The Spectacle Blog

Re: Happy Bastille Day

By on 7.14.06 | 12:37PM

Sorry, Jed, but however obnoxious or worse it seems, France remains the most wonderful spot in Western Europe. Whereas we are told ad nauseam that we should worry about what the rest of the world thinks about us, the French couldn't care less what others think of them. Au contraire, for them it's always been axiomatic that the world should worry about winning their approval. It's no accident that hauteur is a French word. Of course, that comes with a huge price. Last Sunday not a single non-Frenchman backed France against adorable Italy.

Nonetheless, July 14 remains a special day.Thirty-nine years ago I stood along the Champs Elysees across from President Charles de Gaulle as he reviewed that day's military parade. The highlight naturally was the flyover by the wonderfully named Mirage jets. (Sure sounds better than "stealth," no?) Eternal France may not last till the end of time, but there's a reason the term took root. If I didn't live here, I'd want to live there. And it has nothing to do with the food or even wine, however superior it remains to those California pretenders.


By on 7.14.06 | 12:08PM

Speaker Dennis Hastert, Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, and the rest of the "House GOP leadership" (an oxymoron if there ever were one!) all deserve major demerits -- or perhaps major bonus points for political hack-ery, whichever way you want to look at it -- for their behavior yesterday on the extension of the supposedly temporary portions of the Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, my longtime hero Jack Kemp, writing on the same subject, went as far as outright obnoxiousness, stooping to cheap political name-calling of his fellow Republicans, and wholly undeserved name-calling at that, obviously forgetting Ronald Reagan's "11th Commandment" in the process.

Happy Bastille Day

By on 7.14.06 | 11:54AM

It seems like only yesterday when the French finally began a war, fought it heroically and defeated an enemy. Of course, the enemy was other Frenchmen, but you gotta give them credit for their one win. 217 years ago today, they stormed the Bastille. Yeah, whatever.

Today, of course, the French are still performing precisely as John Cleese and the Monty Python crew portrayed them in a couple of scenes in what we can only characterize as the unintentionally accurate "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." According to this report from al-Reuters, France condemned the Israeli action in Lebanon. The money quote:

RE: ‘The 24 Addiction’

By on 7.14.06 | 11:49AM

Paul: I, for one, can most definitely attest to the power of 24 DVD addiction, having just finished season 4. I literally ran around DC, from Blockbuster to Blockbuster, to find consecutive episodes. I was, however, able to finish the entire season in about 3 days, with little to no sleep of course. For how can you turn 24 off once you have started? Unless the DVD runs out and you have no choice, which of course is what happened.

Five months more until season 6...

‘The 24 Addiction’

By on 7.14.06 | 10:17AM

Dorothy Rabinowitz admires 24 in today's Wall Street Journal Weekend section, an admiration she acquired at least partly by doing what apparently many of the show's fans have done at some point: view whole seasons via DVD over a few days. The show encourages such addictive watching, as its plot structure relies on cliff hanger endings to nearly every episode. I'd concur with her judgment that the show's 4th season was its best, and that the just completed 5th season left more than a little to be desired:

"As it turned out, the show's writers, who had had no problem, earlier, creating entirely believable American leaders, models of honor and decency - take that heroic specimen, President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) - seem to have fallen on hard times in Season Five."

Go Nancy!

By on 7.13.06 | 2:59PM

Some conservatives are mocking Rep. Pelosi's sudden attempt to become fiscally responsible, but I think we should encourage it. According to the WSJ article:

If she becomes speaker in the next Congress, she says, she would press to severely reduce earmarks. "Personally, myself, I'd get rid of all of them," she says. "None of them is worth the skepticism, the cynicism the public has... and the fiscal irresponsibility of it."


"Not every single dollar" would go to the Treasury, she said, "but I hope that...we would use the rollback of the tax cuts" to address the deficit since "it is the biggest drain...on the next generation."


Christmas Ornaments

By on 7.13.06 | 1:51PM

Manon McKinnon's column today shows the embarrassingly if not entirely dimwitted mean side of reporter Helen Thomas.

So it may surprise some that Ms. Thomas doesn't always play the ogre. In fact, she can be the life of the party. That's what she was last December 15 at a late afternoon White House Christmas reception for Washington media types and their families. While the President and Mrs. Bush spent the entire time in the ground floor's China Room, patiently having their photos taken with individual guests, Helen Thomas held court upstairs alongside the buffets in the East Room and State Dining Room, with stops in the Blue, Green, and Red Rooms, shucking and yucking with other revelers, and, most alarming off all, having her picture taken with a number of wide-eyed guests as if she were some kind of star or world leader.

Well, at least she didn't boycott the White House while it remains the official home of the hated Bush.