Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


BOYCOTT: Refuse to Buy ANY Vehicles To Be Manufactured By Fiat/Chrysler/UAW/U.S. Treasury

They'll throw you in prison if you decline to pay the taxes that support the new union- and government-owned Chrysler. The president will publicly berate you, and his officials privately threaten you, if your insistence on your legal rights as a creditor complicates their plans to use taxpayer money to buy an automobile company for their union allies. But for the moment, at least, the government cannot force you to buy the products that roll off the assembly line of its experiment in central planning.

Boycotting the entire product line to be offered by the new Chrysler is a happy occasion where duty and self-interest coincide. You can be a good patriot and a smart shopper at the same time. Refusing to reward the United Auto Workers and the government that bestowed Chrysler upon them will uphold the rule of law and the principles of private enterprise. (One of the "concessions" the UAW made to Chrysler - that is, to itself - is that overtime will, henceforth, be paid only to employees who work more than 40 hours a week. Huh? Under the old contract, the one that turned Chrysler and GM into vegetables, workers started drawing overtime as soon as they met production targets, even if it was after they had worked 35, 30 or even 25 hours in a week.)

"Chrysler by Fiat" is the perfect name for America's first eminent domain manufacturing concern, one being created by arbitrary government actions that jettison law when it is inconvenient for policy goals and political coalitions. As The Economist says, "In effect Chrysler and the government have overridden the legal pecking order to put workers' health-care benefits above more senior creditors' claims, and then successfully argued in court that the alternative would be so much worse for creditors that it cannot be seriously considered. . . . The collapse of Detroit's giants is a tragedy, affecting tens of thousands of current and former workers. But the best way to offer them support is directly, not by gerrymandering the rules. The investors in these firms are easily portrayed as vultures, but many are entrusted with the savings of ordinary people, and in any case all have a legal claim that entitles them to due process. In a crisis it is easy to put politics first, but if lenders fear their rights will be abused, other firms will find it more expensive to borrow, especially if they have unionized workforces that are seen to be friendly with the government. It may be too late for Chrysler's secured creditors and if GM's lenders cannot reach a voluntary agreement, they may face a similar fate. That would establish a terrible precedent. Bankruptcy exists to sort legal claims on assets. If it becomes a tool of social policy, who will then lend to struggling firms in which the government has a political interest?"

Thankfully, refusing to buy any new Chryslers means that you will be depriving yourself of the chance to ride the next iteration of the worst cars on the road, at least on those intermittent occasions when they can be coaxed out of the garage and on to the road. Consumer Reports does not recommend a single vehicle manufactured by any Chrysler brand. A company so fouled up that it could not be salvaged by Mercedes-Benz is not likely to be transformed by the combined expertise of Fiat, union officials and government experts.

The sooner Chrysler by Fiat is driven into a bankruptcy from which it cannot be bailed out, the sooner will we repudiate the lousy products and lawless processes of thugocratic capitalism.

Categories > Economy


Justice Scalia at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

In his remarks this morning at the 6th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Justice Antonin Scalia contrasted the Jefferson who abridged the gospels to produce a humanist (and thoroughly uninteresting) Jesus with Thomas More, who defied Henry VIII and was eventually beheaded. But the comparison of one of Jefferson's silly moments with St. Thomas Morefs martyrdom is inapt. And unfortunately it feeds a prejudice many religious Americans have, that their faith is at odds with their patriotism, that they must ultimately live as aliens in America. Of course, the prevailing political and social trends bolster this feeling.

But denigrating, even implicitly, Jeffersonfs highest achievements (especially by contrast with a Saint) would further undermine Catholic self-understanding as well as patriotism. Preeminent among those achievements was the Declaration of Independence, with its radical statement of human equality, an assessment of the human condition that transformed the relationship of man to his government and the understanding of the relationship between man and the cosmos. Catholics, as well as those of other faiths and religious skeptics and scoffers, need the natural theology of the Declaration to ground our political and social conduct. They need the founding documentfs reason or natural law to establish their political principles. Philosophic reason paves the way for theology.

Justice Scaliafs remarks are not available, but Archbishop Burkefs powerful keynote address is here. Go, Notre Dame was not a leading theme.

Categories > Courts

Political Parties

The Republican Invisible Primary

...has begun. And Sabato says a few choice words about each of the candidates. He's right to say the field is underwhelming. Clearly none of those guys could have beaten Obama last time. New blood and longshots are needed now more than ever. (Link now fixed, thanks to Matt.)
Categories > Political Parties


Why Isn't Murtha in Prison?

