Monday, December 31, 2007

Why Rush Limbaugh Should Endorse Fred Thompson Now (and Break His Own 11th Commandment)

Rush Limbaugh is, arguably, the most influential conservative Republican of the post-Reagan/post-Buckley era – someone whose support is essential to any GOP presidential nominee and the next GOP president. If you doubt his impact, check Mike Huckabee's poll numbers since Rush responded over the airwaves two weeks ago to ill-considered insults hurled at him by the Huckabee campaign.

Since his national emergence in 1988, Rush has pledged never to endorse any Republican candidate during the presidential primaries. In 2007, he seemed to come close to breaking his own 11th commandment twice. First, he identified Fred Thompson as the only conservative participant in the CNN/YouTube GOP debate and defended Thompson against charges of laziness. Then Rush commended Mitt Romney's speech on faith, although he also criticized Romney's less-than-conservative record and his Iowa debate comment about not losing any sleep over the tax burden on upper income Americans.

Limbaugh may not issue official un-endorsements, either, but attentive listeners can easily discern his sympathies and antipathies. Among the top tier candidates, he has been completely positive about Thompson. Conversely, John McCain is a longstanding target of Limbaugh’s disdain. In a 2004 Wall Street Journal opinion piece about the conservative themes running through convention speeches given that summer by McCain, Giuliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rush characterized McCain as the most liberal of the trio. He also lauded Giuliani for taking “on John Kerry directly, detailing his equivocations and flip-flops on matters of war and peace, and pointing out how such indecision and expediency endanger America's security” (please see

However, if Limbaugh holds fast to his illusion of impartiality in the 2008 primaries, his reward might well be the nomination of Senator McCain.

Romney is, I believe, a fatally flawed candidate. Regrettably, Giuliani’s aforementioned warnings about Kerry’s flip-flopping and expediency apply likewise to Mitt Romney. The GOP base is divided among those who hope Romney means what he says today, those who are skeptical of his Clintonesque glibness, and those who will never vote for a Mormon. Significantly, he is clearly disliked by his GOP opponents.

Giuliani appears Clintonesque in his personal life, holds social beliefs unacceptable to evangelicals, and his Florida-centric campaign strategy may be his political downfall. If so, where will his supporters go? He has expressed admiration for McCain and ostensibly could endorse him.

Conceivably, Huckabee would continue through the primaries as a spoiler, buoyed by his evangelical base. Thompson seems like the natural beneficiary of a Huckabee collapse. Nevertheless, as Huckabee’s Iowa support was seen to decline, Romney and McCain also enjoyed increased poll numbers there.

The only criticisms published of Fred Thompson are personal (the “laziness” charge that is belied by his current campaign schedule and his resumé) and strategic (his late entry into the race). His conservative credentials are widely heralded and stand in stark relief against the records and positions of his “moderate” competitors.

If Thompson fails to finish well in Iowa and New Hampshire, he probably skips Michigan and enters South Carolina with a substantial disadvantage, politically and financially, from which it will be extremely difficult to recover. Thompson endorsed John McCain in the 2000 presidential race and it is no great stretch to imagine that he will endorse McCain again if he drops out.

That would be a death blow to the conservative movement of Buckley, Goldwater, Reagan, and Limbaugh, which has not had a genuine conservative nominee since 1984. More importantly, the conservative principles Thompson would bring back to the White House are needed desperately to win the war on fiscal irresponsibility, win the war on our borders, and win the war on terrorism as they steadfastly won the Cold War.

If Limbaugh were to endorse Thompson this week before the Hawkeye cauci, single-handedly Rush could return the national conversation to conservative vs. liberal ideology, overturn the conventional wisdom so beloved by beltway and drive-by media types, and spurn the McCain surge. In a battle of wits, ideas, principles, integrity, and gravitas, Fred Thompson is best armed to lead us to victory.

[cross posted at Red State]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Write the Songs That Make Hasselhoff Cry

It's official: American Idol is launching its first songwriting contest with details today at USA Today and more to follow at the AI songwriting site.

According to Iain Pirie of 19 Entertainment, the objective is to find undiscovered songwriting talent in the same way AI elevates singers from obscurity. He says. "You can literally imagine a 50-year-old mom sitting in her living room with a portable keyboard, coming up with a great song."

That's me! I am a 50-year-old mom and I spend lots of time in my living room recliner on a portable keyboard. Seriously, though, I am a frustrated songwriter and I do plan to enter the contest.

Please vote for me!

ETA: Oops! I didn't enter after all. My son decided not to sing on my demo and I couldn't scrounge up another good singer to record my composition before the deadline. The pros and semi-pros in bands and with access to studios really have an advantage over 50-year-old moms sitting in their living rooms.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Now Blogging: Chris Sligh

From His Mind to Our Eyes

The only upside to last night's elimination of Chris Sligh from the American Idol competition is that now Chris can spend more time with his loved ones, catch up on his sleep and share his unique perspective and humor again at From My Mind to Your Eyes. Yes, he's back among the blogging.

