Monday, 19 May 2008


Barack Obama is a proponent of result-oriented jurisprudence. In other words, he wants judges to do what they think is right rather than what the law requires.

Politics, Part 2

It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.


William Kristol thinks we may end up with a Republican president and a Democrat Congress. That’s perfect. We get law-abiding Supreme Court justices, a strong commander in chief, and gridlock on spending.


Many supporters of Hillary Clinton believe that she was done in by “gender [read sex] discrimination.” But wait. To discriminate, in the morally objectionable sense of the word, is to distribute benefits or burdens on the basis of a morally irrelevant trait. There are, therefore, two types of “gender discrimination.” The first consists in supporting Clinton because she’s a woman. The second consists in opposing Clinton because she’s a woman. Why is there no mention of the first type of discrimination in the story? Is Clinton allowed to benefit from her sex but not to be harmed by it? Why the asymmetry?

Addendum: If Hillary Clinton had any integrity, she would have announced, early in her presidential campaign, that she did not want anyone to support her because she’s a woman. She should have said that her sex is irrelevant. “Either support me or oppose me for my values. If you can’t support me for my values, then don’t support me at all.” This would have been a principled position; but of course Clinton isn’t principled. She wanted support and didn’t care what it was based on. It was this decision—to put expediency ahead of principle—that prohibits her from criticizing those who opposed her because of her sex.

A Year Ago



If this isn’t the best album ever made, then Ziggy Stardust is dead.

Addendum: Here is “China Girl.” Here is “Let’s Dance.” Stevie Ray Vaughan plays lead guitar on this album.

Hate the War, Love the Warrior?

Do progressives support the troops? You decide.

Bush-Hatin’ Paul

Paul Krugman¹ gets misty-eyed when he thinks about Eastern-bloc countries.


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).

Global Warmism

Al Gore will dismiss these scientists as ideologues. In doing so, he will prove that he is the ideologue. Ideology is imperviousness to countervailing evidence.


Unbelievable. Barack Obama wants his wife to campaign for him but not to be criticized for what she says. Sorry, dude. Doesn’t work that way.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “State Programs Add Safety Net for the Poorest” (front page, May 12):

Twelve years after the destruction of the social safety net, officials in some states have figured out that forcing women into low-wage, inflexible jobs doesn’t solve the problem. Yes, extra cash will help. But above all what we need is a national, bipartisan commitment to reform work.

The women discussed in your article faced hardships because their jobs paid too little, they were given too few hours or were fired for missing one day to care for a sick child. Living wages, paid sick days, flexible schedules—that’s the safety net workers want so they can care for themselves and their families.

Ellen Bravo
Milwaukee, May 12, 2008
The writer, a former director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, teaches women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Note from KBJ: Has the letter writer thought about the costs of these changes and who will bear them? In the long run, the best thing society can do for women is to hold them responsible for their choices. Isn’t that what feminism is all about? Surely feminists don’t want choice without responsibility.

P. F. Strawson (1919-2006) on Morality

One must beware, however, of meeting exaggeration with counter-exaggeration. It is important to recognize the diversity of possible systems of moral demands, and the diversity of demands which may be made within any system. But it is also important to recognize that certain human interests are so fundamental and so general that they must be universally acknowledged in some form and to some degree in any conceivable moral community. Of some interests, one might say: a system could scarcely command sufficient interest in those subject to its demands for these demands to be acknowledged as obligations, unless it secured to them this interest. Thus some claim on human succour, some obligation to abstain from the infliction of physical injury, seem to be necessary features of almost any system of moral demands. Here at least we have types of moral behaviour which are demanded of men as men because they are demanded for and by men as men. Another interest which is fundamental to many types of social relation and social grouping is the interest in not being deceived. In most kinds of social grouping for which there obtains any system of moral demand and claim at all, this interest is acknowledged as a claim which any member of the group has on any other; and perhaps most such groupings could scarcely exist without this acknowledgement. When all allowance has been made, then, for the possible diversity of moral systems and the possible diversity of demands within a system, it remains true that the recognition of certain general virtues and obligations will be a logically or humanly necessary feature of almost any conceivable moral system: these will include the abstract virtue of justice, some form of obligation to mutual aid and to mutual abstention from injury and, in some form and in some degree, the virtue of honesty. This guarded recognition of the necessary universal applicability of some relatively vague and abstract moral principles is itself a corrective to the idea of unbounded freedom of choice of such principles on the part of the individual.

(P. F. Strawson, “Social Morality and Individual Ideal,” chap. 2 in his Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays [London: Methuen, 1974], 26-44, at 37-8 [italics in original] [essay first published in 1961])

Note from KBJ: Strawson has identified four of W. D. Ross’s seven prima facie duties: justice, beneficence, non-maleficence, and fidelity. The three he doesn’t mention are gratitude, reparation, and self-improvement. Gratitude and reparation might be subsumed under justice, while self-improvement might be subsumed under beneficence.


I just filled out my All-Star ballot. Here are the players who deserve to start:

National League
1B: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros
2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
SS: Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers
3B: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
C: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs
OF: Rick Ankiel, St Louis Cardinals
OF: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
OF: Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh Pirates

American League
1B: Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox
2B: Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
SS: Michael Young, Texas Rangers
3B: Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels
C: Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
DH: Jack Cust, Oakland Athletics
OF: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
OF: Milton Bradley, Texas Rangers
OF: Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers

They call me “Mr Baseball” for a reason. I know the game.