The Spectacle Blog

Bethell on Government Objectivity

By on 2.14.06 | 10:11AM

TAS senior editor Tom Bethell had a piece in the Washington Times Sunday on the fallacy that government-funded science is pure. He specifically takes on NASA scientist and global warming booster James Hansen. Don't miss it.

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WMD, Hamas, and the Western Will

By on 2.14.06 | 10:02AM

How will the Saddam tapes contextualize the apparent U.S.-Israeli decision to sink Hamas? Having scored a stunning Victory for Democracy in Palestine, the administration now finds itself working to junk the outcome and declare, Harriet Miers-style, a do-over. Machiavellan phantoms whispered once that HM was the perfect sacrificial lamb, the fall girl who made for unmatchable cannon fodder and the trailblazer for Sam Alito. May we detect the same manufactured blunder here? On the warpath against tyranny in this world, is "freedom" itself a manipulable tool, and democracy-hypocrisy a deployable means to a realpolitikal end?

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A Wealth of Material

By on 2.14.06 | 10:00AM

The New York Times lists the beneficiaries of the Cheney story:

The incident provided a wealth of material for Democrats, gun control activists and critics of the Bush administration, not to mention late-night comedians.

The White House press corps fits into the first three categories.

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Hackett Out

By on 2.14.06 | 9:55AM

Paul Hackett, the liberal Democrat who lost Ohio's second Congressional district to Rep. Jean Schmidt in the special election, has dropped out of the Democratic primary for the Senate. He claims Chuck Schumer pushed him out to allow Sherrod Brown a clear path to the nomination, but Schumer's spokesman says Hackett's decision was his own.

Hackett's base is mixed about the news: Kos is ambivalent, but some of his readers aren't having it.

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More Saddam Tapes

By on 2.14.06 | 9:37AM

More with regard the Saddam tapes that are available in translation on Sat 18 February from intelligencesummit.org: there is much more on the recordings of Saddam's scheming to constitute CBW. Best source points to four areas of discussion, in Saddam's voice with thirty or forty of his best kindred of Cain: 1. How we fooled and will fool as long as necessary the stupid UN teams under Blix and ElBaradei. 2. How we can hide the missiles that have warheads on them. 3. How we can ask the Russians for advice to hide the worst of the stuff. 4. How we are going to attack America with WMD.

Other concepts that may be on the tapes (remember these are best of; somewhere there are the originals to be translated and released): anthrax may be mentioned, nuclear weapons may be mentioned, fooling the US over many years may be mentioned, friends of Saddam may be mentioned.

I have not heard the tapes. I will put them on air next week, with translations. I am keen to hear how Saddam discussed attacking America. Did he mention using anthrax???

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Saddam Had No WMD — Not

By on 2.14.06 | 9:09AM

Am told by two sources that Brian Ross of ABC News was on air in Washington, WMAL, this morning to confirm that the Saddam Hussein tapes of many conversations from 1988 to 2002 with his staff and ministers and generals is an authentic tape (it is actually a best of many tapes) -- and that the recordings confirm in Saddam Hussein's voice his intention and capability to reconstitute his CBW programs.

Much more information coming from Intelligencesummit.org this weekend, especially the release of the transcripts on Saturday, 18 February at 8 a.m. at Crystal City in Virginia.

The crowd that lives on "Saddam had no WMD" is about to get a new brain twister to play with: "Well, he wanted WMD, and he had WMD at one time, and he really was tricky, but he had no WMD at some point, or why would he discuss getting back the WMD he had???"

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Blowback

By on 2.14.06 | 8:25AM

Sitting in the White House press room yesterday, the most interesting dynamic was watching the TV pretty people down front mugging for the camera. But the more important to the hectoring and lecturing going on by the media, was the talk of the TV and big-media types before the cameras went on and Scott McClellan took the podium.

What really cheeses these guys off isn't so much that the White House didn't tell them. It's that a private citizen gave the story first to a local reporter down in Texas. Again and again, we kept hearing something along the lines of, "I can't believe a local paper got it first."

There is a sense of betrayal that the White House actually expected reporters who cover the President and Vice President to get a story on their own. They are so used to have it spoon-fed to them, either through press release, pool report or illegal leak.

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Happy St. Valentine’s Day

By on 2.14.06 | 6:57AM

No, today isn't for Eve Ensler to vulgarize. It's the feast day of a martyred bishop of the third century. The day's special consecration to lovers came later, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a very reliable source in my experience. The History Channel's account, which is suspiciously saccharine (maybe because it credits American Greetings, the card company), cites a legend that St. Valentine married soldiers to their loves in defiance of the emperor and even wrote the first valentine. One "lives of the saints"-style account has him as a priest assisting persecuted Christians. And another agrees that he wrote the first valentine, but that it was a note to his daughter on the eve of his martyrdom.

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Full CPAC Straw Poll Results

By on 2.14.06 | 6:41AM

Over at Hotline On Call. Interesting to see Bill Frist edging out Mitt Romney among the single-digit crowd. The CW, holding that Frist's decidedly mixed performance as Majority Leader makes him damaged presidential goods, still seems right. But juding from how Frist answered when I asked him about his presidential aspirations last week -- you can listen here -- I'd say he's still seriously considering a run.

UPDATE: Rob Bluey has the results for the Democratic nomination, too. Mark Warner is the only one besides Hillary to crack double digits in CPAC-goers' predictions. This seems right, as Warner's ability to court different parts of the Democratic coalition simultaneously is likely to make him Hillary's strongest competition.

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The AMMP Whines Foul

By on 2.13.06 | 6:27PM

That's the American Mainstream Media Party, a term coined by Newsweek's Howard Fineman and a notion reiterated by the WSJ's James Taranto in our pages this month. Taranto/>/> explains:

This is not just a matter of "liberal bias." When it comes to matters of war and scandal, journalists see themselves playing a role that is not impartial but adversarial vis-à-vis the government. But the media's adversarial culture asserts itself far more strongly when a Republican is in the White House.

The AMMP's coverage of the Cheney hunting accident has veered -- quickly, in less than a day -- into the absurd.

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