The Spectacle Blog

History According to Bill Clinton

By on 1.13.06 | 7:37AM

I just heard Bill Clinton on NPR's Morning Edition, waxing reminiscent about his administration's spectacularly failed health care plan. When he claimed that it bombed because of high deficits, the commentator (a quick one) quickly countered by referencing the political opposition. Roughly quoting: "Oh, well that was just because the health insurance companies didn't want it. But there's enough support today for it." Perhaps they didn't want socialist health care.

I'll check back later this morning with a more accurate transcript.

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Maryland and Business

By on 1.13.06 | 7:33AM

The Maryland General Assembly extended open arms to business growth yesterday, overriding Gov. Ehrlich's veto of their anti-Wal-Mart health care bill:

"We don't want to kill this giant. We want this giant to behave itself," said Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George's County), the lead sponsor in the House. "We want this giant not to be a bully."

That bully employs 17,000 citizens in your state. Maryland makes me proud to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Alito Strategy

By on 1.13.06 | 6:43AM

Look for some clarity on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito by mid-afternoon. By then, the Senate Republican leadership will have completed a strategy conference call, Sen. Bill Frist will have taken the lay of the land on the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Harry Reid will have decided just how badly he wants to destroy the United States Senate.

Sources tell us that Sen. Harry Reid is being heavily pressured by Sens. Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy to do everything in his power to help them delay the final vote on Judge Alito to the Supreme Court into early February. Reid and Frist discussed such an option yesterday, or should we say that Reid mentioned the idea and Frist told him to go pound sand.

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Shadegg Shifting

By on 1.13.06 | 6:37AM

If this is the way Rep. John Shadegg makes a decision, perhaps he isn't the right man for the House GOP leadership slot.

Mid-afternoon yesterday, Shadegg supporters were emailing associates around town that their man had decided not to seek the Republican leader position. A few hours later, upon further consultation with advisers and members of the Republican caucus, he indicated that should Reps. Roy Blunt or John Boehner not move closer to wrapping up a win, he will enter the race.

At this point, his "I'm out, but I'm in" approach to political gamesmanship is making him look indecisive and rather small.

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Crossing the Line?

By on 1.13.06 | 5:41AM

Jed, last night John Batchelor pressed an analyst from Stratfor.com 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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