This is the kind of thing for which Murtha ought to be in the federal pen. But as Michael Kinsley sagely remarked a long time ago, the amazing thing about Washington is what's legal.
Categories > Congress

Political Parties

Time for a Reagan Smackdown

I've got a long rant up over at NRO's Corner about the folks complaining about Reagan nostalgia. Since it is long, I won't cross-post it here: click the link, and comment here if you want to.
Categories > Political Parties


Jimmah Grab Another Prize

The late great Pat Moynihan used to say that anyone who won the Lenin Prize deserved it. That quip came back to mind this morning with the news that Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter have won the Mahatma Gandhi Global Nonviolence Award. He also deserves it.
Categories > Politics

The Civil War & Lincoln

Civil War Series: The Atlanta Campaign

My most recent Civil War essay is here. The subject is the Atlanta Campaign. The fall of Atlanta was of critical importance. Had it not fallen when it did, Lincoln may not have been reelected. Had McClellan become president, it is possible that a negotiated peace would have followed.

Of course, some folks think this would have been a good outcome, but it is likely that a Confederate nation would have continued to fight against the United States for control of the western territories. In other words, a negotiated peace would not have led to peace. Besides, the slave empire would have turned its attention south to Mexico and the Caribbean.

By the way, aren't the names of those rivers in Georgia cool? Oostanaula, Etowah, and of course, Chattahoochee, brought to the attention of non-Georgians by Alan Jackson. Cherokee names, no?


The Young Are Becoming De-Churched

...according to Putnam. Robert thinks that's because they've identified religion with the vices of the "far right." This trend isn't good for social capital and citizen participation. Putnam's hope is for religious innovation that will address the needs of the young. I do think there's been a fairly rapid increase in religious indifference and disbelief, although one that's not unprecedented in our country's history. I also think that social or cultural libertarianism is becoming more pronounced among many or most of the young, and the spiritual reaction against the excesses associated with the Sixties seems, in general, to be ebbing. Still, the study doesn't pick up the fact that the young who remain religious are often more serious about it than their parents, and unsatisfied relational and spiritual longings remain. Not only that, the young remain more pro-life than their parents. The always good advice is to detach religion from the political agenda of both the left and the right, but that's hard to do in a time where everything seems politicized. The idea that the problem the churches face with the young could be solved by becoming more politically progressive and culturally permissive is as ridiculous as ever. If the problem the churches are having with the young has any connection with similar problems the Republicans are having, it would be along the lines of quality of leadership and moral and intellectual self-discipline.
Categories > Religion


Oil Tanker to the Rescue!

This report from the BBC tells the story of some eco-sailors on a mission from merry old England to Greenland to promote global-warming awareness aboard a zero-emissions vessel. Unfortunately for them, the boat hit high winds and capsized three times before they were rescued on May 1 by the crew of the Overseas Yellowstone . . . an oil tanker. To their credit, the eco-sailors expressed deep and heartfelt thanks for their rescue. Still . . . you can't make this stuff up.
Categories > Environment


Kindle DX

The new Kindle DX may be pre-ordered now.
Categories > Technology

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Letter from London

May 5, 2009

Old Friend,

I write from the British Library, which, like the Globe theatre, also didn't exist in those old days when you and I rubbed elbows with the Indian Hindus, and Pakistani Muslims, and Persian princesses, and easily-offended Irishmen at the International Students House at 10 York Terrace East. Remember the excruciating embarrassment watching the evening news with fellow students in the common room as James Earl "Jimmy" Carter became the Democratic front runner in the presidential elections. As I recall there was nothing partisan about it, just the shame that such a small-souled sanctimonious squirt of a man could conceivably be president of the United States. I like to remember that our Pakistani friends, especially keen on questions of honor, would politely change the subject--"let's watch Starsky and Hutch!" Fortunately we got out of town before our future president confessed the lust in his heart--to Playboy!

