Monday, 14 July 2008

“Obama’s Rosy Prospects”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Steve Kornacki.


Here, courtesy of my friend Jeff, is your entertainment for this Monday evening.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France. Tomorrow is a rest day. Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, who began his career racing mountain bikes, took the lead today—by one second. Can he hold it until the finish on 27 July?

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith

As a pretty tech savvy guy, you’ll probably get a kick out of this story on John McCain’s almost completely non-existent computer skills. I’m a fan of McCain’s and wanted him to beat Bush in the primaries eight years ago. But this is going to hurt him, the way Bush Sr. was hurt against the youthful and slick Clinton when it emerged that Bush Sr. hadn’t been to a supermarket himself for years.

Torsten Kehler

Note from KBJ: Me, tech savvy? Ha! I’m closer to being a neo-Luddite. As for me being pretty, I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder.


It’s disgraceful that Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox is starting the All-Star game at second base. Ian Kinsler of my adopted Texas Rangers leads Pedroia in every offensive category, in most cases by a significant margin. Pedroia has a better fielding percentage, but not nearly the range of Kinsler. If I were Pedroia, or a fan of the Red Sox, I’d be ashamed of myself.

Addendum: For my money, Kinsler is the Most Valuable Player in the American League. He ranks first in at bats (398), first in runs scored (84), first in hits (134), first in doubles (34), sixth in triples (4), 21st in home runs (14), 10th in runs batted in (58) (from the leadoff position!), fifth in stolen bases (23) (he has been caught stealing only once, and it wasn’t really a caught stealing; it was a pickoff), first in batting average (.337), fifth in on-base percentage (.397), seventh in slugging percentage (.548), and fourth in OPS (on-base plus slugging) (.945). Did I mention that he has an intact 25-game hitting streak?

Addendum 2: The Rangers have played 96 games (50-46). Here are Kinsler’s projected numbers in 162 games (with Alex Rodriguez‘s 2007 MVP numbers in parentheses):

671 At Bats (583)
141 Runs Scored (143)
226 Hits (183)
57 Doubles (31)
6 Triples (0)
23 Home Runs (54)
97 Runs Batted In (156)
38 Stolen Bases (24)
.337 Batting Average (.314)
.397 On-Base Percentage (.422)
.548 Slugging Percentage (.645)
.945 On-Base Plus Slugging (1.067)

That should be good enough for the MVP award.

Animal Rights

I’ve been reading the literature of animal rights for nearly three decades, and contributing to it for the past decade or so. This New York Times column has to rank as the worst thing I’ve read. The author fails to distinguish legal rights from moral rights, fails to distinguish the question whether animals do have legal rights from the question whether they should have legal rights, fails to analyze the concept of a right (i.e., fails to tell his readers what it is to have a right), fails to distinguish between positive rights and negative rights, and in general glosses over all the important questions, philosophical and otherwise. To make things worse, the column is badly written. In parts, it’s incomprehensible. Yuck.

A Year Ago


C. D. Broad (1887-1971) on Ethical Naturalism

The question of analysis brings us to another question which is very closely connected with it. Are moral predicates, such as right, ought and good, unique and peculiar; or can they be completely analysed and defined in terms of non-moral predicates? Theories which answer this question in the affirmative are called naturalistic; those which answer it in the negative are called non-naturalistic. The following would be typical examples of naturalistic theories. “Better conduct means conduct that comes later in the course of evolution and is more complex and unified than earlier conduct of the same kind.” “Right action means action which tends to promote the stability and increase the complexity of society.” “To say that a person ought to do so-and-so means that, if he does not, he will be punished either in this life by his fellow-men or in the next by God.”

It should be noticed that, if any form of the Emotional Reaction analysis be true, the question is answered automatically in favour of naturalism. Ethics becomes a branch of psychology. Nevertheless, there would remain a somewhat similar question even for those theories. It would take the following form. “Is the emotion which we express, or assert ourselves to feel or to have a disposition to feel, or which we assert that most members of a certain class have a disposition to feel, when we utter a moral sentence in the indicative an emotion of a quite unique kind? Or is it just a combination of emotions, e.g. fear, love, hope, etc., each of which can occur in non-moral contexts?”

If the Objective Analysis be correct, the question of Naturalism v. Non-naturalism remains quite open, and special arguments are needed to answer it.

The importance of the question is this. If Non-naturalism be true, Ethics is an autonomous science with an irreducibly peculiar subject-matter, though it will still have very intimate connexions with certain other sciences, such as psychology, sociology, etc. But, if Naturalism be true, Ethics is not an autonomous science; it is a department or an application of one or more of the natural or the historical sciences. Now the reduction of a plurality to a unity is a source of intellectual satisfaction, and therefore philosophers have a strong motive for trying to produce a workable naturalistic theory[.]

(C. D. Broad, “Some of the Main Problems of Ethics,” Philosophy 21 [July 1946]: 99-117, at 102-3 [italics in original])

Note from KBJ: I’m an ethical non-naturalist.


Is Barack Obama too thin-skinned to be president? See here for Michelle Malkin’s post.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Put War Powers Back Where They Belong,” by James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher (Op-Ed, July 8):

The Constitution isn’t ambiguous about the placement of war powers. It gives to Congress, exclusively, the decision whether to declare war, and it lodges with the president as commander in chief only the prosecution of such a war.

It doesn’t hand Congress responsibility for the war’s conduct, nor does it situate war-making authority with the chief executive.

Larry Morrison
Sturbridge, Mass., July 8, 2008

Dogs Again

I’m not sure anyone answered my question: Why does the author of the op-ed column think providing for dogs is “wasting” money? I’m not asking whether people are entitled to waste money. I’m asking why anyone would think providing for dogs is wasting money.