The Spectacle Blog

Shedding Patriotism

By on 4.25.06 | 6:24PM

I came across a remarkable column on AlterNet today about a mother's revulsion at her five year-old boy's patriotism and her joy at his shedding of the lies his teacher told him. It's insanely long-winded, but worth checking out for a few choice bits. An electronic sample platter:

The Harlem unit of the National Guard was putting on a Christmas clothing drive for Iraqi children. On the way into the city, I tried to explain to my son what we were doing, and -- as best I could -- why. As we crossed the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan skyline spread out below us, I began to give him a variation on the "Africans don't have any food, finish your dinner" talk. I wanted him to understand how privileged he was to live in a place where bombs don't rain from the sky. It was a talk I'd tried to have before, but not one he'd ever paid much attention to until that day, trapped in the backseat of our car.

Funding Hamas

By on 4.25.06 | 4:35PM

You would think that a nation such as Russia, with a very large Islamic terrorism problem of its own, wouldn't be joining with Iran to fund the terrorist government of Hamas in the Palestinian territories. And you'd be wrong.

Putin's support for Hamas is gratuitous, but for one aspect. By joining with Iran, he's making it as clear as can humanly be that there will be no UN action against Iran. It would be nice to hear something from Foggy Bottom on this. Or even the White House. Don't hold your breath.

Snow

By on 4.25.06 | 2:49PM

We're hearing a Snow announcement could be coming in the next day or so. The names aren't radically different from what other people have been saying, though there is talk that perhaps the President is going to look inside his current Cabinet for the new Treasury Secretary. Nothing like the famous switcheroo President Reagan pulled with his team, but still, a bit of a curve.

As for Tony Snow, you read between the lines and it is clear that a number of people appear to be setting up senior White House counselor Dan Bartlett as the fall guy. For example, stories this morning are reporting that Snow wants "access" to the President and a chunk of responsibility currently under Bartlett's control. If Snow for some reason chooses not to take the job (and very people have ever said "No" to the President), it will almost assuredly be spun as Bartlett's fault or the President's fault for supporting a long-time adviser over a smart hire.

Mac vs. O’Reilly

By on 4.25.06 | 1:25PM

It's news to me, but apparently Bill O'Reilly is among the raving "price gouging" crowd. Mac Johnson takes him to task.

Re: The Closing of a Presidency

By on 4.25.06 | 12:56PM

I neglected to mention two other excellent voices for the old fashioned Catholic university at Notre Dame: Fr. John Coughlin, professor of law and canon law, and Professor John Cavadini, chairman of the theology department.

Wealth and Greed

By on 4.25.06 | 12:38PM

Two more careful thinkers have corrected me on my post on the morality of incredibly large paychecks. John Tabin had me rethinking that point, and a college buddy clinched it in this email just now:

Churches vs. The Rule of Law

By on 4.25.06 | 12:38PM

Hot on the dug-in heels of certain Cardinals opposed to the enforcement of immigration law comes this little DC church parking/double parking imbroglio -- and once again certain religious folk are up in arms about the enforcement of the laws. The DC double-parking laws, along church-heavy streets, have not recently been enforced, although they've duly been kept on the books. They certainly cannot be said to have lapsed -- particularly now that Logan Circle area residents really need them. The habitual violation of the double-parking law, however, is inaccurately advertised by disgruntled churchgoers as "a minor inconvenience." Convenience isn't the point.

The Closing of a Presidency

By on 4.25.06 | 12:26PM

Fr. Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, didn't end the controversy over the Vagina Monologues with his flaccid "closing statement." (Read more from AmSpecBlog on it here.) He has succeeded in emboldening those who wish to water down ND's Catholic identity, and in alienating those who wish to preserve the traditional understanding of a Catholic university.

One of the voices in the latter crowd includes philosopher Professor Charles Rice. Rice concludes that Jenkins' surrendering closing statement also marks the closing of his presidency, and calls on him to resign in today's Observer.

House doesn’t get it

By on 4.25.06 | 12:16PM

A short blurb in the Wash Post this morning reports that a House "lobbying reform" bill is finally headed to a floor vote this week. Gee, whiz. Whatever. It turns out that this version of "reform" does NOT require lobbyists "to keep track of their contacts with lawmakers and report fundraising activities." In other words, less and less actual reform. Now I'm not one who says that lobbyists are evil; far from it. But the public does have a right to transparency when lobbyists and money (either for lunches/trips/favors or for campaigns) are tied together with lawmakers. Saying that lobbyists can't have access would of course be unconstitutional. But for PAID lobbyists who ALSO donate money to lawmakers to do so without disclosure is to invite corruption. Even in the wake of the Abramoff scandals, it amazes me that the House doesn't seem to understand this.

Snow in, Snow out

By on 4.25.06 | 11:02AM

If this story is to be believed -- and I hear it is indeed accurate -- then Tony Snow will be the new White House press secretary, and a particularly powerful one at that...while the unrelated Treasury Secretary John Snow will be out the door. Let's take the latter first. John Snow isn't exciting, but he actually has done a good job with the nuts and bolts at Treasury, and he has worked his heart out. The knock on him is that, despite his best efforts, he hasn't been an effective salesman. That may be true -- but, on the other hand, it is tough to be a good messenger when the overall communications apparatus for the whole administration hasn't been effective. If the president can get somebody with a superb combination of policy skills, management skills, AND political/communication skills, then by all means replace John Snow. But don't replace him with somebody else who isn't already well known and who doesn't within two minutes create a "Wow" factor.

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