The Spectacle Blog

The President’s American Exceptionalism

By on 6.20.15 | 5:15PM

After Dylann Roof, a troubled 21-year-old kid on anti-psychotic drugs, opened fire on people in a Charleston, SC church, President Obama asserted that “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Three days later, a 26-year-old Austrian man ploughed his car into crowds of people. He then got out of his car and began stabbing them with a knife. He killed at least 3 and injured 30. Ten are in hospital with serious injuries, with one in critical condition. The killer is described as a professional driver, married with 2 children. He’s thought to be psychotic.

Mental illness happens everywhere. And the mentally ill don’t need a gun to kill and hurt a lot of people.

Is Osama bin Laden’s Son a Deather?

By on 6.20.15 | 5:13PM

Abdulla bin Laden, son of Osama, wrote to our embassy in Saudi Arabia asking for his father’s death certificate. He was informed that there wasn’t one.

The Administration has also denied other requests for proof of Osama’s death, such as photos of his body or burial.

Abdulla would be well advised to keep pressing the Administration on this matter. After all, look how long it took them to come up with a birth certificate for Obama.

Thoughts on Love & Mercy: The Love, Life & Genius of Brian Wilson

By on 6.20.15 | 2:44AM

On Friday night, my roomie Christopher Kain and I went to see Love & Mercy: The Love, Life & Genius of Brian Wilson.

I have to admit I was unsure how well this would work as the legendary genius behind The Beach Boys was played by two actors, Paul Dano and John Cusack. Now Dano looks so much like Wilson it is frightening. I was more concerned about Cusack's portrayal, but as the older Wilson he his Wilson's facial mannerisms down pat. Cusack's performance was understated yet very powerful.

Given the chaotic nature of Wilson's life it does make sense for two actors to have played him. Bill Pohlad, who is better known as a producer of films such as 12 Years a Slave, directed this film. Like Brian Wilson's character, Pohlad's direction was chaotic but not contrived. 

This Racist Act Does Not Make Us a Racist Country

By on 6.19.15 | 6:24PM

There is now little room for doubt that Dylann Roof killed nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Episcopal Church on Wednesday night because they were black.

It was an act of racism. It was an act of evil.

Evil will always be among us and racism is one of its more virulent strains. Unfortunately, this means racism will always be among us. The best we can do is to inoculate ourselves against racism from an early age and if an outbreak does occur to stop the disease from spreading. More often than not this country has succeeded in this regard over the past half century.

Charleston Shooter Dylann Roof Tells Police He Almost Didn’t Go Through With It

By on 6.19.15 | 3:45PM

I learned, in the wake of the Newtown shooting, that responding to mass tragedies on the Internet is best left to the professional news organizations, at least for the first 48 hours. We have a tendency to have strong personal feelings that color our interpretation of events, and with opinion journalism, that can lead down some dark roads that will, eventually mean a lot of regret. Social media is the worst place in the world in the wake of a tragedy, and politics shows itself to be a cesspool of losers, trying to score cheap political points as families grieve and tears are shed.

Newt Gingrich Reviews the Apple Watch

By on 6.19.15 | 1:26PM

I was considering buying the Apple Watch until I found out that you have to have your phone in your pocket for it to operate most of the applications. Since I already pretty much have the phone in my hand all day, it seemed pointless to have something in my hand that was also on my wrist. Also, until I can video-call someone Dick Tracy style, there's no point in owning a watch that also takes phone calls.

Anyway, since it's Friday, I'll let Newt Gingrich explain the Apple Watch's drawbacks instead of boring you with more of my unnecessary observations - yes, that Newt Gingrich. Here's his first tech review for

Verdict: not cooler than a moonbase.


OPM Made It Very Easy for The Chinese To Hack Their Personnel Files

By on 6.19.15 | 11:31AM

The Office of Personnel and Management was hacked by China recently in what some are calling the worst security breach in American history, bigger it seems than the metric ton of NSA secrets that Edward Snowden piled on The Guardian.

To catch you up, the Chinese apparently wormed their way into the OPM's personnel files and stole, well, everything, from social security numbers to basic personal information files, from pretty much anyone who has ever presented the information to the Federal government, including all employees and applicants. In other words, the Chinese now have the sensitive information of possibly millions of Americans. Now, they've already said that they intend to use that to try to turn certain Americans into spies, which seems inordinately difficult given how much information we already share about ourselves on social media, but the OPM seems relatively unconcerned, and the President has even expressed confidence in how she's managing this ridiculous situation.

Hillary Speaks of Little Children, Church Members, Movie Audiences But Not Our Military Personnel

By on 6.18.15 | 6:52PM

Hillary Clinton spoke about the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina by posing the following questions:

How many innocent people in our country from little children to church members to movie theater attendees? How many people do we need to see cut down before we act?

In the first question, Hillary makes obvious references to the shootings at Sandy Hook, the theater shooting in Colorado as well as both the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and last night's attack.

Hillary speaks of little children, church members and movie theater attendees. But what about our military personnel?

Weren't the soldiers who died at Fort Hood also victims of gun violence?

If so why did Hillary omit the mention of our military personnel?

Brian Williams Will be the “Face of MSNBC”

By on 6.18.15 | 5:29PM

There's no reason Brian Williams should return to television. But I suppose if there's any place where he can fit in - and more importantly, where people are far too distracted by their own self-importance to notice that he's fudging the details of his personal experience, it would be MSNBC.

What's one more delusional talking head, anyway, when you're already cornering the market?

NBC and Williams have come to a tentative agreement that will keep Williams at the network after his six-month suspension ends in August, people with knowledge of the agreement said. It will likely be announced sometime Thursday.

Williams will not be returning to the “NBC Nightly News” anchor chair; his fill-in Lester Holt will become the program’s permanent anchor…

So what will Williams do? His portfolio will include a position on MSNBC, NBC’s struggling cable news channel. “He will be the face of MSNBC,” handling big breaking news stories, one of the people said on condition of anonymity.

That is just the thing MSNBC requires to restore their credibility. 

An Unhappy Conclusion

By on 6.18.15 | 2:59PM

When I wrote of “the next time some shut-in does something beastly” in my review of Theodore Dalrymple’s fine sendup of psychotherapy, little did I know what was soon to take place in Charleston. We’ll have to see if the cry arises, as it usually does after a horrific event like this, for the head trade to sort out the crazies and render them harmless, a job this vast industry is ill-prepared to do.

I remember after the Connecticut school-house massacre we were treated to endless stories of how weird the shooter in that one was and how he should have been identified and, well, and then what? The breathless descriptions of this quirky loner probably fits tens of thousands of adolescents across the lower-48. What are we to do? Jug them all? Most of these off-plumb people will never do a criminal thing in their admittedly hinky lives.

It’s not a happy conclusion, but it’s part of wisdom to finally understand and accept that there are some very bad things that simply can’t be prevented.