The Spectacle Blog

Dealing with Hamas

By on 8.17.06 | 11:44AM

Writing in today's NY Times (subscription required), Scott Atran, a research scientist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, says that Israel and the U.S. should deal with Hamas.

Although Hamas is sworn to the destruction of Israel, Atran writes:

Hamas's top elected official, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, now accepts that to stop his people's suffering, his government must forsake its all-or-nothing call for Israel's destruction. "We have no problem with a sovereign Palestinian state over all our lands within the 1967 borders, living in calm," Mr. Haniya told me in his Gaza City office in late June, shortly before an Israeli missile destroyed it. "But we need the West as a partner to help us through."

Many Have Said

By on 8.17.06 | 11:28AM

After two days of prominently placed page 1 stories on Sen. George Allen, the Washington Post has relegated its coverage of his re-election campaign to its previous spot, the Metro section, practically burying today's story in a tiny corner at the bottom of page B1. Evidently it's not big news that Sen. John McCain stumped for Allen yesterday in Norfolk, or that Allen's opponent James Webb drew all of 40 people to his appearance in safe, ultra-liberal Arlington (I think I drew more than that when I once spoke to the Arlington Kiwanis, the group Webb addressed yesterday), or that Webb supporter Wesley Clark included war hero McCain among the Republicans he says have let military veterans down.

Of course, the "macaca" story was replayed early in the report, in the weasely way that has come to exemplify liberal media bias, as editorializing fills in where empirical reporting won't or can't go. This, from paragraph 3, about McCain's appearance for Allen:

Ned Falling

By on 8.17.06 | 10:17AM

This is what people power is all about:

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (news, bio, voting record), a three-term Democrat now running as an independent candidate, leads the man who beat him in last week's primary vote by 12 points in a three-way race, a poll released on Thursday shows.

How Government Treats The Private Sector

By on 8.16.06 | 5:02PM

Last week I responded to an argument that we ought to open Medicare to all and let it compete with the private sector health insurance. One of my responses was that since the government gets to run Medicare and regulate private health insurance, it was a bit like letting a referee both officiate and play in a game.

You can get a good glimpse of this by looking at Medicare Part C, which was supposed to let private insurance companies offer health savings account-type policies to seniors (called medical savings accounts (MSAs) under Medicare). However, Part C was weighed down by so many regulations that virtually no private insurance plans bothered.

Apparently the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided to revamp the application process. Under "Downloads" on the CMS website, there are nine different links for "useful information" and memos before you get to the applications.

Torture Works

By on 8.16.06 | 3:58PM

Yesterday's Guardian reported that Pakistan used torture to gather intelligence that helped thwart the recent terrorist plot to blow up 10 airplanes. Several blogs have weighed in on whether this is okay, but there's something else worth talking about. During the big torture debate a few months back, those who supported a complete ban on the use of techniques such as "water boarding" argued that not only were such techniques inhumane, but that they produced bad intelligence. The logic being that if you threaten to abuse a detainee until they talk, eventually they'll start making up anything just to get you to stop. While it leaves the moral debate unchanged, the Guardian story, if accurate, pokes serious holes in the argument that torture doesn’t work. In this case, it may have very well saved thousands of innocent lives.

Lamont America

By on 8.16.06 | 12:01PM

The resident Cominternist at the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson, scoffs at talk that Joe Lieberman's defeat in Connecticut means the Democratic Party has moved left. But then he happily informs readers that not only Ned Lamont is anti-free trade, but so are other key Senate candidates Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders.

Another Ned Lamont endorser: Michael Schiavo, the devoted husband who couldn't wait to pull the plug on his wife last year in order to remarry. He's devoting his free time to opposing every politician who sided with his wife's parents in the case. Thus, he's backing Democrat Angie Paccione in a Colorado congressional race. In welcoming his support, Paccione chose language that was, shall we say, unfortunate. "We need more individual citizens like him to step up and put an end to it."

The Vulnerability of the Film Critic

By on 8.16.06 | 10:45AM

I have a good friend who is a reporter for a big station in a big market. He wrote me a few days ago complaining about the explosion of blogs and net sources who reduce his work to just one small voice among the multitudes. As a frequent net writer, I had to tell him my sympathies were in favor in the democratization of discourse.

But you know who is really threatened by blog work? Film critics, that's who. Think about it. Bloggers have a tough time competing with news outlets when it comes to actual reportage, but they have no similar trouble with film review. It's a skill, not a matter of resources. If you have the ability to review film intelligently, you can compete head-on with Mr. Ebert or Entertainment Weekly.

Speaking of Nevada

By on 8.15.06 | 3:49PM

Is Club for Growth about to chalk up another win? The latest poll results for the GOP primary in Nevada's 2nd House District show Dean Heller and Sharron Angle (the Club's candidate) tied at 32%. Late in July, a different poll showed Angle down by 16 points.

As the article notes:

Eric Herzik, a University of Nevada, Reno political science professor, said he was surprised by the latest poll results.

He said Angle has clearly benefited from television ads, paid for by the Club for Growth, that portray Gibbons and Heller as liberals.

The group, which favors limited government and taxes, is credited with helping conservative Tim Walberg defeat moderate incumbent Rep. Joe Schwarz in Tuesday's Republican primary in Michigan.

"The ads have just hammered them (Heller and Gibbons), and she (Angle) has pointed out she is the most conservative candidate - and she is," said Herzik, a Republican. "They are running negative ads because they work."

Will Angle win? We'll know later this evening.