But I do not mean to talk politics, even old politics. The British Library was conceived before our York Terrace East days, but gestated slowly and came into being only in 1998. It's just a few stone throws from where we would have hung our hat if we could have afforded one between us--near St. Pancras Station on Euston Road. If it had been around back then, we would have spent many of our days here. It combines, along with other important collections, what had been the library holdings of the British Museum, which--to give an idea of scope--Lenin said held a better collection of Russian books than he could find in St. Petersburg or Moscow. It's very easy to get a reader's card, and there's free wi-fi for whoever wants to stroll through the front doors. The manuscripts on display are splendid--some of your students would like to trace with their eyes the straight lines of Jane Austen's hand-written pages, resting on her personal writing desk. There's a well stocked café, tables all over the place to sit and read or eat or have coffee and talk. And for those who know, there are secret balconies where one can sit and enjoy a Henry Clay--or, on a quest like mine, a Romeo y Julieta--if one is so disposed, and still have wi-fi.

But you don't have to be here to enjoy some of the library's wonders. Following the Shakespeare trail, while sipping a white Americano among throngs of happy and lively folks also sipping various brews and speaking countless languages at the dozens of sprawling tables or reading books or tapping away at their laptops, I wander on my free wi-fi to a wonderful feature online. Here can be found "the British Library's 93 copies of the 21 plays by William Shakespeare printed in quarto before the theatres were closed in 1642." The page I link to compares the first page of the first quarto of 1597 with the first page of the fifth quarto, 1637, of Romeo and Juliet. Flip through the pages, zoom in, and marvel.

I, for one, am inclined on occasion to stand astride History and say--"Well done!"




Marion Barry Joins the Catholic Church

That is, against same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. The former Mayor and current Councilman suggests a "civil war" may break out.

After the [DC Council] vote, enraged African American ministers stormed the hallway outside the council chambers and vowed that they will work to oust the members who supported the bill.... They caused such an uproar that security officers and D.C. police were called in to clear the hallway....

"All hell is going to break lose," Barry said. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this."

At least some of this rage is racial--blacks who feel that (white) gay activists exploit civil rights for the sake of their personal satisfaction.

And speaking of Catholics and politics: It just occurred to me that Joe Biden is the first Catholic Vice President. Surely his faith was a factor in favor as the VP selection. But will the temptation to appoint a (likely Catholic) Latina to replace Justice Souter meet the challenge of having six Catholics on the high court?

This is not to endorse ethnic/racial/religious/sex quotas. But the Court has become a highly politicized body, subject to many of the representational assumptions of elected bodies, universities, and corporations. How do we unscramble this egg? The bootless Republican strategy has been to appoint appeals court judges.

My only good political predictions have been of Supreme Court picks, so let my prudence expose itself as luck: Given Obama's opportunities and expresssion on behalf of "empathy," I might have predicted Governor Granholm of Michigan, because she is a pro-abortion Catholic. Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano (Methodist) may have survived the swine flu scare to secure the nomination. Solicitor Elena Kagan for down the road, though the "fierce urgency of now" may get her the nomination this time.

Granholm has a more interesting story, but I know nothing of Michigan politics. Any ethics problems (other than having appeared on "The Dating Game")? But in the end he may go with one of his Chicago friends . No need to rush this, as he did with some Cabinet nominations.

UPDATE: The astute Jan Crawford Greenburg coauthors this piece on pros and cons of the most frequently mentioned possibilities. Example of a con: the black female Chief Justice of Georgia is a "Longtime friend of Justice Clarence Thomas."

Categories > Religion


The Unbearable Lightness of Being Arlen Specter

Ross Douthat makes some sensible arguments in yesterday's NYTimes about why the exit of Arlen Specter from the Republican stage is not especially lamentable. Yes, we'll sometimes miss his vote. But his vote was hardly a reliable one and, I'm sure, the Dems will find him an equally unreliable ally. The trouble with Specter is not that he is less conservative than one would have liked or more liberal than one might have preferred . . . it is that he is less principled than anyone ought to be. Douthat says this very well:
Political debates are often framed in binaries: Middle-of-the-roaders versus hard-liners, moderates versus ideologues. But American politics is more complicated than that. There are multiple rights and lefts, and multiple middles as well. So-called extremists can serve the country well. And self-conscious moderates can be intellectually bankrupt.
The problem with Specter then, is not even that he is just a kind of sleazy opportunist. Sometimes (e.g., NOW) it's fair to say that he is walking that line. But this latest exploit, unbecoming as it is, does not begin adequately to define him. Bill Clinton was this kind of politician, and Arlen Specter is no Bill Clinton. If you wanted to say that Clinton was unprincipled, you wouldn't have been crazy . . . but you would have been slightly off. Clinton's principle was (is?) himself. There was no honor in that, of course, but at least it was something that one could understand. And, in any event, there was a certain amount of American hucksterism in it that elicited a chuckle and a bit of awe at the real and not imaginary audacity of it. It was no good thing . . . but it was certainly a thing.

