The Spectacle Blog

Re: Between Schumer and a Camera

By on 2.28.06 | 3:00PM

I've heard that adage applied to at least three or four politicians. I don't know where it started, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that it went back to the newsreel era.

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Tempus Fugit

By on 2.28.06 | 2:11PM

So the cable guy shows up at my house this morning (two hours late, natch) to help me join the revolution that is digital cable.

I am happy to have digital cable, but am dismayed that it now requires three remote controls to operate my television. I can deal with that, I suppose, but I am not sure I can deal with the enormous digital clock on the front of my new cable box which shall blare at me at all hours and as far as I can tell cannot be disabled.

I hadn't ever been offended by a digital clock until this morning. I think the thing that set me off was the stark realization, as I looked around my place, that I am besieged by digital clocks on things that I neither need nor want to have digital clocks on. In my small apartment, there are no fewer than a dozen digital clocks on things that are not clocks.

The madness must stop.

I hereby unveil my new personal Global initiative to urge manufacturers to stop putting digital clocks on anything other than, well, digital clocks.

Who's with me?

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Serbian War Criminals - Gauntlet Thrown

By on 2.28.06 | 1:46PM

The Southeast European Times covers in succinct tones the Euro-frustration that has put Serbia, once again, behind the crosshairs of a foreign ultimatum:

"Full co-operation with the tribunal must be achieved to ensure that the negotiations are not disrupted," the European Council said in a statement. It called on both Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina "to take decisive action to ensure that all remaining fugitive indictees, notably Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are finally brought to justice without delay."

"Without delay" means by the end of March, and "disruption" means "suspension of Serbia-Montenegro's talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)" with the EU. Note the tricky timing that prevents Montenegro from voting their way out of their fair share in the onus.

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Between Schumer and a Camera

By on 2.28.06 | 12:46PM

It's an old adage that that's the most dangerous place to be in Washington, D.C. Now even a TV industry mag agrees, ranking him the "easiest to get" for program bookers. Congrats, Chuck. (hat tip: fishbowlDC).

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‘Gay Cowboys’ Watch

By on 2.28.06 | 11:41AM

Brokeback Mountain's been out long enough for the media to get this one right. Heck, I haven't seen the movie and I know that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal's characters are not cowboys, but shepherds. Reporters and writers don't screw this up occasionally, but as many as 1150 times in the last 30 days. And that's only among the news web sites that Google includes in its news search.

I'm sure this case has been made elsewhere, but I doubt this slip is unintentional. As James Bowman writes in our March issue, the movie makes a point of showing the viewer "unforgettable images of toxic masculinity." (subscribe here!) See also Yale Kramer's thorough analysis of the film -- he argues that "It's a story that hates men." If so, then those propping it up in the media are well served by exaggerating the characters' manhood.

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Re: We Are All Taiwanese Now

By on 2.28.06 | 11:14AM

Clever headline, Wlady!

Patrick Goodenough at CNS News has a fine report on Taiwan President Chen Shui Bian's controversial decision to scrap the National Unification Council referenced in my post here yesterday.

I find it interesting that so far the Chinese response has much less hysterical than one would imagine. Of course, it is early yet...

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Back to J School!

By on 2.28.06 | 10:55AM

Well, journalism school may be part of the problem, not the solution, but journalists need to learn even a semblance of objectivity somewhere.

Abortion stories are usually the worst, and the Associated Press meets and surpasses the expectations today in reporting on the Scheidler v. NOW and Operation Rescue v. NOW cases. The Supreme Court already decided in 2003 that NOW's ridiculous racketeering suit against pro-life protesters outside clinics was, well, ridiculous. These cases were clean-up matters, because the 7th Circuit kept the matter alive even after the Court's 2003 decision.

In an 8-0 decision, the Court ended the racketeering nonsense against the abortion protesters. So how does the AP report it?

The Supreme Court dealt a setback Tuesday to abortion clinics in a two-decade-old legal fight over anti-abortion protests, ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban demonstrations.

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The Pence Plan

By on 2.28.06 | 10:24AM

The shining star from Indiana, House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Pence, isn't letting up. The RSC released its legislative agenda. It's bold, principled, and ambitiously conservative, in ways we hope other pols in this town would be:

1. Make the Tax Cuts Permanent, including the repeal of the marriage-tax penalty and the death tax and pass fundamental tax reform.

2. Pass Budget Process Reform, which includes budgeting for emergencies with a rainy day fund, instituting a sunset commission for federal programs, instituting a constitutional line-item veto, and making the budget resolution carry the force of law.

3. Pass another Deficit Reduction Bill in the form of budget reconciliation, to reign in autopilot spending, which has risen from 25% of all federal spending in 1963 to 54% today, and is expected to reach nearly 60% in 2014.

4. Pass Ethics Reform that requires transparency and earmark reform that permits Members of Congress to strike earmarks on the House floor.

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By on 2.28.06 | 9:48AM

Further on our item on Sen. John McCain's growing support among Bush donors: it isn't just the notion that McCain is a frontrunner that is driving this support.

Recall that while McCain has his moments of howling at the moon all by his lonesome, he is also at heart a loyal soldier. And while his conservative credentials have taken a bit of a beating, and he has been critical of the Bush Administration at inconvenient moments, he has supported the Bush Administration when it really counted: namely the falls of 2000 and 2004.

According to folks we've talked to who are supporting McCain and have financially supported George W. Bush, there is a sense that McCain's time has come. That he was loyal to the President, did everything that was asked of him to get this President elected and re-elected, has worked hard to build a Republican majority, and more often than not has worked behind the scenes in the Senate for this Administration, not against it.

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A Tough Hill to Climb

By on 2.28.06 | 9:33AM

Regular New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani doesn't like folks who believe what they believe, especially if they aren't liberal. That's the clearest message in her review today of "The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost," an examination by former student Molly Worthen, of the career of Yale professor Charles Hill and his geopolitical theories that have influenced two generations of what are now commonly lumped together as "neocons."

As Powerline has pointed out, Kakutani's biggest problem with Hill appears to be that Hill knows what he believes, teaches it, and stands by it, and the ideas endure.

In her review, Kakutani writes: "The problem with such certainty is that it can lead to the cherry-picking of evidence to support an idée fixe - as in the case of the decision to go to war against Iraq - and the dismissal of more inconvenient facts."

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