These are uneasy times in the American judiciary. Whether nominated by Republican or Democratic presidents, federal judicial nominees face similar criticisms—that they will impose their political will in deciding cases and that they will do so on the issues that matter most to Americans. State elections for judges have not helped matters, as interest groups have spent millions in advertising dollars to advance similar themes. This feature of the modern judicial-selection process may be an unavoidable response to the role of the judiciary in resolving so many of today’s most pressing debates— and some may even consider it a healthy response. But when these critiques fill the air waves, it is easy to worry about their effect: will they prompt the public to wonder whether this judge or that one is politically motivated or, worse, to wonder whether they all are? The judiciary is not well equipped to respond to these attacks. As every civics student learns, the Third Branch has no purse to sustain itself and no sword to enforce its rulings. Force of reasoning is all there is to preserve the public’s trust in the judiciary, a task made more difficult by two thankless (and wearying) demands of judging: (1) judges often are called upon to issue politically unpopular decisions; and (2) even when that is not the case, judges invariably must allocate disappointment to half of the parties that appear before them. One reason that American citizens nonetheless accept these decisions, even when they disagree with them, is that they perceive judges as being apolitical—as deciding cases based on something beyond themselves and beyond their own policy preferences. The increasingly public nature of the confirmation and selection processes for judges—and the implicit criticisms of the judiciary that come with them—have chipped away at that trust. Posner may be right that some cases test even the most earnest efforts at neutral judging, but loose claims that “judging is ‘political’ ” (p. 369) add fuel to this fire at a time when the judiciary least can afford it.
(Jeffrey S. Sutton, "A Review of Richard A. Posner, How Judges Think ," Michigan Law Review 108 [April 2010]: 859-76, at 861)
My beloved Arizona Wildcats (10-2) have leapt from 12th to eighth in the latest poll. If the Cats beat the third-ranked Oregon Ducks Friday in the Pac-12 Championship game, the Cats could make the Final Four.
Your excellent article on oils spills and pollution in North Dakota shows the drilling-mud-encrusted depths to which elected and non-elected officials will descend in their abject failure to strengthen and enforce regulations, assess meaningful fines, and protect the citizens and land of North Dakota.
When land and water become polluted, they are useless. When will Gov. Jack Dalrymple and others wake up?
Continental Resources, an oil company with a poor safety record, was not penalized until its 11th blowout. The pipeline companies are failing us by not providing leak detectors or by having inadequate detection systems.
None of this is rocket science. It just takes responsible companies and government officials, both apparently in short supply in North Dakota.
The high point (or low, depending upon the point of view) of the [Sioux-Cheyenne War of 1876] came on June 25, 1876, in the form of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, which has so captivated the popular fancy as to obliterate the war and its significance. Although more has been written about these few hours than any similar number in American history, the light thus shed scarcely matches that of a lightning bug. The battle has generally been treated, not as an insignificant episode in the meaningful stream of history, but as a discrete flash of high drama, isolated from context the better to free the poet's license. Explanations have been invented in terms of personalities, grotesquely caricatured to feed the melodramatic fallacy. This is the stuff of fiction, folklore, and myth, but not history, and certainly not reality.
Re “An Obamacare Do-Over,” by Ed Gillespie, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the Senate (Op-Ed, Nov. 21): The substantive difference between Mr. Gillespie’s health care plan and the Affordable Care Act is one of ethics. While the Affordable Care Act expands access to health care substantially, his plan would insure far fewer Americans and perpetuate the injustice of lack of access to affordable, quality health care.
The Democratic Party has a different vision from that of the Republican Party. It is based on equal opportunity for all Americans, and the decency, justice and solidarity that result from making shared sacrifices so that all Americans can enjoy the right to health care.
The plan Mr. Gillespie offers is heavy on dollar figures and claims of savings, but is ultimately exclusionary and short on civic and moral responsibility.
NOAM SCHIMMEL Montreal, Nov. 21, 2014
The writer is a fellow at the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University Faculty of Law.
To the Editor:
Ed Gillespie states that the Affordable Care Act is designed to lead to a single-payer system. That contention is hard to understand, given that the act leaves private insurance companies at the center of health care.
More objectionable, however, is the article’s apparent, and unexplained, dismissal of a single-payer arrangement as a solution to the high cost and inadequacies of health care in the United States. It is widely accepted, even in this country, that most other industrialized nations, using a single-payer system or something close to it, achieve largely better health outcomes than we have here. And they do so at roughly half the cost per capita of what is spent on health care in the United States.
PETER BAKEWELL Bath, Me., Nov. 21, 2014
Note from KBJ: These letters are precious. The first is written by a Canadian, who presumes to lecture Americans on "civic and moral responsibility." I don't care what any Canadian thinks about our health-care system. Stay up there and leave us alone! The second betrays culpable ignorance. Barack Obama is all over the Internet saying that "the Affordable Care Act is designed to lead to a single-payer system." That's good enough for me.
