Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Moonbat Central

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Peter Ferrara. Key paragraph:

ANOTHER FEATURE of the argumentation of Huffington and her left-wing colleagues is that their disagreements with their opponents never seem to involve a difference of opinion, or of philosophy, or of the effectiveness or justification of different policies. What their opponents believe and argue for is always a scandal. Their opponents are always “unduly influenced by industry,” or industry stooges, or industry hacks. Their opponents are bad people with corrupt motives, arguing in bad faith. This means that the left never even has to engage in debate with opposing ideas, which is something they don’t seem capable of doing.

Anyone who reads Brian Leiter’s blog knows that this is true. Instead of engaging his opponents on the merits, which is what philosophers are trained to do, he attacks them personally, hoping thereby to destroy their careers. It’s why law professor Ann Althouse calls him a jackass.

A Year Ago


John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, Paragraph 48

His younger brother, Charles Austin, of whom at this time and for the next year or two I saw much, had also a great effect on me, though of a very different description. He was but a few years older than myself, and had then just left the University, where he had shone with great éclat as a man of intellect and a brilliant orator and converser. The effect he produced on his Cambridge contemporaries deserves to be accounted an historical event; for to it may in part be traced the tendency towards Liberalism in general, and the Benthamic and politico-economic form of it in particular, which showed itself in a portion of the more active-minded young men of the higher classes from this time to 1830. The Union Debating Society, at that time at the height of its reputation, was an arena where what were then thought extreme opinions, in politics and philosophy, were weekly asserted, face to face with their opposites, before audiences consisting of the élite of the Cambridge youth: and though many persons afterwards of more or less note, (of whom Lord Macaulay is the most celebrated), gained their first oratorical laurels in those debates, the really influential mind among these intellectual gladiators was Charles Austin. He continued, after leaving the University, to be, by his conversation and personal ascendancy, a leader among the same class of young men who had been his associates there; and he attached me among others to his car. Through him I became acquainted with Macaulay, Hyde and Charles Villiers, Strutt (now Lord Belper), Romilly (now Lord Romilly and Master of the Rolls), and various others who subsequently figured in literature or politics, and among whom I heard discussions on many topics, as yet to a certain degree new to me. The influence of Charles Austin over me differed from that of the persons I have hitherto mentioned, in being not the influence of a man over a boy, but that of an elder contemporary. It was through him that I first felt myself, not a pupil under teachers, but a man among men. He was the first person of intellect whom I met on a ground of equality, though as yet much his inferior on that common ground. He was a man who never failed to impress greatly those with whom he came in contact, even when their opinions were the very reverse of his. The impression he gave was that of boundless strength, together with talents which, combined with such apparent force of will and character, seemed capable of dominating the world. Those who knew him, whether friendly to him or not, always anticipated that he would play a conspicuous part in public life. It is seldom that men produce so great an immediate effect by speech, unless they, in some degree, lay themselves out for it; and he did this in no ordinary degree. He loved to strike, and even to startle. He knew that decision is the greatest element of effect, and he uttered his opinions with all the decision he could throw into them, never so well pleased as when he astonished any one by their audacity. Very unlike his brother, who made war against the narrower interpretations and applications of the principles they both professed, he, on the contrary, presented the Benthamic doctrines in the most startling form of which they were susceptible, exaggerating everything in them which tended to consequences offensive to any one’s preconceived feelings. All which, he defended with such verve and vivacity, and carried off by a manner so agreeable as well as forcible, that he always either came off victor, or divided the honours of the field. It is my belief that much of the notion popularly entertained of the tenets and sentiments of what are called Benthamites or Utilitarians had its origin in paradoxes thrown out by Charles Austin. It must be said, however, that his example was followed, haud passibus æquis, by younger proselytes, and that to outrer whatever was by anybody considered offensive in the doctrines and maxims of Benthamism, became at one time the badge of a small coterie of youths. All of these who had anything in them, myself among others, quickly outgrew this boyish vanity; and those who had not, became tired of differing from other people, and gave up both the good and the bad part of the heterodox opinions they had for some time professed.

Note from KBJ: I know nothing about Charles Austin other than what Mill tells us here. I can’t find a thing on the Internet (except this). If anyone finds anything, please bring it to my attention.


Here is a story about the upcoming Democrat convention.


If you live in the Keystone State, you might want to catch part of the Tour of Pennsylvania.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

William Kristol’s discussion of the new “Alex” ad does not mention the idea that when men and women are asked to risk mutilation and death, the danger from which they are protecting their country should be actual rather than illusory or fictitious.

Nona Gamel
Menlo Park, Calif., June 23, 2008

Note from KBJ: Reasonable people can and do disagree about both the existence and the nature of the threat we face. By the way, where is Alex’s father, and how does he feel about Alex becoming a warrior? Most men want strong, honorable, courageous, patriotic sons. It’s no accident that we have terms such as “panty-waist,” “wimp,” “pussy,” “coward,” “mama’s boy,” “sissy,” and “milquetoast” in our language. Can you think of others?

Note 2 from KBJ: How will Alex feel one day when he realizes that his mother used him as a mere means to her partisan ends? Thanks, Mom, for not using me in that way.

Note 3 from KBJ: Suppose Alex volunteers for the military when he reaches the age of 18. Will his mother be ashamed of him? Will she stop loving him? Will she disown him?

Note 4 from KBJ: In case you’re wondering, I did not serve in the military. My father and stepfather did, however. Conscription ended in the United States in 1973, when I was 16 years old. On 14 March 1975—24 days before my 18th birthday—I registered with the Selective Service System in Saginaw, Michigan. One month later, before anything happened, the registration requirement was suspended. I was never drafted and never volunteered. I still have my registration card. Indeed, I am looking at it as I type this. Had I been drafted, I am fairly sure that I would have served, but you never know about such things unless and until they happen. Had I been drafted and not served, the terms above, such as “coward,” would have applied to me.


What this shows is that pollsters must be careful in defining terms. We know, for example, that the word “atheism” can mean either nonbelief (not believing that God exists) or disbelief (believing that God does not exist). We also know that there are atheistic religions, such as Jainism. For some people, “atheism” may connote rejection of organized religion rather than absence of belief. Imagine a poll about rape that failed to define the term. Some people conceive of rape as forced sex. Some conceive of it as coerced sex. Some conceive of it as manipulated sex. Some conceive of it as unwanted sex. Unless you define what the term “rape” means, your poll is worthless.


Here is your entertainment for this Wednesday evening.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn

George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876) is one of my heroes. Like Crazy Horse, he was a magnificent warrior, perhaps the greatest this nation has produced. Custer was killed 132 years ago today in what has come to be known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. I have been to the battlefield twice: in 1964 (when I was seven) and in 1989 (when I was 32). I’m on the quarter-century plan, so I’m due to go back in 2014 (when I’ll be 57). Here is an article about Custer. Here is the website of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Here is the first of five videos of the battle. (You’ll see the others in the box on the right.)

Addendum: Here is the New York Times report of “The Little Horn Massacre.”

Hall of Fame?

Andruw Jones. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)


Suppose you found a magic lamp with instructions to the effect that if you rubbed it just right, you could have one question answered. What would your question be, and why?