The Spectacle Blog

Can China’s Authoritarians Keep the Economic Miracle Going?

By on 11.18.15 | 4:32PM

BEIJING—Mao Zedong, China’s “Great Helmsman,” died four decades ago. Only after his murderous reign finally ended could his nation move forward. The old dictator and his cronies wouldn’t recognize China’s capital today. Beijing has become a sprawling metropolis with night clubs and fast food restaurants. Shanghai’s transformation is equally dramatic. Always more international and commercial than Beijing, it has become a world financial center.

There’s a lot more to the People’s Republic of China, including a vast rural territory which remains poor, with average incomes well below urban PRC. But extreme poverty has given way to a genuine, if modest, prosperity.

As China has advanced on the global stage, there’s been discussion of the “Beijing consensus” or China Model. Who needs free markets and democracy if managed capitalism and autocracy can deliver sustained, even faster, economic growth? Dictators around the world want to convince themselves–and more importantly, their subjects–that oppression pays.

Bernie Sanders Might Not Make the Case for Socialism After All

By on 11.18.15 | 4:21PM

It seems things have soured a little for everyone's favorite socialist; Bernie Sanders, on the heels of a mediocre debate performance that saw him blame the whole of modern terrorism on "climate change," thus suggesting a few solar panels in the desert could solve all of our ISIS-related woes, it seems his campaign is "rethinking" his coming out party. 

Just a few weeks ago, the Sanders campaign was touting a huge upcoming speech in which Sanders, who has pushed a fully socialized health care program, free public education through a four-year degree, sky-high tax rates and an end to income inequality, would outline how to pay for the multi-trillion dollar welfare expansion through the very limited number of 1%-ers who wouldn't be packing up their mansion for sunnier days on private, tax free islands at the very thought of a Sanders Presidency. It is now on "indefinite hold" as the Sanders campaign tries to figure out how to sell the full Socialist package without completely turning off the majority of Democratic voters.

TSA Says 73 Employees Were on Terror Watch List

By on 11.18.15 | 1:00PM

A few months ago, top TSA officials were forced to hand over their plastic badges and report for bin-stacking duty after it was discovered that 95% of the time, fake, planted "bombs" and "firearms" were able to make it swiftly through security at a bunch of American airports (just don't wrap your face powder up in your underwear or they'll spill out the contents of your luggage across the "security screening area" with abandon, before testing you and your laptop for exploses, because obviously you're a terrorist, boarding a flight to that high-impact target Cleveland at an ungodly morning hour...not that I'm bitter).

Anyway, the malfeasance inside the TSA extends throughout the agency, apparently, from line workers, to top brass and even to HR. According to a report released this week, the TSA had 73 "aviation workers" on its payroll who also happened to be on the terror watchlist, something the TSA, in its extensive screening process, failed to discover.

Polls Apart

By on 11.18.15 | 12:21PM

As Yogi might have put it, the future of polling ain’t what it used to be. If the sample isn’t representative of the universe to be measured, the results are worthless. Michael Barone in this fine WSJ piece catalogues how the difficulties involved in getting a representative sample have escalated in recent years.

And the examples he gives of how badly pollsters have missed it in recent elections demonstrate his point. Worth keeping in mind during the primary races and beyond. If the venerable Gallup is throwing up its hands, what chance does the newbie Acme Polls have? We won’t know who’s on first until Election Night. Maybe not even then if it’s close. And that’s not all bad.

Obama “Dresses Down” Republicans as Turkey Arrests Terrorists Posing as Refugees

By on 11.18.15 | 12:09PM

Last night, President Obama could have taken his second press conference opportunity to reassure Americans that the Syrian refugees he'd like to see resettled within our borders would be fully vetted and screened in a complex process designed to maintain the government's commitment to preserving our national security, after all, that's mainly what Americans are concerned about.

Instead, as he has for three days straight now, Obama took the opportunity to have a foot-stomping hissy fit over Republican objections to his foolproof plan, accusing detractors, including a number of Democrats (Chuck Schumer!) of being terrified of a bunch of children and old women


President Obama is lashing out at Republican politicians who oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S., accusing them of being “scared of widows and orphans.”

Banister & Maddon Named AL/NL Managers of the Year

By on 11.17.15 | 11:49PM

Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon were named AL and NL Managers of the Year for 2015.

Banister, who had spent nearly 30 years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, led the Rangers to an unexpected AL West title. The Rangers were not expected to contend due to injuries to Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and other members of their pitching staff. But Banister proved a great motivator and helped the Rangers make a late season surge past the Houston Astros. 

Maddon won his third Manager of the Year award, but first in the NL as he led the Cubs to their first post-season appearance since 2008. He won the AL Manager of the Year twice during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays first in 2008 when they won the AL pennant and again in 2011. Maddon was lured away from the Rays by Cubs President Theo Epstein a year ago. While the Cubs had an abundance of young talent with the likes of NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and likely NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, the Cubs would not have won 97 games without Maddon. 

Obama Claims Republican Opposition to Syrian Refugees a Recruitment Tool for ISIS

By on 11.17.15 | 11:25PM

President Obama continues with his demagoguery against Republicans where it concerns Syrian refugees. In a speech before the APEC Summit in the Phillipines, the President remarked, "I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s coming out of here during the course of this debate.”

This from a man who tells us to get off our high horse when talking about the evils of ISIS because of the Crusades.

This from a man who tells the UN the century does not belong to those who slander the Prophet.

This from a man who this past summer claimed Republicans were making common cause with the mullahs in Iran.

This from a man whose own Secretary of State just stated there was "a legitimacy, a rationale" to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. 

This from a man whose weakness does more to help ISIS recruitment than anything Republicans could say or do regarding the admission of Syrian refugees.

New York Times and Boston Globe Unload on Obamacare

By on 11.17.15 | 7:06PM

Aside from one necessary clarification (see far below), it would be difficult to improve on what the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the enrollees they interview have to say about Obamacare.

First, from yesterday’s New York Times article, “Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless”:

But for many consumers, the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage.

“The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor,” said David R. Reines, 60, of Jefferson Township, N.J., a former hardware salesman with chronic knee pain. “We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it.”…

Jindal Drops Out of 2016 Race

By on 11.17.15 | 7:00PM

Within the past hour, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced he was suspending his GOP presidential bid.

Jindal's campaign never caught fire and he could not proceed to the main stage of the GOP debates.

A week ago, Jindal made a futile effort in the GOP undercard debate in Milwaukee against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Jindal drew jeers from the audience when he said that Christie was entitled to "a participation ribbon and a juice box."

The statement would prove a fitting epitaph to an exercise in futility. 


Kerry Claims Legitimacy, er, Rationale to Charlie Hebdo Murders (Or Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie)

By on 11.17.15 | 5:19PM

Emily just drew my attention to this post by Bridget Johnson for PJ Media concerning Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks to U.S. Embassy staff in Paris which pretty much justify January's Charlie Hebdo attacks:

In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration.