The Spectacle Blog

Revel in Revel

By on 5.4.06 | 9:56AM

I am jealous of editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell for his having known the great French thinker/writer Jean-Francois Revel personally. Tyrrell's tribute to the now-late Monsieur Revel on today's web site is a must read. Brilliant, perceptive stuff (as usual), and written with a charming fondness.

Revel's 1983 book How Democracies Perish has long sat on my bookshelf within easy reach. It must be admitted that he was too pessimistic about the ultimate triumph of republican nations in the face of the Communist threat. The first line of his book was a necessary warning, but fortunately incorrect as a prediction: "Democracy may, after all, turn out to have been a historical accident, a brief parenthesis that is closing before our eyes." But while our civilization was not and is not doomed, Revel's diagnosis of its weaknesses was right on target. Hence the brilliantly concise and perspicacious opening line of the book's second chapter: "Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is working to destroy it."

They’d Be Funny…

By on 5.4.06 | 9:53AM

...if they weren't so darned expensive. Howie Kurtz wonders: "Has Congress become something of a joke?"

Sad, but true: I cringe whenever they return from a recess.

Beinart’s Delusional Universe

By on 5.4.06 | 8:55AM

It's a commonplace for WaPo columnists to oppose sensible national security measures but when they base their conclusions on utter falsehoods -- as Peter Beinart does today -- we have to answer.

Relying on studies by the Nixon Center and Syracuse University, Beinart argues it's absurd to talk about sealing the Mexican border because, "Not one terrorist has entered the United States from Mexico." In that he's wilfully ignorant of the facts. As I wrote a month ago, there's plenty of evidence that terrorists are coming across the Mexican border. My source? Not a think tank, but FBI Director Robert Muller who testified about an Hizballah cell that was caught.

Those such as Beinart who want to keep the borders open are committing willful falsehoods in proclaiming concern for national security. Let's talk plainly: any "immigration reform" bill that doesn't create border walls - on the north and south - visible with the naked eye from low earth orbit isn't worth a bucket of warm spit. And it shouldn't pass.

Re: Moussaoui Lives

By on 5.4.06 | 8:38AM

Whatever one thinks of the sentence, can we agree that it is disturbing to see the jury list the following as mitigating factors in its decision not to sentence the defendant to death?

-- Nine jurors found that the defendant's unstable early childhood and dysfunctional family resulted in his being placed in orphanages and having a home life without structure and emotional and financial support, eventually resulting in his leaving home due to his hostile relationship with his mother.

-- Nine jurors found the defendant's father had a violent temper and physically and emotionally abused his family.

Long Live The Electoral College

By on 5.4.06 | 7:49AM

In other news, the flag has dropped and the rush is on for would-be Dem presidential contenders to denounce the Electoral College as not "appropriate" to our "modern era" -- and not coincidentally as the only reason why George W. Bush was elected in 2000. But try as Evan Bayh might, federalism is still a good idea, and the College is vital in its (usually) quiet function. Just ask Joe Biden...

Re: Moussaoui Lives

By on 5.4.06 | 7:40AM

Jed, I'm fairly confident Moussaoui will be kept under wraps. Then again, I was sure Vicente Fox would sign that drug bill, too...

Stealing from Consumer, Giving to Bureaucrats

By on 5.4.06 | 7:11AM

That's the best one can say about the price gouging nonsense the House passed last night. The bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to define price gouging -- in other words, passing the buck from lawmakers to unelected bureaucrats.

Further, in a market of choice between competitors, how would price gouging exist? I've heard commercials by local news stations with hot reports about how "customers paid $5.75 a gallon before they knew better." That sounds like uninformed customers not making a responsible market decision. The price of a good is what people will pay for it. That "gouging" station will gouge for a short period of time before his customers dry up, and he has to lower the price to bring them back. Accordingly, if costs (like, say, crude oil) go up for all retailers, they'll all increase prices at the same time.

Re: Moussaui Lives

By on 5.4.06 | 4:54AM

If I were to overhear someone plotting a murder which later took place exactly as plotted, I would not be legally culpable in any way for not reporting said plot to legal authorities -- so long as I am not a police officer or a lawyer. Moussaui was haled into civilian court on charges that could be called "trumped-up."

No mistake, he belongs behind bars. But he should have been an enemy combatant from the get-go.

Re: Moussaoui Lives

By on 5.3.06 | 9:12PM

Jed, James: There are lots of implications to this verdict that defy easy analysis. Does giving Moussaoui life show that we're better than our enemies, or weaker than our enemies? Do enemies in the War on Terror belong in the civilian court system? How would Moussaoui have faired before, say, a military tribunal?

These are hard and interesting questions, worth chewing over. The question of whether Moussaoui will ever be let out of solitary to become a prison preacher, however, is pretty easy: No, not a chance. No advocate for Moussaoui's rights would even try to get him moved into a general population, where he'd be murdered in a wink. Instead, he'll spend the rest of his life here:

Since opening in 1994, Florence ADMAX has become the new, state-of-the-art Alcatraz for the most violent and escape-prone prisoners.

There are 399 inmates in the prison, which has a capacity of 490 and is run by a staff of 298, said Krista Rear, Florence ADMAX spokeswoman.

Despite the roster, most prisoners lead lonely lives.

Hearing Hearings Rumors

By on 5.3.06 | 7:36PM

I usually hate to publish something that is just a rumor, but when I hear the same rumor from two different good sources -- although, in this case, both of THEM said their own sources were only of the rumor variety, so it may just be the same folks talking to the same folks without solid sourcing -- and when the rumor is important and timely, it's worth airing just for the warning value.

ANYway, I'm hearing that Sen. Specter may be coming close to caving in (and going against what top staff last week had indicated was his own firm decision) by letting the Dems put court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through yet another hearing. On the one hand: Fine. Brett will handle himself well and make the Dems look, again, like jerks. But this is still a very bad development, because it means a delay of AT LEAST one week, almost certainly two weeks, and perhaps even three weeks, before Kavanaugh finally gets out of committee -- meaning it becomes that much more difficult to get him a floor vote before Memorial Day, much less get other nominees the floor votes they deserve.

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