The Spectacle Blog

Iran indicator, watch the fleet

By on 2.3.06 | 1:23PM

Much noise and doubt from the EU and UN remains to sort through about Iran and its apocalyptic aggression; however the leading indicator I am told to watch, at the end of the day, is the US Navy.

When it is time, the POTUS, whoever he is at the time, will deploy multiple carrier battle groups to the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Med, Indian Ocean; and the deployment will be deliberate and over weeks. The interval will be a form of last grasp diplomacy.

Until the fleet puts to sea with the usual arsenal of recon and strike aircraft, until the straegic bombers concentrate, the posturing in Tehran and Vienna and Washington will be entertainment value only. Enjoy.

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The Cartoon Intifada

By on 2.3.06 | 1:09PM

Jed -- quite right to name-check Salman Rushdie. The crucible for the European will to liberty is the howler you quoted: "Freedom of the press and of artists must be protected. But it ends where you start trampling on people's dignity."

By this standard, Mapplethorpe and Serrano would have been run out on a rail long ago. Marilyn Manson, who is a very good artist if you like that sort of thing, would be banned out of business. Whose dignity counts? The trouble is that "people's dignity" is a legal netherworld when definitional reliance is placed upon the indignant. That problem is illustrated by Salman Rushdie, someone who should know about the dilemmas stirred up by dignity and Islamist censorship. Writes he, back on December 10, 2005 in the Times of London:

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Taboos or Free Speech?

By on 2.3.06 | 12:11PM

The battles over the cartoons published -- first in Denmark and then in several other Euro nations -- depicting Islam's founder Mohammed are still escalating. Danish PM Rasmussen characterized the controversy as a clash between Islamic taboos and western freedom of the press. In that, he is entirely correct. But the EUnuchs had yet to sound off. Now they have, as reported here in the Financial Times:

Peter Mandelson, European Union commissioner, said republishing the caricatures was "throwing petrol on the flames of the original issue."

"I can understand the motivation at one level; they are standing up for freedom of speech. They also have to understand the offense that's caused,'' he told the BBC.

Nadeem Elyas, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, a moderate German Muslim lobby, said the cartoons were "insulting."

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By on 2.3.06 | 11:24AM

Business Week's Eamon Javers has been on quite the witch hunt for conservative columnists with ties to lobbyists and think tanks in recent weeks. Turns out Javers has some lobbyist pals of his own. Lisa DePasquale nails him here.

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Olmert sweating

By on 2.3.06 | 1:06AM

Best Israeli source reports that the decision to send in mounted and billy club tough guys at Amona settlement on West Bank was Olmert, acting as a poll reading pol. Olmert sees that he can get no more votes from the right, so he is zipping left to attract the vote that despises the settlements, specially the outpost temp settlements.

Olmert with sweaty palms. Polls show seat count between 33 and 45, and this swing illustrates how the public does not know how to read him

Read Olmert uncertain.

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NSA Leak Investigation

By on 2.2.06 | 5:19PM

Powerline posits the motivations and sources of information that had Sen. John Rockefeller spluttering over CIA Director Porter Goss's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

Goss did a couple of things today that should have some folks sitting up and paying attention.

First, he outlined in fairly strong language just how damaging the leak of the NSA international eavesdropping program was. It made his job harder, froze ongoing programs and placed American operatives and assets in danger.

Second, by detailing the severity of this leak, he placed in clear context the Valerie Plame case. Only Democrats and former intelligence community members sympathetic to Plame and her husband Joe Whatshisname and antagonistic toward the Bush Administration have claimed damage was done by the release of her name. Rockefeller in particular has made such charges with no evidence to back them up.

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This Will Make You Proud

By on 2.2.06 | 5:05PM

Even though it's about a U.S. Marine, the Army colonel father-in law of one of our contributors sent him this link to an usual posting that both pays tribute to this Marine's heroics and asks why such people aren't being featured on the Evening News.

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Katrina Czar Is Full of, uh, Baloney

By on 2.2.06 | 2:40PM

Donald Powell, the Gulf Coast recovery coordinator for the White House, had an op-ed in the Wash Post this morning on the "Baker bill" that would set up a revolving loan fund called the Louisiana Recovery Corporation to help New Orleans and surrounding parishes get back on their feet. There is no nicer way to say it than to say that Mr. Powell is either extremely dim-witted or else duplicitous. Volumes could be written refuting the nonsense in his column, but the upshot of it is this:

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Blunt Talk

By on 2.2.06 | 2:17PM

Rep. Roy Blunt's staff may be saying he is staying on as House Republican Whip, but don't place a lot of money on that bet just yet. We're hearing that while Blunt wants to keep his leadership post, and many caucus members are saying the right things just an hour after defeat. But it is far from certain that Blunt is the long-term or even mid-term answer to the Whip post.

One of the reasons Blunt failed to gain traction -- and a point we humbly point out we've been making here for some time -- is that the Whip operation has declined badly over the past 18 months. Just how badly was evident yesterday in the deficit-cutting legislative vote.

We should be clear, we've received no indication from our Boehner sources that there is a move afoot to push Blunt out of his post, nor does Boehner as Majority Leader have the stated ability to push Blunt out. But generally what a Majority Leader wants, a Majority Leader gets.

And what a third party who ensured the election of that Majority Leader wants, that third party usually gets. As Drudge says ... Developing ....

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