31 December 2012

Some 90-stalgia: Which hip hop/R&B stars from back in the day have fallen off now?

I'm thinking of such a list because of that new song "Put It Down" by Brandy featuring Chris Brown. I think Brandy was better when she was up-and-coming in the '90s with "I Wanna Be Down" (geez, how many Brandy songs have the word "down"????) and "Baby". Her song with Kanye back in '04 "Talk About Our Love" is mediocre. The aforementioned singles are the only Brandy songs I'd ever keep in my mp3 player. Oh yeah, the talentless hack Ray J (with a terrible singing voice and star of the Kim Kardashian sex tape) is her younger brother (Ray J's real name is William Ray Norwood Jr.).

So I've decided as a new year comes and hip hop progressively gets worse (but at least the fact that Kendrick Lamar's new album Good Kid, MAAD City has outsold 2 Chainz' Based on a TRU Story I have hope...and the new GOOD Music compilation Cruel Summer is also pushing 100k's of units) I wonder how many rappers or R&B singers who were in their prime in the '90s are just stale in the new millennium?

- Usher: I like "You Make Me Wanna" and "Nice & Slow" from his breakout 1997 album My Way. And I just now discovered his debut single recorded when he was just 13, "Call Me a Mack" (from the soundtrack of the 1993 film that starred Tupac and Janet Jackson, Poetic Justice). In his '90s songs, Usher even rapped verses! 8701 (2001) was alright, Confessions (2004) was way overplayed in its time and was a step downward because now I think "Burn" is essentially "U Got It Bad" with more RPM. "Caught Up" is better though. Oh, one time I was listening to Detroit's hip hop/R&B station WJLB on iHeartRadio (another sign I need to go back to Michigan, haven't been there since May 1997) and heard Maxwell's "Fortunate" and that was the first time in my life I realized that "U Got It Bad" interpolated the chorus of "Fortunate". Nowadays Usher always puts out party music as singles, like "Love In This Club" [2008] with a beat ripped off of GarageBand software! Then he hopped on the Auto-Tune bandwagon in 2010 with "OMG" featuring will.i.am and did a super poppy club anthem "DJ Got Us Falling in Love" with Pitbull (a rapper who's a traitor to his genre, but that's a whole 'nother story). And "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)" went far on the raunchy side especially with annoying rapper Plies. I'm not too fond of "What Happened to U", ESPECIALLY since if you were listening to radio the beginning fools you into thinking you're hearing "One More Chance" by the Notorious BIG! "Hot Tottie" (2010) rips off the beat of Jay-Z's "On to the Next One". Usher has had a HUGE creativity issue for the past several years.

- Members of the Wu-Tang Clan: 8 Diagrams (2007) was one hell of a generic album...nothing that Wu-Tang or its members does in the future will ever KO Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993), Wu-Tang Forever (1997), Method Man's Tical (1995), Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (1995), etc.

- Fat Joe: I can listen to his 90s songs like "The Shit Is Real", "John Blaze", "Flow Joe", "Watch Out", or his parts in songs like "Twinz (Deep Cover '98)" on repeat especially with the heavy, deep, street lyrics and flow with genuine hip hop beats. However, Fat Joe became way too commercial and generic after J.O.S.E. in 2001 especially with getting pop-&-B singers like R. Kelly and Ashanti singing hooks. From that album "My Lifestyle" is a hard track, but "We Thuggin'" is just guilty pleasure even though hearing that song on KMEL back in October 2001 helped me get into hip hop when I was younger. "What's Luv?" wears out as well. Loyalty (2002) was a very low creative point before Fat Joe returned in 2004 for the second Terror Squad album True Story with number-one hit "Lean Back". He went solo again All or Nothing (2005), the lead single featuring Nelly "Get It Poppin" is wack but the album had other harder tracks like "So Much More" or the anti-50 Cent song "My Fofo". Me Myself & I (2006) marked the time when Fat Joe abandoned his NYC roots for the trendy Southern sound in "Make It Rain" featuring Lil Wayne and then doing guest performances on DJ Khaled's album. Even the deeper cuts like "Damn" and "The Profit" were getting more dull. The Elephant in the Room (2008) = rock bottom. I was never into "I Won't Tell", which sounded more like POP MUSIC than hip hop (especially since pop-&-B J. Holiday sang). Even the deeper cuts like "K.A.R" and "The Fugitive" were getting generic and tiresome. And look what the hell Fat Joe is doing now with super-lame party music like "Another Round" with Chris Brown (tell me again WHY he still gets prominent spots after beating Rihanna?) and not even "Pride N Joy" featuring Kanye and a bunch of others like Jadakiss and Mos Def is worth listening. "Instagram That Hoe"? By the title itself that's straight garbage. Fat Joe has been using the same old same old formula for theme and rapping for nearly 7 years now. How many songs about hot women, the club, and luxuries can he do creatively anymore? At age 42 maybe he should think about doing less music.