Arlen Specter, by contrast, is utterly uninteresting. There is no understanding Arlen Specter. He is a moving target . . . moving sometimes according to his own political and personal interests, other times according to his fancy, and occasionally in accordance with some transient thought now stuck in his dull intellectual teeth. What do you do with that? How do you speak to it? Reason with it? Make deals with it? You don't. You can't. You might as well have a monkey throwing darts at a board and count his throws as votes as count on Arlen Specter's vote. And now the Democrats have all the pleasure.

Jonah Goldberg also has some thoughts on Specter and the Republicans. He concludes, brutally, by noting: "Arlen Specter, even if he spends 40 more years in government, will be remembered for nothing at all." To which I'd say, except for this. But he will be remembered for this only because the Democrats and the media are so ardently allowing their wish to become their thought about what this is going to be and about what it means about the GOP. But it is going to amount to but a "specter" of their hopes. This is Specter's high water mark . . . the pinnacle of his power and influence. He will stand there, gaze down upon what he has wrought and not have the slightest beginnings of a coherent clue of what to do about it.

I fully understand that the future of the GOP will and must include the influence of people who are less "conservative" than me. It will and must include the influence of people who are more "conservative" than me. It will and must include (if only because we can do nothing to rid the human condition of such people) hucksters whose only principle is themselves. But I really hope we can manage to ignore the influence of people whose only ambition is to climb the mountain and then, when they do it, just stand there and look down with a stupid and confused countenance. Let them all be Democrats.

Categories > Politics

Political Parties

Republicans Love Westerns

So says David Brooks. It really is true that professors love to say profound and subtle things about the films of John Ford, which often appear in PERSPECTIVES ON POLITICAL SCIENCE. These films, according to David, are all about taming the impulses of rugged individualism with order, community, religion, family, and civic bonds. Today's Republicans should learn from them to be less libertarian and more civilized. That makes some sense, as long as we don't, as the Democrats and Europeans often do, confuse civilization with a herd of apathetic dependents absorbed in trivial pursuits and shepherded by meddlesome schoolmarms. (Thanks to Ivan the K.)
Categories > Political Parties


Happy Cuatro de Cinco

I heard the President misspeak again this morning and noted to myself that the CNN talking head laughed it off, so I looked up from Catherine Zuckert's fat book on Plato and found myself slightly irritated that CNN was not irritated the way they were when Bush screwed up. So I agree with Mary Katherine Ham: "I like to note these little incidents when they happen, not because I think it makes Obama an idiot because he occasionally stumbles over his words, but because his somewhat overblown reputation as the most cerebral, eloquent, utterly erudite president of all time could really use a pricking every now and then. Also, because if Bush had made such a blunder, it would have been the basis of a four-part MSNBC investigative series on the malapropism's deleterious effects on the Republican Party's attempts to woo Hispanic voters, Mexican-American relations, and our 'place in the world.'"
Categories > Presidency

Pop Culture

The Onion Strikes Again

The Onion offers this genius takedown of the new Star Trek movie.

Warning: Don't have a mouthful of coffee when you watch this, or you'll need a new keyboard.

Categories > Pop Culture

The Civil War & Lincoln

Series on Civil War Campaigns

In preparation for teaching two courses in the Ashland MAHG program this summer (America at War, 1845-1865 with John Waghelstein, my colleague at the Naval War College; and the Civil War and Reconstruction with Lucas Morel), I have resumed writing my commentaries on Civil War campaigns. My hope is that when when completed, they can be supplmented with maps and published as a short primer on the strategy and operations of the war.

The idea is to keep it simple while at the same time trying to show how campaigns were planned and executed to achieve strategic and political goals. For far too long, Civil War military history has focused on individual battles without providing the necessary context.

The most recent essay is here. It covers the Virginia Overland Campaign of spring and summer 1864. Next week, Ben will post the essay on the Petersburg siege and Appomattox.

I have two more to complete: The Atlanta Campaign and then one that looks at Sherman's march to the sea and the Carolinas Campaign and also Hood's attempted counteroffensive into Tennessee, culminating in the destruction of his army at Nashville.

