The Spectacle Blog

Hail to Rep. Montgomery

By on 5.15.06 | 5:12PM

As promised earlier today, I take this opportunity to mourn the passing of a great American, a true patriot and gentleman, Mississippi's former longtime U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, who died last Friday at age 85. Montgomery served 30 years in Congress; was a great (but wise and realistic) advocate for this nation's veterans; revamped the GI bill in 1984 (and helped boost recruitment for the all-volunteer force), served in active duty in WWII and Korea, supported the military, helped track down the fate of POWs and MIAs, supported most of President Reagan's economic agenda, helped establish and remained a leader of the House Prayer Breakfast, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Hat tip to Wash Post for all the above info.) All of which made him a wonderful, admirable public servant, and one who also was wise. I write especially, though, to add a little human flavor to Montgomery's obituary. You see, Montgomery was an avid tennis player, at least well into his mid-70s, meaning at least up until about a decade ago.

Rove Hits Home

By on 5.15.06 | 4:36PM

Now, to return to what was supposed to be the main point of my coverage of the Rove speech at AEI this morning: Overall, it was a tour de force. Rove did quite well what the administration long needs to have been doing better and more often -- and what our feckless Congress has not done with even a smidgen of energy or success -- which is to tout the brilliant results, overall (at least short-term; the higher spending is more a long-term problem than a short-term one), of Bush's economic policies.

The Border, By Numbers

By on 5.15.06 | 3:57PM

Some figures to keep in mind during President Bush's speech tonight:

3 - The number of days it takes to train and deploy auxillary personnel that could back up the Border Patrol, according to Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus report on a Minuteman Project experiment in Arizona.

36,000 - The number of auxillary personnel it would take, according to the same report, to seal the southern border.

2 - The number of years it takes to fully train a Border Patrol agent.

Bottom line: Putting a few thousand national guardsmen at the border as a stop-gap measure while Border Patrol agents are added is not the most efficient way to go about beefing up border security.

Candor on Spending

By on 5.15.06 | 3:45PM

Okay, to continue the thoughts on Rove's speech from this blog post earlier (which itself continued this one), here's the only way I can think of that Rove and Company can stop conservative support from hemorrhaging in response to the outrageous federal spending (which, by the way, I failed to note earlier, has also been greatly worsened by the outlandishly expensive prescription drug bill for Medicare):

Tractors, not Prom Queens

By on 5.15.06 | 3:09PM

Okay, I found the old Mobile Register editorial I wrote that spoke of waste in the Homeland Security "first responder" grant program. I couldn't find what I remembered about cars to transport prom queens (as discussed in my post below), but here's the "nut graph" that does give other examples:

.... found the money going places like Tiptonville, Tenn., a town so tiny that it doesn't even show up on a rental car map.

Tiptonville used its $183,000 for a snazzy ATV and for defibrillators it keeps handy at high school basketball games. Converse, Texas, used its grants for a "homeland security trailer," which saw its first duty in hauling riding lawnmowers to the annual local lawnmower races. And Washington, D.C., which unlike some grantees is obviously a terrorist target, nevertheless used $100,000 to send sanitation workers to a Dale Carnegie course.

Roving Afield

By on 5.15.06 | 3:03PM

My final (I think) post on the Rove speech at AEI today, which FOLLOWS this one, will highlight the parts of Rove's substance that were right on target and that he explained well. Here, though, a very important criticism: On the issue of spending, the man is full of Bullfeathers.

Rove continues to try to push the tired old White House line that it has done a good job keeping a lid on excess spending. The line is sheer bunk. He said the federal government under Bush's leadership has "reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending every year in office." The way he is using this, it is a meaningless statistic. What really has happened is that Congress and the White House keep redefining what counts as domestic discretionary spending so that they look more fiscally responsible (by far) than they actually have been. More and more and more often, spending items that would be included in ordinary domestic Appropriations bill are instead hidden in numerous other ways. Let me highlight some of the ways:

Google Response

By on 5.15.06 | 3:02PM

We've heard from Google related to our item this morning regarding's involvement in the "Net Neutrality" fight.

Google sent along a statement that reads, in part:

Google Inc. is not a financial supporter of as your article of May 15 entitled "Internet Nationalization" asserts. As a result it is unequivocally incorrect to state that MoveOn has received "…more than $1 million from Google and its lobbyists..."

It is wholly accurate to say that network neutrality is an issue of great importance to our users and to Google as a result. Broadband providers should not be permitted to use their market power to control what consumers see and do online. For 100 years telephone companies have been prohibited from telling consumers who they can call. For two decades Internet carriers have been prohibited from dictating what users do online. Broadband carriers should not now be allowed to pick winners and losers in the competitive Internet market.

We'll have more on this issue later.

Underwhelmed by Rove’s Substance

By on 5.15.06 | 2:58PM

Overall, Rove seemed to offer more of the same, albeit well put. Why give this speech now? There was no recent economic numbers on which to hang the speech. Sure, the tax cuts were extended last week, but as Grover Norquist told ($) the Wall Street Journal in today's editions, "that's last year's homework turned in late." Indeed. It's not only late, but short: what happened to making the tax cuts permanent? Rove didn't call for that.

Okay, so Bush inherited a poor economy, and tax cuts have aided Americans in launching a solid recovery. And free trade is also a boom to the economy. No arguments here, but again, nothing new.

On Rove’s Style

By on 5.15.06 | 2:55PM

I attended Rove's speech at AEI this morning, and I must confess to a different reaction from the Prowler's. I found it underwhelming. Like Quin, I have a lot to say, so I'll split it into two posts. First, on style.

His willingness to take questions certainly demonstrated fight and focus for the months ahead. And his best qualities were on display: an uncanny ability to match poll and policy numbers with any critic. He was also quite engaging with the press corps.

His speech focused on economic policy. The White House could use someone banging the drum of the country's economic success and the President's role in that. While this unfortunately helps feed the perception that the federal government is the economic hero or villain (as opposed to the market), the White House must combat its critics.

Next post: on substance.