interests of this nation at heart.” She has the interests of Hillary Clinton at heart.

Note 2 from KBJ: Here is the latest about Clinton’s intentions.

Jonathan Wolff on the Family Model of Society

[T]he model of the family provides an interesting contrast to the extreme liberal individualist picture. Love, or at least affection, not justice, is the first virtue of the family. Should mutual affection also be the first virtue of social and political institutions? This seems unlikely. However easy it might be to call everyone brother or sister, only a saint could act as if the entire human race (or even the residents of one’s street) made up a big, happy family, with the special ties of affection and concern that family members ideally have for each other.

(Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy, rev. ed. [New York: Oxford University Press, 2006], 196 [italics in original])

Note from KBJ: Wolff evades his own question! His question is whether mutual affection should be the first virtue of social and political institutions. His answer is that it can’t be. Perhaps he is making the following argument:

1. Mutual affection can’t be the first virtue of social and political institutions.

2. If mutual affection can’t be the first virtue of social and political institutions, then it’s not the case that it should be the first virtue of social and political institutions. (This is an instance of the “ought-implies-can” principle.)


3. It’s not the case that mutual affection should be the first virtue of social and political institutions.

The argument is valid and the second premise is true. Is the first premise true?

From the Mailbag


What happened to the Brian Leiter blog? I have never met Leiter, but I have met you and I can honestly say everything he said in his blog response about you is so incredibly ridiculous that it doesn’t even bear response. I read a post on his blog at one point where a former student of yours was dogging you and you requested (desired) the student’s name so you could see the student in question’s grade. No response emitted from the Leiter camp (of course, but for privacy though) so I must entertain the possibility that the student in question (since he didn’t step out himself) might not have done so well. I suppose it (the response) wasn’t given (most likely for privacy reasons) since there hasn’t been much blog activity on that subject since that time. Let it be said, however, that the logic class I attended and that you instructed at UTA was the single most important class of my entire college career, and you are the only professor that I have ever recommended to another student. I didn’t recommend your class because it was easy (it wasn’t); but because it was useful.


Note from KBJ: Thanks, Michael. I eliminated all but one post on the Leiter blog. I decided to let his attacks speak for themselves.

A Year Ago



I have had a number of requests to explain why I classify libertarianism as a species of progressivism. My pleasure. The basic divide in political philosophy (specifically, normative political theory) is between conservatism and progressivism. Progressives are social engineers; conservatives are not. Social engineers want to order society in accordance with a principle. Different engineers have different principles. Utilitarians want to order society in accordance with the principle of utility. Egalitarians want to order society in accordance with the principle of equality. Libertarians want to order society in accordance with the principle of liberty. Everything that stands in the way of these principles must give way. Clear enough?


I assume you’re familiar with the fallacy of denying the antecedent:

1. If p, then q.
2. Not p.
3. Not q.

How does the following saying not commit this fallacy?

I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t.

This is not a trick question.

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