The Spectacle Blog

Computer Christmas

By on 12.9.05 | 9:39AM

This growing controversy over empty megachurches on Sunday is fascinating. First, the mainstream media's interest in it indicates a growing awareness of religious life in the country and also perhaps a desire to portray evangelicals as less than faithful. Second, to be fair to our brethren many are remaining true to the traditions and principles of their denominations by not celebrating Christmas. The theological justification for this is hinted at in the New York Times story:

"This attachment to a particular day on the calendar is just not something that megachurches have been known for," Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University, said. "They're known for being flexible and creative, and not for taking these traditions, seasons, dates and symbols really seriously."

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Who Is David Cameron?

By on 12.9.05 | 9:20AM

So what does Margaret Thatcher think about new Tory leader David Cameron? Not much, as one can infer from John O'Sullivan's column today. O'Sullivan, a long-time adviser to Thatcher and as solid a Reaganite-Thatcherite as there is on both sides of the Atlantic, is unsually blunt in assessment of Cameron, who for all we know is little more than a media-savvy empty suit, another kinder and gentler successor to the real thing.

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Gay Marriage Rollback

By on 12.9.05 | 9:18AM

In New York yesterday a state appellate court overturned a ruling that would have allowed gay marriage in New York City.

Note to those confused about judicial activism: this isn't conservative judicial activism. This is a higher court setting straight a lower court's activism. The appellate court doesn't mince words:

We find that the motion court erred in granting plaintiffs summary judgment and finding the provisions of the DRL unconstitutional to the extent that they do not permit same-sex marriage. However, we find it even more troubling that the court, upon determining the statute to be unconstitutional, proceeded to rewrite it and purportedly create a new constitutional right, an act that exceeded the court's constitutional mandate and usurped that of the Legislature.

Read the whole thing. It's a fine legal argument for the state's legitimate interest in fostering marriage.

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Not So Fast

By on 12.9.05 | 8:57AM

The Administration's victory lap upon the announcement that House and Senate conferees had reached agreement on legislation to reauthorize provisions in the Patriot Act that are set to sunset December 31st, may be premature. A number of Republican Senators are joining with many Democrats to stop cloture. These constitutionalists will then continue efforts to incorporate in the final legislation the modest but important amendments that were in the earlier Senate version of the reauthorization. Civil libertarians on the right and the left support their efforts.

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Off we go

By on 12.8.05 | 9:37PM

The local muezzin woke me at about 0515. It's about 0620 now. We spent the night in one of Saddam's palaces (redecorated US Army style, with the finest of bunk beds). No potable water in the sinks, but breakfast awaits, and then the helo ride to one or more undisclosed locations to see the troops. We're accompanied at all times by a detail of force protection troops led by a very sharp lieutenant colonel. I feel mighty safe. Well, at least when not riding helos. Like bumblebees, they seem to break the laws of physics every time they fly. I kinda like stuff with wings. Later.

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In Iraq

By on 12.8.05 | 1:17PM

BAGHDAD, IRAQ -- We flew from Kuwait City to Baghdad International this morning on a C-130, and then helo'd to the Baghdad Embassy Annex (one of Saddam's old palaces) to meet with Amb. Khalilzad, and several of the top military commanders. There's a lot to report, and I can only do some tonight as we are up very early tomorrow to helo out to visit the troops in one or two hotspots. Can't say where we're going until we've been there. Security is very tight.

The Iraqi election is a week from today, and from all reports there will likely be a very high turnout in all but one or two places. The Sunni seem to have taken a more pragmatic view than in the leadup to the constitutional referendum in September. This election chooses a permanent government, and the Sunni will probably vote in substantial numbers to avoid being deprived of proportional representation in the new parliament.

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What It Takes

By on 12.8.05 | 12:37PM

In the category of nice guys finish first -- as Tom Brady has done in three of the last four Super Bowls -- it's only fitting that Brady has been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. He's the prince of quarterbacks, or better maybe to call him a virtuoso. If you read SI's write-up, one things jumps out as the secret to Brady's success, notwithstanding his toughness and fine character: practice. As in practice, practice, practice, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Writes Charles P. Pierce in the Dec. 12 issue:

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David Brooks’ Conservatism

By on 12.8.05 | 11:09AM

In response to one of the polling posts below, a reader asks how these new NYT numbers jive with the ones David Brooks uses in his piece today. I found the Brooks piece on Lexis Nexis. It's something else.

First, the numbers.

On the economy, Democrats are trusted more, 56 to 34. On education, it's Democrats 55 to 32. On taxes, Democrats 48 to 38. On health care, Democrats 54 to 29.

The Times/CBS poll reports Democrats are trusted more on the economy 45 to 37 percent, moral values 43 to 41 percent, terrorism 42 to 31 percent, Medicare 54 to 24 percent, and immigration 38 to 32 percent. Democrats are trusted less on ethics, 31 to 34 percent. The Times/CBS poll didn't ask about taxes, education, or general health care.

The rest of the Brooks article is rife with oversimplication.

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With Friends Like This

By on 12.8.05 | 10:04AM

Gray Davis, the confederately named former governor of California who was ousted from office in the recall that gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger as his replacement, returned to Sacramento yesterday for the unveiling of his portrait in the state capitol. Whatever it was that brought about his humiliating demise was long forgotten. Davis took credit for investing in young people and raising school standards. Standing next to him, Schwarzenegger heaped praise on Davis for the "incredible" job he did over 30 years of public life -- "he always fought for the underdog, he always fought for the poor..." -- and, more incredible still, talked about how he and Maria have become good friends with the Davises since the 2003 election.

"Every time I have a problem, or any time that I need advice, I still can call him, and he always gives me great, great advice," Arnold said. "So I want to say, 'Thank you very much. It's great to be your friend.'"

Now you know why politicians are such credible creatures.

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