This morning on Good Day LA, Chris joked that maybe he should have worn a fro-hawk. He seemed genuinely upbeat and co-host Dorothy Lucey is another disappointed fan.

I will blog more later after I have exorcised all the bitterness. "Bye bye, Curly," indeed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Please Save Chris Sligh!

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Please save Chris Sligh!



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Vote for Chris Sligh

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Did Chris Sligh give a shout out to Dave of Vote for the Worst's False Idols?

Didn't he see the unflattering graphics VFTW posters made in perverse tribute to him, like When Pigs Fly above?

Will the idiots-in-charge retaliate against him? Ruh roh.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Save Chris Sligh


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If you want to see Chris Sligh in the top 11, vote!



Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fitzmas No Mas

If you don't understand why the Libby verdict today is a shameful travesty, get yourself over to Just One Minute, Tom Maguire's indispensable blog for Plame-maniacs.

You don't have to memorize all the intricacies of the case as the JOM regulars have to recognize that Patrick Fitzgerald conducted a selective, politically biased investigation. In Fitzgerald's Future in Stand-Up, Maguire summarizes the Special Prosecutor's deficiencies and concludes:

In Jan 2004 Fitzgerald learned from Ari Fleischer that David Gregory had received a leak on the morning of July 11, which certainly gave Russert time to chat with Gregory and then with Libby.

Did Fitzgerald call Gregory to verify Fleischer's testimony? No. Why not? Ask Fitzgerald. But my guess is that he figured that Gregory would only undermine the case he was constructing against Libby, and building that case was more important than learning the truth.

Fitzgerald abused his office and his public trust.

Over at The Corner at National Review Online, Mark Levin agrees.

Most prosecutors that I know try to determine what crimes they are looking into. Since Fitzgerald didn't charge anyone with revealing Plame's identity, he must have concluded early on that there was no such crime relevant to his investigation. And he knew Libby hadn't "leaked" to Woodward or Novak. That's where it should have ended. But it didn't. I find his conduct very troubling. He sought special authority from Comey to drag reporters before the grand jury (authority no prosecutor to my mind has ever exercised let alone sought). His press conference announcing the indictment was grossly misleading. He knew Libby hadn't been the source who revealed Plame's identity. He knew that many of his own witnesses had poor memories. He knew that Joe Wilson was a liar (if he reads newspapers or Senate Intel report).

His closing argument was politically charged as he referenced Cheney repeatedly and Bush as well. And he went back to the conspiracy theory he chose not to bring in a formal indictment, i.e., that Cheney led an effort to put out information about Wilson. This is the most absurd prosecution in my memory, and the idea that the man in charge of it should be viewed as simply following the law and addressing the circumstances before him is not credible to me.

In today's press conference, Fitzgerald described his investigation as "inactive." He said that he and his team were "all going back to our day jobs." And not a moment too soon.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

AI6 Top 20 Week: Vote for Chris Sligh

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Read Chris Sligh's Mind and Write Your Own Caption!

In the upper lefthand corner of this blog, I have posted a screen capture showing Chris Sligh boasting about his conquest of Paula Abdul.

I have written my own caption for this picture, but it was actually my second choice.

My first choice was not as family-friendly:

"Okay, Simon, I'll squeeze and then you cough."

Feel free to post your own captions in the comments section below. Thanks!

American Idol: The Rules of the Game

American Idol has become so absurdly popular that Merriam, Webster and Seacrest have run out of superlatives to describe its success. Hyperbole and hoopla notwithstanding, Idol is fundamentally the same game show that debuted in 2002 with predictable patterns and recognizable rules. Occasionally, it’s downright gamey – a seemingly harmless family gathering over a Monopoly board with Uncle Nigel minding the bank.

Aside from the obvious rules enumerated in the fine print of their contracts with the show, American Idol contestants ignore the unwritten rules at their own peril. Hence the Rudy Cardenas rule, formerly known as the Patrick Hall rule: one bad song choice and lousy performance placement can spoil your whole career. I find it interesting that, two years in a row, the male singer who was awarded the unfortunate opening slot in the first two-hour semifinals show is the one most reminiscent of Clay Aiken. Will we never find a successor to Clay?

For the benefit of the remaining top 20, here are seven lucky Rules of American Idol™:

1. The Blake Lewis rule: Select the right song for your vocal strengths and perform it well.

Somewhere Only We Know by Keane was a shrewd choice that accomplished exactly what Blake needed, i.e. proving that he is versatile, current, competent and authentic. He revealed a different style than we saw in the beatbox audition clips. He performed a modern ballad in a genre new to American Idol – indie piano rock popularized by Coldplay, Muse and the Fray – and thus established his uniqueness. Yet the song was familiar and mainstream enough for the diverse AI audience, owing to its revival in last summer’s commercial for the film The Lake House.

