The Spectacle Blog

Deficit Going Down

By on 8.18.06 | 1:57PM

I'd like to hope that the editors at the New Republic are feeling a bit less smug today with the Congressional Budget Office's announcement that the fiscal year 2006 deficit will be $260 billion, down from $318 billion last year. But I won't, since smugness seems to be the editorial disposition at TNR these days. They'll just cling to the CBO's claim that the deficit will rise next year.

That's not a wise strategy though. Using data from various CBO reports, I constructed this table on projected and actual deficits and income taxes (it is the growth in income taxes that has accounted for a large part of the decline in the deficit).

CBO Projections Vs. Actual Numbers

I Disagree, Reluctantly

By on 8.18.06 | 1:55PM

With the lovely Ms. Coulter, but in her recent column she decries the terrorists' victory in compelling us to bar deodorant from airliners. Sorry, Ann, but you're wrong. It's not the terrorists who will celebrate this win. It is to the French that the spoils (and the odor of them) will belong.

Talks the Talk

By on 8.18.06 | 1:03PM

Al Sharpton recently spoke out against people who act "as if gangsterism and blackness are synonymous." It would seem, though, that the dear Reverend doesn't always practice what he preaches. There he was at the Radio One Awards in D.C. last night, schmoozing with the hucksters and glitterati of the pop-gangster culture, including the likes of Janet Jackson, gangster rappers Sean "P Diddy" Combs, Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupree, as well as the rap producer Russell Simmons.

Rudy Still Leads

By on 8.18.06 | 12:15PM

The latest 2008 presidential preference poll for August, based on a Pew Research survey of registered voters, finds Giuliani in the lead among Republicans, with 24 percent support. Rice is at 21 percent and McCain is at 20 percent. Everybody else is in the single digits. Hillary Clinton is still polling way ahead of everbody else in the Democratic field, with 40 percent support among registered Democrats. Gore far behind at 18 percent.

Suicidal Purge

By on 8.18.06 | 12:03PM

The Democrats have a great plan to deal with a Joe Lieberman victory: A shunning.

A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Conn.) campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week. If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides.


The issue of Lieberman's seniority would arise most dramatically if Lieberman wins re-election and Democrats recapture control of the chamber. That would slot Lieberman to take over as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the panel primarily responsible for investigating the executive branch.

Democrats think their chances of taking back the Senate are growing more and more likely. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week said he was more confident that Democrats would pick up at least five Senate seats.

Security Moms

By on 8.18.06 | 10:09AM

In a July 1, 2004 Opinion Journal column, Peggy Noonan pointed out a phenomenon that she was worried would hurt President Bush's re-election prospects:

History has been too dramatic the past 3 1/2 years. It has been too exciting. Economic recession, 9/11, war, Afghanistan, Iraq, fighting with Europe, fighting with the U.N., boys going off to fight, Pat Tillman, beheadings. It has been so exciting. And my general sense of Americans is that we like things to be boring. Or rather we like history to be boring; we like our lives to be exciting.

Perhaps Noonan was two years early. I thought back to her article when reading today's Washington Post cover story on how the so-called "security mom" vote was starting to shift toward Democrats. In particular, the following quote from Jo Ann Smith, a divorced Ohio mother , stood out:

Jolt Culture

By on 8.18.06 | 9:59AM the name given by J. Peder Zane writing in the News & Observer to our fetish for pointless information in heaping servings. Trivial Pursuit was once the game of middle-class snobs, seemingly invented for intellectuals stuck in yuppie careers to impress at dinner parties. It's still a good game -- so long as you avoid, at all costs, the "90's Edition," which is an updated abomination on par with a blonde James Bond. All of the questions, you suspect after fifteen minutes or so, require the player to draw from an encyclopedic "knowledge" of popular detritus, a memory bank bracketed by Pop Up Video and I Love The 80s.

Department of Scurrilousness

By on 8.18.06 | 12:06AM

Who is Ricardo Alarcón Quesada? He is the "President of Cuba's National Assembly" in "Havana, Cuba" who's been given the lead position in the select letters section of the New Yorker in its August 21 issue. He wrote to defend the so-called "Five Heroes" mentioned in a July 31 piece who are in jail in the U.S. for having, in his words, "penetrated--without force or harm to any individuals--South Florida's terrorist groups, in order to monitor their activities." He claims "the U.S. did not contest that the Cubans' 'crime' was to operate against violent groups tolerated by the Administration." Indeed, "the Bush administration succeeded in protecting its own terrorists" three months after 9/11, "in the heat of the 'war on terror,'" when it had these five men convicted.

Now it's not common practice in Mike Wallace's "so-called free world" to give space to a Goebbels-like stooge without including some sort of editorial response, particularly since Quesada's letter is a slander against all south Florida Cuban-Americans (not to mention the Administration itself and all post-9/11 American sensitivies).

Club for Growth Ousts Chafee

By on 8.17.06 | 10:28PM

So says the AP:

The club has flexed its political muscles in recent GOP primaries. It figured in the ouster of moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island last week, and in Michigan it helped challenger Tim Walberg unseat an incumbent, first-term Rep. Joe Schwarz.

I'll have to send Andy Roth a congratulatory email.

Baylor Ex-Pres Robert Sloan Gives Exit Interview

By on 8.17.06 | 9:34PM

Robert Sloan paid attention to the big buzz about integrating faith and learning throughout the 90's. He certainly didn't invent the concept, not even at Baylor where Provost Donald Schmeltekopf had already tilled the field waiting for seeds, water, and determination to back up his early evangelism of the concept. What Robert Sloan did, though, was to put money and his reputation behind the project to transform Baylor into a great Christian university that was simultaneously a research university. Whether or not U.S. News and World Report acknowledges it, a lot has happened at Baylor. Student board scores are up, graduate programs are churning out Ph.D.'s and Baylor is winning some serious research grants.