The Spectacle Blog

Cross References

By on 9.23.06 | 8:00AM

Conservative Christians are in an uproar over two decisions made by NBC. The first is the network's removal of "most if not all of the references to God and the Bible" from its Saturday morning broadcasts of "VeggieTales," which co-creator Phil Vischer said he never would have agreed to if he knew beforehand that's what NBC would do.

The second is the planned airing of a Madonna concert, in which she performs one song "while mounted on a cross, in imitation of the Crucifixion of Jesus," The New York Times reports, adding "that part of Madonna's current concert tour has drawn protests around the world from people who believe it is blasphemous or offensive to Christians."

(NBC broadcast standards executive Alan) Wurtzel said NBC did not believe it had deleted the show's religious message; he said the network had bought the rights to "Veggie Tales" because of its positive religious themes but that it did ask for changes to comply with its standards.

Re: Oppressively Low Prices

By on 9.23.06 | 6:49AM

The News & Observer of Raleigh has its own story today on the response to Wal-Mart's $4 generic drugs story, with two notable quotes:

Wal-Mart's new program is particularly worrisome for the nation's nearly 18,000 independent pharmacies.

"Matching them for a cash-paying customer is probably something we'll be forced to do," said Scott Townsend, who owns Wake Forest Drug with his wife, Debbie.

"I think what they're doing is in very poor taste. If we don't respond in kind, then we look like the bad guy, when in fact they're not doing anything that's truly a benefit."

The Personal Is the Political

By on 9.22.06 | 8:36PM

The Allen campaign blog has posted a couple videos worth commenting on.

George Allen went on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer yesterday.

This interview is just what the doctor ordered. Instead of retreating into silence, the Allen campaign is pouring it on and saying they have nothing to hide. I don't know if it is an act or what, but this is the most personal I have ever seen Allen, and I would guess many others as well.

That is what this Jewish issue amounts to -- a personal drama for George Allen and his family. It should not be the stuff of campaigns. But my guess is that the more the Webb campaign plays it up, the more it will backfire.

Re: Health Care Stats

By on 9.22.06 | 3:08PM

Lawrence: That wouldn't surprise me, and if you can find the source of that, please send it to me.

Here's a quick run-down on why infant mortality stats are unreliable.

First, some nations use different definitions. For example, Switzerland does not count any baby born that is under 30 centimeters, regardless whether the baby showed signs of life. That excludes a lot of at-risk infants from the statistics.

Under-registration is another problem. That is, a lot of babies that dies shortly after birth are simply not registered. This removes them from the statistics, obviously. This can be seen by comparing the proportion of infant deaths that occur within the first 24 hours after birth. Here is a partial table (for a full table, go here and scroll down to Table 3).

Ratio of Infant Deaths In First Day

Taxing Our Memory

By on 9.22.06 | 2:22PM

Yeah, I know -- I'm reading The New York Times too much. But today they also report on President Bush's (and Republicans') new election season offensive against Democrats on taxes, after weeks of focusing on national defense and terror. The emphasis: if Dems get control of Congress, taxes go up.

Many Democrats are on record calling for some or all of Mr. Bush's tax cuts to be rolled back, especially those benefiting the wealthiest taxpayers.

But Democrats said that Republicans were distorting Democratic positions on taxes affecting the middle class and that by this point, Republican attacks on tax cuts had become so familiar to voters that they would not have much effect.

"Our candidates have all announced they're for middle-class tax proposals," said Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, who is leading the Democratic effort to take back the House.

Jesus and Mao

By on 9.22.06 | 12:45PM

The new documentary "Jesus Camp" is the second by filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady "to explore the molding of young minds," reports Stephen Holden in The New York Times' review of the film. Having watched the trailer (see below), it appears to be a skillfully shot and edited piece of propaganda designed to paint the entirety of evangelical Christianity as raving lunatics thirsting for power at all costs. In fact, the film was so effective it led Holden to this conclusion:

The Deal on Torture

By on 9.22.06 | 11:04AM

Jed Babbin says the compromise is "a near-total win for the White House" unless "the House-Senate conference mucks it up again."

Meanwhile, the NY Times quotes Sen. Lindsay Graham on water-boarding: "It is a technique that we need to let the world know we are no longer engaging in."

Wars and Christendom

By on 9.22.06 | 10:54AM

Kevin Drum takes issue with another part of the Krauthammer column I linked to below. In his column, Krauthammer gave some examples of Christians fighting religious wars, and correctly noted, "However, the inconvenient truth is that after centuries of religious wars, Christendom long ago gave it up."

Drum reacts:

It's this kind of blithe, self-congratulatory nonsense that makes me wonder where the "clash of civilizations" crowd parks their brains. Cleverly, Krauthammer restricts himself here to "religious wars," and it's true that Christendom hasn't had a genuine religious war in quite a while. But Christendom sure as hell hasn't given up on war - not among ourselves, and not against others. Just to name a few, and just to stay within the past few decades, we have Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Algeria, Cuba, Malaysia, Suez, Iraq again, Greece, and Germany. And it would be easy to add a dozen more if I felt like it.

Wrong To Bear Armitage?

By on 9.22.06 | 10:52AM

He's back with another, er, bombshell. On behalf of -- as CNN puts it -- "bully" America, Armitage is alleged to have threatened "ally" Pakistan with stone-age destruction after 9/11! (Armitage denies the allegation. In so many words. At present.) But how did Pakistan wind up as such a reliable ally anyway? My take on the incredible truth here.

Pages