The Spectacle Blog

Al Qaeda as a Foreign State

By on 6.29.06 | 11:44AM

That is what the Supreme Court has apparently ruled today in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (pdf). The U.S. will be bound by the Geneva Convention in its war on al Qaeda -- even though al Qaeda is not party to the treaty.

Hopefully, President Bush has better lawyers than Harriet Miers who understand how to overcome this challenge.

No Blow Too Low

By on 6.29.06 | 11:12AM

The poisonous, threatening tone of the left is not confined to the Huffington Post. If you had any doubt after my report on the threatening phone calls to Swift Boat veterans, check out the comments on this post at a popular blog.

Re: Buzzard’s House Buzzed

By on 6.29.06 | 7:29AM

I remember February of 2005, mid-month, when Dennis Ross told a room full of USC Law students that he "wouldn't take out an insurance policy" on Bashar Assad's regime. And yet here it is, some time later, and Brammertz has sunken into the mists, and Assad lives on. In October of last year, when first I had occasion to quote Ross to good effect, it was a lot more timely to fantasize about "kicking over" the whole Syrian regime, and even carving up the state amongst its neighbors. Now holding Damascus to account has all the cachet and momentum of lobbying reform. Seizing the "historical moment" in Syria sounds now like occasion for either a laugh (rather than a cheer) or an outright jeer. But the fundamental problem of Syria -- its artificiality, not just as a regime but as a geopolity -- will live on quite as long as Assad does...and maybe even longer.

Sausage Making Is Ugly

By on 6.28.06 | 4:32PM

Rep. Jack Kingston introduces "MailTube": upload a video question to Google Video or YouTube, then Kingston will answer you via a YouTube video.

It's a neat idea, but Kingston should have invited a couple more questions, because his first answer is a bumbling journey through the sausage making of the Appropriations Committee. It goes something like, well, I would like to oppose earmarks, but you see, Democrats like earmarks, and so do Republicans, and we need those guys to vote on budgets, so we've got to sweeten the deal a little.

Sometimes our representatives are wise to shun sunlight's disinfecting rays.

Assad’s House Buzzed

By on 6.28.06 | 3:03PM

By Israeli planes. Unfortunately, this probably won't do much to change Syrian policy.

The Israelis buzzed Assad's house in August 2003 and bombed an Islamic Jihad training camp in Syria in October 2003. Meanwhile, Americans in Iraq have made hot pursuit incursions into Syria. There has been no response to any this (except through terrorist proxies). Given the Syrians' apparent impotence in the face of such aggression, you'd think we'd have tremendous diplomatic leverage with Damascus. So why isn't Assad bending over backwards to please the US and Israel? Probably because he's incapable of it: Syria isn't run by an iron-fisted dictator like Assad's dad anymore, but rather by a patchwork of competing factions within the Baath party, the military, and the various secuirty services. As long as Assad is in place as a figurehead, we won't know who really runs Syria. And until we know that, it won't be clear which house(s) really needs rattling.

Always 1965 vs. “That South Is Gone”

By on 6.28.06 | 3:01PM

I had a chance to attend a Federalist Society event this afternoon on the renewal of certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The main questions surround Section 5, which mandates that certain Southern states (and parts of California and New York) pre-clear any voting law changes with the Justice Department (explained well here and in further detail by Quin Hillyer on the blog last week). For the status quo were Daniel Tokaji and Julie Fernandes, both of the ACLU at one time or another, and for not renewing Section 5 were Abigail Thernstrom, of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Linda Chavez.

The history of the statute was helpful. Sections 4 and 5 were understood to be emergency provisions, which would expire in 1970.

A Drowning Truth?

By on 6.28.06 | 3:00PM

First hurricanes, then droughts, now


See the new Tom Toles cartoon.

This "linking-global-warming-to-every-bit-of-bad-weather" tactic scares me. Perhaps it will extend beyond weather. I mean, if they can link global warming to why my socks keep getting lost in the wash, I'll have little choice but to support Kyoto.

Today on the Michael Medved Show

By on 6.28.06 | 2:50PM

Ok, pilgrims, listen up. I'm subbing for Michael again today (3-6 EDT on Salem Radio Net). We'll have a very lively show, with John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics, Cong. J.D. Hayworth and - alas, though he's not an on-air guest - lots more from Howlin' Howie Dean. See ya on the radio.

Super Music

By on 6.28.06 | 1:56PM

Since Superman Returns has hit theaters, let me take this opportunity to recommend Michael Daugherty's fun and engaging Metropolis Symphony. Unlike most contemporary compositions, it's as accessible as Beethoven or Brahms; I once heard Daugherty explain that, having been educated in composition in the 1970s, when melodic music was frowned upon, he had to draw on his experience in a rock band to learn how to write melodies. (The one negative review on the Amazon page should be read as a positive review in disguise -- the reviewer speaks highly of the coterie of "legitimate" atonal composers who spent the second half of the 20th century systematically alienating classical music from its audience.)