The Spectacle Blog

USA PATRIOT Act

By on 11.16.05 | 12:21PM

Is half a loaf okay when the issue involves our domestic security?

Apparently our elected officials in Congress think so, judging by the deal they struck on renewing and making permanent ivestigative tools in the USA PATRIOT Act. We'll leave the details to people like Corallo who actually dealt with the stuff during their time in government, but this negotiated deal, which keeps many of the most critical investigative tools on a sunset schedule for seven years, is just awful.

Granted, it's better than the four years Democrats were asking for, but we shouldn't be playing games with policies that keep us safe. The privacy concerns related to some of these tools have been overblown by People for the American Way and the ACLU, which have both raised millions off of half-truths and outright lies. And besides, privacy rights don't do you much good if you're not alive to enjoy them.

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Gov. Gilmore Part Deux

By on 11.16.05 | 12:20PM

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore told the Washington Times yesterday that he will run for public office again, either as governor again or as a U.S. Senator. Interesting tidbit: the Times asked Jerry Kilgore's campaign manager, Ken Hutcheson, why Gilmore wasn't more involved in the race (Gilmore said he was ready and willing). Hutcheson claimed Gilmore didn't offer. In other words, the Kilgore campaign wasn't seeking out these senior Virginia Republicans. That campaign's missteps become more clear by the day.

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Bethell for the Birds

By on 11.16.05 | 12:16PM

It isn't government that is hyping avian flu threats. It's the markets: global banks and investment houses and large international companies that trade in Asia.

They are rightly concerned, and have been for more than three years now. This isn't a new concern, it's just a new concern to the media. Bethell is right on one point: the media has oversold by not being forthright about how the disease is most likely carried over from fowl to human. Who wants to know the intricacies of nonmodern butchering techniques in the hinterlands of Mongolia, after all?

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Bernanke to the Floor

By on 11.16.05 | 11:39AM

Ben Bernanke's nomination to succeed Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board passed the Senate Banking Committee today.

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Your Courageous Republicans

By on 11.16.05 | 11:37AM

For the record, here's who voted no on the Warner amendment yesterday:

Republicans: Jim Bunning (Ky.), Burr (N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Isakson (Ga.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), John McCain (Ariz.), Sessions (Ala.), John Thune (S.D.), and David Vitter (La.).

Democrats: Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Ted Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.), and Pat Leahy (Vt.).

Not everyone on this list voted no for the same reason (the far left group who voted yes for the Democrats' amendment), but those who opposed both resolutions should be singled out for their commitment to victory in Iraq. This group included all the Republicans as well as Sen. Conrad.

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Kiss the Pig

By on 11.16.05 | 9:44AM

This morning CNN's Miles O'Brien tried his hand at Anderson Cooper-style righteous indignation with middling results during a segment about how Wal-Mart was responding to Robert Greenwald's much heralded documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, currently being flocked to by similarly indignant yuppies and college freshman with no homework.

In a mocking tone O'Brien sniffed that Wal-Mart had "hired a big fancy PR firm."

"In other words the response to what seemed to be some substantive concerns about wages and how workers are treated is public relations. Trying to put a little lipstick on a pig maybe. Is Wal-Mart going to succeed?"

Ironically, the voice of reason and journalistic balance turned out to be not the supposed moderator O'Brien, but his guest, a correspondent for a business magazine who tried to explain that both Wal-Mart and those trying to unionize the store were engaged in a political campaign-esque battle of which PR was a component. O'Brien wasn't having any of it, though.

"One way to stem the tide would be to perhaps treat workers better," the anchor said. "Or is that just an anathema?"

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Tricky Dick

By on 11.16.05 | 9:34AM

Just received this email from a friend:

"Dick Durbin said on 'Meet the Press' that Alito's pro-life stance would disqualify him. Durbin, like Al Gore and Dick Gephardt, was vehemently pro-life in the 1980s when he was in the House and switched to pro-choice to make himself a more viable Senate candidate (the other two switched, of course, to be more viable presidential candidates)."

Here's the Durbin quote about Alito, and here's his pro-life record from the 80s. Unbelievable.

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Bob Woodward: Plame Affair is “laughable”

By on 11.16.05 | 9:22AM

That's what Woodward said on NPR this summer. His grand jury testimony, detailed today in the Washington Post, gives context to that quote, and adds a new layer of confusion to a "scandal" that looks more and more hollow. Woodward learned Plame's name from a senior administration official who "casually" mentioned it; Woodward didn't consider the information classified; the information was so unhot that when Woodward himself casually mentioned Plame's CIA identity to a fellow reporter that reporter, Walter Pincus, says he can't remember the conversation.

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French Republicans

By on 11.16.05 | 7:44AM

The Senate's action yesterday, requiring the president to pressure Iraqis to compromise politically, to provide quarterly reports (as if body counts are like price/earnings ratios on financial statements) and to, "explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq" was awful on any number of levels.

As I said on the O'Reilly Factor last night, the formulation of questions on the war are wrong so long as we speak only about Iraq. And if even Bill O'Reilly says, as he did last night, that we'll never defeat terrorism everywhere, our mindset is wrong. We can't and won't defeat terrorism everywhere. But if our nation is going to survive, we need to defeat the terrorist ideology and convince its adherents that they are defeated. If we quit before achieving that goal, they will keep fighting until we are defeated.

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