The Spectacle Blog

Re: Is It Possible To Become A Self-Parody?

By on 8.1.06 | 11:22PM

In fact, for some of us entering academia, the lack of common ground with Columbia's English Department (or Duke's, for that matter) is worth a moan as well as a groan. Even a harmlessly failed department at our proudest institutions of elite learning hurts the culture at large. And I don't mean conservative culture, or that only -- I mean western culture, which, again, has been big enough to contain multitudes certainly since Jerusalem met Athens. A proper intellectual conservative ought to not just stomach this but savor it. I think it's Thomas Sowell who drives his students up a wall by leaving them stumped by semester's end as to how he "really feels" about Marx.

Is It Possible To Become A Self-Parody?

By on 8.1.06 | 5:59PM

Over at TNR, Jonathan Chait criticizes the producers of a new Fall TV show starring Calista Flockhart that tries to portray conservatives in a sympathetic light:

Well, God bless them. Unfortunately, I think they have a ways to go before they understand conservatism.

After showing how the producers misunderstand William F. Buckley, he concludes:

I will say this, though, on behalf of my earnest, benighted liberal friends: At least they're trying….

But where are the right's efforts at outreach? You don't hear conservatives mourning their lack of common ground with the English department at Columbia University. In fact, it's incredibly rare to find a conservative who understands liberalism as anything other than hatred for the rich and a desire to hand over our foreign policy to the United Nations.

Winning, apparently, gives conservatives the luxury of not having to care what the other side thinks.

Rocky Mountain High

By on 8.1.06 | 5:04PM

John Denver was right. Though I think he was referring to his euphoria rather than the altitude. But at 7000-plus feet, Pagosa Springs, Colorado drove his point home. It really is harder to breathe.

Sitting in the Albuquerque airport (they call it a "Sunport" -- heh), I am struck again by how big the West is. Virginia is beautiful, but with small rolling hills and mini-ranches. In many ways, northern New Mexico and southwest Colorado are even bigger than my erstwhile home state of Montana. Montana has lovely broad valleys meeting dramatically large mountains, but it feels so much tamer. Missoula's altitude is 3000 feet, and the Treasure State has few peaks over 10,000 feet. Heck, you'll regularly hit 8000 feet in Colorado, and the mountain passes climb above 10,000. And instead of the glacially carved valleys, life feels all the more precarious in Colorado's narrow valleys. These folks see well over 100 inches of snow in the winter -- next to that, western Montana seems downright tropical.

Re: Castro sick

By on 8.1.06 | 1:21PM

On our local radio newscast in the morning, the TV anchor from the radio station's companion TV station stops by to tout her upcoming noon broadcast. After mentioning Castro's illness, she said, "I didn't even know he had a brother Raul." And she obviously thought herself very clever.

This is a news broadcaster. I'm speechless.

Senate Votes

By on 8.1.06 | 11:33AM

Some legislative dope off of the Senate side.

One reason not to count out a successful vote in the Senate on both ending the Death Tax, pension reform and some other tax issues is the number of tax and tax credit issues tacked onto the pieces of legislation by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Leader John Boehner.

Frist actually deserves more credit, because while reporters were running around worrying about Republican political failings, Frist and his leadership team were pushing through appropriations bills with far too few earmarks to Senators' likings. Now the Death Tax and minimum wage bill have some earmarks to meet the needs of Democrats. If they vote that bill down, it is doubtful they get a shot at them for the rest of the year.

It is still a 50-50 proposition that they get it through, but the comparatively unlarded approps bills will be interesting to see move onto the floor later this year.

Another byproduct of the minimum wage bill is that some Senate insiders think they will have a shot later this year at some decent fixes to the Medicare system.

That Stalinist AlterNet

By on 8.1.06 | 10:52AM

If you want to see why the hard left is evil, take a look at the blog page over at AlterNet. One the one hand, they have a link to a video of Noam Chomsky meeting with the anti-Semitic Hezbollah. The post says Chomsky's visit "proves why AlterNet readers voted him their most valuable progressive."

Down below that is a post titled, "Mel Gibson, Jew Hater."

Apparently it is okay to simultaneously condemn anti-Semitism and embrace anti-Semites.

Looking up from Hell, uncle Joe must be proud.

Ben Stein: The Passion of Mel Gibson

By on 8.1.06 | 10:51AM

The fascinating fact about actors is that they usually play who they really are. Mel Gibson played a crazy, angry, hard-drinking loner. That's who he turned out to be. An alcoholic. A racist of the worst kind. A bully. A braggart. A rich thug.

But let's also be clear about something else: he is going to be charged with driving under the influence. Probably he will be also charged with resisting arrest and seeking to flee the scene of a crime and also resisting a lawful order (or something similar). That's fine. That's what should happen. It sure looks as if he did all of these things, although some smart lawyer will try to get him off (probably some smart Jewish lawyer at that).

However, the anti-Semitic, hateful, vicious, sick things he said about Jews are not a crime. It is not a crime to say cruel things about Jews to a deputy sheriff. It is not a crime to ask a deputy if he's Jewish. These things are not nice. They're disgusting. But they are not crimes.

Castro Sick

By on 7.31.06 | 11:30PM

Yeah, the Castro-is-dying story is a perennial, but this time he's temporarily handed power over to his brother. Here's wishing old Fidel all the worst.

UPDATE: Celebration in Miami:

The announcement drew cheering in the streets in Miami. People waved Cuban flags on Little Havana's Calle Ocho, shouting "Cuba, Cuba, Cuba," hoping that the end is near for the man most of them consider to be a ruthless dictator. There were hugs, cheers and dancing as drivers honked their horns. Many of them fled the communist island or have parents and grandparents who did.
Meanwhile, NBC News provides a bit of the sort of vague analysis that we used to call "Kremlinology": "How would Raul Castro govern?"

In Defense of A.I.

By on 7.31.06 | 4:00PM

Dave: "Little work"? Maybe Allen Iverson doesn't like to practice, but there's not a more hardworking player on the floor anywhere. If everyone else on his team played as hard, maybe it would get somewhere. Plus he's absolutely fearless. Given his many negatives, no way he'd survive in the league as long as he has. Look how quickly Shawn Kemp disappeared. Or the countless other talents that join the NBA prematurely and never cut it.