The Spectacle Blog

Provocative Synchronicity

By on 8.20.06 | 4:34PM

Two days from now the Axis of Evil has the chance to really show its stuff. August 22 is the now much-gossipped-about date when Iran's "reply" to the nuclear demand/bribe package comes due. Military exercises far southeast of Tehran proceed apace. Another North Korean missile test may be in the batter's circle, too. And what -- now that perfidious France has defaulted on its promise to enforce its own Hezbollah resolution -- does fate have in store for Lebanon?

Provocation of some sort is a possibility live as a wire. But although some overt act -- proving its intentions by non-negotiable fact -- would make the great powers a offer of stern unity they may not be able to refuse, we should hew close to prudence instead of passion when it comes to prospects for the now much-gossipped-about World War Three. I, for one, don't quite buy the rhetoric. And this does not mean things aren't deadly serious. Further weekend thoughts here.

Re: Fun With Ben & Jerry’s

By on 8.20.06 | 12:40AM

Oy, that brings back memories. James Taranto is incorrect to imply that Ben Cohen stole the idea for his BB demonstration from the 2004 documentary Paper Clips, since it was part of Ben's schtick before that movie came out; he included it when he spoke at the Ithaca College commencement in 2003, the year my wife (then my girlfriend) graduated. I picked apart the whole speech at the time, and explained how Ben's BB demonstration is a big pile of something you wouldn't want in your ice cream.

Playing With Pictures

By on 8.18.06 | 7:25PM

Union Leader Editorial Page Editor Andrew Cline paddles the Kos crowd in a great bit here, seeing their one supposedly incriminating picture of Rep. Charlie Bass at a big, bad corporate party and raising them some pictures of Kos allies (and others) at the same party. Fun stuff, take a look.

Deficit Going Down

By on 8.18.06 | 1:57PM

I'd like to hope that the editors at the New Republic are feeling a bit less smug today with the Congressional Budget Office's announcement that the fiscal year 2006 deficit will be $260 billion, down from $318 billion last year. But I won't, since smugness seems to be the editorial disposition at TNR these days. They'll just cling to the CBO's claim that the deficit will rise next year.

That's not a wise strategy though. Using data from various CBO reports, I constructed this table on projected and actual deficits and income taxes (it is the growth in income taxes that has accounted for a large part of the decline in the deficit).

CBO Projections Vs. Actual Numbers

I Disagree, Reluctantly

By on 8.18.06 | 1:55PM

With the lovely Ms. Coulter, but in her recent column she decries the terrorists' victory in compelling us to bar deodorant from airliners. Sorry, Ann, but you're wrong. It's not the terrorists who will celebrate this win. It is to the French that the spoils (and the odor of them) will belong.

Talks the Talk

By on 8.18.06 | 1:03PM

Al Sharpton recently spoke out against people who act "as if gangsterism and blackness are synonymous." It would seem, though, that the dear Reverend doesn't always practice what he preaches. There he was at the Radio One Awards in D.C. last night, schmoozing with the hucksters and glitterati of the pop-gangster culture, including the likes of Janet Jackson, gangster rappers Sean "P Diddy" Combs, Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupree, as well as the rap producer Russell Simmons.

Rudy Still Leads

By on 8.18.06 | 12:15PM

The latest 2008 presidential preference poll for August, based on a Pew Research survey of registered voters, finds Giuliani in the lead among Republicans, with 24 percent support. Rice is at 21 percent and McCain is at 20 percent. Everybody else is in the single digits. Hillary Clinton is still polling way ahead of everbody else in the Democratic field, with 40 percent support among registered Democrats. Gore far behind at 18 percent.

Suicidal Purge

By on 8.18.06 | 12:03PM

The Democrats have a great plan to deal with a Joe Lieberman victory: A shunning.

A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Conn.) campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week. If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides.

[...]

The issue of Lieberman's seniority would arise most dramatically if Lieberman wins re-election and Democrats recapture control of the chamber. That would slot Lieberman to take over as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the panel primarily responsible for investigating the executive branch.

Democrats think their chances of taking back the Senate are growing more and more likely. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week said he was more confident that Democrats would pick up at least five Senate seats.

Security Moms

By on 8.18.06 | 10:09AM

In a July 1, 2004 Opinion Journal column, Peggy Noonan pointed out a phenomenon that she was worried would hurt President Bush's re-election prospects:

History has been too dramatic the past 3 1/2 years. It has been too exciting. Economic recession, 9/11, war, Afghanistan, Iraq, fighting with Europe, fighting with the U.N., boys going off to fight, Pat Tillman, beheadings. It has been so exciting. And my general sense of Americans is that we like things to be boring. Or rather we like history to be boring; we like our lives to be exciting.

Perhaps Noonan was two years early. I thought back to her article when reading today's Washington Post cover story on how the so-called "security mom" vote was starting to shift toward Democrats. In particular, the following quote from Jo Ann Smith, a divorced Ohio mother , stood out:

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