I hope folks read these, but the fact is I just enjoy writing them.

Foreign Affairs

Le plus ca change . . .

Video of anti-Israel thugs removing all products from Israel on the shelves of a store in France. The return of Vichy?
Categories > Foreign Affairs



Steven Levy writes a very interesting article on the possibility of seeing invisible nuance, the CIA, a work of art, a few codes, and an artist. It is wonderful.
Categories > Technology


Good Riddance and Bring It On!

I agree with Julie below that we would be better served by a top-notch liberal appointee from Obama. It clarifies things. Souter has always sent me into a near-rage, not so much for his liberalism as his mediocrity--and the incompetence of Bush-pere in naming him to the Court in the first place. Can anyone name one opinion or dissent of his that was significant or memorable? (Several are notable for their stupidity; he never seemed to have much influence with his fellow liberals on the Court.) Taney will always hold the crown for the worst Justice in the history of the Court, but Souter might have the second spot nailed down. Good riddance.
Categories > Courts

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Letter from London

London May 4, 2009 Old Friend,

I begin with a digression: I have visited the Wallace Collection yesterday and today in Marylebone, just north of Mayfair--an astonishing, and most amusing, personal 19th century collection of 17th and 18th century European art (you can get some sense of it on line). Even you, no lover of museums, would enjoy it. But that's because it's not a museum. It's a rich personal collection displayed in the great town house in which it was originally displayed. Besides they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks in a beautiful courtyard. Stop in, have a bite, smile with the "Laughing Cavalier," laugh at the lady in The Swing, and compare her with The Lace Maker--the one with a whimsical slipper in the air, the other with two domestic shoes on the floor.

Now, a little more on Stratford-upon-Avon and how Yankee enterprise helped our English cousins develop reverence for their greatest poet.

Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford, visited by Jefferson and Adams in 1786, was sold with the attached buildings in 1805 for a mere 210 English pounds. In the announcement of the sale, no mention was made of any association with Shakespeare. In 1809 The Times of London reported perfunctorily that Shakespeare's birthplace had become a butcher's shop. There was no English lamentation or outrage. It seems the Brits did not feel an urgency to cherish the home of their greatest poet until . . . the Americans threatened to take it to America! (For these and the following facts I'm indebted mostly to that Sturgess book you suggested, which I carry with me here.)

Here's how the great American Shakespeare heist almost happened. Many Americans, following in the footsteps of Adams and Jefferson, continued to make what Washington Irving called the "poetical pilgrimage" to Stratford, even though all they found there was a butcher's shop with a room in it designated as Shakespeare's birthplace, and a tomb, with no name on it, in the nearby church. They seemed to share James Fenimore Cooper's sentiment, that Shakespeare was "the Great author of America." It was not an easy journey before the railroads, which nowadays get you there from London in a little over ninety minutes. Irving visited Stratford a few times and wrote a "Sketch Book" which became a "quasi-official guidebook" for later American visitors. Henry Clay visited in 1815, Martin van Buren some years later, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Hawthorne, etc. It was common for them to join Irving in calling it a literary "pilgrimage."

OK. In 1844, P.T. Barnum--yes, THE P.T. Barnum--comes to Stratford-upon-Avon. He asks a native for guidance to the local scene. To his surprise, he is handed a pamphlet written--not by some British authority--but by his countryman Washington Irving. Not a man known for missing an opportunity, Barnum grasps immediately that the Yanks are more interested than the Brits in making the Shakespeare pilgrimage. He records in his autobiography what he does next: He "obtained verbally through a friend the refusal of the house in which Shakspeare was born, designing to remove it in sections to my museum in New York." He was going to buy Shakespeare's house, tear it down, ship the parts to America, put it back together in New York, and let Americans--and the rest of the world--make their Shakespeare pilgrimage to the Big Apple!

This awakened the sleeping bulldog. As Barnum records, word of his plans "leaped out. British pride was touched." A movement arose in the British popular press and in social and literary circles to save the great Bard's home from these foreign predators. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, got involved, and made a substantial donation, as did other gentlemen of mark, and an English Shakespeare association bought the home for the highly inflated price of 3000 pounds. Ownership was transferred to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The home of Shakespeare was safe from the reverence of P.T. Barnum. As Mark Twain wrote a generation later, "from that day to this every relic of Shakespeare in Stratford has been sacred, and zealously cared for . . . ."




