The Spectacle Blog

Not Even a Majority for the Truth

By on 2.10.15 | 4:41PM

Mark Twain said if you don’t read the newspaper you’re uninformed. If you do, you’re misinformed. Our Samuel Langhorne wrote before TV news and Brian Williams, or he would have included our winsome but imaginative newsreader in his cynicism. 

In the wake of Williams’ admission that he lied (OK, his words were he misremembered) about how a chopper he flew in over Iraq was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, Rasmussen polled folks on what Williams’ future should be a NBC News. The results are hardly encouraging for fans of the truth.

Of those responding to the poll, the results of which were released Monday, 40 percent say Williams should resign from NBC. Another 35 percent say he shouldn’t resign. A confused 25 percent admit they don’t know what to make of it.

So there you have it. If Rasmussen’s 800 respondents are representative of the country — Rasmussen claims a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent — then 60 percent of Americans either think it’s OK to have a liar for a news presenter or aren’t sure this is a problem. Can we no longer even muster a majority for the truth?

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Brings Mandatory Union Dues to an End

By on 2.10.15 | 1:48PM

Apparently, when it comes to the game of issuing Executive Orders, both parties can play.

Last night, just in time for the 6 o'clock news, newly-minted (Republican) Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced that he will use his pen and his phone to put an end to a requirement forcing all Illinois state workers to pay dues to the Illinois government employees union. The move, which Rauner takes in open defiance of a heavily Democratic state legislature, will cut off the spigot Illinois's public sector unions use to fund Democratic candidates without having to encounter the people who receive their hefty checks.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, the newly elected Republican who has often criticized public sector unions, took his first step toward curbing their power on Monday by announcing an executive order that would bar unions from requiring all state workers to pay the equivalent of dues.

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American ISIS Hostage Kayla Mueller Confirmed Dead

By on 2.10.15 | 12:52PM

Sad news from Kayla Mueller's family: the 26 year old aid worker who was snatched by ISIS a year ago on her way out of Syria and held for over a year is dead.

We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life,” Mueller’s parents said in a statement. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace.”

The statement did not elaborate on how it had learned of Mueller’s death or the circumstances of her death.

ISIS claimed last week that Kayla had been killed in Jordanian airstrikes, undertaken after ISIS killed a Jordanian pilot it had held hostage, but ISIS isn't the world's most reliable narrator, to say the least. ISIS notified her parents of Kayla's death this week, apparently, including, because they're barbarians, pictures of her body. 

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Obama: Media Overstates Terrorism; Paris Kosher Grocery Shooting Random

By on 2.9.15 | 10:25PM

President Obama was interviewed with Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias of Vox on January 23rd, but was not made public until yesterday. Yglesias asked Obama questions concerning foreign policy such as this one:

Yglesias: Do you think the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos, as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic disease?

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Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Behind Closed Doors

By on 2.9.15 | 3:38PM

The President will veto a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline this week, despite the bill's bipartisan support. But instead of making a big deal out of the "do nothing Congress" he's seen so far as his foe (Obama's only had the chance to veto three bills in his Presidency, largely due to partisan deadlock in the legislature), Obama will stamp this one out quietly, behind closed doors at his desk, without any media fanfare. 

Because, as it turns out, the man who has spent the better part of four years accusing the Republicans of being the blockade against effective legislation is about to undertake a two-year crusade against anything passed by Congress, and he doesn't want anyone to know about it.

Obama’s veto — just the third of his presidency and the first since 2010 — is expected to come with little fanfare, with even opponents of the pipeline arguing the White House should avoid further angering Democrats and unions who want Keystone to be built.

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Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime (or $10, $25, $100)?

By on 2.9.15 | 1:47PM

What’s a nice boy like me doing on a list like this?

Got an email from the Bill Nelson (Florida’s Democrat U.S. Senator) Campaign asking for a donation to his campaign war-chest. He helpfully suggests “$10, $25, or $100 today.”

