Monday, 12 May 2008


These guys are way behind me.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia.


How anyone could oppose a requirement that voters prove their citizenship is beyond me. If it were up to me, nobody would be allowed to vote unless he or she had passed a college-level critical-thinking course.


Here is a New York Times story about Karl Rove. Key paragraph:

At times clearly partisan, at others apparently offering down-the-middle analysis, Mr. Rove in his new role as a media star marks another step in the evolution of mainstream journalism, where opinion, “straight news” reporting and unmistakable spin increasingly mingle, especially on television.

And in the New York Times.

A Year Ago


Peter Singer on the Ethics of Globalization

We have lived with the idea of sovereign states for so long that they have come to be part of the background not only of diplomacy and public policy but also of ethics. Implicit in the term “globalization” rather than the older “internationalization” is the idea that we are moving beyond the era of growing ties between nations and are beginning to contemplate something beyond the existing conception of the nation-state. But this change needs to be reflected in all levels of our thought, and especially in our thinking about ethics.

To see how much our thinking about ethics needs to change, consider the work that, better than any other, represents late-twentieth-century thinking on justice in the liberal American establishment: John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. When I first read this book, shortly after its publication in 1971, I was astonished that a book with that title, nearly 600 pages long, could utterly fail to discuss the injustice of the extremes of wealth and poverty that exist between different societies. Rawls’s method (this is like mother’s milk to every philosophy or politics student now) is to seek the nature of justice by asking what principles people would choose if they were choosing in conditions that prevented them from knowing what position they themselves would occupy. That is, they must choose without knowing whether they themselves would be rich or poor, a member of the dominant ethnic majority or of an ethnic minority, a religious believer or an atheist, highly skilled or unskilled, and so on. If we were to apply this method globally rather than for a given society, it would immediately be obvious that one fact about which those making the choice should be ignorant is whether they are citizens of a rich nation such as the United States or of a poor nation such as Haiti. In setting up his original choice, however, Rawls simply assumes that the people making the choice all belong to the same society and are choosing principles to achieve justice within their society. Hence when he argues that people choosing under the conditions he prescribes would choose a principle that, subject to constraints intended to protect equal liberty and fair equality of opportunity, seeks to improve the position of the worst-off, he limits the conception of “worst-off” to those within one’s own society. If he accepted that to choose justly, people must also be ignorant of their citizenship, his theory would become a forceful argument for improving the prospects of the worst-off people in the world. But in the most influential work on justice written in twentieth-century America, this question never even arises. Rawls does address it in his most recent book, The Law of Peoples, and I shall say something later about what he says there. His approach, however, remains firmly based on the idea that the unit for deciding what is just remains something like today’s nation-state. Rawls’s model is that of an international order, not a global order. This assumption needs reconsidering.

(Peter Singer, One World: The Ethics of Globalization, The Terry Lectures [New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002], 8-9 [italics in original; endnote omitted])

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

It’s About the White House” (editorial, May 7) accurately describes Senator John McCain’s speech on federal judicial selection. The consummate irony is that Mr. McCain decries activist judges, yet some of the very jurists whom he so avidly praises are activists, only from a conservative perspective.

Carl Tobias
Richmond, Va., May 7, 2008
The writer is a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

Note from KBJ: I wish the letter writer would share his conception of judicial activism with us, so that we can evaluate his claim. Hmm. Maybe he doesn’t want us to evaluate his claim, for fear that it’s false.


The price of a stamp is now 42¢. If you want to feel old, see how much a stamp cost when you were born. A stamp was three cents when I was born on 7 April 1957. A stamp was two cents when my maternal grandmother was born on 15 April 1907 and three cents when my mother was born on 18 September 1934.