- Master P or any other artist signed with No Limit Records: I remember hearing "We Like Them  Girls" by Silkk  the Shocker on the radio in 2004 (when I was in 8th grade and basically liking pretty much any crap I heard on Wild 94.9 or 106 KMEL). At that time I'd also discovered "Make Em Say Uhh" by Master P on the compilation album MTV the First 1000 Years: Hip Hop & then thru sites like MSN Music and Amazon.com the other No Limit rappers and other songs they did in the late '90s such as: "Bout It Bout It" by Master P and "I Got the Hook Up" by MP. Thinking back on it, there's a reason why Master P and the other No Limit rappers ended up on Koch Records (which later became E1 Music). I mean, how is Master P's "Them Jeans" (2004) any different from Lil Jon's "Get Low" (2002)?

- Lil Wayne: A rapper since 1993 (when he was just 11), Wayne found his big break in 2008 with Tha Carter III. Sadly in order to achieve such a high-sales album with many Grammys and top singles Wayne abandoned his gangsta rap sound from his earlier career for a more mainstream (and of course the dreaded AUTO TUNE) sound. Examples of Wayne's earlier stuff from Cash Money Records: "The Block Is Hot" (1999),  or go to 0:55 for his part in B.G.'s "Bling Bling" (1999), or 1:00 for his verse in "From Tha 13th to Tha 17th" when he was known as "Baby D" in rap duo The B.G.'z back in 1995 (when Wayne was only 13), or 3:20 at "I Need a Hot Girl" (with his group Hot Boys in 1999). In 2004 Wayne's rapping style became softer and more structured, like in "Bring It Back" and "Go DJ" (both '04) and "Fireman" and "Hustler Musik" (2005). Wayne's career took an interesting turn in 2006. That year he did just mixtapes and guest performances: both on the poppier side ("You" by Lloyd, "Make It Rain" by Fat Joe, the remix of "Gimme That" by Chris Brown) and on the street side (like the anti-George W. Bush mixtape cut "Georgia Bush"). And then in 2007 came The Leak EP with such underground tracks like "I'm Me". Unfortunately in 2008 when I first heard "Lollipop" on the radio with all the auto tune I knew Lil Wayne went beyond selling out. Things only got worse with his fake "rock" album Rebirth in 2009 (STILL with that auto tune), Wayne putting Drake in the spotlight, and the very boring album I Am Not a Human Being  in 2010. These days Lil Wayne is doing far more lame pop music like "How To Love", "Right Above It", or "Mrs. Officer" than tracks where he actually cares about rapping like in "John" or "6 Foot 7 Foot".

- Members of A Tribe Called Quest: Tribe was VERY great when they were together in the 90s. However the solo stuff that Tribe members put out isn't very memorable. "Gettin' Up" by Q-Tip was better than any of the mainstream hip hop overplayed on radio back in '08. But does that stand up to Tribe classics like "Scenario", "Buggin' Out", "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo"? NO!

