The Spectacle Blog

Simmering Scandal

By on 12.9.05 | 12:17PM

The Abramoff octupus has many tentacles. The Sacramento Bee today covers one of them involving a former congressional aide turned lobbyist who already has invoked the Fifth Amendment in front of John McCain. Although not charged with wrongdoing, he has apparently yet to explain why he billed his membership in Washington's University Club as an expenditure to be covered by the Mississippi Choctaws. Meanwhile, for an under six-figure fee from each he has brought millions in federal money to two Sacramento-area towns, which couldn't be happier with his good work. Nothing illegal there. So why the story?

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Our Next Jimmy Carter?

By on 12.9.05 | 11:48AM

In light of Bill Clinton's Dubai comments undermining American foreign policy, this news is particularly disturbing: the former president is headed to Montreal today to speak at a United Nations climate change conference.

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Re: Computer Christmas

By on 12.9.05 | 10:18AM

Dave, that reminds me of the time everyone thought using the com-pu-ter would enable them to work from home every day, exhibiting the endless possibilities of that old dream, virtual reality. The idea of a DVD supplanting church is ridiculous; the idea that "megachurches" would forsake their obligation of worship on Christ's birthday is quite another. This reminds me of a conversation I had once with an evangelical family member of a friend. When I asked her what denomination she was, she said "Just Christian. I don't like to get all caught up in the dogma." Far be it for me to criticize someone who found her faith, but isn't dogma important too, particularly, say, when it comes to attending church on Christmas?

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Mayor Daley on the Couch

By on 12.9.05 | 9:59AM

Chicago scandals have left the good mayor in need of a hug:

"I wish I could be, but I'm not ... on top of everything. I'm not Superman. ... I don't have eyes in the back of my head. ... You delegate responsibility and, when it happens, you correct it. You can't dwell on it. ... It happens in the public sector. It happens in the private sector. When it happens, you try to do the best you can," Daley said.

"People give me a public trust. ... When [corruption] takes place, I get mad at myself. You get depressed. You get upset. But you lift yourself up. ... It's been a difficult, tough year. But you don't collapse. You don't fall down and stay down. ... Just because there's a challenge there and an obstacle, you don't collapse and give up. ... You keep your vision strong. ... These challenges I have today, I'm gonna overcome those challenges."

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Computer Christmas

By on 12.9.05 | 9:39AM

This growing controversy over empty megachurches on Sunday is fascinating. First, the mainstream media's interest in it indicates a growing awareness of religious life in the country and also perhaps a desire to portray evangelicals as less than faithful. Second, to be fair to our brethren many are remaining true to the traditions and principles of their denominations by not celebrating Christmas. The theological justification for this is hinted at in the New York Times story:

"This attachment to a particular day on the calendar is just not something that megachurches have been known for," Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University, said. "They're known for being flexible and creative, and not for taking these traditions, seasons, dates and symbols really seriously."

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Who Is David Cameron?

By on 12.9.05 | 9:20AM

So what does Margaret Thatcher think about new Tory leader David Cameron? Not much, as one can infer from John O'Sullivan's column today. O'Sullivan, a long-time adviser to Thatcher and as solid a Reaganite-Thatcherite as there is on both sides of the Atlantic, is unsually blunt in assessment of Cameron, who for all we know is little more than a media-savvy empty suit, another kinder and gentler successor to the real thing.

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Gay Marriage Rollback

By on 12.9.05 | 9:18AM

In New York yesterday a state appellate court overturned a ruling that would have allowed gay marriage in New York City.

Note to those confused about judicial activism: this isn't conservative judicial activism. This is a higher court setting straight a lower court's activism. The appellate court doesn't mince words:

We find that the motion court erred in granting plaintiffs summary judgment and finding the provisions of the DRL unconstitutional to the extent that they do not permit same-sex marriage. However, we find it even more troubling that the court, upon determining the statute to be unconstitutional, proceeded to rewrite it and purportedly create a new constitutional right, an act that exceeded the court's constitutional mandate and usurped that of the Legislature.

Read the whole thing. It's a fine legal argument for the state's legitimate interest in fostering marriage.

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Not So Fast

By on 12.9.05 | 8:57AM

The Administration's victory lap upon the announcement that House and Senate conferees had reached agreement on legislation to reauthorize provisions in the Patriot Act that are set to sunset December 31st, may be premature. A number of Republican Senators are joining with many Democrats to stop cloture. These constitutionalists will then continue efforts to incorporate in the final legislation the modest but important amendments that were in the earlier Senate version of the reauthorization. Civil libertarians on the right and the left support their efforts.

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Off we go

By on 12.8.05 | 9:37PM

The local muezzin woke me at about 0515. It's about 0620 now. We spent the night in one of Saddam's palaces (redecorated US Army style, with the finest of bunk beds). No potable water in the sinks, but breakfast awaits, and then the helo ride to one or more undisclosed locations to see the troops. We're accompanied at all times by a detail of force protection troops led by a very sharp lieutenant colonel. I feel mighty safe. Well, at least when not riding helos. Like bumblebees, they seem to break the laws of physics every time they fly. I kinda like stuff with wings. Later.

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