The Spectacle Blog

World Bank Coup Alert: Wolfowitz Rising

By on 1.24.06 | 3:48PM

Report this evening from the Financial Times re the unusually familiar melodrama that the international scoundrel Wolfowitz -- last seen at the DOD wrecking the planet with his kindred of Cain the Neocons -- is now leading a coup d'etat at the serenely sluggish and strangely non-transparent yet unnoticed World Bank. First reports from the backstairs where these sorts of coups get played out -- daggers, emails, Walsingham codes -- is that Wolfowitz's sinister scheme involves bringing in political ops from the baldly Republican administration in Washington and letting them vet the senior help that have been selflessly involved with enterprises that appear wildly overbudget and unexplained. Wolfowitz is said to have approved the use of accountants to study the books. Do gentlemen examine other gentlemen's books??? Veteran World Bank international civil servants are said to be in such disrepair that they are blogging their upset in foreign languages.

Prepare for the worst -- see key words: vanished billions, mystery, U.S. Attorney.

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Presidential Conspiracy Theories, Iran Quadrant

By on 1.24.06 | 3:33PM

Six dead and two dozen wounded in two explosive device attacks this news cycle, the day of a scheduled visit by the chief executive officer. Sound like U.S., France, Israel? Wrong. The report is from the Iran southern city of Ahvaz. One explosive device in front of a bank; the second in front of a government natural resources office. Ahmadinejad's visit was scheduled for January 24, today; but had been cancelled because -- the expedient explanation after the plane crash at Tehran last weeks that dispatched the high command of the IRGC -- of bad weather.

You will recall the strange report some weeks back of a gunfight attack on a presidential convoy in southeast Iran, when a presidential bodyguard (driver) and a so-called bandit were killed by gunfire. The explanation at the time was that the attack was ignorant, random Baluchi bandits (Baluchistan is a beggarly, abused stateless chauvinistic enterprise spread over three countries [Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan]), and that we were not to leap to theories based on the fact that Ahmadinejad was some many air miles away at the time.

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“Book of Daniel” Cancelled

By on 1.24.06 | 2:27PM

NBC axed the poorly performing show about the Episcopal priest and his dysfunctional family today.

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League is ecstatic in an email: "This is good news for Christians and bad news for those who get their jollies trying to disparage them. ... Hollywood could save itself a lot of money if they simply asked us to vet their shows. Our fee is high -- obscenely high -- but we're worth it."

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L.A. Drama

By on 1.24.06 | 2:27PM

This L.A. Times op-ed is quite possibly the most disgusting piece of "journalism" written to date about our military, the war, and our values. If his piece weren't so offensive, Mr. Joel Stein, who is credited as guest hosting E! Entertainment's "101 Hottest Hot Hotties' Hotness," could easily be dismissed. But I fear many-a-lib actually thinks this way -- and just don't have the guts to speak it, or put it into words.

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Re: ABC’s Lame Smear of Scalia

By on 1.24.06 | 10:21AM

Dave: Some expert Stephen Gillers turns out to be. He's a staunch leftist who has over the years has written frequently for the Cominternish Nation magazine, which is where I first made his acquaintance. By rights he should have recused himself for commenting on Scalia, having attacked Scalia in the Nation's April 19, 2004 issue for duck-hunting with Dick Cheney. If the Sierra Club, which Gillers quoted approvingly, could request recusal of any federal judge like Scalia whose "impartiality might be reasonably questioned," shouldn't the same standard apply to a hostile source like Gillers?

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ABC’s Lame Smear of Scalia

By on 1.24.06 | 9:37AM

ABC News goes after Justice Antonin Scalia today for attending gratis a Federalist Society conference last year in Colorado.

What's the charge? After trumpeting the story with an eye-catching "EXCLUSIVE: Supreme Ethics Problem?" headline and the byline of ABC's "chief investigative correspondent" (my! this must be hot stuff!), Brian Ross, ABC doesn't have the guts to make one.

Instead, following a grand journalistic gotcha tradition, Ross reports that the trip "raises questions" and then finds someone else to suggest the charge that he won't make himself: "according to some legal experts." Actually, Ross has only one legal expert: quote master (he shows up in major newspapers and wires 119 times in the last year) and law professor Stephen Gillers.

Gillers was one of the so-called experts who said Judge Alito's investment in Vanguard mutual funds was a conflict of interest. He has also whined about Scalia in the past, saying, "He's combative. He's in your face....He does not have what most people think of as a judicial demeanor."

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Georgia vs. Russia in Winter

By on 1.23.06 | 8:56PM

Best source on Russian foreign policy speaks dismissively of the charge by Saakashvili of Georgia that Russia was behind the simultaneous explosions on three gas pipelines and one electric line over the weekend that pushed Tblisi and much of the U.S.-mission-critical state of Georgia into dark cold.

Puzzle is what caused the so-called explosions?

Consider accident. Russia's infrastructure is pasted together, and pipelines blowing up in a violent cold snap is Soviet-age believable. Then again, the gas lines are Gazprom's, who did the coordinated turn down of gas a few weeks back through Ukraine into Europe (unless it was Gazprom thugs stealing in Ukraine); so perhaps it was just a Gazprom failure.

Consider terror. The natural gas lines into Georgia pass through North Ossetia, which is the neighborhood of the Chechen attack dogs.

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Bush, Hayden and Listening to Bad Guys

By on 1.23.06 | 7:50PM

The Prez was at his best today giving the Landon Lecture at the Kansas State University. He was clear and not deferential to his critics. He made a point that the Dems will never understand: that for the President of the United States, protecting American citizens is Job 1.

On the NSA surveillance of suspected terrorists, he was unapologetic, insistent, and correct that the NSA surveillance of terrorists he authorized was legal and necessary. And, as he pointed out, if he were eager to break the law, why brief congressional leaders more than a dozen times?

There is so much misunderstanding about the NSA program -- and the FISA law -- that even Gen. Mike Hayden (former director of NSA and now Deputy National Intelligence Director) couldn't sort it all out. But he did make clear that the interception of phone calls and such is not "domestic" intelligence (i.e., isn't listening in to phone calls between people in the USA) and is aimed only at suspected al-Qaeda associates and contacts.

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