Friday, 4 April 2008


The editorial board of the New York Times makes no effort to criticize the reasoning used by John Yoo in his 2003 memorandum entitled “Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States.” It just knows that there is no legal basis for Yoo’s conclusions. Or maybe it doesn’t care whether there’s a legal basis. It’s enough that Yoo worked in the Bush administration, which must be thwarted. One wonders whether the board members even read the memorandum.

Addendum: I love the part about it being “inexplicable” that Yoo teaches law at UC-Berkeley. I suppose it is inexplicable to someone who wants all law professors, and not just 95% of them, to be progressive.

Addendum 2: Here is the first paragraph of the editorial opinion:

You can often tell if someone understands how wrong their actions are by the lengths to which they go to rationalize them. It took 81 pages of twisted legal reasoning to justify President Bush’s decision to ignore federal law and international treaties and authorize the abuse and torture of prisoners.

It took Justice Harry Blackmun 52 pages of twisted legal reasoning to justify his actions in Roe v. Wade. It took Jeremy Waldron 70 pages of twisted legal reasoning to justify an absolute prohibition on torture. It took John Rawls 607 pages of twisted moral reasoning to justify the welfare state. I like this game!


I had heard about this, but never seen it.

Twenty Years Ago

4-4-88 Monday. Great news! Arizona Governor Evan Mecham was convicted of both charges in his senate impeachment trial. A two-thirds vote of the thirty senators was necessary to convict. On the first charge, obstructing justice, the vote was 21-9 in favor of conviction. (All nine voting against conviction were Republicans, like Mecham.) On the second charge, misusing campaign funds, the vote was 26-4 in favor of conviction. But sadly, the senate failed to thrust the dagger into Mecham’s heart. It voted 17-13 to bar him from public office permanently. A two-thirds vote was needed, so now Mecham is free to run in the upcoming recall election and any future election, statewide or local. This is hard to understand. Wasn’t the point of the proceeding to get rid of this evil man? If so, why not “kill” him for good? (It’s not called the “Dracula clause” for nothing.) Now I fear that Mecham will come back to haunt us. The senators who voted to convict but not to bar him from public office may have been covering their asses, since Mecham’s people will be out in force this fall and beyond to “punish” them for their votes. This way, they can say that they did their duty as judges and jurors, but that, as politicians, they didn’t want to destroy Mecham.

The vote to convict Mecham didn’t surprise me, but this evening’s basketball game did. In what must be counted as an upset, the Kansas Jayhawks, coached by Larry Brown, defeated the Oklahoma Sooners, coached by Billy Tubbs. The score was 83-79. Kansas is now the undisputed national champion. Not only was I surprised by the outcome, but I’m disappointed. I wanted Oklahoma to win it all, even though the Sooners beat my [Arizona] Wildcats Saturday. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Danny Manning, the player of the year in college basketball, led his Jayhawks to victory. Manning scored thirty-one points, putting him in second place on the all-time scoring list [behind Pete Maravich]. Imagine how he must feel: He’s the player of the year; his team is the national champion; and he scored just enough points (actually, three more than he needed) to move into second place in the collegiate scoring ranks. There is justice in this world after all. It’s nice to see things go very well (not just well) for particular people from time to time.

College basketball is over for another year. As I say, it was a delightful season for a Wildcat fan like me. Now it’s on to baseball. In fact, the major-league season got started this afternoon. The Detroit Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, in ten innings. According to the report I heard, Alan Trammell hit a home run off Red Sox reliever Lee Smith to win it. Jack Morris got the victory. The nice thing is, the game was played in Fenway Park, where Boston is tough. I’ve already predicted that Boston will win the World Series this year, but of course I hope Detroit does. [The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Oakland Athletics in five games.] It’s always nice to get off to a good start. One more thing: We have had no rain in Tucson since 2 March, almost five weeks ago. I love it. This is what makes desert living so pleasant.

