Friday, 11 April 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Kathleen Parker. Whenever I hear that women do more housework than men, I wonder whether the following things are being counted: working on the cars (or seeing that they are maintained on schedule); mowing the lawn; repairing the house; trimming the trees and bushes; cleaning the garage; feeding the dogs and other animals; taking out the trash; maintaining the lawnmower; raking leaves; stacking wood; teaching the kids how to play sports; protecting the family from intruders; &c. How much of that stuff is done by women?


The Blackshirts are back. Here is a history.


1. Here is your entertainment for this Friday evening.

2. The guitar in this song, especially at the beginning, was way ahead of its time (1972).

3. I nominate this song for greatest guitar riff of all time.

4. How many of you have heard this song? I love it.

5. My friend Hawk says he knew Connie.

6. This one goes out to my friend Paul.

7. Vicki.

8. Jim.

9. Keith.

10. One more.


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

Addendum: Noonan uses “didn’t use to,” which is grotesque. See the second question (and answer) here.

Addendum 2: For what it’s worth, “didn’t used to” garnered 71,400 hits in a Google search. “Didn’t use to” garnered 26,300.

A Year Ago


Guess the Movie

“God damn it, I should kill you! This is so fucking good I should kill you!”


The New York Yankees will never win another World Series. See here for the reason.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “School’s New Rule for Pupils in Trouble: No Fun,” (front page, April 4):

As superintendent of the Cheektowaga Central School District, I am troubled that our school is portrayed as a prison or a military academy, and that professionals are cited who find it sad and inappropriate.

My schools work with professors from New York University who know that our schools are anything but sad and prisonlike.

We are committed to having a safe middle school where children learn to follow rules, to be respectful and to become productive members of the community. Our school’s balanced and responsive programs go way beyond strict discipline.

The students know that we care about them and that we help them in countless ways to make better choices to improve their grades, behavior and options for the future.

This will continue to be our mission, and we are proud to be engaged in it.

Delia G. Bonenberger
Cheektowaga, N.Y., April 7, 2008

Note from KBJ: Respectful children? What a concept!

Jeremy Waldron on Torture

The United States suffered a catastrophic series of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and since then the Bush Administration has committed itself to a “war on terror” and an active doctrine of preemptive self-defense. In Al Qaeda it faces a resourceful enemy that obeys no legal restraints on armed conflict and may attack without warning at any time. The issue of torture arises because of the importance of intelligence in this conflict: Success in protecting a country from terrorist attack depends on intelligence more than brute force; good intelligence is also necessary for protecting our armed forces from insurgent attack in countries like Iraq (whose occupation by the United States is connected with the war on terror).

I have heard colleagues say that what the Bush Administration is trying to do in regard to torture should be understood sympathetically in light of these circumstances, and that we should be less reproachful of the Administration’s efforts to manipulate the definition of “torture” than we might be in peacetime. I disagree; I do not believe that “everything is different” after September 11. The various municipal and international law prohibitions on torture are set up precisely to address the circumstances where torture is likely to be most tempting. If the prohibitions do not hold fast in those circumstances, then they are of little use in any circumstance. In what follows, therefore, I shall consider the various attempts that have been made to narrow or modify the prohibitions on torture as though they were attempts to narrow its normal meaning or its normal application. This is because those who set up the prohibitions envisaged that circumstances of stress, fear, and danger would be the normal habitat in which these provisions would have to operate.

I want to place particular emphasis on the fact that these efforts to modify the prohibition on torture have been undertaken by lawyers. Sure, our primary objection to torture ought to be out of consideration for the potential victims of the treatment that Yoo, Dershowitz, and Bybee appear to condone. But the defense of torture is also shocking as a jurisprudential matter. That views and proposals like these should be voiced by scholars who have devoted their lives to the law, to the study of the rule of law, and to the education of future generations of lawyers is a matter of dishonor for our profession. Reading the memoranda of Judge Bybee and Professor Yoo and the mooted proposal of Professor Dershowitz shook my faith in the integrity of the community of American jurists. At the very least, it indicates the necessity of our thinking more deeply about the nature of the rule against torture, its place in our legal system, and the responsibilities that lawyers (particularly lawyers working in government) have to uphold the integrity of our law in this regard.

(Jeremy Waldron, “Torture and Positive Law: Jurisprudence for the White House,” Columbia Law Review 105 [October 2005]: 1681-750, at 1686-7 [footnotes omitted])

Note from KBJ: This is mind-boggling. Waldron acts as though (1) the term “torture” has a single clear legal meaning (i.e., that the term is neither ambiguous nor vague), (2) there can be no reasonable disagreement about what that meaning is, (3) the prohibitions on torture contained in, say, the Geneva Conventions clearly apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees (John Yoo has argued persuasively that they do not), and (4) anyone who disagrees with him on any of these matters is either corrupt or incompetent. This is a classic case of ad hominem abuse. Sadly, it typifies contemporary legal “scholarship,” much of which is indistinguishable from propaganda.

Note 2 from KBJ: Here is a videotaped debate between Waldron and Yoo.

Best of the Web Today


Bush-Hatin’ Paul

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To Paul Krugman,¹ everything is a reason to socialize medicine.


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).

Animal Ethics

Here is Mylan Engel’s latest post.