Monday, 21 April 2008

Obama’s Albatross

Here is Steve Sailer’s column about Jeremiah Wright. I want to pick up on something that Sailer mentions and that James Taranto has argued. The fawning progressive media failed to ask John Kerry tough questions during the 2004 presidential campaign. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth came on the scene to challenge Kerry’s war record, he was unprepared, and by the time he responded, it was too late. The same is true of Barack Obama. Until the debate the other day, he had not faced tough questioning from journalists. Perhaps that is why so many of his supporters were outraged. They are used to kid-glove treatment. How dare ABC make him answer questions about his character and associations! How dare he be treated like other presidential candidates! Don’t ABC’s journalists know that he transcends politics? It’s too late for Obama to be denied the Democrat nomination (in all likelihood), so the failure of journalists to grill him when Hillary Clinton still had a chance to win may cost Democrats the 2008 election. If Sailer and Taranto are right, and I’m inclined to think they are, then there’s a superb irony in these defeats: Those journalists who most want progressive candidates to succeed have done the most to ensure their failure. As Glenn Reynolds would say, “Heh.”


Here is your entertainment for this Monday evening. The opening guitar riff is awesome.

Twenty Years Ago

4-21-88 Albert Gore, a United States Senator from Tennessee, has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Good riddance. Gore is a blueblood in every sense of the word. His family was wealthy; his father, like him, was a United States Senator; and he had the benefit of the best education money can buy, including study at an elite Washington prep school, St Alban’s. His parents deny that he was treated differently than other kids his age, claiming that he went back to Tennessee every summer to help out on the family farm. But what a farm it was! It’s not your typical family farm where cows have to be milked and fields plowed. It’s a horse farm, with hired grooms and so on. Poor Albert probably had to keep the books or something. Anyway, he disgusts me, and I’m glad he’s out of the race. It’s now down to Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson, with Dukakis the clear frontrunner. I just hope the nominee doesn’t select Gore as the vice-presidential candidate. [Dukakis chose Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate. Unfortunately for the nation, Gore served as vice president for eight years under Bill Clinton. Then again, that was a good harmless place for him.]

Osama bin Laden

Guess who shows up in Hillary Clinton’s latest television advertisement?

“The Biblical God Is a Fiction”

Have fun with this. Please refrain from name-calling. Try to reconstruct and criticize Harris’s argument.


I have always hated the expression “You know.” Hillary Clinton sometimes uses it several times in a single sentence. What is going on? My theory is that it’s more than a conversational gap-filler. “You know” is an attempt to appease or pacify one’s interlocutor. It means “You know what I’m saying; you and I have had the same experience; we’re soulmates.” It’s the functional equivalent of putting one’s hand on someone’s shoulder or wrist. Is it your sense that women are more likely than men to use this expression? If so, why?

Guess the Movie

“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”


Judging from this New York Times story, Barack Obama is immanent rather than transcendent.

A Year Ago


Bush-Hatin’ Paul

Does anybody know what point Paul Krugman¹ is making in this column? If oil runs out, we’ll adapt to its absence. If food prices rise because of increased demand, more resources will be devoted to food production. Isn’t this basic economics?


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).

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

I agree with “Abolish All ‘Taxes,’” by Richard Conniff (Op-Ed, April 15), that the word “taxes” has way too much baggage. I also agree with his friend who doesn’t like the word “dues” either.

Both imply something extracted as a cost of membership in a society. Why don’t we call the money we send the Internal Revenue Service what it really is: an investment in America.

We are all shareholders in this enterprise, and we all have a say, as voters, in how our investments are managed.

If we don’t like what our leaders are doing with our assets, we fire them at the next election.

Susan Fiore
Verona, Wis., April 16, 2008

Note from KBJ: If we replace “tax” with “investment,” we’ll have to distinguish between two types of investment: the usual voluntary sort and the new involuntary sort. The word “tax” has a negative connotation for a reason.


There are two things I don’t understand: (1) cats; and (2) people who like cats.

Addendum: “Cat” spelled backward is “Tac.” “Dog” spelled backward is “God.” I rest my case.

Global Warmism

Lorne Gunter does his best to debunk global warmism. Key paragraph:

Climate change has replaced global warming in green rhetoric in part because there is less and less proof that much warming is occurring, but also so that whenever there is a climate catastrophe—too much cold or too much heat, too much rain or too little, more hurricanes or fewer, longer summers or early frosts—all of it could be blamed on humans.

If nothing can refute a theory, then it’s not a theory. It’s an article of faith.

Thomas Nagel on Biological Explanations of Ethics

My point is that ethics is a subject. It is pursued by methods that are continually being developed in response to the problems that arise within it. Obviously the creatures who engage in this activity are organisms about whom we can learn a great deal from biology. Moreover their capacity to perform the reflective and critical tasks involved is presumably somehow a function of their organic structure. But it would be as foolish to seek a biological evolutionary explanation of ethics as it would be to seek such an explanation of the development of physics. The development of physics is an intellectual process. Presumably the human intellectual capacity that has permitted this extremely rapid process to occur was in some way an effect, perhaps only a side-effect, of a process of biological evolution that took a very long time. But the latter can provide no explanation of physical theories that is not trivial. What human beings have discovered in themselves is a capacity to subject their prereflective or innate responses to criticism and revision, and to create new forms of understanding. It is the exercise of that rational capacity that explains the theories.

(T. Nagel, “Ethics as an Autonomous Theoretical Subject,” in Morality as a Biological Phenomenon: The Presuppositions of Sociobiological Research, rev. ed., ed. Gunther S. Stent [Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1980], 196-205, at 203-4)

Animal Ethics

Here is my latest post.