Tuesday, 1 July 2008


I leave you this fine evening with a column by Arianna Huffington, who thinks it’s in Barack Obama’s interest to pander to progressives rather than to appeal to nonideologues. I’m convinced, as a result of this and other statements, that progressives would rather be pure than powerful. If they lose the White House, they’ll simply continue their childish criticisms of the president, which they seem to enjoy. By the way, it occurred to me today that we will not have a Yankee lover (Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton) in the White House. Thank God.

Baseball, Part 3

My adopted Texas Rangers beat the hated New York Yankees, 3-2. That’s two consecutive one-run victories for the hard-charging Rangers! Choke-Rod went 0-4 with a strikeout and two runners left on base. Yankee fans must be real happy with him about now. Mariano Rivera gave up the winning run. He looks old and tired. He should retire before he embarrasses himself any further. Tomorrow night, the Rangers sweep the Bronx Bombs. Look for an offensive explosion from Milton Bradley.


Here is Thomas Sowell’s latest column. Here is Jonah Goldberg’s latest column.

Man’s Best Friend

Good news for dogs.

Baseball, Part 2

My friend Hawk was born in Arkansas and claims to be a New York Yankee fan. I have told him many times that this is impossible. It’s like a kid born in a hamlet in China claiming to be an American. He may want to be an American and wish he were an American, but he’s not an American—unless and until he moves here and becomes a naturalized citizen. I was born in Michigan. That makes me a Detroit Tiger fan for life. I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in August 1989. That allowed me to adopt the Texas Rangers. If Hawk moves to New York, he can adopt the Yankees. Until then, he needs to shut up about them.

From the Mailbag


With respect to the NYTimes editorial on the gun decision, consider abortions. My entirely nonlawyer understanding of Roe vs. Wade is that based on no explicit text in the Constitution, the Supreme Court found a right to abortion, differentiated by three trimesters.

Now consider that one adds by legitimate amendment the following to the Constitution:

(A) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of women to abortions shall not be infringed.

The idea is that this would be motivated by fact that currently women serve in armies/militias and for effectiveness we need to keep them in tip top fighting shape, which being pregnant isn’t.

If I understand NYTimes/liberal argumentation about the 2nd Amendment, by parity of reasoning they would have to grant that adding (A) would in fact constitutionally, given the current constitutional regime created by Roe vs. Wade, permit states to restrict abortions to women in or at least potentially in state or federal militias, since they view the gun right as a group right.

This is evidently a reductio, and shows that either or both the liberal reasoning about abortion or guns is not serious, to put it mildly.

What do you think?



Here is a New York Times story about hypocrisy. Philosophers call studies such as those described in the story “descriptive ethics.” The contrast is to normative (prescriptive) ethics, which is either theoretical or practical. How we behave and how we ought to behave are, of course, different things. When you infer an “ought” from an “is,” you are said to violate Hume’s Law. I should add that Hume’s Law is a special case of a more general law, which holds that the conclusion of a deductive argument can contain no more information than the premises. The conclusion can contain the same amount of information as the premises or less information than the premises, but not more. It follows that if the conclusion of a deductive argument is normative (evaluative, prescriptive), then at least one of the premises is normative (evaluative, prescriptive).

Addendum: Gregory Kavka comments on Hume’s Law (the violation of which he calls the “Naturist Fallacy”) here. Do not confuse the Naturist Fallacy with the Naturalistic Fallacy. Here is Mary Warnock:

Moore calls the attempt to define ‘good’, which is indefinable, The Naturalistic Fallacy. But it is important to notice that the fallaciousness consists in the attempting of a definition at all, rather than specifically in defining a so-called non-natural object in terms of a natural object. . . . The true fallacy is the attempt to define the indefinable.

Mary Warnock, Ethics Since 1900, 2d ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), 13 (ellipsis added).

A Year Ago



If this isn’t the best album ever made, then it’s not hot in Texas.

Addendum: Here is “Patiently” (live). At 1:38, the bottom drops out. (Note how quickly and effortlessly Neal Schon switches from acoustic to electric guitar.)

Peter Geach on God’s Providence

‘But suppose circumstances are such that observance of one Divine law, say the law against lying, involves breach of some other absolute Divine prohibition?’—If God is rational, he does not command the impossible; if God governs all events by his Providence, he can see to it that circumstances in which a man is inculpably faced by a choice between forbidden acts do not occur. Of course such circumstances (with the clause ‘and there is no way out’ written into their description) are consistently describable; but God’s Providence could ensure that they do not in fact arise. Contrary to what unbelievers often say, belief in the existence of God does make a difference to what one expects to happen.

(Peter Geach, “The Moral Law and the Law of God,” chap. 5 in Absolutism and Its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Joram Graf Haber [Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994], 63-72, at 71 [essay first published in 1969])

Note from KBJ: Geach, like his wife, G. E. M. Anscombe (1919-2001), is a moral absolutist. This means that they believe that certain acts, such as killing the innocent, must not be performed, whatever the consequences. Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum. (“Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.”) The standard criticism of moral absolutism is that it is self-indulgent. How could any act be so bad that it must not be performed, even if millions of innocent people should die? Geach’s reply is that God won’t allow situations such as that to arise. Note that only a theist could make this move. An atheistic moral absolutist must bite the bullet.

Note 2 from KBJ: All absolutists are deontologists, but not all deontologists are absolutists. What makes someone a deontologist (as opposed to a consequentialist) is the belief that certain types of act, such as lying, torturing, or killing the innocent, are intrinsically wrong (i.e., wrong in and of themselves, independently of their consequences). Some deontologists (known as absolutists) hold that intrinsically wrong acts must never be performed, no matter how much good would come of it. (“Better two deaths—or even a million deaths—than one murder.”) Other deontologists (known as moderates) hold that intrinsically wrong acts may be performed, provided enough good will come of it. The difference between a moderate deontologist and a consequentialist is that only the former believes that certain acts are intrinsically wrong.

“Two American Elites”

If you vote for Barack Obama, you are empowering those who fund his campaign. See here for a fascinating op-ed column by David Brooks.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Sam’s Club Agenda” (column, June 27):

David Brooks says that liberals seek to address income and education inequalities through “the creation of a Denmark-style welfare state.”

Denmark is repeatedly ranked as the happiest country on earth, partly because of its residents’ lack of worry about the cost of social services like health care and education.

Perhaps their welfare state is at least worth serious exploration and discussion in what is supposed to be the most advanced nation on the planet.

Jonathan Carey
Astoria, Queens, June 27, 2008

Note from KBJ: It was liberty, not a craving for security, that made this country prosperous and strong.


Here are the latest All-Star figures for the American League. Here are the latest figures for the National League. Have you voted? I voted once, by mail. If there were any justice in this world, my vote would count 1,000,000 times, to reflect my vast knowledge of (and love for) the game.

Addendum: It looks like Yankee fans are voting for Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Why? To keep Red Sox players out of those positions. Yankee fans are vile.

All Fred, All the Time

Fred Thompson will be addressing the National Right to Life Convention on Thursday morning. See here for details.