- R. Kelly: Transformed from slow jam soul singer in the early 90s ("Bump n Grind") to mainstream urban contemporary singer in the late 90s ("Home Alone") to straight up baller in the 00s and beyond (his many many guests spots/collabos with rappers). Oh, don't forget that child porn trial too. R. Kelly's attempt at being everything to every audience gave him a whole bunch of repetitive uncreative stereotypical mainstream rap songs..."Supaman High", "That's That", the Jay-Z collaboration albums. "Playas Only", etc.

Any others? Comment below.

10 February 2012

US v Canada trade

from today's news:

"US trade deficit reaches six-month high" (Financial Times)

"Canada's trade surplus doubles in December" (CBC)

Conspiracy theory time: Super Bowl halftime shows and election years.

(This post isn't serious it's just for kicks.)

2004: New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Justin Timberlake exposes Janet Jackson's breast during Super Bowl halftime show. FCC fines CBS. Republican incumbent George W. Bush wins re-election, and exit polls show that moral values were the leading concern issue in the year's election.

2012: New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. M.I.A. flips the bird during the Super Bowl halftime show. What happens next...

In 2004, the Democratic nominee for president was John Kerry, a US Senator from Massachusetts. This year, a Republican contender for president is a former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. However, former US Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum has now taken a temporary lead in the primaries.

Massachusetts. Super Bowl halftime shows during election years. Obscene incidents during those shows.

Could it be that the New England Patriots, M.I.A., and Justin Timberlake were acting as Republican undercover operatives during the Super Bowl?

Also the Chicago Sun Times reports about a man named Robert Dewey Hoskins who escaped from a California mental hospital. Hoskins was convicted of stalking and threatening Madonna in 1996. I think this Hoskins guy may be an operative too if he takes retaliatory action against Madonna regarding the halftime show.

Another moral outrage failure for Bozell

Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council, finally has written a column condemning NBC over M.I.A. giving the middle finger during this year's Super Bowl halftime show: "Another Fleeting Failure for NBC". Of course it's predictable he'd be outraged, but this column is stilted in several ways. He opens: "Super Bowl XLVI was a good football game, marred once again by the bohemian elite at NBC." Well, the last time the "bohemian elite at NBC" played the Super Bowl (that was in 2009 with the Cardinals and Steelers and halftime with Bruce Springsteen...but I don't recall Bozell complaining that NBC had a commie pinko labor advocate perform!). I personally disagree and see this game more a carbon copy of the 2008 one with the same teams (Patriots and Giants) and a similar ending: Eli Manning with a last-minute winning drive and Tom Brady failing to reach the end zone as time runs out.

Of course after reporting how NBC couldn't blur out MIA's middle finger on time this conservative Christian activist must play the persecution card: "The same network skillfully edited God out of a clip of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during last year's U.S. Open golf tournament." Funny how he dismisses complaints from Muslims about drawing Muhammad yet leaving God out of the Pledge of Allegiance (by the way the ORIGINAL Pledge didn't include "under God")!

First he misleads readers into thinking that M.I.A. used a similar routine from the halftime show in the music video:

While she was launching the obscene gesture, she was rapping, "I'm-a say this once, yeah I don't give a (S-word)." That's in the newly recorded Madonna song they were performing ("Give Me All Your Luvin'"), and it's also in the video. How does NBC not prepare for a bleep and a camera shift when it knows it's coming?
I rewatched and then noticed at 2:17 mark of the video (that's during Nicki Minaj's performance) M.I.A. had her middle finger up albeit with a bandage on the finger:

HOWEVER, during her rapping part of the song (including the "I don't give a..." line) she actually uses her index finger, as Bozell concedes: "In the Madonna video, [M.I.A.] points her fingers like a gun."

