What Obama watches

Featured image The New York Times has produced an article about the television viewing habits of President Obama. The piece, by Michael Shear, is called “Obama’s TV Picks: Anything Edgy, With Hints of Reality.” Take away those hints, and this sounds like his presidency. According to Shear, Obama enjoys watching Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland, The Wire, Modern Family, House of Cards, and Parks and Recreation. This »

The Next Action Hero Candidate?

Featured image One of my favorite moments from the Reagan years was the time Reagan was asked during a press conference for his thoughts about Clint Eastwood’s election as mayor of Carmel.  Reagan said he never thought anyone who had acted with a chimp in a movie could ever make it in politics.  Heh. What about movie action heroes?  I always thought it remarkable that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura were both »

What to do about weed

Featured image David Brooks and Ruth Marcus both oppose the legalization of marijuana, but for somewhat different reasons. Marcus opposes legalization (which has occurred in Colorado and Washington State) because our society, and in particular our children, will be less healthy with another legal mind-altering substance. She cites the American Medical Association, which has recommended against legalization because: Cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern. It »

The Age of Snowbama

Featured image I have enjoyed both installments of The Hunger Games on film so far without knowing anything about the books from which they are derived or anything else that might help to get a bead on them. Watching Catching Fire — the second of a projected four films — over the weekend, I wondered about the politics of the series. I know the books predate the Age of Obama, but the »

Top10 2013 top 10 lists

Featured image Who doesn’t like a good year-end retrospective top 10 list? I certainly do, and I thought readers might appreciate a sampling of the best, with only a little cheating on my part. Let’s take it from the top: 1. Ilya Shapiro Obama’s top 10 constitutional violations of 2013. 2. Peter Wood, The highs and lows of 2013: NAS picks higher ed’s top 10 stories. 3. D.G. Myers, 10 worst prize-winning »

From Duck Dynasty to F— Dynasty

Featured image I’ve totally ignored both Duck Dynasty and the controversy over the Duck patriarch’s negative attitudes toward homosexuality. (Or maybe we should call him “Daffy Duck”?)  If I wanted to take in guys with big beards, I’d look up old ZZ Top videos on YouTube. I think we’re all being played here.  The entire controversy seems contrived to me, but very very good for everyone’s business.  The gay rights grievance groups »

Home economics

Featured image Michael Barone has written an important column about the relationship between the breakdown of the American family and income inequality and lack of social mobility. Barone relies in part on Nick Shultz’s book Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure which I have not read. Barone’s thesis — that growing up outside of a two-parent family means lower income, less social mobility, and less “human capital” — is not »

A wonderful life

Featured image In Dancing In the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression — a book I enjoyed and learned from despite Mark Steyn’s (accurately) devastating review in Commentary upon its publication — Morris Dickstein speaks up on behalf of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. He writes that the movie has “a large cult following that finds it a heartwarming work, the epitome of the Christmas spirit, while others see »

From Gaga to Obama

Featured image Reading Maureen Callahan’s New York Post column “What happened to Lady Gaga?” and watching the meticulously edited video below, I started wondering if Barack Obama might be to politics what Lady Gaga is to music. Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so? I can’t make the case for the proposition, at least not yet. Instead, I’m filing this one under Laughter Is the Best Medicine. »

My favorite O’Toole

Featured image Peter O’Toole died yesterday at the age of 81. The New York Times obituary by Benedict Nightingale recapitulates his remarkable career and captures some of his old-school antics. What an actor. We can have a constructive argument among ourselves about which of the films was his best, or even with ourselves about which is our favorite. Into the hopper go Lawrence of Arabia and The Lion in Winter as well »

Should Anyone Get His News From a Comedian?

Featured image I have never watched Jon Stewart’s show, or any other program on Comedy Central. Life is too short. But I am aware that some people take Stewart seriously as a political commentator. In fact, the New York Times described him as perhaps “the most trusted man in America.” But why? I assume that Stewart is slightly above average in intelligence, but does he have any experience, knowledge or expertise that »

Ain’t No Cure for Obamacare Blues

Featured image Well, not until repeal anyway.  And that’s a while off yet.  But we can reminisce about the Blues Brothers, can’t we?  (I’ll bet there’s some lines from the film that would apply to Obamacare, but I haven’t the time or energy right now to chase after the script.)  Anyway, you may recall the mall chase scene from that classic piece of cinema.  Here it is in case you’ve forgotten: Now »

On This Morning’s Obamacare Stories, Better Late Than Never

Featured image The internet news cycle is short enough that if you are eight hours late in commenting on a story, it feels like a week. Early this morning there were two Obamacare-related stories that were burning up Twitter, both mini-scandals in their own right, but I haven’t had a chance to write about them until now. So, in hopes that they will still be news to some of our readers, here »

Richie Incognito, honorary black man?

Featured image The National Football League has a new scandal on its hands. This one involves the harassment of Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin by line mate Richie Incognito. The full nature and scope of this harassment isn’t clear, but apparently there is no dispute that, at a minimum, Incognito left Martin a voice mail calling him a “half ni____ piece of sh__” and threatening to inflict physical harm on the player »

The spying on Europeans farce

Featured image I love this headline on the front page of today’s Washington Post (print edition): “Officials: Obama unaware U.S. spied on allied leaders.” The locution is, I think, the Post’s way of signaling that it doesn’t really believe what the “officials” are saying. Nor should we. As John Yoo argues, spying on European leaders is something the U.S. has long done and should do, and this is common knowledge: Of course »

Finally, something I like about Barack Obama

Featured image Tevi Troy’s excellent new book What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted is full of revealing stories about presidential consumption of books, movies, and television. His discussion of Barack Obama’s consumption of culture, both as president and before, is particularly revealing. Obama, it seems, is not the most cultured guy ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He’s not even the most cultured among recent residents. But Obama has »


Featured image Do you know who Snooki is? I didn’t until I encountered Tevi Troy’s excellent new book What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted. Snooki, it turns out, is a “petite starlet” who appears on a TV show called “Jersey Shore.” It was a reference to Snooki by President Obama that inspired Tevi to write his insightful book about the interplay between American culture and American presidents. I’m indebted to »