Upward Mobility

By now, I suppose, the cat’s out of the bag. As of next week, I’ll be blogging regularly at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen. Dispatches will remain in place, though I’m afraid I don’t have the time or inclination to write for two blogs simultaneously. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has stopped by, commented, or linked to this website. Blogging over the past few months has been incredibly rewarding, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with my fantastic new co-bloggers.

See you at the League.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Due Deference

Over at the League, Mark Thompson (an actual lawyer!) and I published a pretty interesting dialogue on judicial legitimacy, cultural change, and originalism in the wake of the Iowa gay marriage ruling:

The courts have a certain amount of judicial capital – i.e. public trust in the courts as an institution. This gives them the credibility to enforce unpopular laws (releasing guilty criminals on technicalities, for example). Court capital, however, is extremely sensitive to public perception, and if it is completely depleted, popularly elected branches of government will take advantage of this erosion of public trust by compromising judicial independence – through court-stripping, enacting judicial term limits, slashing the courts’ budget etc. etc.- thereby undermining the judiciary’s ability to enforce constitutional law.

As a pragmatic issue, I think the courts need to be cognizant of their public legitimacy precisely because a loss of credibility could undermine judicial independence. The law isn’t solely enforced or implemented by the courts – they require the implicit consent of the public, the legislature, law enforcement, as well as any number of other bodies. In other words, it makes a whole lot of sense for the courts to not only pay attention to public opinion, but to carefully pick their battles in order to preserve judicial independence.

Check out the whole thing here.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Courts

Mary Washington Debate Has a Twitter Feed!

Exciting stuff. Follow us as we crush the hopes and dreams of debaters from more presitigious schools at the year-end National Debate Tournament.

Leave a comment

Filed under Policy Debate

Gene Wolfe is a conservative

I suppose there were elements of The Book of the New Sun that could plausibly be described as conservative, but I never really considered the man’s politics. Here’s an interesting podcast interview with Wolfe from National Review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Conservatism, Culture, Science Fiction

Highbrow vs. Lowbrow

Sonny Bunch had a smart comment on the latest Culture11 postmortem:

Yeah, but this is a problem with the culture writ large, not just in conservative spheres. Example: In my day job, I’m a film critic at the Washington Times, and my boss just came over and talked about the DVD reviews that generate web traffic (workout DVDs) and the ones that don’t (Criterion DVDs). I bet if you look at sales numbers you’d see a similar trend (and you certainly see a similar trend at, say, Amazon when comparing run of the mill tripe to quality DVDs, like those produced by the Criterion Co). It’s tough to discuss highbrow (or even middlebrow) stuff and be popular.

A fair point. But if you’re a magazine of ideas like National Review or a national newspaper like the Washington Times, there’s something to be said for acquiring a certain highbrow cultural cachet. In much the same way that capturing the 20-35 year old male demographic is more important to ad execs than American Idol-type mass appeal, becoming an important cultural barometer can be more lucrative (and certainly more influential) than churning out tons of workout DVD reviews. The importance of a publication like the New Yorker, for example, can’t be explained by sales figures alone.

I’m sure it’s pretty tough to hit that cultural sweet spot, but appealing to a mass audience has its own limitations. I can’t really take Big Hollywood seriously after reading Dirk Benedict analogize the new BSG series to castration. Is a site that features posts like “Jack Bauer and the Pope” ever in danger of become a real hub for engaging cultural criticism? Or is it simply a culturally-tinged version of RedState or Little Green Footballs? Culture11, at least, had the potential to become an important, right-of-center intellectual publication. The significance of that type of outlet can’t always be measured by comparing traffic statistics.

Liberals seem to be better at appealing to a highbrow cultural audience, probably because their subscribers are already thinking along the same cultural and political wavelengths. But I think there is an audience out there for serious cultural criticism from a right-of-center perspective. Take it away, Mr. Poulos:

“The right has a lot to learn from people who are completely outside of it,” he explained later. If they did that, they “might actually win some latecomers, people who have lived unhappy or unsatisfying lives. And if they show up at the door of the right and say, ‘Gosh, my super-transgressive life is sort of unrewarding, maybe I’ve exhausted this mine of self-indulgence and personal freedom and saying ‘fuck the man,’ and the right is completely disinterested in engaging those people, I think they’re missing out.”

2 Comments

Filed under Conservatism, Culture, The Media

Notre Dame For The Win

I’m not a Catholic, so I’m loath to comment on the Obama-Notre Dame controversy. That said, I’m dully impressed by the names of the student groups assembled to oppose Obama’s commencement address:

The Irish Rover Student Newspaper
The University of Notre Dame Anscombe Society
Militia of the Immaculata
Children of Mary
Orestes Brownson Council
Notre Dame Law School Right to Life
Notre Dame Law St Thomas More Society

Definitely a lot cooler-sounding than your average college clubs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Larison Brings the Funny

Here:

The contrast Homans makes between C11 and Big Hollywood is instructive, and tends to confirm my rather jaundiced view of the inverse relationship between success and quality. Essentially, on one site you would find intelligent cultural criticism, and on the other you would find a lot of the cultural whining that seems especially concentrated among actors who have a political grudge with the rest of their own industry. In the former, there would be smart takes on new films by Suderman, for example, and in the latter you get Dirk Benedict complaining about how feminism corrupted the new BSG or Breitbart going off on another one of his insane rants. One site was challenging, the other flatters its audience’s prejudices. Naturally, the second one survives and thrives.*

And as if on cue, National Review’s John Miller chimes in, pointing to NRO’s laughably bad lists of conservative rock songs (Blink 182’s “Stay Together for the Kids” is number 17) and conservative films (300? Really?) as examples of serious right-of-center cultural criticism.

But shoving round cinematic pegs into square conservative holes is not serious cultural engagement – it’s wishful thinking. This, of course, is precisely the approach that Culture11 sought to correct by dealing with the culture as it is, not as NRO thinks it should be.

3 Comments

Filed under Conservatism, Culture