The Spectacle Blog

Setting the Alito Plate

By on 1.9.06 | 8:25AM

So High Noon it is.

Word out of the White House and Capitol Hill is that Samuel Alito will most likely not go the Chief Justice Roberts route and go unscripted for his opening statement.

Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and his staff were working over the weekend to coordinate and map out what will happen today. Specter appears ready, according to sources, to push back against his liberal critics and give him some running room. We shall see.

As we learn more, we'll post more.

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Jumping the Filibuster Gun

By on 1.9.06 | 6:53AM

If I were a Senate Democrat who had it out for Judge Alito, I would keep a much better poker face than the showboaters who hit the TV studios Sunday morning. I would say I'm looking forward to hearing from the nominee, have some concerns, and remain firm but upbeat. But instead Schumer, Feinstein, Leahy, and Kennedy openly threaten a filibuster before the hearings even begin. How do they expect to be taken seriously when they show their cards before Alito's said anything in the hearings?

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Welcome, John!

By on 1.9.06 | 5:03AM

My son and I consider "The John Batchelor Show" the one absolutely indispensable radio broadcast. To our disappointment, WRKO in Boston (THE Talk Station, as they style themselves) has dropped the Batchelor show in an evening re-shuffle. The Celtics occupy most early evenings; the post-10 slot gets a re-run of Michael Savage.

With my birthday coming up, I have asked my wife for two long-range AM radio antennas so we can reliably pull in New York's WABC.

You will be a credit to the AmspecBlog, John. Welcome, welcome!

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Zbiggy’s Sour Choice

By on 1.8.06 | 5:34PM

Zbigniew Brzezinski - he whose Solomonic wisdom led us from the Shah to the Mullahs' kakistocracy - has delivered himself of another masterpiece in today's WaPo. He, like the rest of the lib hierarchy, can't stand the idea that we can and may win in Iraq. So he rephrases the "cut and run" suggestion of Pelosi, Murtha and the rest into a choice between "cut and run" (which he paraphrases to a 'relatively prompt disengagement') and a prolonged military occupation that the American people won't support. Does anyone doubt his preference?

Zbiggy says the prez should call in several Dems (such as George Mitchell) to redefine victory. How? In terms of " attainable yet tolerable outcome in Iraq." In other words, Brzezinski wants to redefine victory in terms of an acceptable level of defeat. Anyone who is surprised, please go to the back of the class.

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Lear in Damascus

By on 1.8.06 | 5:13PM

Trusted source reports that a failed palace coup in December has left the al-Assad clan of Damascus in an Elizabethan state, with no safe resolution available. King Lear is dead, and the wretchedly banal and predictable children fight on for the throne.

Aged, bitter Hosni Mubarak and the unstable Egyptian Intelligence back the momentary President Bashar al-Assad, who damaged his credibility as an Arab warlord when he ordered the murder of Rafik Hariri last winter. King Abdullah of Arabia and French Intelligence back a combination of younger brother Maher al-Assad and his brother-in-law Intelligence Chief and skilled assassin Assef Shawqat, both supported by sister Bushra al-Assad, who is the vital powerbroker of the throne room; however, that palace coup failed in December, leaving a stalemate between brothers and sister.

Meanwhile Crown Prince Sultan of Arabia and his ambitious son Bandar favor a Sunni solution, an unnamed alternative to the al-Assads. Yet the Saudis lack conviction: they are reluctant schemers, filled with self-doubt, inferiority, weak imaginations.

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A Clear View From Down Under

By on 1.8.06 | 3:54PM

The Sydney Morning Herald has a great analysis of the Bush presidency -- this from our ever-steady friends in Oz. From the piece, entitled "Bush Survives -- with a little help from his enemies," comes also this gem about the Democrats:

There's something else Bush has going for him: a politically inept and hopelessly divided Democratic Party in which it is never clear who speaks for it on any issue.

The excuse Democrats make for their ineptitude is that they control neither house of Congress nor the White House, which means they are virtually powerless to influence, let alone dictate, policy. But that does not explain why the leadership of the party in Congress is so mediocre or why, after John Kerry's bitter defeat in November 2004 because he couldn't decide where he stood on Iraq or the war on terrorism, the Democrats can't make up their minds where they stand on either issue.

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Schiavo Sharon

By on 1.8.06 | 2:06PM

Ariel Sharon's grave condition has become a political event that can be and will be manipulated by the succession crisis in Jerusalem and the Sharon family troubles.

When and if the life support systems are turned off, Sharon will fail quickly if not immediately. Therefore all preparation of the state funeral now turns on that moment: security, transportation, accommodation. The funeral will be the gathering of the clans that defines the last of the 20th century order of battle: the ancien regime marching behind Sharon the way it marched behind King Edward's hearse in 1910 in London.

More, the funeral will be a sharp break with Sharonism, and this does not favor the unremarkable Ehud Olmert. There is motive for Olmert and the quarreling players of the unborn Forward Party (including the decaying Peres), to delay the funeral as long as possible in the 100 day run-up to the election in order to feed on the sympathy vote for a fallen hero.

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Iran’s Intent

By on 1.8.06 | 9:46AM

A Memri translation of a December 3 editorial in an Iranian newspaper states Iran's offer to help establish terrorist militias in other countries.  Here's the money quote:

"...Iranian daily Kayhan International urged Muslim countries to establish a paramilitary force patterned after Iran's Basij, in order to prevent "all meddling powers from coveting Muslim territories… Iran is ready to share its experiences in that field with other countries... If the Islamic world were to mobilize its vast material and manpower resources, then no meddler would ever dare think of casting its covetous eyes at Muslim lands... Therefore, the avowed goal of the liberation of Jerusalem and the elimination of the cancerous tumor called Israel will come much sooner than expected."

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The Dark Horse Emerges

By on 1.7.06 | 2:09PM

Boehner, Blunt and Pence remain the names on everyone's list, but a DeLay staffer says that the former Majority Leader has his horse in the race and it is ...

Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan.

Rogers is a former FBI agent, a DeLay acolyte and a solid conservative. That DeLay is touting him is significant. As we have said all along, DeLay will play a role in the selection of a new leader.

According to several leadership staff sources, Rogers intends to make a play for a leadership position. "It's not clear that majority leader is what he's looking at. I know that people have talked to him about that, but he really seems interested in moving up the ladder taking a leading role in the caucus," says one source.

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DeLay DeToast

By on 1.7.06 | 2:00PM

We'll have more on this on Monday morning, but obviously the former Majority Leader did the right thing on Saturday morning by stepping aside and allowing elections to move forward.

DeLay's career has been marked by an uncanny sense of political timing and how the political process works. This resignation is another sign of just that.

That said, Republicans are far from free and clear, and a new leaders will not resolve many of the problems the party faces in the House in the coming weeks.

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