The Spectacle Blog

Tonight’s Auto da Fe

By on 5.15.06 | 6:45PM

The White House is sending around excerpts from the president's speech tonight. Here's the one that may make me turn off the tv:

"The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life.  They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country.  This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."

How do we know if walls and patrols can't stop it unless we try? If we are to take this as an auto da fe -- an act of faith -- what is our faith supposed to be based upon? 

BIG News: A Brit Impersonator

By on 5.15.06 | 5:54PM

In the blog post immediately below, I report on the apparent false identity scam used, according to our friend Mark Corallo, by lefty blogger Jason Leopold, in the course of spreading apparently false stories to the effect that Karl Rove had been indicted. Now it gets even better/weirder: In the course of talking to Corallo under the identity of a reporter for a British publication (conversations Leopold himself reported on, but without the little detail about having used an alias), Leopold gave Corallo a number to call back on. When Corallo tried back, Corallo said, the number didn't work. Well, just in the few minutes since I posted the tale below, I got the following e-mail from Corallo:

"Gets better - at 4:00 p.m. today I got a call from a guy named Joel Loria of the London Sunday Times!! He was a bit miffed (to say the least) that Leopold used his name. And the phone number was one digit off!"

This is really getting fun! Calling Janet Cooke, in addition to Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass.....

VERY Weird Rove/Corallo Story

By on 5.15.06 | 5:38PM

I spoke today with Mark Corallo, PR man and straight shooter extraordinaire, who told me a whale of a story about the whole crazy rumor over the weekend (on Lefty blogs) that Karl Rove had been indicted and would resign. Rather than repeat the whole thing, let me give you this left-leaning blog site, Talkleft, which has the full run-down (a run-down Corallo himself confirmed to me was accurate). The long and short of it is that it seems as if the lefty blogger who first reported the indictment story not only got it all wrong, but then (according to Corallo) represented himself under a false identity to Corallo. More from Byron York on this here. This has the whiff of Jason Blair/Stephen Glass stuff. Stay tuned.

Hail to Rep. Montgomery

By on 5.15.06 | 5:12PM

As promised earlier today, I take this opportunity to mourn the passing of a great American, a true patriot and gentleman, Mississippi's former longtime U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, who died last Friday at age 85. Montgomery served 30 years in Congress; was a great (but wise and realistic) advocate for this nation's veterans; revamped the GI bill in 1984 (and helped boost recruitment for the all-volunteer force), served in active duty in WWII and Korea, supported the military, helped track down the fate of POWs and MIAs, supported most of President Reagan's economic agenda, helped establish and remained a leader of the House Prayer Breakfast, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Hat tip to Wash Post for all the above info.) All of which made him a wonderful, admirable public servant, and one who also was wise. I write especially, though, to add a little human flavor to Montgomery's obituary. You see, Montgomery was an avid tennis player, at least well into his mid-70s, meaning at least up until about a decade ago.

Rove Hits Home

By on 5.15.06 | 4:36PM

Now, to return to what was supposed to be the main point of my coverage of the Rove speech at AEI this morning: Overall, it was a tour de force. Rove did quite well what the administration long needs to have been doing better and more often -- and what our feckless Congress has not done with even a smidgen of energy or success -- which is to tout the brilliant results, overall (at least short-term; the higher spending is more a long-term problem than a short-term one), of Bush's economic policies.

The Border, By Numbers

By on 5.15.06 | 3:57PM

Some figures to keep in mind during President Bush's speech tonight:

3 - The number of days it takes to train and deploy auxillary personnel that could back up the Border Patrol, according to Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus report on a Minuteman Project experiment in Arizona.

36,000 - The number of auxillary personnel it would take, according to the same report, to seal the southern border.

2 - The number of years it takes to fully train a Border Patrol agent.

Bottom line: Putting a few thousand national guardsmen at the border as a stop-gap measure while Border Patrol agents are added is not the most efficient way to go about beefing up border security.

Candor on Spending

By on 5.15.06 | 3:45PM

Okay, to continue the thoughts on Rove's speech from this blog post earlier (which itself continued this one), here's the only way I can think of that Rove and Company can stop conservative support from hemorrhaging in response to the outrageous federal spending (which, by the way, I failed to note earlier, has also been greatly worsened by the outlandishly expensive prescription drug bill for Medicare):

Partying Like a Kennedy, One More Time

By on 5.15.06 | 3:41PM

I've got one last look at the Patrick Kennedy story over at Reason, where I examine at the Ambien "sleep-driving" panic that Kennedy's excuse-making invoked.

Tractors, not Prom Queens

By on 5.15.06 | 3:09PM

Okay, I found the old Mobile Register editorial I wrote that spoke of waste in the Homeland Security "first responder" grant program. I couldn't find what I remembered about cars to transport prom queens (as discussed in my post below), but here's the "nut graph" that does give other examples:

.... found the money going places like Tiptonville, Tenn., a town so tiny that it doesn't even show up on a rental car map.

Tiptonville used its $183,000 for a snazzy ATV and for defibrillators it keeps handy at high school basketball games. Converse, Texas, used its grants for a "homeland security trailer," which saw its first duty in hauling riding lawnmowers to the annual local lawnmower races. And Washington, D.C., which unlike some grantees is obviously a terrorist target, nevertheless used $100,000 to send sanitation workers to a Dale Carnegie course.

Roving Afield

By on 5.15.06 | 3:03PM

My final (I think) post on the Rove speech at AEI today, which FOLLOWS this one, will highlight the parts of Rove's substance that were right on target and that he explained well. Here, though, a very important criticism: On the issue of spending, the man is full of Bullfeathers.

Rove continues to try to push the tired old White House line that it has done a good job keeping a lid on excess spending. The line is sheer bunk. He said the federal government under Bush's leadership has "reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending every year in office." The way he is using this, it is a meaningless statistic. What really has happened is that Congress and the White House keep redefining what counts as domestic discretionary spending so that they look more fiscally responsible (by far) than they actually have been. More and more and more often, spending items that would be included in ordinary domestic Appropriations bill are instead hidden in numerous other ways. Let me highlight some of the ways:

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