The Spectacle Blog

‘Gray Charles’

By on 5.24.06 | 9:30AM

James, Is that an original moniker for Mr. Hicks?

After resisting Idol for years, I finally gave in this season. Slate's music critic surmises that curmudgeons like me are coming around because its quality has increased. Maybe so. But at the end of the day/show, it is good, fun, clean television.

I offer a third prediction for Taylor Hicks. He has the spirit and the voice despite his cheesiness. Katherine McPhee, despite her looks and potential, just falls flat.

Postal Stamp = Brand Canvas

By on 5.24.06 | 7:45AM

In another stroke of genius, the Congress this year threw out our longstanding prohibition against turning stamps into bite-sized pieces of junk mail. Here come the little billboards, one for each envelope, another open-ended burst of perpetual marketing in what only a fool can think is really a saturated market. When the public and the private sector sell each other out, diversity meets totalitarianism and the sky's the limit. I'm saying, then, that this is a bad thing...?


By on 5.24.06 | 1:36AM

AOL News, I see, has picked up yesterday's front page New York Times story on the Clintons' marriage, or as the paper put it, their "Delicate Dance of Married and Public Lives." Drudge teased the story on Monday, though in a way that suggests his leakers might have misled him. "NYT: STATE OF CLINTON MARRIAGE A QUESTION FOR DEMS," his headline announced. While raising this point, the story essentially declares there's no need for such concern. Leon Panetta, the first prominent figure quoted, dutifully notes, " know there's something there that basically bonds them."

Re: Idol

By on 5.24.06 | 1:20AM

Tabin, on this we can both agree. Hot off my bets on Cheney, Prodi, and Montenegro, rolling with "Gray Charles" seems like easy money. The idea that a pop star can also be an adult is so crazy it just might work.

UPDATE: credit where credit is due on the Gray Charles moniker.

A Promise to Return to Pence

By on 5.23.06 | 6:46PM

As y'all will see from my posts below, I got waylaid from my original intention to report on the Pence immigration speech at Heritage. I promise I'll do so by noon tomorrow:It's important! For now, though, here is a link to his speech. I really do think it is the answer, in terms of a smart and true middle ground that offers a way out of the legislative morass on immigration.

On Kasich and the WashPost

By on 5.23.06 | 6:42PM

Okay, the often-reliable Eric Pianin of the Washington Post has a book review in the front section today on the new book by former House Budget Chairman John Kasich that offers a skewed version of history. First, while Kasich deserves a lot of the credit in the successful fight to balance the budget, he never deserved quite SO MUCH of the amount of credit he was given then and that Pianin gives him today. Pianini writes: "Kasich was responsible for translating into reality the GOP's plans for balancing the budget, reforming welfare and slashing taxes." Not exactly. Kasich helped, but the budget committee is merely responsible for a broad fiscal outline. The nitty gritty is done by the Approps Committee and by the Ways and Means Committee; with a large GOP majority, the Budget Committee's work was the easy part. Go back and look at how many subcommittee hearings and how many pages of legislation Approps and W&M produced in 1995, versus the much lighter number from the Budget Committee, and you'll see what I mean.

China Military Power - 2006

By on 5.23.06 | 5:46PM

DoD sent the new report on Chinese Military Power to the Hill today. (The best report on it is in WSJ). It's much like last year's (see Showdown for the full discussion) but has a few new items of considerable significance.

One of the points I've been arguing is that we can derive China's intents from the capabilities it is acquiring in its hell-for-leather military buildup. The new report contains as direct a proof as I could imagine. Here's the money quote from Lt. Gen. Liu Yazhou, deputy political commissar of the PLA Air Force:

"When a nation grows strong enough, it practices hegemony. The sole purpose of power is to pursue even greater power...Geography is destiny...when a country begins to rise, it should first set itself in an invincible position."

Now what was all that about "peaceful rise" we heard from Hu Jintao last month?

Viet agrees with me

By on 5.23.06 | 5:46PM

I just read more deeply into the Wash Post story on the William Jefferson alleged bribery search warrant, and note with pleasure that my old friend Viet Dinh, former head of the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice and a highly respected GU Law Professor, agrees with me that the search does indeed pass constitutional muster. I don't ALWAYS agree with Viet -- for instance, I think he is mistaken in saying that Congress can give full voting rights to Wash DC's congressional representative without a constitutional amendment -- but on probably 19 of 20 issues, I'll gladly defer to his legal judgment. He's brilliant and principled, and he knows his stuff!

FBI Raid Was Okay

By on 5.23.06 | 5:21PM

I think congressional leaders are absolutely goofy to complain about the FBI search of Rep. William Jefferson's office. To be clear, I am generally a legislative supremacist: The Founders clearly saw Congress as a sort of "first among equals" of the three branches of the national government, as the late great Willmoore Kendall and George Carey made perfectly clear in their classic, "The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition." Nevertheless, Madisonian that I am, I argue strongly that there is NO separation of powers issue involved in the search of a congressman's office pursuant to a legally issued search warrant. Government property is not immune to searches for evidence of criminal wrongdoing. And why would it be? It belongs to us, the people of the United States, not to Congress itself.