There are several good rivalry games today (all rankings are from the CFP ranking):
Michigan v. #6 Ohio State (favored by 20.5)
#4 Mississippi State (favored by 2.5 points) v. #19 Mississippi
Florida v. #3 Florida State (favored by 7.5 points)
#7 Baylor (favored by 27 points) v. Texas Tech
#15 Auburn v. #1 Alabama (favored by 8.5 points)
#2 Oregon (favored by 19 points) v. Oregon State
The game between Michigan and Ohio State used to mean something. It's always the final regular-season game, and often it has decided the Big Ten (and therefore the Rose Bowl participant) or rearranged the national ranking. I don't think Michigan has a chance today, but you never know. When these teams play, anything can happen.
The game between the Mississippi teams should be close, judging from the point spread, but Mississippi has faltered of late and Mississippi State has a strong defense. I expect Mississippi State to win easily, perhaps by shutout.
Florida State is erratic. Somehow, they manage to pull out victories, but that can't continue forever. Perhaps archrival Florida will rise to the occasion and knock off the undefeated Seminoles. I can't abide another national title game involving Jameis Winston.
Baylor is a heavy favorite over Texas Tech, and will probably win big, but I hold out hope that Tech will put up big points and upset the Bears. If you like offense, this is the game for you.
The Iron Bowl is always an intense affair. Auburn is no pushover, but Alabama looks to be gelling at the right time. This is a game for those of you who like defense.
Oregon will probably crush Oregon State, but, once again, you never know. The intrastate rivalry game between these schools is known as the Civil War. Oregon may be looking ahead to the Pac-12 title game against Arizona and find itself behind late in the game.
Enjoy the games! I'll be riding my bike today, after which I will turn on the television and watch college football as I tinker at the computer. I care almost nothing for professional football, but I love the (comparative) innocence and excitement of college football.
With help from the Stanford Cardinal, which beat the UCLA Bruins, my beloved Arizona Wildcats (10-2) have won the Pac-12 South title. The Cats beat archrival Arizona State (the Sun Devils) in the Territorial Cup, 42-35. Next week, the Cats play the second-ranked Oregon Ducks (10-1) for the Pac-12 championship. Don't laugh; Oregon's only loss this season is to the Wildcats. What can be done once can be done twice. Oregon has a game tomorrow against the Oregon State Beavers, but it doesn't affect the standings. Don't be surprised if Oregon State wins. They don't call this game the Civil War for nothing.
Here's why you can't trust Wikipedia. A few minutes ago, I went to Bo Pelini's Wikipedia page to see his coaching record at Nebraska. It showed his record for 2014 as "8-4." Hmm. I was sure he was 8-3, so I checked it out on ESPN. Sure enough, he's 8-3 this season, pending the result of today's game, which, when I saw the Wikipedia page, was at the start of the fourth quarter, with Nebraska trailing Iowa, 24-14.
I then checked Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's Wikipedia page. It shows him with a record of "8-4," even though his team is only 7-4. When I clicked "View history," I learned that the same person had gone into both Wikipedia pages today and changed the records—before the game is over!
Here's the best part: Since checking these Wikipedia pages, Nebraska has taken the lead over Iowa, 28-24. So someone (perhaps the idiot who made the changes) will have to go back in to correct the record. You can be sure that the person who made the changes is an Iowa fan. I hope Iowa loses, just to teach him or her a lesson.
John Pepple, a credentialed philosopher, points out an inconsistency in progressive thought, namely, approval of scholarly peer review conjoined with disapproval of the criminal-justice system. One reviewer of my "Deontological Egoism" essay a decade ago simply said (in effect) that he or she didn't like egoism. By that standard, half the books and articles in philosophy would not have been published! Would Robert Nozick's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) have been published? Probably not. But you can be damned sure that every crackpot book defending egalitarianism will be published, whatever its philosophical merits.
The entire institution of professional philosophy has been corrupted by politics. It's why I resigned from the American Philosophical Association following its "resolution" in opposition to the war in Iraq. I still, for the life of me, don't understand what expertise philosophers bring to bear on the subject of war. It's not factual expertise. It's not legal expertise. It's not evaluative expertise. What is it, then? Why should anyone care what some random philosopher thinks of the war in Iraq, much less what some majority of philosophers thinks? Are philosophical positions determined by vote? The very idea is preposterous. Many philosophers are ideologues first and philosophers second, which is to say, not philosophers at all. The philosophy is a mask for politics.
A few weeks ago, Katherine and I went to see the Doobie Brothers at UTA. The image in this post (click to enlarge) was taken with my iPhone, which explains the poor quality. The opening act was Matthew Curry, who came out to play with the Doobie Brothers. (He's the guitar player toward the back.) The entire concert was fabulous, though I was disappointed not to hear "Another Park, Another Sunday." Curry, who is only 19 years old, is already a technically proficient and creative guitarist. Remember his name.