The Spectacle Blog

July 4th Long Weekend Break

By on 7.1.06 | 12:49PM

While we'll continue blogging all weekend, Monday, and Independence Day, our main page postings will resume first thing July 5. See you then. Let the fireworks begin.

And you might keep the New York Times in your thoughts. This time its honchos really have gone too far, sabotaging national security on behalf of their own delusional, puerile egos. As the Wall Street Journal reminded the world in its memorable, historic editorial yesterday, back on September 24, 2001, the Times itself instructed the Bush administration to create a SWIFT like program. "Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities." Is the Times beyond redemption?

Re: Will Conservatives Seize the Opportunity?

By on 6.30.06 | 8:22PM

David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Lee A. Casey have a Wall Street Journal op-ed today (not available for free online) making the point that the silver lining of Hamdan is that he Court affirmed that military tribunals would be okay if authorized by Congress (some opponents of military tribunals were hoping the Court would completely proscribe them). And yes, the political dynamics of a debate over a law establishing military tribunals for al Qaeda member do very much favor the GOP.

This doesn't touch on the Court's view that the Geneva Conventions apply to al Qaeda; I'm still not sure what the practical effect of that might be.

Big Ben’s Not Quite a Misconception

By on 6.30.06 | 8:09PM

John: You are correct about the law, as Brandenberg v. US proved. Hate speech is indeed still legal. But Ben was right about the tenor of our times. And the self-imposed censorship we suffer is much more dangerous than anything the government has ever thought of doing.

Case in point: how many media outlets, other than Brit Hume's show (and, I recall vaguely, John Gibson's) showed the Danish Mohamed cartoons? Which newspapers, or even websites, reprinted them? I can't recall a single newspaper and only a few websites. Why? Because of the fear that the radical Islamists had engendered.

Intimidation is the enemy. What Ben pines for is what we all wish to recur: a resurgence of American pride and conscience. Yes, banning flag burning isn't the highest priority that should occupy our 535 members of congress. Yes, we must always be wary of limits on free speech. But no, we cannot allow the evolution of political correctness into intimidation that is now befalling us.

At this rate, it may be the most American thing to insult someone on the 4th of July. I have a long list of likely targets. I'd better get busy.

Superman’s Values

By on 6.30.06 | 7:47PM

The Hollywood Reporter article splashed on the Drudge Report right now contains a factual error: It's not true that "[e]ver since artist Joe Shuster and writer Jerry Siegel created the granddaddy of all comic book icons in 1932, Superman has fought valiantly to preserve 'truth, justice and the American way.'"

In fact, as Erik Lundegaard explains in a NYT op-ed today, Superman originally stood simply for "truth and justice." In the radio show that ran from 1940 to 1951, it became "truth, justice, and the American way" in 1942, then went back to simply "truth and justice" by 1944. In a 1948 screen serial, it was "truth, tolerance, and justice." On the 50s TV show, it was "truth, justice, and the American way" again. On the 1966 Saturday morning cartoon, it was "truth, justice, and freedom."

Ben’s Big Misconception

By on 6.30.06 | 6:13PM

Ben Stein writes in his column today:

You can't call members of various ethnic groups by slurring words that were common when I was a child. That's called hate speech, and it's barred by law in most if not all parts of the nation.
This is not true, and it's a little astonishing that Ben believes this. Hate speech is very much protected by the First Amendment, as affirmed most famously in National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie (Described here). Speech codes at public universities have also been found unconstitutional, most notably in the widely-cited 1989 federal district court case Doe v. University of Michigan.

I wrote about flag-burning last year.

Lipstick on a Pig

By on 6.30.06 | 5:02PM

I'll close this little tussle with Rep. Jack Kingston's office by congratulating them with utilizing the 'net to communicate with constituents (which they're quite good at doing themselves).

You can dress up a legislator all you want: in nice suits, with funny give-and-takes with Stephen Colbert, a genial presentation, video features, and more. Which is great, and even entertaining at times. But at the end of the day, it's a lot of work to obscure a mediocre conservative record -- like putting lipstick on a pig.

Reveal National Secrets, Get Invited to WH Dinner

By on 6.30.06 | 3:59PM

Evidently, it is politics as usual at the White House. President Bush hosted not only Prime Minister Koizumi but also journalists for newspapers which revealed the SWIFT program: the New York Times' David Sanger, and the Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus. McManus has defended the publication the story for the L.A. Times.

Message from the White House: we're mad, but we leave it "on the field."

Will Conservatives Seize The Opportunity?

By on 6.30.06 | 1:39PM

I wonder if, instead of griping and complaining, our side should be sending the Supreme Court a thank you note for its Hamdan decision. Bear with me.

In today's giddy editorial lauding the decision, the Washington Post makes this observation:

The central part of the ruling declares that the special military commissions set up on President Bush's order to try alleged members of al-Qaeda are unlawful. It gives the administration a simple choice. It can proceed with cases under current law, using standard military courts-martial, which provide fuller procedural protections for the accused than do the commissions. Or it can go to Congress for specific authorization to deviate from those rules. [Emphasis added].

(The New York Times makes a similar argument today.)