The Spectacle Blog

The NSA hoo ha

By on 12.20.05 | 7:44AM

Thanks (today) to the WSJ editorial page for finally publishing the facts about the President's legal and constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches: "The allegation of Presidential law-breaking rests solely on the fact that Mr. Bush authorized wiretaps without first getting the approval of the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But no Administration then or since has ever conceded that that Act trumped a President's power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it. FISA established a process by which certain wiretaps in the context of the Cold War could be approved, not a limit on what wiretaps could ever be allowed.

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Cloning Hoax Case Grows Stronger

By on 12.20.05 | 7:18AM

Hwang Woo Suk claimed in his Science paper that the cells in a photograph were cloned embryonic stem cells; in a 2004 paper the photograph appeared labeled as cells created without cloning.

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Finally. Good News for Smokers

By on 12.19.05 | 9:56PM

Guess what food item has more antioxidants than herbal teas and fruits? That's right, chocolate! According to a new study, courtesy of, eat a daily helping of dark chocolate and you just might protect those arterties. The study comes just in time for Christmas, when smokers often endure year-end bad news (and the rantings of overprotective relatives) on the perils of inhaling.

Pair with wine and get double the antioxidants as well as double the not-so-guilty-anymore pleasure. Can anyone say New Year's Resolution?

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By on 12.19.05 | 7:06PM

Not so long ago, nearly everyone was writing off this presidency. Now ABC News reports the best approval ratings in six months. What a difference a few weeks can make in the poll numbers.

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Who’s in Which Bubble?

By on 12.19.05 | 5:15PM

We've been hearing a lot of media blather about "Bush in a bubble" over the past few weeks. Supposedly, the president is isolated, unhearing and uncaring about views different from his own. That's proven wrong daily, but the libs are stuck on it. Today, on the RealClearPolitics site, John McIntyre identifies the Other Bubble: the one the Dems are in. Here's the money quote:

"As long as national security related issues are front page news, the Democrats are operating at a structural political disadvantage. Perhaps the intensity of their left wing base and the overwhelmingly liberal press corps produces a disorientation among Democratic politicians and prevents a more realistic analysis of where the country's true pulse lies on these issues."

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. The Dems only read the NYT, WaPo, and watch CBS. They never want to listen to real people, and thus can't get in tune with what's really on America's mind. McIntyre's take is 110% correct.

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Re: The Prez Lands Five Solid Hits

By on 12.19.05 | 5:01PM

Listening to audio of the President's press conference on my computer, and lacking visuals, I did not get all the nuances of the occasion. But I'm with Larry: it did seem that he was very strong, and he has been since he woke from his self-imposed slumber and decided that it would be a good thing to defend his policies. Only time will tell whether this will be a sustained offensive, even a new way of conducting communications at the White House, or just another one of those periodic bursts of diligence that is not followed up. We've seen that before.

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The Prez Lands Five Solid Hits

By on 12.19.05 | 3:12PM

It has been widely noted that President Bush landed four punches today, with his challenges to "Senators from New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles" filibustering the Patriot Act. Awkwardly phrased though it was, everybody knew what it meant. Those cities are widely acknowledged terror targets, and Senators Schumer, Reid, Boxer, and Feinstein will have to answer for their filibuster if any attack on those cities succeeds.

There's another less-noticed...well, can I say "bitch slap"? The Prez told a story about how the government used to track Osama bin Laden because he used "a certain type of phone." And then somebody leaked that fact, and Osama bin Laden stopped using that kind of phone. I imagine the cheeks of a certain Senator, nicknamed "Leaky" by Rush, were burning.

Patrick Leahy has also been called "the meanest man in the Senate." Let's see if he tries to get even.

Bravo, Dubya! Bravo!

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Re: Less waterboarding…

By on 12.19.05 | 3:02PM

John: Excellent point about renditions, but I'm not sure it will increase them all that much. With the WaPo's revelations about the secret facilities these guys have been flown around to, there are fewer of them available to us, and fewer allies willing to take bad guys. As to waterboarding, there's a dirty little secret: it works. Former al-Q #3 Khalid Sheik Mohammed was a very hard case for the first days he was in captivity. He was, I've heard, waterboarded by experts. Since that time he's been giving up a lot of solid information.

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Wavering Reid

By on 12.19.05 | 2:44PM

"My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war." President Bush said that this morning in discussing last week's NYT plant about the NSA monitoring al Qaeda operatives and al Qaeda sympathizers by way of Presidential order. But he might as well have been speaking about any number of "strategic" leaks by Senate, CIA and other operatives interested in making political hay and embarrassing the United States.

Over the weekend, the media noted that Sen. Harry Reid had been strangely silent about the latest revelations, and we're hearing there was good reason for this: he was attempting to find out if the leak had come from within offices that he had oversight of control over. "We got the impression that he wanted to jump onto this things early on Friday, but he held us all back from talking. We were hearing that he wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be any blowback on him," says a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

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