Concluding his column, Bozell dismisses Sasha Frere-Jones's criticism of the PTC (but Bozell didn't mention that the PTC declined to file complaints formally with the FCC): "[Frere-Jones] tried to be offended instead that the Super Bowl show featured 'ad after ad that likened women -- negatively -- to sofas, cars and candy.' He raised his middle fingers to 'anyone who thinks profanity is somehow more harmful to our children than images of violence and misogyny.'" Bozell lets his mindless authoritarianism get in the way of addressing the issue of misogynistic ads like the GoDaddy ads and the Teleflora ad featuring Adrianna Lima. Bozell has complained about media misogyny in the past (see "MTV, Both Sleazy and Sour" from Dec. 10, 2011; "Exploiting the Teen Temptress" from Dec. 18, 2010; "Moms vs. Hip-Hop" from Oct. 20, 2006). But somehow, Super Bowl ads get a free pass even if those blatantly objectifying messages reach millions of children. Where's Bozell's outrage? (I don't want to know where his hands were on Super Bowl Sunday.) Maybe football is such an obligately macho sport that you can't have it without the cheerleaders or woman-hating ads. Plus, apparently Bozell is more scared about kids who are scarred for life because of an unnoticeable middle finger! (Case in point, that middle finger registered so slowly in many people's eyes including to NBC's control room staff.)

Credit to post #18 on Free Republic's repost of Bozell's column: "M.I.A.'s bird-flipping is far less offensive to me than the behavior tolerated by the NFL of so many of their players." (Michael Vick, Donte Stallworth, Plaxico Burress, and other players with criminal records come to mind.)

08 February 2012

The real context of MIA's finger gesture at the super bowl halftime show

If you watched the halftime show of this year's Super Bowl (rather unexciting, more of a carbon copy of the one after the 2007 season) you might've seen rapper M.I.A sticking up her middle finger for a moment. Then the screen suddenly cuts to an aerial view of the field and blurs very quickly. If you were wondering why NBC blurred the whole screen for a second after MIA finished her performance it was because the network realized what MIA did and thought the blur could censor the action on time. It didn't, and I presume that NBC had some sort of tape delay system. But it does confirm the opinion that MIA's action was so quick that many people wouldn't notice exactly which finger she was sticking up. In fact, Time magazine TV critic James Poniewoznik commented: "M.I.A...apparently briefly flipped off the camera in a gesture so shocking that I had no idea she even did it until NBC issued an apology for it." An Associated Press report also quoted a viewer who only realized the next morning what MIA did.

Here's the video.

And here's the official music video for Madonna's "Give Me All Your Luvin'". Go to the 2:39 mark, where MIA's part is. When she raps "I don't give a sh..." she points out her index finger as in mimicking firing a gun. Hmm. So could it be that MIA might've accidentally moved her wrong finger? A possibility. UK tabloid The Sun quotes an anonymous insider: "M.I.A. did nothing similar in rehearsals," and also alleged that Madonna disapproved of MIA's action.

And of course, the good ol' Parents Television Council had to weigh in. (No long-winded column yet about "OOGA BOOGA DECLINING DECENCY STANDARDS IN AMERICA!" by PTC founder/former president/now advisor/continuing columnist Brent Bozell.) Current PTC president Tim Winter was quoted in the same AP source: "Most families would agree that the middle finger aimed directly at them is not appropriate, especially during the most-watched television event of the year."

The PTC's full statement is here, and furthermore Winter stated: "It has been eight years since the Janet Jackson striptease, and both NBC and the NFL knew full well what might happen. They chose a lineup full of performers who have based their careers on shock, profanity and titillation." The performers in this year's halftime show indeed don't lack controversy. Headliner Madonna has been provocative throughout her nearly 30-year pop music career and has especially inflamed the "pro-family" crowd, for example in 1989 soft drink brand Pepsi canceled a planned TV commercial with Madonna because the American Family Association complained about the singer's "Like a Virgin" music video using Christian symbolism and boycotted Pepsi for planning the ad. And as i blogged about earlier Brent Bozell had gripes with co-performer Nicki Minaj, who also had a wardrobe malfunction on a Good Morning America TV performance last year. Cee-Lo had a popular hit with "Fuck You" (on the radio "Forget You"), of course that would inflame Bozell's sensibilities (the golden passage in this column? "Any radio edit is just a lame Band-Aid for a pus-filled boil."). Another Bozell-founded Cultural Guardian, the Culture and Media Institute, also targeted MIA over her song "Lovalot" because its chorus sounded like "I love Allah"...oh no, those evil pop musicians can NOT be singing about ALLAH and MUSLIMS to our precious kids' ears!!!! But other than the performers' controversial backgrounds, what other evidence does Winter have to claim NBC knew another Janet Jackson moment would happen? In fact Winter had nothing to say about the suggestive dancing in the halftime show, and had the middle finger incident not occurred would he even have issued a Monday morning statement? Furthermore, the song selection wasn't highly offensive (unlike the Super Bowl show with Janet Jackson with songs like "Rock Your Body" and "Shake Ya Tailfeather"). From wikipedia: The setlist included "Vogue," a medley of Madonna's "Music" and LMFAO's two largest hits ("Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It,"...), followed by "Give Me All Your Luvin'," "Open Your Heart," "Express Yourself" (in a duet with [Cee-Lo] Green), and the finale, "Like a Prayer"."

