7-31-90 . . . Nolan Ryan became the twentieth pitcher in major-league history to win 300 games. He did it this evening in Milwaukee, where the Texas Rangers defeated the Brewers, 11-3. Some will say that it was only a matter of time before Ryan reached the coveted goal—that winning 300 games is more a function of longevity than ability or skill. While there is some truth to this, it misses the point. It takes ability to win even one game at the major-league level. To win 300, one must win consistently over a period of many years (in Ryan’s case, twenty-three and counting). As I watched this evening’s game on television, I hoped that Ryan would have enough energy to complete nine innings. It would have been a great sight to see him strike out the final Brewer and be mobbed by his teammates. But alas, Julio Franco made two errors in the eighth inning, allowing a couple of Brewer runs to score and cut the Ranger lead to 5-3. Bobby Valentine, the Ranger manager, had to preserve the victory, so Ryan left the game to watch—and hope—from the dugout. Franco redeemed himself with a grand-slam home run in the ninth, and shortly thereafter the Brewers were retired. Ryan leapt from the dugout to congratulate and be congratulated by his teammates. It was a moving scene. And lest anyone think that Ryan backed his way into the 300 Club, recall that he pitched a no-hitter on 11 June, only fifty days ago. The man is amazing.
Once again, the food industry objects to tougher advertising standards.
It claims its own voluntary guidelines are sufficient to protect public
health, even though these rules label Froot Loops and other high sugar,
fat and calorie products as healthy. Independent research has
consistently shown that the food, alcohol and tobacco industries fail to
enforce or comply with their own voluntary standards and that these
standards do not achieve their health objectives.
Inadequate federal oversight of the financial and energy sectors has
recently created acute economic and environmental crises. Failure to
safeguard the public against the misleading and deceptive marketing of
the food, alcohol and tobacco industries has contributed to slow-motion
crises of epidemics of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some forms
American voters will need to decide if we are willing to sacrifice the
health of current and future generations to the ideology of unfettered
7-30-90 . . . Ding dong, the witch is dead! The “witch” in this case is George Steinbrenner [1930-2010], who for the past sixteen years or so has owned the New York Yankees. Fay Vincent, the commissioner of baseball, announced today after a long investigation that Steinbrenner must relinquish control of the team. He can retain minority ownership (as much as 49.9%), but can have no effect on management or its policies. The basis of the ruling is still a puzzle. I’ve heard talk that Steinbrenner bribed someone to refrain from talking to people in the commissioner’s office, that he was involved in gambling, and that he maliciously breached a contract with former Yankee Dave Winfield. The commissioner has tremendous power, as this incident shows. There must have been something else involved, because Steinbrenner said after the commissioner’s announcement that he was “satisfied” with the ruling. That’s not like Steinbrenner, who throws his weight around like a drunken gorilla. At any rate, I’m glad he’s gone. He’s obnoxious, domineering, officious, and arrogant. Year after year he hired the best-known free agents in the game, thinking that he could buy a pennant. He hired and fired more than a dozen managers over the years, including Billy Martin several times. He had public feuds with Martin, Reggie Jackson, Winfield, and current star Don Mattingly. It’s no accident that the Yankees have the worst record in baseball right now. Steinbrenner demoralized everyone in the organization. It’s only a matter of time now before the Yankees resume their long tradition of excellence. [Steinbrenner died the other day at the age of 80.]
Katherine and I had a great time at the Ballpark in Arlington yesterday. It was a gorgeous evening: clear, warm, and breezy. We asked for the highest seats in the ballpark, behind home plate. The clerk must have misunderstood us, because we got seats that were much lower. But we liked them! The view of the field was superb. I was hoping to make it on the Kiss Cam, but it didn't happen. Maybe next time. The best part of the evening, besides the peanuts, was the fact that the Rangers won, 7-4. Michael Young and Josh Hamilton went a combined 7-8, and fan favorite David Murphy (the heart and soul of this team) hit a long home run to right field. I have a message for Yankee fans: This isn't your father's Texas Rangers.
