The Spectacle Blog

Frist Building Fences, Not Bridges

By on 9.19.06 | 9:45AM

While Democrats sing "Don't Fence Me In" on immigration policy, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is doing just that to Democrats with his move last night to bring a vote to the Senate floor on legislation that would build about 700 miles of real fencing, and high-tech border security for the rest of the southern borderland.

Political hiccups aside, Frist deserves credit for lining up some interesting and politically exculpatory legislative votes moving into the election-year recess. It isn't an accident that Republicans are seeing an up tick in opinion polls. While the White House has been doing a good messaging job, the fact that Frist's leadership team was able to lower Congress's profile and hit on issues important to Americans is another reason the GOOP will hold on to both the House and the Senate in 2006.

Google Political Ambitions

By on 9.19.06 | 9:41AM

Google is announcing that it is creating a political action committee named Google NetPAC. Google's political activities have been an embarrassment to the company in the past year as almost all donations from the corporation's executives flow to Democrats or extreme-left wing causes, and money Google has used to fund Internet industry activities have gone almost exclusively to groups like

To blunt this criticism, Google hired a former Bush Administration official for its Washington office, and created the impression that she would be directing Washington policy. Apparently that was simply a ruse, because well-known Democrat, Alan Davidson, Google's Washington policy counsel, has created the impression in the media that he will oversee the PAC. So much for Google's outreach to Republicans.

Red-Letter Politicking

By on 9.19.06 | 8:44AM

The religious left is rising up -- again -- in an effort to counter the power of evangelical conservatives, The Washington Times reports today. This time it's through the formation of a group called "Red Letter Christians," who "says it bases its actions and political philosophy on the words of Jesus, which appear in red lettering in some versions of the Bible."

Also yesterday, Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced its new initiative against election-year politicking in churches. It will mail more than 117,000 letters to churches in 11 competitive election states informing them of Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Its executive director, the Rev. Barry Lynn, said the IRS has issued new guidelines to ensure churches don't endanger their tax-exempt status by endorsing or opposing candidates. He criticized Focus on the Family for seeking coordinators in evangelical churches to distribute voter guides and engage voters.

"This is nothing less than an old-fashioned political machine," Mr. Lynn said.

‘Precious Human Capital’ On Display

By on 9.19.06 | 8:28AM

One expects built-in counter-biases where challenges are put to prevailing biases -- particularly when the challenger is the academic establishment, and the challenged is the establishment's fevered vision of what it thinks the academic establishment really is.

And we all know that what it really is is systemically biased against women. "Biased," in this case, means not rigged to produce a certain robust outcome: "more" women scientists and engineers. How much more? And why that particular amount? Silence! Bow thy head and ponder the vast evil of such institutional phenomena as this, propounded by the Panel Report of the National Academy of the Sciences: "anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a 'wife' is at a serious disadvantage."

Hitchens on Secularism

By on 9.18.06 | 5:57PM

Just came back from a Claremont Institute panel featuring Mark Helprin, William Kristol and Christopher Hitchens entitled, "September 11, 2001: Five Years Later." As one would expect given the lineup, the discussion was intellectually vigorous. Toward the end of the panel, Hitchens caused an uproar when he criticized the Pope's recent comments for being anti-reason and said something along the lines of, "We are fighting a war to defend secularism." He drew boos soon after when he continued to attack the Vatican, especially for what he saw as a history of coddling totalitarian regimes (such as when Tariq Aziz was a guest of the Vatican).

How Embarrassing

By on 9.18.06 | 3:28PM

Ezra Klein describes occassionally conservative heterodox blogger Andrew Sullivan as an "occassionally heterodox conservative." Someone needs a copy editor...

Webb De-Based?

By on 9.18.06 | 2:11PM

I am watching the Allen-Webb debate today on and off. Just caught the last couple questions about gun control and Iraq funding. Webb echoed Allen's support for robust gun rights. He then said would not vote to cut off Iraq war funding. In so doing, he implied that the anti-war movement and Nixon's domestic troubles were to blame for our loss in Vietnam. If one didn't know better, one would think he were a Republican. So who will the angry left vote for?

If you didn't catch it, Allen had a particularly strong moment early in the debate. One reporter asked him about his mother's possible Jewish ancestry. Seizing on the crowd's boos, Allen replied that the religion of his ancestors is generally out of bounds and that the debate should focus on issues that actually matter. It was good advice.

Webb is now dodging questions on his "Why Women Can't Fight" article, posed by the same reporter who asked about Allen's ancestors. Webb will only apologize for the tone, not the content.

Katie and Molasses

By on 9.18.06 | 12:27PM

What do progress in Iraq in Iraq and Katie Couric have in common? Howard Kurtz dons her cheerleader outfit today to rah-rah her prospects at CBS, her lousy ratings notwithstanding. "To be sure, Couric's more feature-oriented approach has stirred controversy," Howie writes. "But history shows that news ratings move at a molasses pace." He quotes CBS News President Sean McManus as saying, "...For some people, it's an attractive story to say that Katie is back at No. 3, when in reality this is going to be a fight for the next couple of years." Now to look forward to similar long-term understanding from Howie and Sean for the Bush Iraq policy.