Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A Year Ago


Hall of Fame?

Dave Concepcion. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) on the Appeal of Vegetarianism

It cannot be too strongly stated that the appeal of Vegetarianism, as of all humane systems, is not to heart alone, nor to brain alone, but to brain and heart combined, and if its claims fail to win this double judgment they are necessarily void and invalid. The test of logic no less than the test of feeling is deliberately challenged by us; for it is only by those who can think as well as feel, and feel as well as think, that the diet-question, or indeed any great social question, can ever be brought to its solution.

(Henry S. Salt, The Logic of Vegetarianism: Essays and Dialogues [London: The Ideal Publishing Union, 1899], 3)


If this isn’t the best album ever made, then birds don’t fly.

Addendum: Some things are. Some things are not. Some things can be. Some things cannot be. Some things must be. Some things should be. Some things should not be. “What Is and What Should Never Be.”

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

William Kristol may want to construe Barack Obama’s meaning as the words of a closet Marxist, but in reality, Mr. Obama was expressing what Thomas Frank explored in his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?

In the speech in question, Mr. Obama was describing small towns in Pennsylvania and in the Midwest where jobs have been lost for 25 years, yet residents vote against their own interests. In those towns, the frustrated workers repeatedly vote for the Republicans, who are less likely to protect their jobs and safety, while being more likely to benefit the workers’ corporate employers.

How do the Republicans do it? Through the use of conservative opinion makers who divert attention from bread-and-butter issues that really affect frustrated voters and instead focus on guns, gays and immigrant blaming, and whether a candidate was wearing a flag pin in his lapel.

Joel Peskoff
Baldwin, N.Y., April 14, 2008

Note from KBJ: The letter writer is befuddled by the “fact” that residents of small towns “vote against their own interests.” Could it be that their interests range beyond economics? Could it be that they are not to be reduced to Homo economicus? Could it be that they care about such things as the Second Amendment, the destruction of marriage, the fabric of American culture, the English language, education, the rule of law, and patriotism? How shallow and stupid does the letter writer think people are?

Note 2 from KBJ: In case you’re wondering, I had not read Kristol’s column before composing this post. I have only now read it, two days after it was published. I’m glad to see that Kristol noticed Barack Obama’s Marxism.

Best of the Web Today



I just fired up my computer for the day and discovered, to my delight, that the United States Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, upheld the death sentences of two mass murderers against a claim that the method of killing them (lethal injection) is a violation of the Eighth Amendment‘s Cruel-and-Unusual-Punishments Clause. Do not let progressives (especially law professors) tell you that this is another conservative ruling, explicable only in ideological terms. If that were the case, the vote would have broken down along ideological lines. In fact, only Justices Souter and Ginsburg dissented. Justices Stevens, Breyer, and Kennedy (none of whom is conservative, except in the fevered mind of Brian Leiter) joined Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas in the majority.

Addendum: Here is my post of 17 months ago, in which I discussed the case. Read the block quotation, which describes the facts of the murders. Did the mass murderers care about how much pain they inflicted on their victims? Do you think it so much as crossed their minds? Why should we care how much pain is inflicted on them? No amount of pain could be undeserved, given what they did.

Addendum 2: Here is my post of three months ago. I will provide further analysis and commentary after I have read the opinions. At this point, I have done no more than read the syllabus and skim the opinions.

Addendum 3: Keep the following points in mind as you read other people’s commentary (of which you can be sure there will be a glut). First, the case was not about the constitutionality of capital punishment. It was about a particular method of killing, viz., lethal injection. Second, even if the case were about the constitutionality of capital punishment, the Court can’t tell states that they must kill convicted murderers. States are free to abolish capital punishment if they wish. Some of them have done so (although not, thankfully, Texas). That is how federalism and democracy work. Nor has the Court, in today’s ruling, mandated use of lethal injection as a method of killing. There are other ways to carry out death sentences besides lethal injection. I myself prefer shooting in a public square.

Addendum 4: Here is the New York Times story, which, for some odd reason, is dated “April 17, 2008.” The story is remarkably free of bias.