Sunday, 8 June 2008

“The Ultimate Washington Insider”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Michael Crowley.


Here is a scene from today’s opening stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. American cyclist Levi Leipheimer won the stage with an average speed of 33.85 miles per hour. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Sex and Politics

Here is Michelle Malkin’s post about Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. I’m dumbfounded by the insistence that Clinton’s defeat by Barack Obama is the result of sexism. Men have been winning and losing presidential contests for eons. For every male winner, there has been a male loser. Why should the first female candidate be a winner? Why shouldn’t the first few women lose? It’ll do them good. We’ll know that sexism is dead not when a woman is elected president, but when women can lose presidential contests as gracefully as men do.

Addendum: Here is an early retrospective on the Clinton campaign.


Did you submit your All-Star ballot? Here are the latest figures for the American League. Here are the latest figures for the National League. It’s heartening to see that there will be only two Yankees (Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter) in the starting lineup in Yankee Stadium next month. There shouldn’t be any.

Addendum: Rick Ankiel of the St Louis Cardinals—the man who couldn’t pitch straight—continues to amaze me, both at the plate and in the field. I’ve seen footage of Willie Mays’s catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series. This catch by Ankiel is in the same category.

Addendum 2: To show that I’m not biased, only one Detroit Tiger should start the All-Star game: Magglio Ordonez. Four Texas Rangers should start: Ian Kinsler at second base, Michael Young at shortstop, Josh Hamilton in the outfield, and Milton Bradley at designated hitter. Name someone who deserves to start ahead of any of these four. Please look at the statistics before saying anything.

Why Hillary Lost

See here for 12 different explanations.

Addendum: I can’t resist slicing and dicing Christine Todd Whitman:

Fifteen years after I was elected New Jersey’s first female governor, women running for office continue to face huge obstacles. Indeed, watching Hillary Clinton these last few months, it’s clear that voters and the news media still struggle with images and expectations of women as candidates.

KBJ: Voters don’t expect women to be stronger than men. They expect women to be as strong as men.

When Mrs. Clinton made points forcefully, people called her shrill, not bold and determined. When Mitt Romney teared up, he was described as compassionate, while she was labeled weak.

KBJ: Hillary Clinton is shrill. Condoleezza Rice is not shrill. Margaret Thatcher was not shrill.

For its part, the news media paid too much attention to Mrs. Clinton’s haircuts and jackets, ignoring the male candidates and their endless parade of blue suits and red ties. The press presented Barack Obama with his two years in the Senate as an agent of change, not a novice. In contrast, ABC’s Charles Gibson asked Mrs. Clinton if she would “be in this position” if it weren’t for her husband.

KBJ: Gibson asked the question because it’s a good question. As my mother asked me a couple of years ago, what did Hillary Clinton do to qualify her to be president?

To this day, a businessman with no elected experience is considered qualified for high public office; a woman with the same background is called unprepared.

KBJ: Has Hillary Clinton so much as run a business?

Mrs. Clinton’s sex was not solely responsible for her loss, but the implicit and explicit challenges that women face are such that we as a country must take notice if we want all people represented in public service.

KBJ: Perhaps if Hillary Clinton hadn’t tried to take advantage of her sex, it wouldn’t have hurt her. She that lives by the sword dies by the sword.

Addendum 2: It’s hard to admit that voters don’t like your ideas. It’s even harder to admit (or even to think) that voters don’t believe you have the character and judgment to lead this great nation. It’s easy to claim that you were rejected on the basis of something trivial, such as your sex. Until women get over this victim complex, they will never succeed in presidential politics.

John Benson on Peter Singer’s Argument

Singer’s supreme principle is that all sentient beings are entitled to equal consideration of their interests. A being has interests if it is capable of suffering and enjoyment. This capacity is a prerequisite for having interests at all, and the actual interests that a being has are determined by the particular kinds and degrees of suffering and enjoyment of which it is capable. Equal interests must be equally respected, without regard to the species of the creatures whose interests they are. One may treat two creatures differently because one is less sensitive than the other to some kind of suffering, but two equally sensitive creatures may not be treated differently merely because they belong to different species. If my dog and I both have headaches then the dog should have the one available aspirin if it has the worse headache. To treat the dog’s pain as less important because it is a dog not a man is speciesism (a nasty word for a nasty thing).

(John Benson, “Duty and the Beast,” Philosophy 53 [October 1978]: 529-49, at 530)

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Noah’s Art,” by Amy Goldstein, Mike Shenk and Robert Leighton (Op-Ed, June 1):

The Hartford-born farmer’s son whose coming 250th birthday was commemorated in this entertaining set of puzzles left a legacy beyond his 1828 dictionary, which codified American English.

During his lifetime, Noah Webster Jr.—or N.W., as he referred to himself in his memoir—was best known for his “blue back speller,” which would sell nearly 100 million copies by the end of the 19th century.

The indefatigable Webster, whose bibliography comes to a staggering 600 pages, also made pioneering contributions to political theory, philosophy, epidemiology and journalism.

In this election year, we might keep in mind that Webster also edited New York City’s first daily newspaper, The American Minerva. In its inaugural issue, published on Dec. 9, 1793, Webster stressed how the fate of democracy rests upon an informed citizenry.

In an era where misinformation runs rampant, Webster’s challenge is as relevant as ever: “The foundation of all free governments, seems to be, a general diffusion of knowledge.”

Joshua Kendall
Boston, June 1, 2008
The writer, the author of a book about Peter Mark Roget and his thesaurus, is writing a biography of Noah Webster.

Note from KBJ: There is no entry on Noah Webster in the recently published second edition of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Not only that, but he is not mentioned even once in the 10 volumes. Some “pioneering contribution”!


Here is your entertainment for this Sunday morning.


Yesterday, in Mesquite, Texas, I did my ninth bike rally of the year and my 430th overall. As it turned out, it wasn’t much of a rally. For the second time in six weeks, I woke up with stomach pains. The other time, in late April, I think it was influenza, because I got cold sores. This time, I think it was food poisoning brought on by eating Taco Bell hot sauce on my tortilla chips. By the time I got to the rally, I was weak, tired, and achy. I thought I might feel better during the ride, but I didn’t. After 10 miles or so of riding with Joe, Jason, Julius, and a few others, I turned off on one of the short courses to ride back to my car. Along the way, I stopped to rest on the side of the road. I ended up with 19.6 miles (average speed = 16.26 miles per hour). Oh well, I gave it a try. I felt unwell all day, so I didn’t bother to turn on the computer. All I did is nap and watch baseball games. I feel much better today.

Addendum: It’s possible that my illness was caused by tomatoes. I had fresh tomatoes on my Subway sandwich this past Thursday. See here for a story about salmonella poisoning in tomatoes.


Thank God we won’t have to listen to this woman’s voice for the next four years.

Addendum: One reason Hillary Clinton lost, I am convinced, is that she emphasized her sex. Every time she mentioned it, or even alluded to it, she alienated men. When she says that “there are still barriers and biases out there,” she is condemning men. Could there be a stupider campaign tactic? Alienate half the populace! The president of the United States is the president of all the people, not half of them. This is why I think the first female president will be a Republican. She will run as an American, not as a woman. Her sex will be irrelevant. She will not try to use it to her advantage, and hence will not alienate men. Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher emphasizing her sex?

Safire on Language