The Spectacle Blog

WSJ on Oil

By on 4.18.06 | 12:07PM

Today's Wall Street Journal has an important front-page article on why oil is at an all-time (non-inflation-adjusted) high even though inventories are at an eight-year high. It's well worth a read.

The short answer is that refining capacity hasn't kept up, and that federal policies are a large part of the problem. Drilling is banned in an important part of Alaska, banned off the Virginia shore even though Virginia seems to want drilling, and banned so far off Florida's shoreline that Floridians themselves should be embarrassed by the amount of ridiculous deference shown to them. And regulations of all sorts have made new refineries for 30 years a losing proposition -- and until last year's largely execrable Energy Bill, which at least had a few good provisions in it, nuclear power was similarly burdened and therefore far too little used. Then, of course, there's this: "Even as crude stockpiles have swelled, U.S. inventories of gasoline have fallen as refiners have shut down operations to perform maintenance and prepare to meet new government-mandated fuel formulas...."

Sessions With Sense

By on 4.18.06 | 11:43AM

In today's NRO, my former U.S. senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, makes an incredibly strong case against the so-called "compromise" immigration bill. It's well worth reading.

Democrat Touts Low Taxes

By on 4.18.06 | 11:41AM

It sure is strange for a Democrat to celebrate his state's low tax burden when he has supported major tax increases in the past and currently campaigns for new ones.

Yet that's the ironic position in which Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine finds himself after Ford Motor Co. announced that it would close its Norfolk plant in 2008.


~ Tax Foundation places Virginia 41st among 50 states ~

Poulos Is Right; Kids Must Write

By on 4.18.06 | 11:35AM

James has been onto something important for quite a while here. But first, a caveat: Education in math and science IS very important. I don't think anybody should advocate an emphasis on other things to the detriment of math and science. That said, it truly is foolish to concentrate so young on math and science to the detriment of other, more basic educational goals -- such as the transmission of a common culture and of basic civics, and, even more importantly, the ability to communicate, especially in writing, and to use reason and logic while doing so. In recent years I have been appalled at the inability even of supposedly well-educated students to write worth a spit.

Re: Middle School Specialists

By on 4.18.06 | 10:46AM

I'd give you the link, Dave, but the ceremony took place behind the velvet rope of TimesSelect. (Some award.) I trust the NYT can abide a little reminiscing:

Perhaps the most unusual conservative criticism of Bush comes from James G. Poulos at the American Spectator blog, who faults the president's plan to improve math and science education: "Our culture is not doomed but it is unraveling," he writes. "Building a professional army of scientists and mathematicians is precisely the wrong kind of educational emphasis required" to change that.

It was Weber who wept so preemptively over specialists without spirit. That too many of our middle school voluptuaries without heart can't get into good magnet schools is another missed opportunity for a photo op and a bad speech.

Re: Middle School Specialists

By on 4.18.06 | 10:35AM

James, You put that quite well. But what is this New York Times award?

Re: Middle School Specialists

By on 4.18.06 | 10:29AM

Dave, this is the picture-perfect portrait of the hopeless and squandering and self-congratulatory official esteem I saw coming in the State of the Union when the New York Times bestowed upon me their Most Unusual Conservative Criticism Award. How many of these kids at our Thomas Jefferson Institutes of Warp Drive Studies can recite any of this redheaded stranger's famous lines, or conduct an educated conversation about what they might mean? For the sake of our culture -- that little thing called Western Civilization, which will unfortunately not be salvaged by adopting Chinese and Indian levels of technocratic proficiency -- the Parkland kids should put their Presidentially-plumped math and science skills to good use -- and build themselves a time machine.

Middle School Specialists?

By on 4.18.06 | 9:49AM

President Bush visits the Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology today to discuss his American Competitiveness Initiative. The absurdity of the federal government promoting "competitiveness" aside, what is this school?

As best as I can glean from its website, like all magnet schools it attracts students with particular interests and skills. Such programs seem particularly well suited to high schoolers. The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is one well known and excellent magnet school in Northern Virginia. But why on earth would we ask 11-year-olds to specialize in aerospace technology? If college students need a balanced curriculum of the arts and sciences (and they do), then middle schoolers should also be generalists.

Heads Will Roll

By on 4.18.06 | 8:57AM

On the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco/>/> earthquake, my east coast outsider’s perspective focuses not on the event itself but on the image of an outlaw’s disputed head, lost in the rubble. Joaquin Murietta was a Mexican bandit, part of an outlaw band that came to be known as the Five Joaquins since many of them shared that name. During the years just after the California/> gold rush of 1849, they terrorized the Sierra Nevada/> region as horse and cattle thieves, hold-up artists, and murderers. Very little of Murietta’s story, though, is definitive: there are distortions and mythology surrounding just about every aspect. Enough of the mythology took hold that Murietta purportedly served as the inspiration for Zorro; he was also known as the Mexican Robin Hood.

Leave It to the States

By on 4.17.06 | 8:16PM

Georgia acted on immigration today. From the broad outlines of the Reuters article, this bill accomplishes at least two things: 1- Highlights the inability of the federal government to act on what is essentially a federal issue, 2- Advances the discussion in a constructive manner. Possibly a third: limits the extent to which illegals receive a free-ride from our social welfare state. Remember -- they're not just here to do jobs for which there is a demand (in the overall labor market... Americans will do them, but probably not at those wages), they're here for the services they don't get at home. Until they're documented and working within the law, they're not paying taxes. And that situation taxes the rest of us.