The Spectacle Blog

The Boys Are Back

By on 4.24.06 | 9:27AM

Congress returns to town this week, so you can count on an assault on taxpayers' money and common sense.

And nothing captures Congressional nonsense better than Republican attempts to out-Democrat Democrats on gas prices. There's a populist demand to "do something," in spite of a spate of articles calmly explaining why the gas prices reflect lower supply and higher demand -- basic economics. Instead of explaining the facts and sticking to market principles, Bill Frist and Denny Hastert will reportedly request an investigation into higher gas prices.

Re: Enemy of the State Returns

By on 4.22.06 | 3:47PM

Ned: Useless senators? Careful lest thou commit a grammatical redundancy. Ken: I think that's unfair to Franks. As I understand it, his plan was vetted, modified and approved by all - including Rumsfeld, Pace, Myers and the president - and worked damned well. The issue of what came after wasn't Franks's to plan or command.

Re: Corruption Runs Both Ways

By on 4.22.06 | 1:44PM

Nice, Dave, to connect the dots between Congressional shenanigans and the China's glowering global interests. It's very much in the public's interest to understand what a vast obstacle Beijing has become to our preferences and necessities, to grasp how much China is working right now to undermine them, and to know why. Batchelor has done some heavy dot-connecting of his own on that tip, of course, as have the guys at ThreatsWatch. I want to highlight the antagonistic geopolitical link between China and Iran in terms of culture -- both states have venerable cultures that adopted autocratic governments. No surprise that their objectives and interests overlap -- in direct opposition to our own. Plenty to say on this point. More to come.

Corruption Runs Both Ways

By on 4.22.06 | 11:07AM

Rep. Alan Mollohan has temporarily left the House Ethics Panel, hoping to help Democratic leaders stem damage to their "Republicans are corrupt" message.

-I doubt Mollohan's departure is "temporary." If anything about his earmarks scandal sticks, he won't be back.

-Democrats are foolhardy to think that this move cleans up their act sufficiently to go after Republicans. Pelosi is painting Mollohan's scandal as a partisan attack to provide cover for GOP scandals. But the record so far is clear: Republicans aren't protecting their politicians from corruption charges (readers of this blog differ on whether that's a proper response -- I think they should presume innocence until guilt is proven, but not undertake a Clintonian scorched Earth policy to protect guys who could very well be guilty as sin). Duke Cunningham's out of the House and convicted. Tom DeLay is out of leadership and on his way out of the House. Frankly, the dirty Republicans are behaving like Democrats did when they ran the show. As such...

Enemy of the State Returns

By on 4.22.06 | 9:17AM

Having apparently recovered from the national backlash he suffered after comparing Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to a Nazi death camp (and the intellectual thrashings he suffered at the hands of John Roberts and Samuel Alito) Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois wants to return to center stage. The strong rumor is that he will introduce a "no confidence" resolution aimed at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as soon as the Senate returns next week. (It has apparently escaped Durbin that we don't have a parliamentary system of government in which such resolutions have the effect - if passed - of removing the target from government.)

This comes as a bit of a shock to other Dems eager for the publicity it can generate for Durbin. Schumer -- Little Miss Gun Control -- will be simply seething. And it's going to be very interesting to see how many Dems jump to support it other than Russ "Censure" Feingold. Will Rumsfeld's cloaked Republican adversary - the one whose staffer attacks via anonymous quotes in the NYT - be revealed?

Too bad these guys spend all their time attacking Rumsfeld with nary a harsh word directed at people like Zarqawi.

Snow Job

By on 4.21.06 | 6:24PM

Prowler -- I still don't quite get why everybody seems so down on John Snow. Frankly, on substance he seems to have done a very solid job. And he's never off message, and he works his tail off. He's done everything they've asked of him. His only drawback (and this may be a big enough drawback to be important) is that he's not an exciting communicator. But the man deserves better than a death by a thousand leaks.

All that said, my idea for the best replacement for him, if he is to be replaced, is the same guy I've touted for about five other important jobs in DC: Chris Cox. Yeah, he's only been at the SEC for eight months, but then again Rob Portman hadn't been Trade Rep very long either. Cox has done a great job at SEC and he has all the right skill sets to make him a first class SecTreas. And while Phil Gramm is smart as hell, Gramm has the ability to scare people or turn them off; Cox will never do that. If PR is the problem, Cox is a better answer than Gramm. For one thing, I guarantee you COx will NEVER wax eloquent about "Dicky Flatt"!!!!

Gramm

By on 4.21.06 | 6:13PM

There are rumors floating about DC today that former Sen. Phil Gramm is about to be named Treasury Secretary to replace Secretary John Snow.

There were rumors earlier this week that Gramm was being offered a job as "senior counselor" to the President to oversee Congressional relations, among other things.

Gramm's name have been floated a number of times over the past 18 months and nothing much has come of it. There are several other people who would love to put their hats in the ring for the Treasury job: Robert Kimmett and Tim Adams, both Snow deputy secretaries, have made it clear they would like the job. And White House chief of staff, Joshua Bolten spent five years with Goldman Sachs before moving to Austin in 1999, so he knows the senior Wall Street types that might be enamoured of the job.

Another Good Shake-up

By on 4.21.06 | 4:54PM

When is something broken in Iraq cause for optimism? When it's that government logjam. Jaafari's replacement strikes all parties, according to statement, as acceptable. Now a whole new thicket of practical questions: why him -- Jawad al-Maliki? Why now? Wasn't the deadlock about more than one fellow? But you can also ask some bigger questions, in light of our own administration's personnel issues. Like: what can a people do when held hostage by ossified staffing structures and the personalities they tolerate? A question for the ages; some reflections here.

Good Shake-up

By on 4.21.06 | 2:13PM

In opposition to those who say the White House staff changes are merely cosmetic, I have good reason to believe the shake-up there will turn out to be quite significant. New Chief of Staff Josh Bolten really does seem to "get it" when it comes to understanding that this White House needs a more creative, more energetic, more politically astute (less politically tone-deaf) attitude and atmosphere. I really do sense a political comeback in the making, based both on better style AND better substance.

Dhimmitude at the Gym?

By on 4.21.06 | 1:51PM

Some Muslim women have signed a petition asking the Fitness USA chain to provide separate exercise days for men and women, or put up a divider so they cannot see one another. "In Islam, there are codes of modesty for both genders," one of them says, in a small but illustrative example of the Islamist effort to conform public spaces to their standards. The women claim that they were promised separate exercise days, which the gym chain denies. Anyone want to take bets that Fitness USA will cave, or at least meet them halfway?

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