The Spectacle Blog

Allen Toussaint, R.I.P.

By on 11.10.15 | 10:35AM

Singer, songwriter, pianist and producer Allen Toussaint passed away on Sunday of a heart attack following a concert in Madrid, Spain. He was 77.

Toussaint was a New Orleans musical legend whose career spanned 60 years. He wrote songs that were covered by hundreds of artists including "Southern Nights" (Glen Campbell), "Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)" (Three Dog Night), "Working in a Coal Mine" (Lee Dorsey), "Mother-in-Law" (Ernie K. Doe) and "Fortune Teller" (The Rolling Stones). His influence on rock 'n roll cannot be underestimated.

Have a listen to "Southern Nights". You can understand why Glen Campbell and so many other musicians were so eager to record the music of Allen Toussaint.

Burma’s Elections Should Be Greeted with a Guarded Optimism

By on 11.9.15 | 5:02PM

Elections in Burma are taking place and it appears that Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is going to win by a landslide with the ruling Union Solidarity & Development Party conceding defeat.

But I must place emphasis on the word appears. After all, the NLD won the last multi-party election in 1990 convincingly and the military junta refused to recognize the results. Dictatorships are by their very nature arbitrary and capricious. What is to prevent the junta from doing the same this time and placing Suu Kyi back under house arrest? Who would stop them?

It is true that Thein Sein, the current military ruler, is light years ahead of his predecessor, Than Shwe especially where it concerns his relations with Suu Kyi. General Shwe forbade the mention of Suu Kyi's name. As long as he remained in power this election would have been inconceivable.

Did Hillary Clinton Fudge Her Own ‘Military Background’?

By on 11.9.15 | 4:26PM

Hillary Clinton may be brewing her own "Ben Carson" scandal. 

Okay, so she's probably not going to attract that much attention. After all, while Dr. Carson doesn't seem to have glossed over or materially altered anything in his past, Hillary Clinton has been known to embellish her own biography a bit here and there. I mean, we all know the story of how she ran for cover, ducking sniper fire in Bosnia. Or how she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, even though he completed his frozen adventure six years after her birth. And she has yet to lay out her strategy in responding to reporters — and an international crisis — by saying a video inspired Libyans to attack and burn an American embassy and parade our dead ambassador through the streets. But at least we can go on record having covered her confusing relationship with military service.

Advice for GOP Candidates in Fox Biz Debate

By on 11.9.15 | 4:16PM

Dear Donald, Ben, Marco, Ted, Jeb, Carly, John, and Rand:

The CNBC debate moderators' repugnant performance and more recent MSM fabrications against Dr. Carson have turned the media, broadly speaking, into a target-rich environment for you.

But at a certain point, complaining about media bias is like complaining about a puppy peeing on the carpet. If you don't like it, don't get a puppy – and don't run for president.

The current front-runners, Donald and Ben, are benefiting from a slightly odd and, I hope, unsustainable cult of personality.

I don’t necessarily mean that what I hope is unsustainable is your front-runner status (though I suppose that’s also true); instead what I hope is that Republican voters will demand more from you than the non-specific bloviating (Trump) and dodging (Carson) that we’ve heard so far.

Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio Share Credit Card Debt — But Only One Faces Consequences

By on 11.9.15 | 4:04PM

The media was breathlessly covering Dr. Ben Carson last week, leaving Marco Rubio's time in the spotlight hanging. After all, before they'd caught wind of the slight difference between a "full scholarship" (which military academies do seem to offer, actually, contrary to my earlier statements and according to their websites), and Dr. Carson's own offer, they were poring over Marco Rubio's bank statements, scratching their coddled heads and wondering how anyone in America could possibly have five-figure credit card debt.

Rubio had a Republican Party of Florida American Express for approximately four years, January 2005 to December 2008. That amounted to 1,307 charges in that period, for a total of $182,072.55, in total. In the previously unreleased period of January 2005 to October 2006, Rubio spent $64,777.82 on 484 charges.

