The Spectacle Blog

Capitol 4th Writers Taking the 5th

By on 7.5.06 | 1:57PM

We've been nosing around over at WETA, the Washington area public broadcasting channel that helps produce the "Capitol Fourth" show each year. The script and "continuity" documents for the show had been in the works for months, and according to folks we talk to on the "corporate" side of things, were scrubbed for "sensitivity" issues.

At some point, the issue of the scrubbing came up and according to one source we spoke with, "When it was pointed out that changing President Lincoln's words might outrage some people, the response was essentially, 'It's the people who would be outraged that we didn't change it that we need to think about. They are the ones who are paying our salaries.'"

Power Play

By on 7.4.06 | 11:50PM

Thanks to a second fierce storm in three days that knocked power out in 61,000 homes in my county (Fairfax) late this afternoon, I missed not only the end of the Germany-Italy showdown but the annual pre-fireworks July 4 concert from the Mall. I did catch a bit of it on the car radio, while scrounging the area for hot food for my traumatized family (most shopping centers were as darkened as my neighborhood).

Two highlights: host Jason Alexander claiming Lincoln described America as "the last best hope of earth"; and honored singer Stevie Wonder failing to say a word about America as America; U.S. history to him consists of Native Americans and Crispus Attucks, but apparently not July 4 and the Revolutionary War itself. He praised those who fought for "oneness" and who are fighting for "peace." He invoked "God" and "Allah." Fortunately, the evening wasn't entirely lost. The likable Cuba Gooding, Jr. somehow found a way to mention the word Jason Alexander avoided, as he put in a good word for "mankind" itself.


By on 7.4.06 | 7:07PM

Kim has popped his top and air-mailed a number of rockets to the Sea of Japan. Attitudes have been leery and brittle regarding the launch; and why not? What could be worse than the man pilloried in "Team America" finally putting paid to the crackpot notion that the world's worst pariah state can dig itself out of oblivion by indulging in the blackmail gambit of the nuclear gunsel?

Our friends at the Washington Realist, for one, suspect to the contrary that the real indulgence is ours to be had. Why not, it's been suggested, let the Fools Themselves shoot off whatever third-rate missile (like last season's Scuds) is at their disposal -- and the use the occasion to both sum up the capabilities of the enemy and take advantage of the stunt to mobilize world distaste? And sure enough here comes Japan, while we scramble to assemble the data.

The Nut Farm

By on 7.4.06 | 3:53PM

If the exit polls show that the leftist candidate is slightly ahead in Mexico, and the election results show that the conservative candidate wins by a small amount, most sane people would assume that the exit polls were slightly off.

But if you are part of the hard left, it is irrefutable evidence that conservatives stole the election. Go here to descend into the fever swamps.

Re: Happy Independence Day

By on 7.4.06 | 2:46PM

Hope you all are flying the flag today. A lot of websites are posting various pictures of the American flag to honor America today. I don't want this to become a contest, so here's the best one ever:

Happy Fourth, and God bless all our guys and gals in harm's way. (Picture from

RIP Philip Rieff

By on 7.4.06 | 12:22PM

This is a celebratory day, so we should not permit the physical loss of Philip Rieff to cast a cloud. Those who have read me often will know the writings of America's most incisive and profound sociologist have a powerful effect on my view of the world, and I can recommend no modern author more highly. When I spoke to Rieff in late May, it was clear he was ailing; he talked with the cutting wit and agility of a lifelong intellect, but seemed to have ceased bothering to remember much of his own life.

His legacy, I think, is secure in the release over the next several years of three volumes of new work; and then of course there is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's reissue of perhaps his most important Triumph of the Therapeutic.

No obituary, then; no chiseling on the gravestone. I have said a lot already here and elsewhere, and for those looking to learn more and think yet more about this remarkable man, I have finished a compilation of Rieff-related writing, mine and others, here at Postmodern Conservative.

Happy Independence Day

By on 7.4.06 | 9:16AM

All over America, we'll celebrate Independence Day today with block parties, barbecues, picnics and fireworks. A few will be at their regular posts, especially the police, fire and rescue folks who will minimize the damage we'd otherwise do to ourselves. And for many, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the streets of Fallujah, from the skies over Japan to the NORAD crew under Cheyenne Mountain keeping an eye on North Korea, today will be another day on duty and perhaps at risk. For all who serve, this is a day to work. For those of us who don't, it's a day to salute them. You see a cop on a street corner, sweating through his dark blue shirt? Take him a cold bottle of water (and make sure it's still sealed as it was when you bought it.)

Kelo Saves House, Sort Of

By on 7.3.06 | 3:53PM

Susette Kelo, the brave woman who tried to keep her house against the ravages of the town of New London, Conn., which wanted to seize it for other private development, will get to keep her house. Sort of. The national uproar against the Supreme Court decision that went against Ms. Kelo is a perfect example of how the public sides with conservatives most of the time when the subject is court decisions, and the judges/justices who make them. Why every GOP senator doesn't understand that judges are a winning political issue is just beyond me. Individual women keeping their own homes? Check. Keeping foreign laws from influencing AMerican court cases? Check. Keeping "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Check. Prohibiting partial birth abortion? Check. And so on. When the subject is the courts and judges, we win, the libs lose. It bears repeating again and again, until enough senators finally understand.