Wonder why PTC doesn't have a complaint form to the FCC on its front page (even as of right now) unlike back in February 2004 after the Janet Jackson incident? The "Hilicon Valley" blog at TheHill.com explains: "A spokeswoman for the Parents Television Council said the organization won't ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fine NBC over the incident, but "we're certain others will do so whether we encourage them to or not."" In fact, if the FCC decides to fine NBC over this incident, MIA is contractually bound to pitch in. It seems by not actively pursuing formal complaints over MIA's middle finger, PTC is silently acknowledging that this is a weaker case than Janet Jackson's breast.

27 January 2012

Bozell, take your blindfold off.

The conservative cultural crusader Brent Bozell's latest column "The Double Standard on 'Hoes'" attacks Nicki Minaj's horrible new song "Stupid Hoe". In a way as a heavy Republican-hating lefty I wish I could actually agree with him for once! But I take issue with this passage:
It seems rather clear that Imus deserved some punishment, even if his dismissal might be excessive. So why were the Reverends [Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton] applauded universally for their activism?

Because all of their fuss wasn’t about “public decency” or “degradation” or media companies “mainstreaming racism and sexism," not really. It was about race, and about how whites cannot say “indecent” things about blacks, not even in jest. But blacks can use those very same words, however they wish, with the ugliest of intentions if desired, with impunity. Where are Jackson and Sharpton over 'Stupid Hoe" now? Cricket, cricket.
Did Bozell and the other CONservative pundits miss how the black activists also took rappers to task after the Imus controversy? Like Sharpton's march on May 3, 2007 calling for an end to the use of the B-word and N-word in hip hop lyrics? Or Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons calling on record labels to drop the B, H, and N words? Or Sharpton's National Action Network having a Decency Initiative that "advocates against the entertainment industry’s use of capitalizing off of denigrating lyrics to describe black culture."

Funny how Bozell warns his readers: "Don’t hurt your brain trying to make sense" of the lyrics of the Minaj song. Well, I think that many people have lost more brain cells reading Bozell's selectively-researched rants and Catholic apologetics. Furthermore, Bozell contradicts himself by asserting that rappers can advance their careers by using "ho" but then pointing out "YouTube watchers gave the Minaj video about twice as many Dislikes as Likes" (as I type this the video now has likes and 232,539 dislikes.) Given that reaction I don't think Bozell has much to whine about now.

Furthermore, on the Dec. 23 edition of Fox News' Sean Hannity TV show Bozell called Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead". So after that instance Bozell has lost his right to call for decency in culture.

22 January 2012

Not even 11PM is out of reach of the PTC...

PTC's newest "Worst Cable Content of the Week" targets E! Entertainment network's late night talk show Chelsea Lately. (I won't watch any garbage on E! and prefer David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson, but I find PTC just as dumb as Handler.) Putting the usual PTC banter about everyone subsidizing offensive programming aside, why target a late night show? The author listed several jokes with sexual and even a political bent, quoting a Bill Maher appearance:

Maher: “Religion makes people crazy…[religious people] just can’t think straight.”

