August 03, 2007

It's not just the U.S. that's seeing its housing market crater. Home foreclosures are up 30% in the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.
What does not destroy me...: The Villaraigosa-Salinas story dies with a whimper. She is now the most well-known reporter in the city, and is clearly headed for bigger things than Spanish-language TV. And the Mayor can now sweep this scandal into the ether, and carry on as before.

August 02, 2007

It's easy to see why Hillary hates Obama. Indeed, it's easy to see why the lefty blogosphere seems to hold him with such contempt. There is a fearlessness about Barack Obama, an unwillingness to fellate the Establishment, whether it be the party base or the Queen Beez who are meeting in Chicago this weekend, that reminds progressives of the last Democratic President. Clinton, remember, was from the conservative wing of the party, and signed a bill that all but ended welfare, and supported a free trade agreement that was a valentine to the wealthy, and maintained a balanced budget. His health care plan, which was one of his few liberal maneuvers in office, failed spectacularly.

And yet progressives loved him every step of the way, while conservative Democrats never trusted him, never had his back, and always acted the role of a Fifth Column. We knew that when the chips were down, Clinton was on our side, precisely because he would fight hard for the battles that really counted to liberals, even if the battles were mainly defensive in nature over his last six years in office. Far from alienating the base, his "Sista Soldja" moments solidified our support, because it showed that he respected us enough not to mince words.

More importantly, he had the right enemies. Conservatives hated him, as did that contingent of lefties, usually found on the pages of The Nation or at meetings of the Green Party, whose power comes from their ability to sabotage progressive causes in the interest of ideological purity. When Clinton lied under oath, it was progressives that stood by him, turning what would ordinarily have been an offense that justified his removal from office into a rallying cry. We knew that Clinton told the truth about the things that really matter, even if he risked losing our votes in the process.

I have a feeling that Sen. Obama can inspire the same loyalty.
It seems hard to believe today, but when I first starting blogging five years ago, this guy was The Enemy. Andrew Sullivan was the reason why many of us started blogging in the first place, if only to shut up his smug English face. Come to think of it, it's not as if he's changed his views; his damascene moment came after the revelations of Abu Ghraib, when he realized the Bushies were false prophets. Whatever the reason, his blog is still as sharp and passionate as ever, a rare feat for a medium that encourages popular bloggers to dumb down their content, and make more strident their ideology, in order to reach larger audiences.

August 01, 2007

But the French love Jerry Lewis: "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", that much unloved and unwatched critical disaster, is getting rave reviews in, of all places, Great Britain.
More than a quarter century ago, I was attending high school with a short, stumpy kid several grades behind me named Matt "Sex Dwarf" Weiner*. Even then, he had a wicked sense of humor and a sharp mind, and it was obvious that either great things were going to happen to him, or we were going to read of him getting into a shootout with federal agents at some polygamous cult in Idaho. He ended up going to college back east, then to SC Film, and the last time I saw him he was getting cheated out of a return date as champion on "Jeopardy."

After a decade or so of toiling in the trenches in Hollywood, including a stint on a sitcom that my sister worked on, Matthew Weiner ended up writing for some much beloved shows, then getting a job as a glorified gofer for David Chase, for which he received some justified props. Which, in turn, has led to this: his very own show, "Mad Men", on AMC Channel. It's not an understatement to say that it's the best new show on cable since both "The Shield" and "The Wire" debuted in 2002. It recaptures a not-so-distant moment in American history, in a way that doesn't condescend to its audience, and like most good television nowadays, it follows the MoneyBall principal of featuring unknown but talented character actors instead of "names." So watch it when it comes on, TiVo it, and watch it again. Then buy the DVD in four months.

There was clearly something in the water back at Harvard High twenty-five years, from a fountain which I did not partake....

*Also, the younger brother of the subject of this post.

July 31, 2007

One of the few TV shows in the 70's that played live, non-pre-recorded, non-lipsynced music was the one hosted by the Tom Snyder, who died yesterday. Here is a clip featuring my favorite band from high school, the Only One That Really Mattered:

I'm afraid the subtlety of this went completely over Mr. Frey's head.

July 30, 2007

FredoWatch: Dishonest, or just plain dumb? It's a question Bush observers have asked for quite awhile now:
The accusation that Gonzales has been deceptive in his public remarks has erupted this summer into a full-blown political crisis for the Bush administration, as the beleaguered attorney general struggles repeatedly to explain to Congress the removal of a batch of U.S. attorneys, the wiretapping program and other actions.

In each case, Gonzales has appeared to lawmakers to be shielding uncomfortable facts about the Bush administration's conduct on sensitive matters. A series of misstatements and omissions has come to define his tenure at the helm of the Justice Department and is the central reason that lawmakers in both parties have been trying for months to push him out of his job.

Yet controversy over Gonzales's candor about George W. Bush's conduct or policies has actually dogged him for more than a decade, since he worked for Bush in Texas.

Whether Gonzales has deliberately told untruths or is merely hampered by his memory has been the subject of intense debate among members of Congress, legal scholars and others who have watched him over the years. Some regard his verbal difficulties as a strategic ploy on behalf of a president to whom he owes his career; others see a public official overwhelmed by the magnitude of his responsibilities.
From today's Washington Post. I'm going to go with dishonest on this one. If there's one thing you learn while practicing law, it's that you put everything in writing. That way, if there's ever a dispute later on, you won't get caught making a misstatement of fact to a judge, or have your testimony discredited by someone who has the evidence. Gonzalez isn't just a lying corrupt hack charged with helming the nation's chief law enforcement agency; he is, more unforgivably, incompetent.