George Will’s Mistake

By on 11.9.15 | 1:29PM

George Will’s mistake was appearing with Bill O’Reilly, who is no more than a shallow, prickly, narcissistic, show-biz bully, nowhere near the scholar and acute analyst Will is. No prosecutor could proceed in the bullying way O’Reilly proceeds here without hearing: “Objection, your honor, counsel is badgering the witness.” “Sustained — clean up your act Mr. O’Reilly.”

And Bill O’Reilly calling George Will a hack is in the same Can-You-Believe-It league with the Donald saying, as he did last week, that Ben Carson “doesn’t have the temperament to be president.”   

Back in the day I didn’t think there would or could ever be a more obnoxious public personality than Howard Cosell. But O’Reilly wasn’t on the scene yet. At least Howard’s malapropisms, and Alex Karras’s reaction to them, were funny. (Howard: “His primary receivers were covered. His secondary receivers were covered. So he had to go to his tertiary receiver.” Alex: “Tertiary? — Geez, Howard, that’s not football. That’s sewage treatment.” Just so.)

Ben Carson Raises $3.5M on Media Bias

By on 11.9.15 | 12:59PM

Ben Carson had the best weekend ever, basically.

Several days after the POLITICO story about his scholarship from West Point crumbled in POLITICO's hands, Buzzfeed was able to get their grubby mitts on a story substantiating Dr. Carson's tale of stabbing another kid, thus ending CNN's related reign of terror. And while the media quickly shifted its focus to more pressing matters, like wall-to-wall coverage of a handful of Christians finding fault with Starbucks's holiday coffee cups, Republicans opened their pocketbooks and rewarded Dr. Carson for being the victim of a bizarre smear.

To the tune of $3.5 million dollars. In a single weekend.

Ben Carson said Saturday he's hauled in $3.5 million in campaign cash this week thanks to a "biased media."

The retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate claimed 10,000 donations each day of the week in a tweet.

Bernie Sanders Comes to Ben Carson’s Defense While Trump Aligns Himself with Mainstream Media

By on 11.9.15 | 10:56AM

Of all people, Bernie Sanders has come to Ben Carson's defense in the wake of Politico's non-story about whether Carson was offered a scholarship by a school he wasn't interested in attending which Ross thoroughly dissected this morning.

While it's clear Sanders doesn't agree with Carson's policy ideas he told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press yesterday:

I think it might be a better idea, I know it's a crazy idea, but maybe we focus on the issues impacting the American people and what candidates are saying, rather than just spending so much time exploring their lives of 30 or 40 years ago. And I think the reason that so many people are turned off to the political process has a lot to do with the fact that we're not talking about the real issues impacting real people.

Latest Shots From the Circular Firing Squad

By on 11.8.15 | 2:52PM

The Latest Shots fired in the Republican circular firing squad come from Rand Paul, who is now calling Marco Rubio a neoconservative, not meaning it as a compliment (or, as is usually the case when this word is used as a pejorative, saying what the hell he means by it).

Throw this in with the Bush/Rubio sniping and the Donald, that great classifier, sorting just about everyone in the party as a loser, a laggard, an incompetent, or any of several different kinds of a fool, and I have to wonder if anyone in the Republican Party has ever heard of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Create Your Own Rachel-Free Zone

By on 11.7.15 | 11:55AM

“It doesn't say much for my social life that I had nothing better to do on a Friday night than watch the Democrat Candidates Forum on MSNBC. Somehow I managed to get through nearly two hours of Rachel Maddow.”

Geez, Aaron, has it come to this? You’re right, your social life clearly does need a jolt. You’re in a frightful slough. On a Friday night, or any other come to that, I’d consider watching Rachel Maddow right after having ten-penny nails driven into my eyeballs. I’d like to help a friend so clearly in need. Please see my list below of things to do that are more entertaining, more edifying, and more morally uplifting than watching Rachel Maddow and the trolls running for president on the D side.

1. Flea-powder the cat.

2. Arrange the ties in your closet by width.

3. Try to remember the lyrics to all the Kingston Trio’s songs.

4. Shave the backs of your hands

5. Read the collected speeches of Gerald Ford. (Do not drive or operate heavy equipment for three hours after doing this.)

6. Yodel