Americans should applaud Judge Susan Bolton’s rejection of the more
inflammatory parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law and the
racist undertones it represents.
Gov. Jan Brewer’s groundless generalizations about the undocumented
population foment fear of the unknown among her constituents, making for
good politics but bad policy. The sudden surge in scapegoating of
undocumented immigrants diverts attention from the real, well-documented
problems currently facing the nation.
Rather than using money and sound bites to take aim at a demographic
that boosts economic development and has no correlation with criminal
activity, Ms. Brewer and other governors should be rallying support to
address issues that actually pose a threat to the stability of American
democracy: an eroding public education system, unprecedented global
climate change and, perhaps most important, a broken political system
that prizes sensationalism over sensible reasoning.
Once again the will of the people is overturned by a liberal judge. The
federal government has no intention of enforcing the laws against
illegal immigration. It will punish those states that try, leaving them
at the mercy of the gangs, kidnappers, drug smugglers and human
traffickers that freely cross our southern border.
What is amazing to me is the lengths to which liberals will go in
arguing for “rights” that illegal aliens have. You are so out of touch
with the majority of this country.
7-29-90 Sunday. There’s a lot of talk these days about whether United States Senators should ask Supreme Court nominee David Souter for his views on privacy and abortion when the confirmation hearings begin in September. President [George Herbert Walker] Bush and other conservatives argue that it is improper to “ask about particular cases”, while liberals claim that it is legitimate. What bothers me is the assumption that the only way to find out how Souter would rule in an abortion case is by asking what he thinks of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case about which there has been so much controversy. Roe, like any other case, consists of a decision and an opinion. The opinion has a rational structure, which is to say that it has a foundation and a constructed edifice. The majority postulated a right to privacy and reasoned that it is broad enough to emcompass [sic; should be “encompass”] a woman’s right to choose an abortion. If I were a senator, I would simply ask Souter whether he believes (1) that there is a constitutional right to privacy and (2) if so, whether it includes the decision to abort. I would never mention Roe, nor would I have to. The discussion would take place on the plane of principles. Since conservatives have not objected to questions about Souter’s principles, including his principles of statutory and constitutional interpretation, they could hardly complain. Journalists, of course, haven’t read and don’t understand the Roe opinion, which explains why they are fixated on questions about the case itself rather than the principles on which it rests.
I set a speed record on my bike this afternoon: fifty miles per hour. Fifty! The previous record was forty-eight, which I attained several times on Cedar Hill. The only things different about today’s ride were (1) I had a slight tailwind as I came down the hill and (2) I pedaled more vigorously than usual at the top, before settling into the tuck position on my aerobars. That must have made the difference. Since fifty is such a nice, round number, I’m not concerned to break it. All I can do is marvel at the Tour de France riders, who reportedly reach speeds of sixty miles per hour on certain descents. What a rush that must be! At that speed, any mechanical failure, lapse of attention, or road irregularity could be fatal. My average speed for today’s 44.4-mile ride, a few miles of which was in a light rain, wasn’t bad: 18.66 miles per hour. I improved significantly over the past two days, which tells me that I’m working myself back into shape. It’s hard to believe that I could get out of shape, since I ride at least forty-four miles at least twice a week—and have for many months. But with this heat and humidity (it reached 101 degrees [Fahrenheit] this afternoon), it’s easy to get into a rut. For the three-day weekend I rode 139.7 miles. Today’s ride pushes me over the 4000-mile mark for 1990, which means I’m still on track for 7000 miles this year. I’ll settle for 6000. [I ended up with 6,205.9.]
In his letter of July 26
responding to the "JournoList" affair, John Foster suggests that
reporters disclose their political viewpoints with their bylines, much
as financial analysts do.
I disagree completely. It
is the job of a reporter to report, not opine. If any caveat should be
included with his or her byline, it should read: "I am not a reporter,
this is not a report, this is an opinion piece."
