The Spectacle Blog

Crossing the Line?

By on 1.13.06 | 5:41AM

Jed, last night John Batchelor pressed an analyst from on Iran's actual intentions. The analyst said that as long as Iran "didn't cross the line," there would be something Iran could settle for as a nuclear power in the Middle East, something, he implied, that could be acceptable to the United States, too.

How can this be? President Bush memorably said, at West Point, that you can't wait for Chicago to be in smoke before reacting to a threat, and surely that's right -- especially in the case of a mad theocracy with nuclear weapons.

I don't see Iran being happy to "settle" for anything. And I don't see any way out than some kind of military action, probably within the year.

How do you see it? Generals always consider logistics first, and the logistics are awful.

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Cantor Survived Abramoff, Reed, Norquist

By on 1.13.06 | 1:36AM

Spoke to Eric Cantor of 7th Virginia tonight with regard to the revolting facts about a 2000 anti-Semitic smear campaign run against him during the Republican primary in his district. The facts from the investigation by both the Washington Post and Hotline point to Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist as the major figures behind the scenes manipulating a shadow 527 named the Faith and Family Alliance of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Faith and Family Values used up to $100,000 to distribute pamphlets and make robo-calls to constituents to say that Eric Cantor did not represent "Virginia values" and that his opponent was the "only Christian in the contest."

Cantor won by a few hundred votes in June 2000.

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Kremlin is Caesar

By on 1.12.06 | 3:31PM

Russia returns. And this time it is an empire in control of the landmass from Normandy to the Japan Sea. The short summary of the collapse of the Ukraine Orange Revolution in a food throwing confusion the last days is that the Russian cabinet under the nimble, tsarist Putin has cowed the EU and reestablished Russian supremacy. Ukraine will now be handed back to Moscow in a red ribbon come the new elections. The most important man every morning in London, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Athens, is not George Bush but Vladimir Putin. The few hours of natural gas choke off through the pipelines in Ukraine has left the EU in surrender. The battle of Europe is over. Kremlin is Caesar.

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All Hooah, no Dooah

By on 1.12.06 | 3:05PM

A little while ago, I participated in a conference call with MGen. Steven Speaks, director of force development for the Army and MGen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the army's acquisition chief. The subject was body armor for the troops. They set some facts straight.

First, we're not scrimping on spending for the armor. The body armor now being issued to troops costs about $2100 per soldier. Adding the planned shoulder/upper body armor costs about another $300 and the side armor -- now being produced -- adds $1000 more. Right now, there is more than enough armor to give every soldier in Iraq a set. The army alone has over 700,000 sets.

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Guns of August?

By on 1.12.06 | 2:23PM

Guns of August, 1939? Iran's confrontation with the IAEA over the Natanz nuclear fuel facility has triggered a genuine crisis in the European Union -- a war-worrying, back-stabbing, bush-whacking, America-launch-on-warning crisis. Daniel Dombey, the Financial Times diplomatic correspondent at Brussels, told me last night that the definition of a crisis is when there is no acceptable solution. EU Foreign Secretary Javier Solana is talking like a Texas cowboy. Line in the sand. Britain's Straw, Germany's Steinmeyer, France's Douste-Blazy, meeting in heated, whispery emergency session in this news cycle, have declared talks with Iran at a "dead end." Russia also shows profound frustration and confusion with Iran's adamancy, and the opaque RU foreign secretary Lavrov has signaled support for the EU crowd's aim to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

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Shadegg Shagging It

By on 1.12.06 | 1:33PM

Word is out that Rep. John Shadegg has decided not to seek the Majority Leader's position.

It will be interesting to see whom he endorses, or whether he uses his higher visibility to create a critical block of votes to barter with.

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The Real Radicals

By on 1.12.06 | 1:17PM

It is ironic to hear the Concerned Alumni of Princeton today in the Kultursmog described as "radical." The organizations of the late 1960s and early 1970s that were described as radical were on the left and had the sympathies of liberals such as Senator Kennedy. What they did was more robust than anything the Concerned Alumni is accused of doing. They bombed buildings and robbed banks. In fact at Princeton they destroyed the ROTC Building, thus arousing the alarm of students such as Alito. Yet today his organization is being called radical in the media. And what are the left-wing bombers called, if they are remembered at all? Urban renewers?

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Democratic Wish List

By on 1.12.06 | 11:40AM

Democrats in the House, speaking privately, say that they have a clear favorite in the House Majority Leader race: Roy Blunt.

"We can run against him nationally, no problem," says one Democratic member from a Blue Dog state. "Boehner presents a bit more of a challenge, but not much more."

Regardless of who is elected on the Republican side, though, the tempest across the aisle seems to have emboldened Democrats to look at their own leadership. The Democrats say that regardless of where Republicans go with their leadership, and regardless of how their party fares in the mid-term elections, there is a sense inside their caucus that they will change leaders, too.

"Nancy Pelosi is a goner," says another Democrat. "I look forward to the day when I can call Steny Hoyer my majority leader. Or minority leader."

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