Nelson isn’t in a campaign just now. He won re-election to a third Senate term in 2012, beating a badly overmatched former congressman Connie Mack. But Bill doesn’t consider the fact that he’s not in a campaign any reason why Floridians, or other interested parties, should not send money to his campaign because, well, just take a look at what the email says:

Dear Friend:

This past election we [obviously Democrats, though for some reason Nelson doesn’t say it] lost some really good common-sense senators… like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagen of North Carolina. They lost their elections not so much because of their ideas or the positions they took [oh?] but more so because of a shadowy group of extremist billionaires who decided to bury them in an avalanche of cash that bought negative TV attack ads. 

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Media Rewriting Obama’s Prayer Breakfast “Crusades” Speech to No Avail

By on 2.9.15 | 12:38PM

By now, the Internet has thoroughly handled our fair President's National Prayer Breakfast speech, which compared the rise of radical Islam to the Crusades undertaken to recapture the Holy Land, in an argument that exhibits the type of intellectual gravitas normally seen in an inspirational email signature quote. Punch-drunk on his own moral superiority, the President lectured a room full of people who had since adeptly handled the crisis of violent Medieval Christians and, unlike their ISIS "bretheren" are not still wandering about in the desert setting fire to people in cages, on how their respective religions' darkest times, found mostly in history books the President clearly does not read, are just as deplorable. Unless, perhaps, that burning caged man has a carbon footprint.

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Michelle Obama Says Ditch Your Boxed Mac & Cheese

By on 2.9.15 | 12:06PM

It's Monday, which means if, like me, you haven't grocery shopped since last Monday, you're either eating leftovers, take out or Kraft macaroni and cheese, that delicious miracle of chemistry that perfectly approximates what real macaroni and cheese would taste like if we ran out of cows. 

I'm just kidding, obviously. According to the company's website, Kraft Mac & Cheese is not only "The Cheesiest" mac and cheese type product out there, it's also "part of a balanced meal," if you add in some veggies and force your child to drink milk. The pasta is good, solid carbohydrates, and while the cheese powder is initially a little confusing, it can't possibly be worse than anything their parents ingested in the 1970s, as part of a television dinner or otherwise. But because the box meal is enjoyable, practical, low-cost, filling and nutritionally viable, it has clearly come under fire from the White House, whose matriarch has banned it from the kitchen outright.

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John Kerry “Won’t Rule Out” Running in 2016

By on 2.9.15 | 11:32AM

John Kerry is doing such a bang-up job as Secretary of State that he's considering taking this circus on the road. No, I don't mean that he's finally decided to take his job seriously and pursue foreign policy goals that don't involve "preventing global Climate Change" by relocating Europe's farting cows; he's considering running for President in 2016.

After all, if noted foreign policy achiever Hillary Clinton can do it, why can't we have a choice in which failed chief diplomat to elect to an even higher office?

Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that he has not ruled out launching a presidential bid in 2016, maintaining he's been too busy to give the prospect any thought.

Asked by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd if he'd consider another run, the 2004 Democratic nominee said he can think of "no scenario whatsoever" where he would launch another bid.

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Debbie and Sheila’s Night Out at the Grammys

By on 2.9.15 | 11:28AM

I'll be rounding up the highlights from last night's Grammy Awards a bit later, but suffice it to say, if you didn't watch it, you missed very little. As is tradition, we all got an eye-full of Madonna's rear end, questioned whether Kim Kardashian's dress was set to stay on for the whole night, were reminded that there was once such a thing as "rock and roll" but everyone who was involved in it can barely remember where they put their Metamucil, and that despite our best efforts at outlawing torture in this country, Ariana Grande still exists.

One unexpected highlight, however, was seeing Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sheila Jackson Lee, best known for haranguing Republicans for their ill treatment of the downtrodden and economically depressed, skating across the red carpet like they belonged there

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