Kindle Rivals

This "Publishers Nurture Rivals to Kindle" article in today's WSJ is worth a quick read if only because it shows how quickly the market moves when there are real interests at stake, e.g., no advertising on Kindle, want to make it feel more like a newspaper, etc. Platic Logic might be worth paying attention to; see this demonstration on YouTube.

Addition: This YouTube demo may be even better, as it is more clear about the point that the transistors are in the plastic; quite amazing actually.

Addition Two: Amazon will unveil its "big screen" Kindle this Wednesday.

Categories > Technology


An Obama Judicial Nominee

I have been thinking (thanks to those who have commented below) about what might be the best thing we can hope for in an Obama nominee given the current political situation and what might be the best policy of conservatives in the Senate. Here's my preliminary conclusion: I hope Obama picks the absolute best proponent and the most articulate, well-spoken, and (above all) the best writer he can find for his understanding of the Constitution. It goes without saying that I believe his understanding of the Constitution to be completely off--but this does not mean that there is not a good case to be made for it. I want someone who will make the case with force and with clarity and with very little willingness (or, perhaps, capacity) to cover it with the veil that makes it politically palatable. I want a good and an honest liberal--one who will be a worthy opponent for Thomas, especially. And I say let them duke it out in print. At least then the opinions of the court will be entertaining and enlightening reading. It is even possible that in this stirring up things will begin to settle into a better kind of clarity than we have at the moment. Senators should question with intensity and probity . . . but more for the sake of exposing what the nominee is than for the sake of any ill-conceived effort to stop it. But an effort to demonize the nominee is also ill-advised. Just move toward clarity and, in the end, trust the judgment of the people. To the winner goes the spoils, and all that . . . This winner is banking on continued lack of clarity. That's where we should put a hold on his account.
Categories > Courts


Jack Kemp, RIP

The Wall Street Journal runs a few quotes from the late Jack Kemp. It gives you a pretty good flavor of the way the guy's mind worked. His mind was much better than the average politician. While not perfect, the main thing about Kemp is that he was almost always trying to think about things. He read and studied and asked questions. Because he was student of the art of politics doesn't mean that he did everything perfectly, it just means that he was much better than the average guy who gets into politics because he thinks he knows everything, and then stops studying. Kemp was never one of those. And, the GOP should have had the courage to think through--as Kemp wanted from his early years on--the party's relationship with blacks and other minorities and go after their support. Kemp always had more courage than his party. RIP.
Categories > Politics

Political Philosophy

There (DARWINIAN) Larry Goes Again

...calling ME a Gnostic Heideggerian existentialist dualist. (Larry sees no difference between St. Augustine and Heidegger!) I actually agree with Larry that the nature/freedom dualism characteristic of Cartesians (including Locke) is unreasonable. But I encourage him to read some RAT CHOICE THEORY (of Bendedict XVI) on the distinction between the impersonal logos of the Aristotelians and the personal logos of (some of the) early Christians. Larry and I disagree on WHO we are by nature. There are other options besides Darwin explains it all and Gnosticism.

Pop Culture

Should You (or ME) Own a TV?

Mark Shiffman says no. TV won't make you happy; it'll increase you're self-enclosure and alienation; there's always something better you could be doing. Reflections like these, at first, make me feel guilty, but finally I'm just annoyed. "You think you're better than me," I think, "just because you don't have a TV." How much of this reactionary crunchy complacency can one person take? My pedagogical reason for watching is in the hopes of having a minimalist common culture with my students, friends, and neighbors. That's why I sample AMERICAN IDOL, that wonderfully American mixture of wisdom (Simon) and consent (the 40 million who call in). Not only that, many experts think quite highly of the HBO series and miniseries, claiming they are as good or better than many an award-winning movie. Certainly there's a lot to think about on BIG LOVE, THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD, and even ENTOURAGE and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (just to name a few). It's also fun to make fun of the pretentious MAD MEN. And there's something to be said for both THE BIG BANG THEORY and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, although HOUSE and IN TREATMENT are, in fact, alienating. Not only that, you can watch movies on your TV, and only the priggiest prig is too good for good movies. But maybe I'm just a restless American in the midst of prosperity, envious of those content without electronic stimulation. Discuss among yourselves.
Categories > Pop Culture


An interesting question . . .

From Ann Althouse: "Am I the only one who thinks a big wedding is inappropriate for two people who have been living together"?
Categories > Religion