The Spectacle Blog

Breakfast With Pence

By on 9.19.06 | 12:27PM

Just got back from our inaugural Newsmaker Breakfast meeting featuring Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who leads what's left of the fiscal conservative wing of the House.

Pence said the Republican Party's drift toward supporting big government arose out of a mistaken perception among Republican leaders that they could try to beat Democrats at their own game. The justification for No Child Left behind was "Democrats have a huge advantage on education." A similar rationale fueled the Medicare prescription drug plan. The reality, Pence argues, is that both policies alienated conservatives without winning anybody else over -- and neither programs are popular. "We will never win by being them, we will only win by being us," Pence said.

TV for the People

By on 9.19.06 | 9:55AM

Lost in the midst of security votes in the Senate is another issue important to American consumers: video choice.

According to Capitol Hill sources, the Senate does not intend to bring Senator Ted Stevens' video-choice bill to the floor any time soon, perhaps not at all before the legislative year expires. The bill would streamline telecom and other companies abilities to offer consumers an alternative to cable TV, which in many places across the country has a monopoly hold on local TV franchises.

Now comes word of a bipartisan poll that shows that the vast majority (82%) of likely voters favor choice in cable TV because it would likely result in lower prices, better customer service (81%), delivery of new technologies and enhanced services to customers (78%).

The video choice bill is a winner for Republicans, if only because it represents a "hidden tax" cut for consumers, about $100 to $200 less annually in lower cable TV bills per household, according to a study by Banc of America.

Today on the Michael Reagan Show

By on 9.19.06 | 9:50AM

A new gig has come my way. I'll be subbing for Michael Reagan on his radio show today (and Monday thru Wednesday next week). Today, we'll be doing more tributes to Richard Armitage, reviewing the McCain problem on the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (tortured law, not tortured prisoners) and talking about today's UN events. Hope ya can tune in, 6-9 pm EDT on RadioAmerica.

Frist Building Fences, Not Bridges

By on 9.19.06 | 9:45AM

While Democrats sing "Don't Fence Me In" on immigration policy, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is doing just that to Democrats with his move last night to bring a vote to the Senate floor on legislation that would build about 700 miles of real fencing, and high-tech border security for the rest of the southern borderland.

Political hiccups aside, Frist deserves credit for lining up some interesting and politically exculpatory legislative votes moving into the election-year recess. It isn't an accident that Republicans are seeing an up tick in opinion polls. While the White House has been doing a good messaging job, the fact that Frist's leadership team was able to lower Congress's profile and hit on issues important to Americans is another reason the GOOP will hold on to both the House and the Senate in 2006.

Google Political Ambitions

By on 9.19.06 | 9:41AM

Google is announcing that it is creating a political action committee named Google NetPAC. Google's political activities have been an embarrassment to the company in the past year as almost all donations from the corporation's executives flow to Democrats or extreme-left wing causes, and money Google has used to fund Internet industry activities have gone almost exclusively to groups like MoveOn.org.

To blunt this criticism, Google hired a former Bush Administration official for its Washington office, and created the impression that she would be directing Washington policy. Apparently that was simply a ruse, because well-known Democrat, Alan Davidson, Google's Washington policy counsel, has created the impression in the media that he will oversee the PAC. So much for Google's outreach to Republicans.

Red-Letter Politicking

By on 9.19.06 | 8:44AM

The religious left is rising up -- again -- in an effort to counter the power of evangelical conservatives, The Washington Times reports today. This time it's through the formation of a group called "Red Letter Christians," who "says it bases its actions and political philosophy on the words of Jesus, which appear in red lettering in some versions of the Bible."

Also yesterday, Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced its new initiative against election-year politicking in churches. It will mail more than 117,000 letters to churches in 11 competitive election states informing them of Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Its executive director, the Rev. Barry Lynn, said the IRS has issued new guidelines to ensure churches don't endanger their tax-exempt status by endorsing or opposing candidates. He criticized Focus on the Family for seeking coordinators in evangelical churches to distribute voter guides and engage voters.

"This is nothing less than an old-fashioned political machine," Mr. Lynn said.

‘Precious Human Capital’ On Display

By on 9.19.06 | 8:28AM

One expects built-in counter-biases where challenges are put to prevailing biases -- particularly when the challenger is the academic establishment, and the challenged is the establishment's fevered vision of what it thinks the academic establishment really is.

And we all know that what it really is is systemically biased against women. "Biased," in this case, means not rigged to produce a certain robust outcome: "more" women scientists and engineers. How much more? And why that particular amount? Silence! Bow thy head and ponder the vast evil of such institutional phenomena as this, propounded by the Panel Report of the National Academy of the Sciences: "anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a 'wife' is at a serious disadvantage."

Hitchens on Secularism

By on 9.18.06 | 5:57PM

Just came back from a Claremont Institute panel featuring Mark Helprin, William Kristol and Christopher Hitchens entitled, "September 11, 2001: Five Years Later." As one would expect given the lineup, the discussion was intellectually vigorous. Toward the end of the panel, Hitchens caused an uproar when he criticized the Pope's recent comments for being anti-reason and said something along the lines of, "We are fighting a war to defend secularism." He drew boos soon after when he continued to attack the Vatican, especially for what he saw as a history of coddling totalitarian regimes (such as when Tariq Aziz was a guest of the Vatican).

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