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Archive for June, 2007

The Burdens of Power.

In case you didn’t get your trailer fill earlier today, here’s a few more for the independence day blitz: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, and Tom Cruise take aim at the GWOT in the teaser for Redford’s muckraking Lions for Lambs; Lawyer George Clooney bites off more corporate conspiracy than he bargained for while helping crazy Tom Wilkinson in this look at Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, also with Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack; and Cate Blanchett returns to the throne (and does expect the Spanish Inquisition) in the trailer for Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age, with Geoffrey Rush (returning), Clive Owen (as Walter Ralegh), Rhys Ifans, and that famous Armada.

Shields Up.

“‘This is a further shift by the Bush administration into Nixonian stonewalling and more evidence of their disdain for our system of checks and balances,’ said Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ‘Increasingly, the president and vice president feel they are above the law.'” The Dubya administration invokes executive privilege to thwart the recently-issued congressional subpoenas for info pertaining to the persecuted prosecutor scandal. Instead, Dubya has offered Miers and Taylor for untranscribed private interviews (not under oath), an offer Spineless Specter, among others, thinks the Dems should take. “[C]onstitutional scholars cautioned that this area of law is so unsettled that it is impossible to predict the outcome if the matter ends up in court.”

Oden Days | Zach to the Future?

As expected, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant went 1 and 2 respectively at last night’s 2007 NBA Draft. Bigger news on the local scene, however, was the Knicks acquiring Portland’s talented, troubled PF Zach Randolph in exchange for sophomore SF Channing Frye (a good player, but he slumped considerably last year) and veteran “superstar” PG Steve Francis (a wildly overpaid underachiever with an awful, bloated contract — I can’t believe Portland took him, frankly.) All in all, I’m pretty happy with this trade. Randolph’s clearly a bit of a loon, and a cluttered Randolph-Curry frontcourt makes about as much sense as the Marbury-Francis backcourt — it’s a fantasy team line-up with no sense for team chemistry. How are Marbury, Crawford, or Robinson going to drive into the paint with both Curry and Randolph drawing double-teams in the low post, and no real shooters to spread the floor? Still, losing Francis was addition by subtraction, and, while’s Randolph’s contract is also pretty hefty ($61 million over 4 years) at the very least, Randolph is still young. (The move was definitely better than the Celtics’ obvious panic-trade for Ray Allen. I love Jesus Shuttlesworth, but shooting guards over 30 — particularly those who just had two ankle surgeries — age in dog years, and he, like Pierce, has a tendency to disappear sometimes.)

One Sick Puppy.

Where do they find these people? The GOP leadership has already given us Dr. William “Catkiller” Frist, he of the feline felonies. Now comes word that Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney apparently sees nothing wrong in strapping his family pet to the top of a moving car for twelve hours at a time. (To him, Seamus the Irish Setter just “likes fresh air,” so much so that I guess he’d move his bowels in abject terror only occasionally.) Um, Governor, Berk likes fresh air too, but that doesn’t mean I bolt him down to the top of speeding NYC taxis. Here’s a tip: Having animals ride atop moving cars…good for Teen Wolf, bad for dogs.

My Clinton Concerns | State of the Field.

“‘You can look at this stage and see an African American, a Latino, a woman contesting for the presidency of the United States,’ Clinton said. ‘But there is so much left to be done, and for anyone to assert that race is not a problem in America is to deny the reality in front of our very eyes.'” Unfortunately, I missed the third Democratic debate at Howard University debate last night, so I can’t comment on the performances of Clinton, Obama, Edwards et al. I can say that this new NBC poll showing that 52% of the electorate wouldn’t consider voting for Hillary under any circumstances conforms to one of my major concerns with her nomination. As I said before, she’s a smart, talented, and impressive politico who’d undoubtedly sail the ship of state much more smoothly than the current administration. (Of course, so would you, I, the night-janitor at the local McDonalds, or almost anyone else one can think of.) But, really: [1] she’s thoroughly lousy on campaign finance reform, to my mind the issue that bears on virtually all others; [2] she apparently didn’t have the wherewithal or leadership instincts to realize the Iraq war was a terrible idea in 2003 (it didn’t take all that much to figure it out, particularly when you figure how much more information Clinton had access to than we did); [3] her view of centrism is apparently to act like Joe Lieberman every so often; and [4] most of the nation has already decided for various reasons that they don’t like her. With the Republicans scattered and in retreat, their ideology in eclipse, why do we keep throwing up marginal, tired candidates — Gore, Kerry, Clinton — on the off-chance that the electorate will manage to surmount their strong negatives, hold their collective nose, and vote for them?

