Monday, June 25, 2007

All My Talent Seems So Far Away

I saw the new iTunes commercial the other day where 65-year-old Paul McCartney is prancing around with a mandolin playing a song called "Dance Tonight" from his new album.

Now, it's probably been over 20 years since the last time I heard a new McCartney song actually played on Top 40 radio, and I think there's a reason for that. I'm thinking the last one I heard played was either "No More Lonely Nights" from that horrible musical he wrote, or the theme from the Chevy Chase/Dan Aykroyd movie "Spies Like Us" (and the cast list alone ought to tell you how long ago that was). In either case, things were obviously slipping even then, so I recognize that we're no longer dealing with a guy at his creative peak, no matter how enormous his past contributions to popular music.

But as I'm watching this song on the commercial, McCartney's jumping around singing, "Everybody gonna dance tonight/Everybody gonna feel alright..."

"Dance tonight/feel alright"? I mean, are you kidding me? That's a lyric a sixth-grader writes when he comes home with his first guitar and tries to write a rock song in his bedroom. This, from one-half of the most sucessful songwriting duo in history?

Somebody's gotta stop this fight. The champ is bleeding badly, and he's embarassing himself out there.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Now You Know

Whether you are a confused fan, or merely caught up in the post-series controversy, thanks to this supressed clip which has since surfaced, you can now rest easy knowing the final resolution to "The Sopranos."

(And yes, it's family- and work-friendly.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Supreme Conflict

If you're a Supreme Court geek like I am, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of Jan Crawford Greenberg's recent book Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court.

I've read a good number of books about the Supreme Court, but two things made Greenberg's book stand out:

1). Greenberg, who is a legal correspondent for ABC News and formerly with the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, is scrupulously fair in her reporting and characterizations. I expected to find conservatives and conservative positions treated with the typical disdain, and for the legal issues to be approached from the usual liberal standpoint. What I found instead was a balanced, fair presentation of both sides. As a conservative, I felt that my ideas were presented honestly and respectfully, and yet, after reading the book, I have no idea how Greenberg votes--which is a credit to the work she's done here.

2). She uncovers great inside information, along the lines of earlier works like Woodward's The Brethren and Lazarus' Closed Chambers. She conducted interviews with almost all of the justice and makes extensive use of other sources such as the recently released notes of former Justice Harry Blackmun. It makes for a fascinating picture of the inside of the Rehnquist Court, as well as the Roberts and Alito nominations.

One of the great nuggets revealed in her book (via Blackmun's notes) is the fact that Clarence Thomas, widely caracatured by the know-nothing liberal media as a dolt and a Scalia clone, is actually perhaps the most independent justice. As it turns out, it has been Thomas who has far more often swayed Scalia's opinion than vice-versa. Thomas has been willing to stand as a party of one since his very first week on the Court. But of course, as a result of the "soft bigotry of low expectations," the truth about Thomas doesn't fit well with the condescending storyline the media wants to pin on him.

The book also presents the most comprehensive account I've seen yet about the Harriet Miers fiasco--what the administration flunkies were thinking, and what finally changed their minds. I found the book so engrossing I finished it in about two days. If you're a court-watcher, do yourself a favor and take a copy with you on your summer vacation.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't Stop Believin'

Hold on to that feelaaaeeeaaaaiiin...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Feeling Our Pain

Even Hugh Hewitt, who tried to convince us that we were being served Dom Perignon when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, has finally woken up and tasted what's actually in the cup:
At this point I take out my Harriet Miers Fan Club charter membership card and put it on the table: This push for this [immigration] bill is a disaster, Mr. President. Much much worse than the Miers nomination on which you had many good arguments, or the ports deal, on which you had fewer. On this issue there is no place to stand, and you are asking your friends in the Senate to go down fighting for a bad bill. It is a bad bill because no one believes the government can conduct millions of background checks (many spokesmen for the bill don't even pretend to know where the paperwork will go!). No one believes the bill will halt the next 12 million. No one believes you are going to assure the fence gets built. No one believes that the employer verification system will get done or work when some half-assed version of it does get done. No one believes that the probationary visas don't automatically convert illegal aliens with few if any rights into Due Process Clause covered legal migrants, with a Ninth Circuit ready and waiting to keep them here for decades.

....This isn't a talk radio fueled shout from the far right. It isn't the Minutemen or the Tancredo people. It is the GOP faithful who don't want it, nor anything like it.

...[T]he deal has to be one worth taking, not the same deal we'd get under a second President Clinton. That's why the political rebellion is here: This looks like a bill that Hillary would have sold as tough on enforcement. We can wait two years for that.
Of course, the outrage at the Miers fiasco and the ports deal weren't "far right" kook attacks either. Now perhaps Hewitt, who helped press the White House's strategy of painting conservative critics as sexists and bigots, will understand what it's like to be on the conservative side of this clueless Republican White House. All this time the administration's been soaking his leg, he actually believed them when they told him it was raining.

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Friday, June 01, 2007


It is nothing short of amazing to me that the Bush Administration and its minions have begun demonizing even the conservative opponents of their incomprehensible and foolish immigration plan as racists and bigots. And yet it shouldn't be surprising, since Bush has been employing this suicidal "attack the base" strategy for years now. It is because of such political savvy that he'd now have to make tremendous upward strides to reach Jimmy Carter's approval numbers, or even those of Nixon during Watergate.

As you may recall, this was the same strategy the administration employed when Bush disastrously nominated his personal valet Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Miers was utterly unqualified to sit on the high court (as even many administration insiders now admit they knew, as revealed in Jan Crawford Greenberg's outstanding new book Supreme Conflict). After appointing an inferior candidate merely because she was a personal crony of the president's, the administration then went on the offensive against disappointed conservatives (who recognized Bush had broken his promise to appoint another Scalia or Thomas), intimating that opposition to the nomination was based on sexism and elitism.

They again rolled out the tactic when the administration came up with the bright idea of trying to sell American ports to Arabs. When more than a few people questioned the wisdom of selling American ports to those who support our enemies, the Bush administration waved away criticism by implying that such fears were based in "Islamophobia."

Most true conservatives have long since had enough of this nonsense, and Peggy Noonan today gives voice to several years of built-up frustration in a scathing attack:
The White House doesn't need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don't even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."
Noonan also talks about her own personal disillusionment with the president, for whom she actively campaigned and whom she vocally supported until his overreaching, messianic inaugural speech in January 2005:
What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.
That paragraph is as good a summation of the Bush presidency as one will ever find, a presidency that can now be declared from a conservative standpoint, without reservation, a failure.

It will take the conservative movement years to recover from what George W. Bush has done to it. Considering where we were sitting just three years ago in the wake of the 2004 elections, that's nothing short of tragic.

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