Archive for March, 2012
30 Mar 2012

AFK All Day on Saturday

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I’ll be working as a judge at the Morven Park Spring Horse Trials all day.

30 Mar 2012

Media Matters Boycott Fails; Limbaugh Ratings Up Across the Board

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Via American Glob: MEDIA MATTERS FAIL: Rush Limbaugh’s Ratings Increase By 10 to 60 Percent Depending on the Station

Bill Jacobson puts Rush’s win into perspective.

Earlier this month Media Matters launched its most ferocious boycott effort ever to force Rush Limbaugh off the air by intimidating advertisers. …

The biggest damage has been to Media Matters, which put its reputation for intimidating advertisers on the line, and failed.

Media Matters wasn’t defeated by Limbaugh. Media Matters was defeated by tens of thousands of conservatives who recognized that this was not about Limbaugh or what Limbaugh said.

Those of us who criticized the use of those two words were among the most vociferous defenders against Media Matters’ advertiser intimidation tactics, and the double-standard employed by advertisers such as Carbonite who pandered to the crowd.

The campaign to force Limbaugh off the air was but part of a larger war in which Media Matters and others liberal groups seek to force numerous conservative voices off of the one media outlet dominated by conservatives, talk radio.

30 Mar 2012

Recipe For Electoral Disaster

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Peggy Noonan reflects on how the current president decidedly worsened his relationship with his opponents, while never really developing much of a relationship with the general electorate.

Something’s happening to President Obama’s relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, “Nothing new there,” but actually I think there is. I’m referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.

It’s not due to the election, and it’s not because the Republican candidates are so compelling and making such brilliant cases against him. That, actually, isn’t happening.

What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who’s not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it’s his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it’s a big fault. …

In terms of the broad electorate, I’m not sure he really has a relationship. A president only gets a year or two to forge real bonds with the American people. In that time a crucial thing he must establish is that what is on his mind is what is on their mind. This is especially true during a crisis.

From the day Mr. Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamity—unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures. These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating, is America over, can we turn it around?

That’s what the American people were thinking about.

But the new president wasn’t thinking about that. All the books written about the creation of economic policy within his administration make clear the president and his aides didn’t know it was so bad, didn’t understand the depth of the crisis, didn’t have a sense of how long it would last. They didn’t have their mind on what the American people had their mind on.

The president had his mind on health care. And, to be fair-minded, health care was part of the economic story. But only a part! And not the most urgent part. Not the most frightening, distressing, immediate part. Not the ‘Is America over?’ part.

And so the relationship the president wanted never really knitted together. Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they’ve read, largely written by people like them—bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.

I think Peggy hit this one dead on. People are shocked at the president and his administration’s utter indifference toward, and contempt for, perspectives and values different from his own. We’ve never had a president, however liberal, who would simply shrug off the constitutional protection of religious freedom so casually. Beyond that, Obama not only failed to act so as to restore economic confidence to improve the economy, he made it perfectly clear that, for him, social justice (and democrat party patronage) was far more important than prosperity and growth.

It isn’t clear that Mitt Romney (or whoever) really deserves to win, but Barack Obama certainly deserves to lose.

30 Mar 2012

Supreme Court’s Reaction to Obamcare Surprises Liberals

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The Supreme Court’s sharp questioning of the constitutionality of Obamacare, and the obvious weakness of the Administration’s defense of that approach to health care reform, shocked and astounded liberal commentators. John Podhoretz notes that nothing came up in the Court’s questions that had not been argued previously by opponents of Obamacare, but previously the left just was not listening.

The panicked reception in the mainstream media of the three-day Supreme Court health-care marathon is a delightful reminder of the nearly impenetrable parochialism of American liberals.

They’re so convinced of their own correctness — and so determined to believe conservatives are either a) corrupt, b) stupid or c) deluded — that they find themselves repeatedly astonished to discover conservatives are in fact capable of a) advancing and defending their own powerful arguments, b) effectively countering weak liberal arguments and c) exposing the soft underbelly of liberal self-satisfaction as they do so.

That’s what happened this week. There appears to be no question in the mind of anyone who read the transcripts or listened to the oral arguments that the conservative lawyers and justices made mincemeat out of the Obama administration’s advocates and the liberal members of the court.

This came as a startling shock to the liberals who write about the court.

Read the whole thing.

29 Mar 2012

Toobin: “Still Looks Like a Train Wreck for the Obama Administration, and It May Also Be a Plane Wreck”

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29 Mar 2012

The Problem With Yale

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From RumpChat (A satellite of Rumpus, the Yale undergraduate humor blog):

Overheard by the hot security guard: “there’s too many f****** liberals at this school”

29 Mar 2012

Earl Scruggs (January 6, 1924 – March 28, 2012)

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Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs died yesterday at age 88. Times obituary

Cumberland Gap


Fireball Mail

Hat tip to Bill Laffer.

29 Mar 2012

The Contradictions of Democracy


Vladislav Inozemtsev, in the American Interest, argues that democracy has gotten far too democratic, and that over-extended democracy is inevitably going to prove to be democracy’s own worst enemy. He’s perfectly right.

