The Spectacle Blog

Rich Logic

By on 7.24.06 | 3:59PM

New York Times columnist Frank Rich personifies the political left's inability to do if-then logic, a fact on exhibit again Sunday in a column ostensibly on the controversy over embryonic stem cell research but really just another exercise in random Bush-bashing. Rich cites the notorious Presidential Daily Briefing from August 6, 2001, a month before 9/11, titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

"History," Rich writes, "has since condemned President Bush for ignoring that intelligence."

Now let me see if I've got this straight. Rich is arguing that Bush, armed with sketchy intelligence that Osama bin Laden intended to attack America, should have neutralized the threat. All right, but how? Should Bush have launched a pre-emptive, unilateral invasion of Afghanistan, where bin Laden was holed up?

As we say in the 'hood, I'm down with that.

Re: Tiger, DiMarco, Landis

By on 7.24.06 | 1:06PM

Quin, ever hear the story of how that "famous bizzarre putting grip" of Chris DiMarco's came about? Bill Fields of Golf World told the story a few years back.

Golfer Skip Kendall belongs to a club near his home town in Wisconsin. For years, the club champion was a doctor who dominated the rest of the field. Then, as the doctor got older, his putting stroke deserted him. He schemed and worked and fiddled and finally came up with the putting grip now called "the saw" or "the claw." And the doctor started winning the club championships once again.

A number of members copied him. Apparently, now, some 30 of the members use that grip. On a trip home, Kendall saw it. Some time later, he passed it on to DiMarco, who was having putting woes. And DiMarco unwittingly introduced it to the wider world.

I use it myself.

Health Propaganda

By on 7.24.06 | 12:41PM

About two weeks ago, The Anniston Star ran an editorial looking at health in Alabama. Here is a quote:

We decided to look at a couple of broad health indicators, namely life expectancy and infant mortality rates. These data are influenced by a wide range of problems from chronic illness and poor nutrition to substance abuse and lack of adequate health care.

It is common for the media to link a health care system to life expectancy and infant mortality. Problem is, neither tells us much about a health care system. A lengthy explanation in my first policy analysis for NCPPR.

Tiger, Landis, DiMarco

By on 7.24.06 | 12:11PM

Congratulations to Tiger Woods for his near-flawless performance in winning the British Open (a decent putting day on Saturday would have given him a wipe-out victory by six or seven shots), to Floyd Landis for his incredibly inspirational victory in the Tour de France (years riding as sidekick to give Lance Armstrong all the glory; one last chance this year before hip replacement surgery [!!!]; the very painful hip itself all the way through this Tour; the phenomenal comeback in the Alps after a falling all the way to 11th place), and to golfer Chris DiMarco for his second-place finish to Tiger just three weeks after DiMarco's mother's unexpected death. Again, as Tiger kept hitting good shot after good shot, all the glamour names on the leader board -- Els, Garcia, Goosen, Furyk -- failed to put any pressure, even the slightest bit, on him the last day. But DiMarco, with a slightly jury-rigged swing, a famously bizarre putting grip, and a much lesser golf pedigree, again showed the grit, determination, and never-say-die attitude to at least make Tiger sweat.

To Hastert: Enough Already!!

By on 7.24.06 | 11:03AM

To use a phrase from Archie Bunker, why won't Speaker Dennis Hastert just stifle himself?!?!? There he was again, yesterday on Fox News Sunday, moaning about the FBI search of Rep. William Jefferson's office. Every time he opens his mouth on the subject, he takes away a Republican advantage -- and he's also wrong, dead wrong, on the substance of the issue as well. Hastert said he might challenge a judge's order that allows a "filter team," which is separate from the actual prosecution team, to review records to determine if they were responsive to the items listed in a court warrant authorizing the search. Hastert apparently wants all records seized from Jefferson's office to STILL be off limits not only to prosecutors but even to this filter team whose entire point is to make sure the records used by the prosecution are not ones protected by constitutional provisions. His objections are inane.

Re: Don’t Give Up the Ship

By on 7.24.06 | 10:31AM

Jed, I appreciate the exchange. I am going to pick one final nit, a nit I picked in the original column. You believe that building a democratic government in Iraq necessarily distracts and delays us from the necessary business of conquering the wider enemy. I do not think that needs to be so, think, in fact, that Iraq, newly constituted, may be an effective ally and forward base in that war. The Iraqis hate "the guys in black turbans" (i.e., the mullahs, the Taliban, etc.) as much as we do. And, given the map of the middle east, I believe Iraq, right in the middle of the muddle, presents a special case for nation-building, one that could not be made for, say, Syria, and that we should not need to make for Iran, once the mullahs are deposed. Question here: Can the mullahs be deposed without outright war? For example, via naval blockade?

Poulos on the Humanities

By on 7.24.06 | 7:59AM

In an earlier post, James Poulos decries the lack of priority given to the humanities versus the sciences. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the humanities and have every interest in seeing that area of inquiry become the focus of dollars and attention. Nevertheless, I can't bring myself to hope that more students will be steered in that direction. Although I am a faithful disciple of the humanities, I often take comfort in the fact that the majority of students won't have much exposure to the offerings on hand. Better they remain busy with their business and engineering degrees than that they should hear too much of the soul-killing discourses that reign in the older buildings on campus.

Re: Don’t Give up the Ship

By on 7.23.06 | 9:10AM

Larry: Thanks for the rejoinder. I know you don't intentionally counsel defeat, but that is the necessary result of the strategy you propound. The fact is now, was in 2003, and always will be that by delaying action against other terrorist regimes while we wait for the Iraqis to sort themselves out is a strategy that leads inevitably to our defeat. While Maliki and the rest fiddle, Ahmadinejad develops nukes, Syria keeps the Sunni insurgency alive in Iraq and Saudi Arabia plays both ends against each other. I'm not against helping nations achieve democracy, but I'm inalterably opposed to elevating democracy to the status of weapon or strategy. As Iran, Syria, and the rest are proving day after day, they are using our delay to their great advantage. Democracy was impossible in Germany until Hitler was dead and his regime ground into dust. Democracy in the arab world must wait until victory has been achieved. Iran? Syria? As WSC would have said, "Action This Day."

Re: Don’t Give Up the Ship

By on 7.23.06 | 4:02AM

Jed, thanks for your good and thoughtful reply. I'll take issue with two things: I do not counsel or countenance defeat. Victory means as much to me as to any Amerian. Second, Middle Eastern countries, at least some of them, represent a great deal more than Brit exercises in map-drawing. The Bible mentions several countries that still exist, among them, Iran.

It’s The Humanities, Stupid

By on 7.22.06 | 3:37PM

Some eyebrows went up when, right after Bush's State of the Union, I decried his proposed emphasis on math and science education, to the patent detriment of the humanities. Now, here comes academic luminary and prolific intellectual author Martha Nussbaum -- someone who should know, and about whom more later -- beating the same drum: