The Spectacle Blog

More on Torture

By on 8.21.06 | 2:49PM

I just noticed that Julian Sanchez responded to a post I had last week in which I argued that the revelation that Pakistani authorities may have used torture to expose the British airplane terror plot, if proven true, pokes holes in the argument that torture isn't an effective means to extract information from terrorists. Sanchez says I miss the point:

Re: August 22

By on 8.21.06 | 11:28AM

Michael Totten reports that Israelis generally scoff at worries about tomorrow.

Speaking of which, Andrew Sullivan is on vacation and his blog is, as usual, better than when he's in town. Totten's fellow guestblogger Dave Weigel has even managed, while standing on Andrew's own platform, to sneak in some subversive teasing about the "Christianist" tick ("I am under contract to use this term at least twice a day.")

British Equipment in Hezbollah Hands?

By on 8.21.06 | 11:01AM

The Guardian reports:

The Foreign Office today confirmed it was investigating claims that British military equipment sent to Iran in the fight against international drug smuggling had ended up in the hands of Hizbullah fighters in Lebanon.

August 22

By on 8.21.06 | 10:53AM

I am skeptical that anything big will happen tomorrow, for no other reason that it seems nothing happens when we are expecting it to (whether it's July 4th, the anniversary of Sept. 11th, etc.). What was most remarkable about 9/11 was that it happened on a completely normal day-- a sunny Tuesday in New York and DC.

Here is Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis writing in the WSJ a few weeks ago on the significance of 8/22:

Writers Against Israel

By on 8.21.06 | 10:34AM

The Website of the Nation republishes an anti-Israel letter that has been reprinted in newspapers such as Le Monde, El Pais, The Independent and La Repubblica. Signed by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Toni Morrison and Harold Pinter it says that Israel's secret aim is the "liquidation of the Palestinian nation." That's a rather odd charge considering that the Palestinian government is the one that's run by a group that was founded on the stated goal of destroying Israel. Furthermore, the Palestinian population is growing at a faster rate than the Israeli population, so if there is a liquidation project going on, the Israelis haven't been doing a very good job.

Provocative Synchronicity

By on 8.20.06 | 4:34PM

Two days from now the Axis of Evil has the chance to really show its stuff. August 22 is the now much-gossipped-about date when Iran's "reply" to the nuclear demand/bribe package comes due. Military exercises far southeast of Tehran proceed apace. Another North Korean missile test may be in the batter's circle, too. And what -- now that perfidious France has defaulted on its promise to enforce its own Hezbollah resolution -- does fate have in store for Lebanon?

Provocation of some sort is a possibility live as a wire. But although some overt act -- proving its intentions by non-negotiable fact -- would make the great powers a offer of stern unity they may not be able to refuse, we should hew close to prudence instead of passion when it comes to prospects for the now much-gossipped-about World War Three. I, for one, don't quite buy the rhetoric. And this does not mean things aren't deadly serious. Further weekend thoughts here.

Re: Fun With Ben & Jerry’s

By on 8.20.06 | 12:40AM

Oy, that brings back memories. James Taranto is incorrect to imply that Ben Cohen stole the idea for his BB demonstration from the 2004 documentary Paper Clips, since it was part of Ben's schtick before that movie came out; he included it when he spoke at the Ithaca College commencement in 2003, the year my wife (then my girlfriend) graduated. I picked apart the whole speech at the time, and explained how Ben's BB demonstration is a big pile of something you wouldn't want in your ice cream.

Playing With Pictures

By on 8.18.06 | 7:25PM

Union Leader Editorial Page Editor Andrew Cline paddles the Kos crowd in a great bit here, seeing their one supposedly incriminating picture of Rep. Charlie Bass at a big, bad corporate party and raising them some pictures of Kos allies (and others) at the same party. Fun stuff, take a look.

Deficit Going Down

By on 8.18.06 | 1:57PM

I'd like to hope that the editors at the New Republic are feeling a bit less smug today with the Congressional Budget Office's announcement that the fiscal year 2006 deficit will be $260 billion, down from $318 billion last year. But I won't, since smugness seems to be the editorial disposition at TNR these days. They'll just cling to the CBO's claim that the deficit will rise next year.

That's not a wise strategy though. Using data from various CBO reports, I constructed this table on projected and actual deficits and income taxes (it is the growth in income taxes that has accounted for a large part of the decline in the deficit).

CBO Projections Vs. Actual Numbers