2. The Taylor Hicks rule: If the judges or producers insult you, performing well is the best revenge.

No matter how many times Simon Cowell accuses you of being drunk or prematurely middle-aged, keep smiling and thank the surly gazillionaire for his advice. If the producer forces you to switch songs 24 hours before showtime, pray for strength. Then go back to your comfortable accommodations, scream into your downy soft pillow and redouble your efforts to win the competition. Yes, Chris Sligh, I am talking to you – as a fan who hopes to see you on the American Idol stage for many weeks to come. AI regulars don’t need any reminders that Simon doesn’t always know best. He actively disliked Kelly Clarkson and underestimated her talent, but he is also capable of admitting his mistakes publicly.

Did Chris jump the snark and seal his own doom? Not necessarily. If he emphasizes his wry, self-aware, self-effacing charm – and follows the other rules – from this point forward, every week is a fresh opportunity to impress. Humor applied judiciously is a huge advantage, no pun intended. Speaking of which, how much more effective would it have been if he had joked about performing on Fat Tuesday? Yes, I know his episode was taped on Sunday, but a contestant who advertises his own strategery and prepares a punchline in advance is canny enough to know when the show will be aired.

3. The Kellie Pickler rule: Good looks and personality open the door but, lacking an equal measure of talent, the screen door will hit you on the way out.

Consistently good vocal talent in an appealing package is essential for success on American Idol. Personality or physical attractiveness cannot disguise performance flaws (the Ace Young rule). However, consistency without versatility is monotony (the Chris Daughtry rule). While versatility sets a contestant apart from the pack, too much variety can make even a gifted singer seem inauthentic (the Paris Bennett rule). But too much similarity among contestants renders them redundant and expendable (the LaToya London rule). Singers who share the same genre almost always compete for the same finite number of votes. Hey, nobody said this would be easy.

4. The Gedeon McKinney rule: If you have an appealing back story, don’t wait for the producers to publicize it.

AI5 was populated by an appealing cast of characters with compelling talent and interesting biographies, none more so than Gedeon McKinney. Unfortunately for Gedeon, the producers decided not to share his inspiring back story and he was eliminated before it came to light. Ever feel like you’ve been cheated? I consider the mishandling of Gedeon McKinney the Great American Idol Swindle of 2006.

5. The Elliott Yamin rule: Viewers want to watch you blossom and invite you into their hearts.

The most intimate aspect of the AI experience is the attachment the audience develops for a particular favorite and their personal investment in his growth as a performer. These are the ingredients that produce fans for life. Just ask the Claymates, whose devotion has been tested repeatedly throughout the past 4 years. It's no secret that I consider Elliott's metamorphosis the high watermark of the American Idol franchise. I marvel at the awesome professionalism of Lakisha Jones but wonder how she plans to top her impeccable top 24 performance without becoming perfectly boring. Fair or not, viewers want our AI amateurs to start amateurishly and then give us a musical revelation to cheer each week.

6. The other Chris Daughtry rule: No contestant is ever completely safe – not even The Chosen One.

If the AI crew wants you to win, they will adorn you with the most flattering lights, surround you with extra instrumentalists at center stage, let you roll around on the floor barefoot. Sometimes their special treatment backfires when viewers, assuming The Chosen One must be safe, cast their votes for that episode’s standout – which is precisely how Tamyra Gray, perhaps the Lakisha Jones of AI1, and Chris Daughtry were eliminated in fourth place during their respective seasons. No contestant is so talented or popular that he can afford to appear complacent or cocky (the Constantine Maroulis rule). Every performance matters.

7. The AI3 rule: A successful season with a memorable cast of characters is hard to follow.

Those of us who found the second season’s talent exceptional and magical recall how reluctant we may have been to let go of the past and embrace new contestants. Ready or not, season three arrived on schedule, bearing a hodgepodge of favoritism toward two performers and near criminal neglect of the rest (the Jennifer Hudson rule, aka the George Huff rule, aka the John Stevens rule, ad nauseam). It’s no mere coincidence that AI3 is widely remembered as the most frustrating year in American Idol history.

By any measurement, season five was the most successful ever with unforgettable talent and personalities. When I hear Chris Richardson, Sanjaya Malakar and A.J. Tabaldo tackle songs I will now and forever associate with Elliott Yamin, I cannot help drawing uncomplimentary comparisons. Taylor Hicks and Chris Daughtry lured new viewers to the show, expanding the pop music demographic and creating a market that the season six talent may not be able to satisfy.

Will success spoil American Idol? Stay tuned.

Good luck, contestants! Yes, Chris Sligh, I am still talking to you.