The Spectacle Blog

Winging It

By on 11.7.05 | 9:41AM

Last night The West Wing on NBC hosted a "live debate" between its two candidates for president, Congressman Matt Santos, Democrat (played by Jimmy Smits), and Senator Arnold Vinick, Republican (Alan Alda). Real-life NBC news anchor Forrest Sawyer moonlighted as moderator, and NBC made sure to cyrrhon "Live" across the screen. Why is TV news never more honest than when its fake? Meanwhile, the candidates fumbled over words, attempted Hollywood style to look presidential, walked aggressively toward each other (thanks, Al Gore), and all around demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge about anything.

Questions thrown at them asked for "how to" solutions to border issues, education, healthcare, Africa, corporate lobbies, and taxes. Democrat Santos offered only one concrete response to all the questions ("delete the words 'over 65' from Medicare"), preferring to hurl "you don't care" or "what would you do" phrases at his opponent. To be fair, he did propose a return to programs that didn't work the first time around such as Head Start. He encouraged viewers to vote for him on the "trust me" and "I am Latino" platform.

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Losing It

By on 11.7.05 | 9:22AM

The bubbling optimism of Sen. Schumer aside, Democrats were getting grilled on their position on the liberation of Iraq. Take this give and take between Tim Russert and Sen. Ted Kennedy:

TIM RUSSERT: "You talked about Iraq. There's a big debate now about whether or not the data, the intelligence data, was misleading and manipulated in order to encourage public opinion support for the war. Let me give you a statement that was talked about during the war:

"'We know [Iraq is] developing unmanned vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents...all U.S. intelligence experts agree they are seek nuclear weapons. There's little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them. ... In the wake of September 11th, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that those weapons might not be used against our troops, against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater-a nuclear weapon. ...'

"Are those the statements that you're concerned about?"

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Coleman on UN Internet Power Grab

By on 11.7.05 | 7:58AM

Today's WSJ column (sub req'd) by Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is a must read. As I pointed out in Inside the Asylum back in June '04, the UN's "World Information Society" has been planning to take control of the Internet away from the US and place it in the hands of nations that have an antipathy to free speech and freedom of the press. John Tabin and I talked about this problem here a few days ago.

Coleman's money quote:

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Will the Dems Even Try to Filibuster?

By on 11.7.05 | 7:07AM

It's looking like they'll let Sam Alito see a vote. Well, that's the case if Joe Biden is to be taken at his word. He told George Stephanopolous yesterday that Democrats should commit to an up-or-down vote for Alito's nomination. Either Biden genuinely thinks Alito does not trigger "extraordinary circumstances" or he's positioning to be shocked by Alito in the committee hearings. But add him to the list of Dems against the filibuster.

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French Riots Continue

By on 11.6.05 | 10:24AM

The severity and spread of the riots in France seem to be beyond the ability of the French government to control. In one report, the rioters are screaming for jihad. As Newsweek's Christopher Dickey writes, "Decades of French policies intended to force the integration of immigrants and their children-and children's children-into French society had failed, and no Plan B was apparent. Fears also grew that in the age of terror, rage like this could swell the ranks of radical Islamists in the heart of Europe."

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Campaigning for Virginia in Maryland

By on 11.6.05 | 7:01AM

As part of his aggressive last-minute Northern Virginia campaigning, gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore will be tailgating and greeting fans at the Redskins-Eagles game tonight in Landover, Maryland.

The rest of his schedule indicates a push to energize NoVa conservatives: 9 a.m. church service at The Falls Church, a fairly orthodox Episcopal church, and the 10:45 a.m. service at McLean Bible, an evangelical megachurch.

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Democrats on Ethiopia

By on 11.5.05 | 6:08PM

There's a caucus in Congress for everything -- even a Congressional Ethiopia Caucus. It's composed entirely of Democrats and led by Rep. Mike Honda (15-Calif.), who supported Cindy Sheehan's ramblings this summer.

The Caucus has issued a statement on the violence in Ethiopia. Though not listed on Honda's website, the Sudan Tribune has a copy. It's not substantially different from the State Department position, calling for dialogue, "an independent commission to investigate the violence," and government restraint. The Democrats' statement also seems to equate the moral positions of the protesters and the government: "The use of violence, or attempts to incite violence are strongly condemned..."

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Re: Great Fictional Names

By on 11.5.05 | 4:18PM

Dave: Sir Harry is one of the greatest characters in all fiction, but in creating the character -- name and all -- Fraser just took little Harry from Tom Brown's School Days of early Victoriana and grew him up into the most thoroughly engaging rotter in history who didn't actually serve in elective office. But, dear sir, Dirk Pitt? He's not even in the same league as Sir Harry. I'd consign him to the depths with Mike Hammer. (Not that there's anything wrong with Mike, or Sam Spade or Lew Archer or...)

I wouldn't grant Sir Harry the title of best ever fictional name. There's simply too much competition, and though we love our rascal, we must and can climb, like Sisyphus, from Flashman to Chuzzlewitt and Twist, and, again like Mr. S., tumble back down into the company of Finn McCool, Rowdy Yates and Professor Moriarty. This question, in fact, not susceptible of solution without descent into violence.

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Ethiopia Erupting

By on 11.5.05 | 4:07PM

There's troubling violence elsewhere in the world -- and it appears tyranny is the cause. Ethiopia has erupted in violence following an apparently rigged election. After the main opposition group, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, peacefully protested Monday, police clashed with protesters Tuesday. They have killed over 40 protesters and jailed over 3000, many of whom are political prisoners. The government claims that the protesters were violent, but international observers in the country counter these claims.

As the government cracks down, the State Department urges calm and dialogue:

The United States continues to urge both the government and political opposition in Ethiopia "to resolve whatever differences they may have through peaceful means," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters November 4.

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Great Fictional Names

By on 11.5.05 | 3:51PM

Jed, while I haven't read any Flashman novels, I must say the character's full name, Sir Harry Flashman, is second only to the greatest pulp name of all time, Dirk Pitt. Clive Cussler's title is secure.

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