The Spectacle Blog

Did Hezbollah really lose?

By on 9.1.06 | 10:29AM

In his Washington Post column today, Charles Krauthammer counters the conventional wisdom that Hezbollah won, joining Amir Taheri, who made similar points last week. The gist is, Hezbollah's military suffered heavy causualties, and it lost politically because the Lebanese people blame the terrorist group for bringing so much devastation to the country. This view was bolstered by the following statement by Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, which Krauthammer cites in his article:

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 . . . that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."

Islamic Nationalism

By on 8.31.06 | 4:07PM

Over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, David Weigel pokes fun at Kathryn Jean Lopez for poking fun at Jack Reed. Reed, in a conference call with Chuck Schumer, had this to say about the term "Islamofascism":

This is not a nationalistic organization that is trying to seize control of a particular government. It is a religious movement. It is motivated by apocalyptic visions. It is something that is distributed. Most of these terrorist cells seem to be evolving through imitation, rather than being organized. And again, I think it goes to the point of that their first response is, you know, come up with a catchy slogan, and then they forget to do the hard work of digging into the facts and coming up with a strategy and resources that will counter the actual threats we face.

PC Pat

By on 8.31.06 | 3:32PM

Cliff May notes that he was on TV today arguing with Pat Buchanan about the propriety of the term "Islamo-Fascism." Part of Buchanan's argument? "[H]e said, the term is offensive to Muslims." That's Pat Buchanan for you: Always ultra-sensitive to the feelings of minorities.

Israel and the Red Cross

By on 8.31.06 | 11:19AM

Today, the Washington Post recounts how Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivelent of the Red Cross, finally became a member of the international Red Cross, after nearly 60 years of being denied entry because it wanted to use the Star of David as its emblem. Missing from the article was a recounting of a 1999 incident, in which Cornelio Sommaruga, former head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was quoted as saying, "If we're going to have the Shield of David, why would we not have to accept the swastika?"

Gas: Giant?

By on 8.30.06 | 5:09PM

Everyone seems to expect President Bush's unpopularity to be a huge drag on Republican candidates in November. But the funny thing about Bush is how closely his approval ratings correlate to gas prices. So if it's true that the price at the pump is poised to keep falling for months, shouldn't we be more optimistic about the GOP's fortunes this November?

Hard Data on Rudy in 2008

By on 8.30.06 | 3:19PM

Given our Giuliani discussion, I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some data from the latest Cook Political Report/RT Strategies Poll. It backs up what I've been saying about Rudy's chances of capturing the Republican nomination.

The headline number is that Giuliani is the first choice of  32 percent of Republicans, McCain, his closest rival, is at 20 percent. Meanwhile, Gingrich at 10 percent, Frist is at 8 percent, Romney is at 5 percent and Allen is at 4 percent.  

There have been questions raised as to whether Giuliani can succeed in the South, given his liberal social views. Well, a separate question asked respondents how they like certain politicians "as a person," on a scale from 0 to 100. In the South, Giuliani scored 62.4, which is higher than anyone else on the list, including McCain and President Bush.

People may like Giuliani as a person, critics may contend, but their support will errode once they learn of his liberal social views. However, yet another question in the poll asked:

Changing Gears: The Fiction of Lars Walker

By on 8.30.06 | 2:56PM

It happens every once in a while. You discover something that is really special, that should be incredibly successful, but unaccountably, isn't. A very well read friend made me aware of the fiction of Lars Walker. He writes mostly about Vikings during the period when Christianity contended with pagan religions, but he also has a contemporary novel (which happens to deal with Viking lore!).

I cannot give a high enough recommendation to Lars Walker's The Year of the Warrior. I had to wait for it, but it was completely worth the wait. The narrator of the story is a young Irishman taken captive to sell as a slave by Vikings. They give him a tonsure to make him look like a priest so he'll fetch a higher price. A newly converted Viking nobleman buys him because he needs a priest for his village. The Irishman decides to play the part of the priest in order to survive and the action flows from there.

Kaine Cries Uncle!

By on 8.30.06 | 1:41PM

From the Washington Post:

In a speech Monday to the General Assembly's money committees, Kaine again offered a laundry list of transportation projects that need more money, including improvements to Interstate 66, the Capital Beltway, Metro and Virginia Railway Express. But he conceded that the public strongly opposes the tax increases he proposed earlier.

"They are aware that solutions will cost money," Kaine said, citing recent polls of the public. "But they don't want to pay more taxes."

That grinding sound you hear is the Post editorialists gnashing their teeth.

Kudlow & Co. Tonight

By on 8.30.06 | 1:26PM

I'll be on tonight (about 5:45 pm) debating Larry Korb on the Rumsfeld speech yesterday. Interesting part of that is the AP story which kicked off the misreporting of what Rumsfeld said. Kudlow's producer sent the first to me yesterday, and it didn't sound right. Checking with the Pentagon proved it materially wrong.

Their first version -- since rewritten at least twice -- said Rumsfeld, "...accused critics of the Bush administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease a 'new type of fascism.'" But Rumsfeld never made that accusation.

After the Pentagon raised hell with AP, the third re-write said, "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday the world faces 'a new type of fascism' and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement."

Cautiously in favor of Rudy G

By on 8.30.06 | 12:55PM

Hunter, I grew up in and around New York city. I remember it at its (pre-Bloomberg) worst. Trash everywhere, gangs on the streets, pedestrians unable to have a conversation because of all the horns blowing. The broken warehouse window should have been copyrighted as the city's trademark. Then came Rudy.

Clean streets, a city once again a pleasure to walk in, and much safer to do just that. He proved his worth long before 9-11. And now Bloomberg is ruining it all over again.

But does all of Giuliani's good translate into a warfighting president who can lead the nation and the world? Is he dedicated to being a small government conservative? Will the right-to-lifers even let him compete for the nomination?

I'd like to like Rudy. So far, there are too many unanswered questions to make any judgment other than he'd be better than McCain. ABM voters unite.