The Spectacle Blog

NJ Supreme Court Splits The Difference

By on 10.25.06 | 3:37PM

Here's the ruling in Lewis v. Harris, as paraphrased in the Clerk's syllabus:

Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed samesex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to samesex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.
In other words, gay couples in New Jersey are entitled to more recognition than they now get under New Jersey's Domestic Partnership Act, indeed to every right that comes with straight marriage-- but the state is not compelled to refer to gay unions as "marriage."

The Dems Make a Major Mistake

By on 10.25.06 | 3:00PM

At first blush, I think the Michael J. Fox ads on stem cell research scare people on the right. Here we have an actor who is very well liked and sympathetic in his plight making a call for political help.

Don't worry. I'm pretty sure this is going to end up helping the GOP quite a bit. Two related reasons:

1. The Democrats have so far succeeded by existing almost entirely as a protest to the Iraq war which has been costly and semi- (dare I say it?) quagmire-ish. Putting the stem cell issue out on the table is a stupid diversion from a good strategy. Instead of "We're not Bush," they are now saying, "And we want to start pushing the envelope on bio-ethical issues just like we have been on questions of sex."

It's a big reminder of the life issue and whether you believe it or not, that one is becoming a big loser for the left. Pro-life will eventually be what anti-racism became.

Re: The Bush Doctrine And Iraq

By on 10.25.06 | 2:23PM

Not only that, Philip. Contra Ackerman, the case for democracy promotion is not limited to the narrow question of what kind of states directly sponsor terrorism. It also extends to the American interest in reform of the sorts of repressive political environments where radicalism is likely to arise.

By the way, it's quite odd that Ackerman thinks it's really signficant that Kaplan's piece doesn't contain the word "al-Qaeda." Kaplan's reference to democracies' "thin history of exporting terrorism" very obviously does allude to al-Qaeda and similar groups.

The Bush Doctrine And Iraq

By on 10.25.06 | 1:47PM

At TNR, Lawrence Kaplan argues that the Bush Doctrine of preemption, democracy promotion and unilateral action should survive beyond Iraq, prompting Tapped's Spencer Ackerman to criticize the "misdguided but deep belief, as Doug Feith later put it, that 'Terrorist organizations cannot be effective in sustaining themselves over long periods of time to do large-scale operations if they don't have support from states.'" As evidence that this belief is misguided, Ackerman writes: "al-Qaeda doesn't have Afghanistan/>/>, or even Iraq, and it's plenty dangerous."

Sob Story

By on 10.25.06 | 1:27PM

A guy named Michael Bywater has a new book coming saying that we're all "big babies," infantilized, needy, unaccountable, and awful. You would think I would jump up and down about this, because it sounds so right. That I would agree because that's what I say too. But I don't. WHY NOT?


By on 10.25.06 | 11:38AM

Michael J. Fox should not be above criticism for the controversial stem-stell research ad for Claire McCaskill, but criticism should focus on the fact that he was being misleading about the science and policy of stem cell research. I think Rush Limbaugh went too far by saying, without any evidence, that, "In this commercial, (Fox) is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act." Even if you were to argue that he didn't take his medication in advance of the ad (which we don't know), that still means that his natural state is to shake, and thus not "purely an act." I think one can acknowledge that someone is truly suffering while still arguing against an expansion of funding for stem cell research on moral grounds and questioning the soundness of the science of stem cell research. And certainly, on that front the ad is shameless by implying that Jim Talent is standing in the way of Michael J. Fox and millions of Americans getting cured.

RE: Perception Can Become Reality

By on 10.25.06 | 10:48AM

I think that the media narrative of an impending Republican defeat can cut both ways. Perhaps, as has been suggested, it will lead conservatives to be dispirited, thus hampering turnout. On the other hand, the constant media harping on how Republicans are going to lose could instead annoy conservatives and motivate them to hit the polls in large numbers to prove the liberal media wrong. Also, one of the primary arguments that Republicans are making in an attempt to turnout the base is to get them to imagine what Congress would be like under the control of Nancy Pelosi and/or Harry Reid. By annointing Pelosi the Speaker with several weeks remaining in the election, the media, in a sense, is already doing half of the RNC's job.

Re: Expanded Definition of ‘Defeatocrat’

By on 10.25.06 | 10:37AM

As I mentioned in my previous post, CNN's "Broken Government" series focused yesterday on how Democrats are considered "wusses" and are having difficulty overcoming their defeatest attitude. But little did I know that last night's broadcast on which the network's Web report was based would turn into an hour-long campaign ad for Heath Shuler, who is challenging Rep. Charles Taylor in North Carolina's 11th District. Most handicappers rate the race as a toss-up.

Home Video Boosts Party’s Chances

By on 10.25.06 | 10:24AM

In response to my column last week, reader Keith Huylebroeck home-produced this video that seems to me to be as effective a political message as almost any professionally produced commercial I've seen in a long time. One need not endorse the message to recognize its simple and powerful clarity. Very impressive indeed! It makes one wonder why the so-called "pros" are often so unable to understand what makes voters tick.....