The Spectacle Blog

Re: Middle School Specialists

By on 4.18.06 | 10:29AM

Dave, this is the picture-perfect portrait of the hopeless and squandering and self-congratulatory official esteem I saw coming in the State of the Union when the New York Times bestowed upon me their Most Unusual Conservative Criticism Award. How many of these kids at our Thomas Jefferson Institutes of Warp Drive Studies can recite any of this redheaded stranger's famous lines, or conduct an educated conversation about what they might mean? For the sake of our culture -- that little thing called Western Civilization, which will unfortunately not be salvaged by adopting Chinese and Indian levels of technocratic proficiency -- the Parkland kids should put their Presidentially-plumped math and science skills to good use -- and build themselves a time machine.

Middle School Specialists?

By on 4.18.06 | 9:49AM

President Bush visits the Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology today to discuss his American Competitiveness Initiative. The absurdity of the federal government promoting "competitiveness" aside, what is this school?

As best as I can glean from its website, like all magnet schools it attracts students with particular interests and skills. Such programs seem particularly well suited to high schoolers. The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is one well known and excellent magnet school in Northern Virginia. But why on earth would we ask 11-year-olds to specialize in aerospace technology? If college students need a balanced curriculum of the arts and sciences (and they do), then middle schoolers should also be generalists.

Heads Will Roll

By on 4.18.06 | 8:57AM

On the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco/>/> earthquake, my east coast outsider’s perspective focuses not on the event itself but on the image of an outlaw’s disputed head, lost in the rubble. Joaquin Murietta was a Mexican bandit, part of an outlaw band that came to be known as the Five Joaquins since many of them shared that name. During the years just after the California/> gold rush of 1849, they terrorized the Sierra Nevada/> region as horse and cattle thieves, hold-up artists, and murderers. Very little of Murietta’s story, though, is definitive: there are distortions and mythology surrounding just about every aspect. Enough of the mythology took hold that Murietta purportedly served as the inspiration for Zorro; he was also known as the Mexican Robin Hood.

Leave It to the States

By on 4.17.06 | 8:16PM

Georgia acted on immigration today. From the broad outlines of the Reuters article, this bill accomplishes at least two things: 1- Highlights the inability of the federal government to act on what is essentially a federal issue, 2- Advances the discussion in a constructive manner. Possibly a third: limits the extent to which illegals receive a free-ride from our social welfare state. Remember -- they're not just here to do jobs for which there is a demand (in the overall labor market... Americans will do them, but probably not at those wages), they're here for the services they don't get at home. Until they're documented and working within the law, they're not paying taxes. And that situation taxes the rest of us.

Your Tax Money at Work

By on 4.17.06 | 6:53PM

Please remember the UN as you recover from the ordeal of tax day. We send the UN billions every year in dues and "voluntary" contributions to its many organizations.

By the way one very high-profile organization, the UN Disarmament Commission, has three new vice charimen: Uruguay, Chile and -- wait for it -- Iran.

Post-Roe America

By on 4.17.06 | 5:36PM

USA Today looks at what abortion policy would look like if it were returned to the states. It's an interesting picture, but the authors are a little too attached to a Deeply Divided Nation storyline:

The result, according to this analysis, would be less a patchwork of laws than broad regional divisions that generally reinforce the nation's political split. All but three of the states likely to significantly restrict abortions voted for President Bush in 2004. All but four of the states likely to maintain access to abortion voted for Democrat John Kerry.
How would those regional divisions "reinforce the nation's political split?" Wouldn't returning abortion to the states actually undermine red-blue polarization by removing a divisive social issue from national politics?

Pulitzers Are In

By on 4.17.06 | 3:39PM

File this under the If You Care category: the Pulitzer folks have awarded the journalists who most undermined national security of the last year: James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times for the terrorist surveillance story, and Dana Priest of the Washington Post for the secret prisons story.

Well deserved: public service awards to the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Gulfport Sun Herald for their Hurricane Katrina coverage. Heck, the Times-Picayune staff evacuated its offices for weeks and still put out an impressive web product.

Intelligent Declassification

By on 4.17.06 | 12:23PM

My old paper, the Press-Register in Mobile, Al, defends the president's so-called "leak" of classified information, in this editorial this past Saturday.

Credit Where It’s Due

By on 4.17.06 | 11:43AM

Just as I wail and gnash my teeth (see posts below) about the lack of a responsible Left, Michael Ledeen at NRO notes this new, encouraging development. Clearly, I don't agree with the overall worldview of the signers of this manifesto. But these sound like people with whom we can debate rationally, and with whom we can find common cause on some basic, underlying principles and on our love of these United States. May their rationality and civility find a way to crowd out the crassness and nutso anger of the Howard Dean Left.

Bad Language, Good Language

By on 4.17.06 | 11:06AM

Countervailing the barbaric yawps of the blogosphere's sinister side are the remarkable Good Friday meditations composed by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, which are worth reading in full. Occasionally the Archbishop succeeds in identifying exactly the worst of postmodernity's worst ills. This timely precision is a victory for any religion. It is particularly so for Catholicism today.

But the rest of us win as well simply by hearing that such as this is, and can be, still publicly spoken: "our affluence is making us less human, our entertainment has become a drug, a source of alienation, and our society's incessant, tedious message is an invitation to die of selfishness ... Today we seem to be witnessing a kind of anti-Genesis, a counter-plan, a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family. There is a move to reinvent mankind, to modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God. ... Today bodies are constantly bought and sold on the streets of our cities, on the streets of our televisions, in homes that have become like streets."