Josh is back! Josh Hamilton hit a walk-off double this afternoon to beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-3. Prince Fielder scored from first with a head-first slide. I watched it live. You can watch it here. The Rangers are rolling, despite not having their best pitchers (Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland) available. The team was 19-11 in May and won eight of 10 games against Boston and the New York Yankees. Don't be surprised to see the Rangers in the playoffs. As all of us have learned in recent years, making the playoffs is the key. The team that gets hot in October can win it all.
Yesterday evening, Katherine and I watched Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), which I recently bought on DVD. At the risk of sounding like a prude (there are worse things), I found the movie appalling. If you need ropes, whips, and role playing to get sexually aroused by your partner, then you are not functioning properly as an organism (much less as a human being) and need professional help.
I've retained enough of my feminism to wonder whether a woman can consent to the various forms of mistreatment that this young woman "submits" to. First of all, it's not normal to want to experience pain, so anyone who "consents" to it must be presumed to be acting involuntarily (or at least nonvoluntarily). Second, the young man who plays the "dominant" is fabulously wealthy, while the woman (the "submissive"), who has just earned a college degree in English (or English literature), works in a hardware shop. Isn't this the sort of power imbalance that raises red flags? Is consent to the infliction of pain (and degradation) even possible in such a situation?
Politics aside, the movie, as a movie, was awful. The acting was poor; the dialogue was stilted and sometimes stupid; and there was no pattern to the music, some of which doesn't deserve the appellation. Perhaps the musical score was meant to mimic the plot in being pointless and offensive.
The decline of cities like Galesburg, Ill., is not so much a “peril” of free trade as it is a natural consequence of it. Factories less efficient than their foreign competitors will close, and smaller cities—like Galesburg—that depend on them will be forced to adapt or suffer.
But adapting, as the residents of Galesburg know, is not always as easy as President Obama’s can-do attitude would suggest. That makes it understandable why many Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, oppose further free trade deals.
Even though the Trans-Pacific Partnership may be beneficial for the United States in general (and I believe it would be), it is also important that someone stands up for those who will lose their livelihood. Free trade advocates, even academic economists, tend not to focus on the individual costs of globalization, being more concerned with the fact that the winners outweigh the losers.
A little more honesty about the effects on some people, however, would go a long way toward increasing the credibility of supporters of TPP. It would also be a strong first step on the way to creating the much-needed safety net that Gordon Hanson, an economist whom you quote, refers to.
JAMES CORBETT, 17
Wilson High School, 12th grade
Note from KBJ: This young man is wise beyond his years. Free trade has been a disaster for this country.
Utilitarianism might, then, be defined as the theory which holds that an action is right if there is no action within the power of the agent which would produce more good than it, and that it is my duty to perform some right action or other. The circumstances in which there is only one right action within the power of the agent will fall under this principle as a special case, and, when this special case arises, that right action will also be a duty.
I will not bore my readers by citing any of the well-known objections to utilitarianism, but there is one particular difficulty in this theory which, for the purpose of this article, is of special interest. There are some actions which we think we have a duty to do, although they themselves produce no good consequences, because such actions would produce good consequences if they were generally practised. There are some actions which we think we have a duty to refrain from doing, even though they themselves produce no harmful consequences, because such actions would produce harmful consequences if the performance of them became the general rule. I think I have a duty to vote for that person whose party I think would govern the nation best, although I do not think that the addition of my vote to the total number of votes which are cast for him is going to make any difference to the result of the election, simply because I realise that, if all his other supporters were to do as I do, and fail to go to the polls, the man would not be elected. I refrain from walking on the grass of a well-kept park lawn, not because I think that my walking on the grass is going to damage the lawn to such an extent as to detract from anybody's pleasure in contemplating it, but because I realise that, if everybody else who walked in the park were to do likewise, the grass in the park would be spoilt. These two duties cannot be derived from the duty of setting a good example, or of refraining from setting a bad example, for I should still feel them incumbent upon me, even if no-one were to know that I had defaced my ballot paper, and even if the park was empty of everyone but me.
(J. Harrison, "Utilitarianism, Universalisation, and Our Duty to Be Just," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 53 [1952-1953]: 105-34, at 107-8)
Note from KBJ: I must have British blood, because I love 20th-century British philosophy, British humor (ever seen Benny Hill?), and British rock music.
This week's word is "laugh." Try to think of a song with that word (or a variant) in the title. No Internet searches, please. Use your memory. Here is my song:
Daryl Hall & John Oates, "It's a Laugh," Along the Red Ledge (1978). This is one of my favorite albums of all time, and without a doubt my favorite Hall & Oates album (of the 10 I own on compact disc).
Peter Wehner warns of the terrible liberal trends affecting the Democratic Party. Among these are: treating gay people more as human beings and allowing them to marry each other [thereby opening the door to polygamy and other abominations]; permitting women to end unwanted pregnancies [i.e., allowing women to murder their babies—the most vulnerable members of society—and get away with it]; enabling poor people to have health insurance instead of having to take their illnesses to a hospital emergency room to wait for hours [i.e., taking money from hard-working Americans and giving it to the lazy, the self-destructive, and the stupid, thereby destroying the incentive to provide for oneself]; freeing tens of thousands of folks who are rotting in prison for having smoked some marijuana or taken some cocaine (wasting many billions annually for us taxpayers) [i.e., coddling those who cannot conform their behavior to the minimal requirements of the law]; and liberating millions of illegal immigrants (especially kids) from lives of constant deprivation and fear of expulsion [i.e., disregarding the rule of law, rewarding law-breaking behavior, corrupting the culture, and destroying the standard of living of tens of thousands of law-abiding Americans].
I guess in Mr. Wehner’s eyes I should urge the Democratic Party to abandon these humane [i.e., inhumane] and sensible [i.e., absurd and self-defeating] moves. But if I were to do that I might as well become a Republican.
Writing about the appearance of the words “In God We Trust” on our currency in his review of “One Nation Under God” (May 17), Michael Kazin expresses doubts that “any of the long-dead white men whose portraits appear along with the words would have found them objectionable.”
It was Thomas Jefferson, whose image graces the nickel, who declared in 1802 that “believing religion . . . is a matter which lies solely between man and his God,” and because “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
STEPHEN F. ROHDE
The writer is chairman of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.
To the Editor:
Michael Kazin refers to a Supreme Court “ban on prayer and Bible readings in public schools,” but your readers should know that the ban extends only to government-mandated or -sponsored prayer and Bible reading. Students remain quite free to pray or read religious books in school if and when they choose.
SILVER SPRING, MD.
The writer is president of Americans for Religious Liberty.
To the Editor:
Michael Kazin notes that “In God We Trust” was added to paper currency, “under God” inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Prayer Breakfast instituted—all in the 1950s. He views these as essentially religious phenomena and argues, oddly, that “ ‘corporate America’ played no significant role in conceiving any of these initiatives.”
But their context was the American rejection of socialism and commitment to unfettered capitalism. By 1947 the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act had been passed, and the 1950s saw the rise of McCarthyism, fear and conformity barring any challenge to corporate domination. To divorce “religious” bravado from political and economic power is to be divorced from reality.
SANTA FE, N.M.
The writer is professor emeritus, California State University, Northridge.