I don't ordinarily read Frank Rich, who writes an op-ed column for the New York Times, but this book review in the New York Review of Books caught my eye. If you can believe it, Rich thinks that Barack Obama is insufficiently progressive. That tells you everything you need to know about Frank Rich and his world. Notice, as you read the review, the many scurrilous attacks on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Rich has an unhealthy obsession with these men, which is one of the reasons I don't read his columns. Here is a taste of Rich's review:
His [Obama's] achievements so far have been accomplished in spite of obstacles
that would fell most mortals—the almost uncountable messes he inherited
from Bush-Cheney, a cratered economy, a sclerotic Congress in thrall to
lobbyists and special-interest money, and a rabid opposition
underwritten by a media empire that owns both America’s most-watched
cable news channel and its most highly circulated newspaper. Indeed it
could be argued that the matrix of crises facing Obama would have
outmatched any Bush successor, no matter how talented. (They certainly
would have drowned John McCain, whose utter cluelessness about the
economic crisis alarmed even his Republican allies in 2008.) But Obama
knew what he was getting into when he ran for president, and the
question that matters now is how he can do the job better.
I love the part about Obama facing "rabid opposition underwritten by a media empire that owns both America's most-watched cable news channel [Fox] and its most highly circulated newspaper [the Wall Street Journal]." Does Rich not realize that the media in this country are overwhelmingly pro-Obama, and that they did everything they could, including conspire to lie about the opposition, to support his campaign? Does he not realize that these same media continue to mislead the American people about what Obama is doing and why? Do progressives really believe that conservatives control the media? If so, then they are less intelligent than I thought, and I already thought they were stupid.
Here is a story about my favorite photographer. Biographer = life writer. Autobiographer = self life writer. Calligrapher = beautiful writer. Geographer = earth writer. Pornographer = harlot writer. Cartographer = map writer. Bibliographer = book writer. Oceanographer = ocean writer. Photographer = light writer. Can you think of others?
Suppose that in the ticking bomb case the probability of compelling the terrorist to divulge the location of the bomb would be higher if we were to torture his small child before his eyes rather than torture him. A pure lesser-evil justification does not distinguish between torturing the terrorist and torturing his child. Suppose that we could be confident of breaking the terrorist’s will in time either by torturing him or by torturing his child, but that his will would break much sooner if we torture the child. If torturing the child would inflict less suffering overall, despite the fact that this would in effect involve torturing two people rather than one, a pure lesser-evil justification might require that we torture the child. That seems to me clearly wrong, though it is testimony to the intuitive force of the threshold deontological version of the lesser-evil justification that if the stakes were high enough in the ticking bomb case, most people agree that it could be permissible to torture the child if that offered the best chance of saving the city, which itself, we might suppose, is home to more than a million children who would otherwise be killed.
(Jeff McMahan, "Torture in Principle and in Practice," Public Affairs Quarterly 22 [April 2008]: 91-108, at 96 [italics in original])
Note from KBJ: To a consequentialist (e.g., a utilitarian), there is no relevant difference between torturing a terrorist and torturing the terrorist's child, other things being equal. All that matters is the result: getting information that will allow authorities to defuse the bomb. The end justifies the means. A moderate deontologist such as W. D. Ross would disagree. In the case of the terrorist, there are three applicable prima facie duties: (1) the duty of nonmaleficence (i.e., the duty not to harm), which militates against torture; (2) the prima facie duty of beneficence (i.e., the duty to do good, which includes, but is not limited to, the duty to prevent, remove, or minimize harm), which militates in favor of torture; and (3) the prima facie duty of justice (i.e., the duty to give people what they deserve), which militates in favor of torture. In the case of the terrorist's child, these same prima facie duties militate, respectively, against, in favor, and against torture. So there is a relevant difference between the cases, namely, that the child doesn't deserve to be tortured. This difference can support an overall (ultima facie, all-things-considered) judgment that it would be right to torture the terrorist but wrong to torture the terrorist's child. This example shows that consequentialism and moderate deontology sometimes diverge, and are therefore different theories.