It was therefore no coincidence that democracy developed in national contexts defined by, as noted already, a demos comfortable in its social skin. It is even the case, to take an obviously unsettling example, that American democracy might not have developed as it did had it not been for slavery and acute racial prejudice. Only by separating out of the democratic process those considered at the time not to be a part of the demos could American democracy unfold. That is the other side, so to speak, of the Jacksonian-era expansion of the franchise. …

[E]ven universal secondary education can no longer reliably produce a responsible citizen. Liberal democracy born in the Republic of Letters has to survive in the Empire of Television, where information flows in one direction and need not involve direct response. The civic dialogue that was once the very foundation of democratic decision-making has become a one-way process of convincing voters. The political dialogue of liberal democracies is not just degraded, as is widely acknowledged; it is qualitatively different.

Moreover, as the capacity of citizens to grasp policy issues has eroded from one side, the percentage of citizens expected to grasp them has risen from the other. In Western countries today there is far more inequality within electorates than ever, simply because, as was not the case during the 19th century, everyone above age 18 can vote. …

Democracy was the optimal form of government when voters were capable of making rational choices through an understanding of what was at stake, when they were ready to bear the responsibility for the consequences of their choices, and when the right to vote was understood to be a privilege, or the result of a struggle still remembered. Nowadays it is difficult to shake the impression that democratic societies are rapidly turning into ochlocracies, where the vast majority of citizens, seeing their rights as given and their responsibilities not at all, are easily addled by propaganda, distracted by spectacle and either unable or unwilling to invest the time and energy required to be a responsible democratic actor.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.

28 Mar 2012

Of Course Han Shot First

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George Whittle explains why box office attendance is plummeting.

28 Mar 2012

Tuesday at the Court Did Not Go Well for Democrats

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The constitutionality of Obamacare needs extreme assistance.

When professional spinners on the left like Peter J. Boyer start explaining why the Supreme Court’s killing of Obamacare would really be a good thing for Barack Obama’s reelection chances, you can kind of tell that the realization that the Supreme Court is not likely to rule their way has pretty well sunk in.

Apart from the fact that Republicans would lose their most animating issue in the presidential race, the overturning of the health-care reform law would free Obama of the burden of having to mount a broad defense of his health-care plan as a centerpiece of his campaign. The president, who can read polls, managed to absent himself from any public observance of the reform law’s second anniversary last week. A Supreme Court invalidation of the reform law’s individual mandate, the feature that Americans find most odious (PDF) would allow Obama to embrace the issue anew, focusing on those portions of the reform (such as the provision allowing families to keep their children on their policies until they reach the age of 26) that most people actually like. Obama’s Democratic allies, meanwhile, could hammer home the importance of deciding who will be making the next appointments to the Supreme Court.


The Hill quoted a major liberal analyst, who was about as pessimistic on Obamacare’s chances as it’s possible to get.

Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer and legal analyst, who writes about legal topics for The New Yorker said the law looked to be in “trouble.” He called it a “trainwreck for the Obama administration.”

“This law looks like it’s going to be struck down. I’m telling you, all of the predictions, including mine, that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong,” Toobin said Tuesday on CNN. “I think this law is in grave, grave trouble.

Toobin’s observation came on the second day of oral arguments at the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier that day, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who could be the deciding vote on whether to uphold the law, told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli that there appeared to be a “very heavy burden of justification” on aspects of the law, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Toobin described Kennedy as “enormously skeptical” during the arguments Tuesday.

27 Mar 2012

Visiting Walnut Grove

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Walnut Grove, pre-Revolutionary War click on picture for larger image

I was away from keyboard today visiting, photographing, and admiring the latest real estate acquisition of a local friend in fox hunting circles.

He is adding to his portfolio of properties an interesting pre-Revolutionary landmark, Walnut Grove farm, for some two and a half centuries the home of the Briarly family. Captain R. S. Briarly stepped out of the front door of this house to lead the local militia company against the British in the War for American Independence.

A stone set in the brick informs us that the small wing with bay window to the right was added in 1784.

In residence currently are five male peacocks.

click on picture for larger image

26 Mar 2012

Requiem For the Gingrich Campaign


Walter Shapiro
, in the New Republic, concludes that the Louisiana primary marks the end of Newt Gingrich’s quest. “There are no third acts in American politics.” Shapiro opines.

    “At an age when most young men are focused on playing sports and meeting girls, Newt was fantasizing about saving the world.”

    —Steven M. Gillon, The Pact, 2008

Despite Newt Gingrich’s best efforts, it looks like the world is going to have to save itself.

Unfortunately, I tend to think he is right. For a while, it looked as if it was actually possible that Newt Gingrich could use the power of debate to re-shape the trajectory of the primary contest and the election in his own favor, that he could singlehandedly move our political process out of the modern sound bite and electronic image era and back into the era of verbal discourse and the contest of ideas.

Gingrich, however, also deliberately threw the first punches below the belt, attacking Romney, forsooth! for capitalist actvivity. Gingrich’s attack ads seem to have reminded Republicans of some behavior giving the impression of opportunism in the past, and a variety of prominent conservative and Republican figures responded with a devastating, highly coordinated attack from which Newt never really recovered.

Gingrich was clearly a flawed candidate. Of course, they are all flawed, but Newt Gingrich’s flaws are not being forgiven or overlooked.

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