The Spectacle Blog

Bill Johnson, R.I.P.

By on 1.22.16 | 2:22PM

Bill Johnson, the skier who became the first American to win a gold medal in Alpine downhill skiing at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, died today in an assisted living facility in Oregon at the age of 55.

I do remember Johnson winning the gold being a rather big deal at the time. In particular, I remember him appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. That was a long time ago. Carson was still at the helm of The Tonight Show and Yugoslavia was still a country.

I must admit I hadn't given Johnson much thought since that time, but evidently the years after his gold medal triumph were not kind to him. For lack of a better way of putting it, Johnson's life simply went downhill. Sure he didn't help himself by partying too much which resulted in him not making the U.S. Olympic team for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. His fall continued with divorce, bankruptcy and the drowning death of his infant son.

#FreakoutFriday: Government Dietary Guidelines and You

By on 1.22.16 | 12:17PM

Last week, the US Dietary Guidelines Committee—which is a group of really healthy government employees—issued their latest guidelines on how and what you should eat. I could list a few of the findings but I have better advice: ignore them.

Why? Firstly, they’re likely to change next week. We’ve all seen this in action: one day, Americans are told eggs are good for you only to be told to avoid them the next. At one point pregnant women were told to avoid tuna fish; today, expectant moms are told that fish is an important source of food for a growing baby. Booze was good last month, but bad this month.

But there’s a second and probably more compelling reason to ignore the dietary guidelines: given the schizophrenic nature of this government-issued diet advice, it’s better and probably safer that you decide what’s best for you based on your own conversations with your doctor or your nutritionists.

Trump-Cruz 2016? If Cruz Isn’t Qualified to Be Prez Then How Can He Be VP?

By on 1.22.16 | 11:38AM

Jeff is calling for a Trump-Cruz ticket.

Maybe Jeff didn't get the memo, but Trump has been arguing that Cruz isn't qualified to be President because of his Canadian birth. In which case, if Cruz isn't eligible to be President then how can he be eligible to be VP?

After initially stating he would not file suit during last week's GOP debate, The Donald had changed his tune by Sunday and suggested he might file a lawsuit against Cruz after all. But who knows what Trump will say this Sunday, never mind after February 1st.

If Trump beats Cruz in Iowa, Cruz fades in the polls and Republicans coalesce around The Donald then I think Trump will say, "Ted was born in Calgary? Gee, I didn't know that. It's no problem for me." At which point, a Trump-Cruz ticket would certainly be a possibility. In fact, I'm sure Cruz would be at the top of Trump's VP list.

The Problem Is Power Itself

By on 1.21.16 | 10:59PM

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:

Charles Lane usefully reveals that what Bernie Sanders calls “the billionaire class” does not exist in any ideologically meaningful sense (“Actually, the ‘billionaire class’ might be more progressive than Sanders says,” Jan. 21). But a deeper criticism of Mr. Sanders’s politics is warranted: he’s shooting at the wrong target.

Mr. Sanders aims his venom at billionaires because he wants to prevent (in the words of his adviser Tad Devine) “the use of wealth and power to intervene in the political system for one’s own economic self-interest.” This goal is indeed noble. But it is best achieved, not by attempting to ensure that only the ‘right’ people control state power, but by reducing state power itself. Put differently, the fundamental problem is not in the identity of those who wield power but, rather, in the very existence of power.

Kerry: Oh Yeah, Some of That $100 Billion We Just Gave to Iran Will End Up With Terrorists

By on 1.21.16 | 9:53PM

Here is an excerpt of I wrote about the Iran nuclear deal in my article posted this morning:

As Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2014, “It isn’t fun being friends with America these days.” But it is sure a whole lot of fun to be an enemy of America these days. And very profitable. When you’re trying to become the dominant nation in the Middle East, the advance of $100 billion into your treasury sure can prove helpful. Never mind that Iran still remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is but a minor detail to the Obama Administration.

Well, during an interview with CNBC, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that some of that $100 billion will end up in the hands of terrorists:

Saloon Series — The Angel’s Envy Is Ours Too

By on 1.21.16 | 11:59AM

Some time in the 1990s bottles of whiskey finished in flavoring casks first landed at our door. They were Bowmore Scotch whiskies, some aged in barrels that once held Oloroso sherry, others spent time in casks that held port or Bordeaux red wine. (Use our search engine to locate our reviews of Bowmore Darkest, Dawn, Dusk, and Voyage.)

Not long afterward, Jameson 1780 Irish whiskey arrived—it too had been Oloroso cask finished.

Bourbon-makers did not take up finishing until more recently. They were content to leave their whiskeys in charred barrels the full-time. Then distiller Lincoln Henderson decided to finish fine Bourbon in port casks—thus Angel’s Envy was born.

Bernie Turns to Simon & Garfunkel For Help

By on 1.21.16 | 11:30AM

With just over 10 days remaining before the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders is turning to an unlikely pair of political consultants for help — Simon & Garfunkel.

Bernie will be running an ad featuring shots of people, places and people and places around Bernie Sanders while accompanied by Simon & Garfunkel's "America" which is famous for its chorus "They've all come to look for America."

Last week, Emily took Jeb Bush to task for using a song based on Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking" in an ad profiling Marco Rubio's boots in an effort to emphasize his shifting political positions. As Emily explains, "(M)ost Republican consultants had the pop culture knowledge of 80-year-old men and couldn't find a connection to Millennials if they were accosted by an entire room of Urban Outfitters employees."

Putin Very Likely Ordered Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko (But as Trump Says, “At Least He’s a Leader.”)

By on 1.21.16 | 10:55AM

A British inquiry into the 2006 death of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko led by retired judge Sir Robert Owen has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin very likely the ordered his assassination. Litvinenko died of poisoning as a result of drinking polonium 210 which was slipped into his tea in a London hotel room.

Let's just say you can't buy polonium 210 at the Boot's drug store down the road from Westminster.

Litvinenko was a former FSB (Federal Security Service) agent who broke from the group when he accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky in 1998. Berezovsky later died under suspicious circumstances in Britain in 2013. While in exile in London, Litvinenko wrote two books about the inner workings of the FSB and their efforts to bring Putin to power. But what probably sealed his fate was his allegation in October 2006 that Putin ordered the assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. A month later, Litvinenko would be dead.

Why David French’s “We’re Not Democrats” Argument Isn’t Very Reassuring

By on 1.20.16 | 11:45PM

Over at NRO, David French says things aren't so bad where it concerns Republicans in the 2016 presidential race by making the "We're not Democrats" argument.

I hope French will forgive me if I don't feel reassured. Yes, it appears that Hillary Clinton has broken a litany of laws and very serious ones at that. But does anyone seriously think the Obama Justice Department is going to prosecute her? Is Bernie Sanders going to suddenly make an issue of her damn e-mails? Not a chance on both counts. Hillary is above the law and that is just fine with a lot of people in this country if it keeps Donald Trump out of the White House.