Chelsea: “I hate Newt Gingrich, and everyone watching this show must also hate him…The point is to influence all my young girl [fans] who don’t know any better. You must hate Newt Gingrich, you understand?”

Hmm, when did the PTC ever target Fox News Channel for broadcasting Republican talking points as news all of the day and night? Or talk radio? You can hear worse things than "religious people can't think straight" on those outlets. And of course the usual message: " every cable subscriber in America – Democrat or Republican, parent or grandparent, religionist or teetotaler – is FORCED by cable giant (and E! and NBC owner) Comcast to subsidize Chelsea Lately"...but of course, does the author not realize that channels like EWTN or Fox News or the Word Network are subsidized by the godless liberal cable subscribers? More laughable is the PTC's claim that "Comcast [is] glamorizing Chelsea Handler’s irresponsible lifestyle and behavior to millions of children." If your kids are watching TV on school nights at 11PM then you are an irresponsible parent.

PTC reviewed shows for the week of Jan. 9-Jan. 13 and found they were all rated "TV-PG-DLS" (parental guidance suggested due to suggestive dialogue, language, and sexual situations). Well again this is a late night show. And my check of the zap2it.com and eonline.com listings finds that all of this week's Chelsea shows will be rated TV-14-DLS as the PTC desires; think about TV-14 as the movie PG-13 rating. If PTC is so outraged about Chelsea Handler why not target what David Letterman and Jay Leno are saying on the public airwaves at 11PM every night?

21 January 2012

The really scary story about Newt Gingrich the media did NOT discuss

I quit watching the evening news shows on ABC/CBS/NBC around the time after Charles Gibson retired and the morning shows (even worse in terms of serious news vs. entertainment) waaaaay earlier. I get my news now from the PBS Newshour, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and various Internet sites as well. Now Newt Gingrich is being confronted with a claim from his 2nd ex wife that he asked for an open marriage after he was caught cheating with his mistress turned current wife. On Thursday night's CNN debate, moderator John King opened the debate giving Gingrich and opportunity to respond. Gingrich went off on an angry attack on the media for bringing up this story:
Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine. My two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.
Astonishingly, Gingrich never took accountability for his own bad behavior. (So much for the party of personal responsibility...or as the has-been candidate, fellow Georgian, and creepy man Herman Cain put it..."blame yourself!") Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus took Gingrich to task in her column "Newt Gingrich blames media for a mess he created".

We get the idea that Gingrich is a moral hypocrite for stumping for family values despite his history of marital infidelity. But there's this scarier part of Gingrich, what he would do as president. The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported on Wednesday, "Newt Gingrich: I would ignore supreme court as president":
Newt Gingrich has pledged that on his first day as president he will set up a constitutional showdown by ordering the military to defy a supreme court ruling extending some legal rights to foreign terrorism suspects and captured enemy combatants in US custody.

The Republican contender told a forum of anti-abortion activists ahead of South Carolina's primary election that as president he would ignore supreme court rulings he regards as legally flawed. He implied that would also extend to the 1973 decision, Roe vs Wade, legalising abortion.

"If the court makes a fundamentally wrong decision, the president can in fact ignore it," said Gingrich to cheers.


Gingrich said the first confrontation would be over its historic ruling, known as the Boumediene decision, that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantánamo Bay have the right to challenge their detention in US courts.

And this isn't the first time Gingrich has suggested such a view towards Sup. Ct. cases, see "Newt Gingrich says he'd defy Supreme Court rulings he opposed" (LA Times, 12/17/11).

The Seriously, America? tumblr commented: "Andrew Jackson took this approach—so it’s been tried. It resulted in the Trail of Tears." (That case Pres. Jackson ignored would be Worcester v. Georgia...and I recently learned that Worcester is pronounced "wusster" not "war-ces-ter") Also, Gingrich seems to be swimming into Nixonian territory, as the disgraced Richard Nixon famously said in the 1977 David Frost interview: "...when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."