Twenty Years Ago Yesterday

4-3-88 . . . There was a touching scene on television this evening. Steve Kerr, whose father [Malcolm], the president of American University in Beirut, Lebanon, was assassinated in 1984, and who suffered a season-ending knee injury early in 1986, was named Courageous Player of the Year by a national organization. As he stood before the microphones to accept the award, he thanked his family, his coach, and his teammates. Tears came to his eyes as he did so, and he had to stop talking momentarily to regain his composure. It was clear that he was touched. This is the Steve Kerr who played so well and so hard all season, who led the [Arizona] Wildcats to a near-perfect season. By all accounts, he’ll have trouble making a professional basketball team. They say that he’s too slow, too short, and not quick enough. But that’s what they said when he signed with the Wildcats years ago. Even I thought he was mediocre. If willpower has anything to do with making a professional team, Kerr will make it. [Kerr played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association, winning five titles. He is second on the all-time list for three-point field-goal percentage. He is now President of Basketball Operations for (and General Manager of) the Phoenix Suns. Not bad for a slow, short kid!]

Roger’s Rules

Here is a blog for your consideration. I have added it to the blogroll.

D. C. Stove (1927-1994) on Conservatism

A primitive society is being devastated by a disease, so you bring modern medicine to bear, and wipe out the disease, only to find that by doing so you have brought on a population-explosion. You introduce contraception to control population, and find that you have dismantled a whole culture. At home you legislate to relieve the distress of unmarried mothers, and find you have given a cash-incentive to the production of illegitimate children. You guarantee a minimum wage, and find that you have extinguished, not only specific industries, but industry itself as a personal trait. You enable everyone to travel, and one result is, that there is nowhere left worth travelling to. And so on.

This is the oldest and the best argument for conservatism: the argument from the fact that our actions almost always have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences. It is an argument from so great and so mournful a fund of experience, that nothing can rationally outweigh it. Yet somehow, at any rate in societies like ours, this argument never is given its due weight. When what is called a ‘reform’ proves to be, yet again, a cure worse than the disease, the assumption is always that what is needed is still more, and still more drastic, ‘reform’.

(D. C. Stove, “Why You Should Be a Conservative,” Proceedings of the Russellian Society 13 [1988]: 1-13, at 7 [italics in original])


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then the New York Yankees don’t suck.

A Year Ago


From the Mailbag


This Detroit T. situation is getting ugly. But don’t consider yet the whole suicide thing . . . its kind of definitive.

Think positively . . . I am sure after a while, probably by June and certainly by the All Star Game, Detroit will have a positive integer in its win column, albeit a quite small one. I see little chance of them going 0 for 162.


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Straight Shooting From Tuzla,” by Lissa Muscatine and Melanne Verveer (Op-Ed, April 1):

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s damage control team complains that the media are responsible for the “single-minded focus on the landing in Tuzla” and omitting “any discussion of what Mrs. Clinton accomplished on her trip.”

Although this may be a convenient way to sidestep Mrs. Clinton’s repeated misrepresentations of the events that transpired in March 1996, the fact remains that Mrs. Clinton, not the media, is responsible for the attention paid to the landing at the expense of the remainder of her trip. Mrs. Clinton is not the victim; truth is the victim.

In a similar vein, Mrs. Clinton claims the mantle of victimhood when she suggests that party leaders are trying to “bully her” out of the race, when their real complaint is that the Clinton campaign’s scorched-earth methods appear more intent on destroying her Democratic rival than dealing with whatever substantive policy issues divide them.

If Mrs. Clinton insists on fighting on, by all means let her do so. But, please, drop the “victimhood” badge and the “slash and burn” tactics and focus on the issues.

Jay N. Feldman
Port Washington, N.Y., April 1, 2008


I wouldn’t trade today’s North Texas weather for anyone else’s. It’s gorgeous! The sky is clear, the temperature is 63.9º Fahrenheit, the humidity is low, and there’s a breeze out of the north. I’ve been reading all day on my back patio, with an interruption of about an hour for a 3.1-mile run in the neighborhood. I couldn’t bear coming inside to work at the computer. Why waste such good weather? I even left my television off, even though the game between my beloved Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox was on WGN. I have no idea who won, but I’m sure the Tigers did. If they didn’t, they’re 0-4. In 1984, the Tigers started 35-5 and won the World Series.

Addendum: The Tigers lost, 8-5. All four losses have come at home. Not good.