The Spectacle Blog

Scandal Survival

By on 1.11.06 | 2:39PM

This has bothered me since yesterday. A Washington Post page 1 story was headlined: "Lobby Firm Is Scandal Casualty: Abramoff, DeLay Publicity Blamed for Shutdown." A seemingly related New York Times front page story ran under this head: "Lobbyist's Firm Escapes From a Scandal."

So which is it? Is past affiliation with Jack Abramoff and/or Tom DeLay a kiss of death or isn't it? In the first case, the firm in question, Alexander Strategy Group, is a small business that last employed about a dozen lobbyists in Washington, some very close to Abramoff-DeLay. In the second case, the firm in question, Greenberg Traurig, is a major law firm employing some 1,500 lawyers in more than 25 offices in several major cities. Abramoff earned a mere $1 million a year from it before he was fired in 2004. Clearly, in pure business terms, there is safety in size and numbers. But interesting how the New York Times seems to prefer bigger game.

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Iran’s Adamancy on Nukes

By on 1.11.06 | 2:17PM

From the Iranian News Service comes the latest sermonizing from the terrorists as to their "rights" to have nuclear power (i.e., nuclear weapons):

Former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said here Wednesday the Iranian nation will get with wisdom its rights with respect to its nuclear program.

"The arrogance and its allies will be regretful if they obstruct the Iranian nation's access to the latest science, said Rafsanjani in his second sermon to a large group of worshipers at the auspicious Eid-ul-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) congregational prayers at the Tehran University Campus.

"We cannot give up our rights," he added.

The Expediency Council Chairman dismissed the wide-scale hue and cry launched by the western political, military and economic circles against Iran since Tuesday after Tehran started nuclear research activities.

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Kennedy’s Ploy

By on 1.11.06 | 1:46PM

According to Senate Judiciary sources, Sen. Ted Kennedy this morning was informed that a number of media outlets -- including the New York Times, as well as both Democratic and Republican staff from the committee -- had reviewed a wealth of documents related to Concerned Alumni of Princeton and that there was no evidence that Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito played a major role personally or financially in the organization at any time. This information was passed to Kennedy after he raised the issue of possibly requesting a subpoena for all of CAPs documents before he entered the hearing room for the third day of confirmation hearings. "We told him we'd gone through it, and that seemed to be the end of it," says a committee staffer. So big surprise that despite knowing what he needs to know, Kennedy decided to simply create a few moments of entertaining political theater for the nightly news.

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Nothing Like a Hearing’s Transparency

By on 1.11.06 | 1:23PM

Those bothering to watch the confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito are being treated to the Senate's inner workings and finer intellects. Sen. Ted Kennedy's temper tantrum against Sen. Arlen Specter should be the talk of evening news shows (the Washington Post website is already featuring it). But you know it's bad when even the New York Times' correspondent, Elisabeth Bumiller, is moved to mock the Senators for their vanity and verbosity. Postie Dana Milbank, typically no friend of Bush or his allies in his critical portraits of Washington goings-on, noted the Senators' tendency to soliloquies.

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Making the Alito Hearings Interesting

By on 1.11.06 | 11:50AM

Finally, the solution: Daniel Drezner is holding a competition for the dumbest thing that a Senate Judiciary Committee member utters during the hearings. Have at it. (h/t Instapundit)

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By on 1.11.06 | 10:22AM

Mark: You hit the nail on the head. And there's more. The ABC, NYT and the rest of the leakers' amen chorus is entirely wrong in labeling them "whistleblowers." The federal Whistleblower Protection Act does not - repeat not - give leakers immunity from prosecution for the crime of leaking secrets. It protects real whistleblowers who report possible wrongdoing through set channels. In the case of secret information, those channels prevent disclosure of such as the NSA intel gathering program and the CIA detention of terrorist prisoners in secret locations overseas.

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By on 1.11.06 | 8:25AM

ABC's Brian Ross had yet another breathless (and misleading) exclusive last night. Fired NSA analyst Russle Tice (apparently stripped of his security clearance and let go last year over "psychological concerns") is claiming to be "a" source for the NY Times' NSA story.

Note to the FBI investigators probing the leak: This guy ain't it. He may have chimed in after the NY Times got the story, but he certainly is not the original leaker. The timing of the story (right before the Patriot Act vote) points to a time-honored pressure tactic by political sources: when your original leak didn't make it into the paper, to have the originally intended impact (in this case right before the 2004 presidential election to harm President Bush), wait for an opportunity to make political hay. A year goes by and Risen's source sees the Patriot Act vote as another big opportunity. I'd bet the source threatened the Times that if they didn't publish that Friday, the story would be given to a competitor.

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Alito Update

By on 1.11.06 | 8:13AM

Building on what we reported yesterday, Republicans were thrilled with the first day of questioning by Judiciary Committee members of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

"He held up very well late into the day, which is something we were concerned about," says a committee staffer.

The same cannot be said for the Democratic members of the committee. According to several Democratic staffers, they were taken aback by the tone and line of questioning Sen. Russ Feingold took with Alito. "That wasn't part of the game plan," one staffer told us last night. "During the lunchbreak his staff said that he was extremely unhappy about the morning session, very frustrated and angry that Kennedy and Biden weren't pushing harder."

The result: one of the more embarrassing performances in recent memory. Feingold essentially called a Supreme Court nominee a dupe for the White House, and grilled Alito on his preparation sessions with White House staff.

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More on Shadegg

By on 1.11.06 | 8:02AM

As we reported yesterday afternoon, the predicted end of the House Majority Leader election that other blog sites were reporting never came, and now it appears Republicans in the House have settled in for the long haul. No more than about a third of the GOP caucus, if that, has truly committed to either Reps. Roy Blunt and John Boehner. Why?

"Almost certainly it's because we're waiting for the other shoes to drop on both of them," a Republican House member explained. "If a member is in Washington, they are already hearing that reporters are circling around the 'Boehner is a party animal' stories from a few years ago. You're hearing there are major pieces on Blunt's relationships with lobbyists being developed. Beyond the most loyal supporter none of us is willing to go out on a limb that might get sawed off pretty quickly. If you're out of town you're hearing if from your colleagues on conference calls we're holding."

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By on 1.11.06 | 7:30AM

Imagine my relief when I read in this morning's NY Times Corrections column:

An article yesterday about the awards ceremony for the sex-films industry included erroneous information from AVN Publications, the program organizer, on the name of one award-winning film by Vivid Entertainment. It is "The New Devil in Miss Jones," not "The Devil in Miss Jones."

The Times should be more cognizant of the stress and argumentation such careless errors can cause among people of good will.

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