More likely in the media you'll hear about Gingrich's personal life or horse race type issues than how candidates would approach different areas of government. Searching for media coverage of Gingrich's supreme court views, I found that CNN's Situation Room afternoon news show on Dec. 19 devoted a whole interview with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about Gingrich's December statement (search "activist judge" in this transcript and you'll get there). On Dec. 27, host Wolf Blitzer interviewed Gingrich and included a question about Gingrich's view on activist judges:

BLITZER: ...On justices of the Supreme Court, lower courts, you've made some very controversial comments that if you disagree adamantly with some of their decisions, you wouldn't hesitate to subpoena these guys, these judges, bring them forward, and not -- and basically ignore their decisions.

I asked Jeffrey Toobin, our Senior Legal Analyst, he's an authority on the US Supreme Court, as you probably know. I asked him whether or not you have a basis from which to speak on this issue, and I'll play the clip --


BLITZER: -- of what he said.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The courts have the last word. You don't like it, you can change the constitution, you can have new justices on the Supreme Court, you can even impeach a federal judge.

But you cannot haul them in and beat them up in front of a Congressional committee. You cannot use the police to intimidate judges. That is something that is fundamentally against American constitutional history.


GINGRICH: Well, he's wrong --

BLITZER: All right. Jeffrey Toobin.

GINGRICH: Look, Jeffrey's wrong on two counts. First of all, the courts are not the last word. The courts are one of three last words. The constitution's designed around a balance of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. There is on superior branch. Hamilton --

BLITZER: But until new legislation is passed --


BLITZER: -- the rule of the -- the decision of the Supreme Court stands.

GINGRICH: Only in the case of the law. Not in -- only in the case. Lincoln says in his 1861 inaugural address the Dred Scott case extending slavery over the whole country is not the law of the land. And he says, furthermore, you would eliminate our freedom if nine people could decide it.

Jefferson, when asked if the Supreme Court was supreme over the president and the Congress said that is absurd. That would be an oligarchy.

Jeffrey ought to look at the 54-page paper at Newt.org where, as a historian, we lay out the historic case. Alexander Hamilton says the courts would never pick a fight with the legislature and the executive because, in fact, they would lose the fight. Now, that implies something about relative strength.

Lastly, he has made my case. He said judges can be impeached. The first step towards impeachment is hearing testimony. The question I was asked was, could Congress compel testimony? By definition in an impeachment case, they can compel testimony.
Other broadcast media coverage of Gingrich criticizing activist judges (from a Lexisnexis search):
  • (an aside) Reuters did a critical article about Gingrich's comments about arresting judges: "Gingrich's nods to history don't impress scholars"
  • NBC's Mike Viqureira commented at the end of a generic report about the Saturday 12/17 developments of primary campaigns: "[Gingrich] has more controversial comments tonight about what he calls liberal activist judges, today telling reporters on a conference call that some judges should be subpoenaed to testify before Congress to explain their rulings, sometimes for whole courts to be abolished in some circumstances, even suggesting that presidents can ignore judicial rulings that they don't like." That was it. (NBC Nightly News, 12/17/11, see 1:45 mark of the linked video)
  • The next Sunday morning, CBS's Bob Schieffer asked Gingrich about his comments, and Gingrich reaffirmed his position. (Face the Nation, 12/18/11)
  • The following Monday, Gingrich did more judicial-bashing at a speech in Iowa, and NPR did a full story (All Things Considered, 12/19/11)
  • Also, MSNBC's Ed Schultz interviewed Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley from a critical angle about Gingrich's comments (The Ed Show, 12/19/11)
  • MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed former Minnesota Republican chair and Michele Bachmann chief of staff Ron Carey (The Last Word, 12/19/11)
  • Otherwise, LexisNexis produces no results from ABC, CBS, and NBC reporting on Gingrich's comments on 12/19 or anytime later.. I watched the PBS Newshour that day and heard nothing there either. Lexis also showed modest coverage by the cable networks. This topic drew much discussion on the Democratic Underground forum.
  • The conclusion: the media just forgets like a Republican elephant and wants sensationalism, not substance.