To be fair, the other Dems haven’t been all that great at articulating a progressive alternative to Republican-lite DLC-ishness yet either, but at least there’s some potential for it there. Sen. Obama‘s got all the right JFK moves, and this all-things-to-all-people ambiguity may be one of his strongest political assets. But right now I think he’s relying too much on his initial spate of public goodwill, and missing a chance to really draw the nation’s attention to the issues that concern him. And John Edwards‘ son-of-a-millworker-made-good brand of populism, while laudable, doesn’t yet seem fully formed to me. But, at the very least, Edwards — unlike some of his more-willing-to-triangulate opponents — seems more often than not to let his flag fly, and act from the courage of his convictions. Right now, particularly with McCain hopelessly derailed by his blatant compromises of principle, Edwards may be the closest we’ve got to a Straight-Talk-Express this year (well, this side of Kucinich, Gravel, and Paul.)

At the moment, I’m still leaning towards Obama, just because of his tremendous upside — he, unlike virtually every other candidate, has the possibility to transform, revitalize, and realign our current political debate if he plays his cards right. But, Edwards is still in my estimation, and I’ll be taking a long hard look at him over the coming months (and either, in my humble opinion, are preferable to Senator Clinton, for the reasons listed above.)

Felled at the Border.

“A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find a common ground. It didn’t work…I had hoped for a bipartisan accomplishment, and what we got was a bipartisan defeat.” Harding had the Washington Conference, Nixon had China and the FAP…but it looks like there’ll be nothing to dilute Dubya’s dismal standing in the history books. Arguably his last chance for a positive domestic accomplishment shattered to pieces when the Senate voted 53-46 against closing debate on the bipartisan immigration reform bill. “The outcome was a major blow to Bush, dealt largely by members of his own party…Republicans on both sides acknowledged the immigration fight had riven the GOP.

Backcourt Violations.

“‘Conservatives got everything they could reasonably have hoped for out of the term,’ said Thomas C. Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who specializes in Supreme Court litigation.” Proving the crucial importance of the Alito-O’Connor switch (and, I’ll continue to maintain as my answer to Emily Bazelon’s line of questioning, the 2004 election), the Roberts Court flexed its muscle in depressing fashion this week, voting 5-4 (as feared) not only to gut the McCain-Feingold act in the name of “free speech” but also — seriously, no lie — to partially roll back Brown v. Board of Education. (In another well-reported case, the majority’s inordinate fear of bongs trumped this stalwart commitment to free speech.) So, if you’re keeping score, Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy came down like this: money good, corruption good, drug hysteria good; clean politics bad, youthful irony bad, integration bad. Oh, wonderful. Suddenly, the announcement that the Court will take a look at the Guantanamo cases doesn’t sound so appetizing. Update: Slate‘s slate of legal observers discuss.

Blair bids farewell.

I wish everyone, friend or foe, well. And that is that — the end.So long, Tony (and good luck in the Middle East.) ‘We’re very glad to see him go, because he’s the most dangerous opponent that we’ve had in a couple of hundred years,’ former Conservative leader William Hague told the BBC afterward.‘” That may have been true for awhile, I guess. Too bad Blair decided to pull an LBJ and mar his otherwise-sound progressive legacy with an exceedingly ill-advised foreign war. But, time marches onward, so, with that in mind, Hello to Gordie and the New Labor Order.

They’ll Make Your Heart Sing.

AICN and MTV’s Movie Blog score the first production still from Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Looks just about perfect.

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