The Spectacle Blog

Iran, All According To Plan

By on 3.12.06 | 12:09PM

Uncharitably I predicted for '06 that "the Iranians will toy with the Russian proposal, embrace it again, demur again, raise questions, withhold answers, tinker furiously, and let their actions constitute a de facto rejection."


Next: "...the Security Council will pass an unenforceable resolution..."


By on 3.11.06 | 5:21PM

The Butcher of Belgrade is assuming room temperature. I don't know if anyone cares to reopen the Balkans debates that divided the Right in the 90s, but for what it's worth, here's what I wrote in 2003, in the context of the prewar Iraq debate:

He’s Their What?

By on 3.11.06 | 3:55PM

If history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce the Palestinians are only up to the tragedy stage. In context, the leaders of Hamas - the terrorists now elected to lead the Palestinian "government" - are only following in the shallow footsteps of Yassir Arafat, the KGB-trained terrorist kleptocrat by touring arab capitals seeking funds from the usual suspects. One report of the GWOT fundraiser in the Saudi governnment daily Arab News caught my eye. Think about this, taken from that report :

A five-member delegation of Hamas leaders arrived in the Kingdom yesterday. The delegation is headed by the group’s Politburo chief, Khaled Meshaal, and its members are expected to discuss with the Kingdom’s leadership the financial problems an incoming Palestinian government faces, Hamas official Ezzat El-Resheq said.

Zogby’s Bias Fuels Murtha’s Madness

By on 3.11.06 | 2:08PM

A piece in yesterday's Philly Inquirer by Tim Kane exposes the absurd bias of the Zogby poll that propelled Murtha's statements last week on CBS Face the Nation. Murtha was ranting about how more than 70% of the US troops in Iraq wanted to come home. But as the Kane piece shows, the Zogby's work was the quintessential push poll: the questions were phrased to produce the answers Zogby wanted and they did. Nevermore shall a Zogby poll on any aspect of the war hold any credibility.

Rewriting the Torah, Again

By on 3.10.06 | 4:43PM

Not so much on the politics beat, but, for those who may be interested, here's a story I wrote on a local orthodox Jewish community here in Boston who are trying to keep the last commandment of the torah by collectively writing their own.

New Labor Grievance

By on 3.10.06 | 3:46PM

Umar Abdul-Jalil, the executive director of ministerial services -- i.e., the chief chaplain - to the New York City prison system has been suspended according to this NY Post story. His offense? He claimed Muslims were being tortured in Gitmo. Er, no. He claimed they were being tortured in NY jails. And he claimed that the, "greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House."

We have received no reports on which union Mr. Abdul-Jalil belongs to, though that fact is crucial to the future of this case. If he is a member of the teachers' union, the city may be paralyzed by a general strike. If he is a member of the Teamsters or the Longshoremens', his grievance may be considered by the same arbitrators who adjudged that of Jimmy Hoffa.

The important lesson in this is to be found in the doctrinal consistency between this guy's claims and those coming out of current and former Gitmo inmates.

Last note from Sessions, for now

By on 3.10.06 | 3:21PM

Finally, on a different subject, Sessions did note one encouraging development from what was a decidedly mixed-bag energy bill passed last year. Saying (accurately) that there hadn't been a single application for a new nuclear plant in years and years and years, Sessions reported that since the passage of the Energy bill, one of whose good provisions provided incentives for more nuke plants, a whopping 18 new requests for nuke plant permits have come in. That is great stuff: Nuclear energy is the cleanest around, with no automatic environmental problems, and new technology has made it safer by a huge degree than the already-safe nuke energy that was available 30 years ago. Even the snooty, self-proclaimed eco-friendly French have for decades produced the vast bulk of their own energy through nuke plants, and that's without the new, safer technology. So here's a toast to the nuclear power developers, may they forge ahead with their plans. Over time, their efforts will produce cleaner, less expensive energy for us all.

Wither Republicans

By on 3.10.06 | 3:21PM

It's not a piece of legislation many conservatives have paid attention to, but perhaps now they should. We're talking about the telecom reform bill that Rep. Joe Barton is pushing through the House Energy Committee. According to staff sources, the main goal here, apparently is to give the telephone companies like AT&T the ability to offer cable TV-like services over their broadband lines. What should have every conservative nervous though, says an Energy staffer, is an issue that Barton, as well as Rep. Ed Markey, is pushing that would essentially impose a new layer of regulations on the Internet. "The language would eventually lead to the federal government having a say over what compaines might be able to do with their broadband networks, what services could be offered on the Internet, how people could charge or make money on the Internet," says a staffer we spoke to on Friday afternoon. "It would cede a lot more control over the Internet to the FCC. It's there in the bill, and people are missing it." The legislation is expected to be made public sometim in the next two weeks, according to committee staff.

More Sessions

By on 3.10.06 | 3:13PM

Despite Sessions (through Domenici) calling out the Dems on spending and taxes, he minced no words for his fellow Republicans who keep spending more money. Noting that President Bush had proposed savings of $75 billion (5-years) in the RATE OF GROWTH of entitlements (set to grow at 8% a year even as inflation runs only 3% (our quick table math -- I welcome readers to double-check this, because I haven't -- is that just a 6% avg hike for five years rather than 8%, which is surely not too draconian, would yield the $75 billion savings), Sessions lamented that the Senate Budget COmmittee plan approved yesterday called for not a red cent of entitlement savings. Sessions' comment on this development: "Some people think that if we have a middle-of-the-road, milquetoast budget that avoids controversy, we'll somehow avoid political harm, but I say it's just the opposite. We'll kill the enthusiasm of our supporters; we will likely not only NOT gain, but we'll lose potentially" because of letting down the fiscally conservative GOP base.

"We've got tohonor the voters who got us here," Sessions added.

Sessions, finally

By on 3.10.06 | 2:58PM

I meant to post this earlier today, but better late than never: I had a lengthy meeting yesterday with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true conservative gentleman, and he had some very interesting things to say. First, he quoted New Mexico's Sen. Pete Domenici asking this (supposedly a word for word quote that Sessions jotted down): "If the Democratic proposals all were passd, how much would it add to discretionary spending and mandatory spending, and for tax increases?" Domenici's answer, according to Sessions: $16.3 billion in added discretionary spending, $125 billion in additional 'mandatory' (entitlement) spending over five years, and tax increases of $125 billion.

(Quin commenting now:) Wow. Tax and tax, spend and spend. The GOP in Congress has been just awful for many years on spending, but only if you don't consider the alternative. No wonder nobody trusts the Dems in Congress with the public fisc!

More on my next post........