The Spectacle Blog

‘The Giver’ Movie: Translating Big Ideas From a Little Book

By on 8.8.14 | 3:35PM

Filmmakers adapting Lois Lowry’s The Giver to the silver screen — fitting to the monochromatic utopia she created — have a tall order. I attended a prescreening of the Weinstein and Walden Media film on Wednesday (signing in the process an embargo not to review the movie until next week), but I can probably say that the adaptation remains true to the themes highlighted in the well-loved novel.

The story’s protagonist, Jonas, is the new “Receiver of Memories,” a historian a la George Santayana in a history-less society. He who must dispense wisdom for the present based on memories of the past must grapple with the guilt of moral knowledge as a member of an amoral society. 

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Inspectors General: Obama Administration Blocks Investigations

By on 8.8.14 | 3:25PM

In a scathing letter released this morning, forty-seven inspectors general hammered the Obama administration, specifically singling out several bureaucratic agencies that have been less than forthcoming in ongoing investigations. The letter, addressed to several congressmen—including Darrell Issa, House Republicans’ chief watchdog as the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—sums up what many were already thinking: the administration is stalling.

The letter, which can be found in full here at the Washington Examiner, begins:

The undersigned federal Inspectors General write regarding the serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work of Inspectors General at the Peace Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice. 

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Pessimistic Americans Contemplate their Children’s Grim Future

By on 8.7.14 | 6:04PM

The Wall Street Journal published a poll this week in conjunction with NBC that found, among other things, 76 percent of respondents did not feel confident that their children’s generation will have a better life than they. That’s up from 60 percent in 2007. We’re jaded—which, in a nation built by immigrants striving to better their families’ fortunes, seems somehow wrong.

A CBS and New York Times poll cited in a Gallup compilation shows a peak in American optimism in December of 2001. Seventy-one percent of respondents believed in a brighter future for the next generation, despite the burst of the dot-com bubble and the attacks on the Twin Towers. When the world was at its worst, we felt up to the task of putting the pieces back together, united by a common enemy and a kind of renewed patriotism

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Tea Party Has One Last Chance to Knock Off an Incumbent Tonight

By on 8.7.14 | 5:20PM

It is Republican primary day in the Volunteer State, and today’s matchup pits Senator Lamar Alexander against GOP state senator Joe Carr. This primary looks like the Tea Party’s last real chance to unseat an incumbent—certainly a high-profile one.

Upsetting Alexander will be a difficult task. The incumbent, who has been in the senate for two terms, has worked to present himself as in touch with his constituents, even going so far as to give up a leadership post, as NPR reports:

Unlike some other Republican incumbents who have faced Tea Party challengers, Alexander has taken steps to stay in touch with Tennessee voters. He returns home frequently and rounded up support from all the state's Republican county chairs

He also gave up his post in the GOP Senate leadership, notes Bruce Oppenheimer, a professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University.

"I think he thought that was probably not going to serve him well in his reelection efforts," he says.

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RNC Refuses to Censure Henry Barbour

By on 8.7.14 | 11:04AM

Yesterday the Republican National Committee, meeting in Chicago for its summer gathering, refused even to hear two resolutions dealing with the censure of Mississippi Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour. Barbour has admitted to playing a role (as reported here by NRO’s Eliana Johnson) in funding a controversial ad that has been widely criticized for its racial content. Johnson reported that Barbour was “not distancing himself from the inflammatory ads.”

The resolutions were being pushed by Missouri Republican State Chairman Ed Martin. 

Today the RNC is having a members-only breakfast in which a discussion of the issue is supposed to be held. 

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Cognitive Dissonance on Pot at the New York Times

By on 8.7.14 | 10:16AM

The New York Times editorial board has come out in favor of a repeal of the federal prohibition against marijuana. It has been nearly two months since Maureen Dowd shared her experience of overindulging on a pot candy bar, writing, “I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.” The strange inner and after life of Dowd aside, the Times has concluded that pot should be strictly a state issue, without federal ban or endorsement. In its series on the weed debate, the Times opened with a whole article titled, “Let States Decide on Marijuana.” Nearly three fourths of American states have implemented laws in some way liberalizing marijuana, ranging from exceptions for medicinal use to full recreational access, as is the case in Washington and Colorado.

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Reply to Ross Re: Amash - UPDATED

By on 8.7.14 | 1:01AM

Ross has replied to my critique of Congressman Justin Amash's victory speech in Tuesday's Republican primary win.

He takes issue my characterizing Amash's remarks as being full of self-pity. Ross prefers to describe it as gloating. Well, call it what you will. But whatever Amash was doing last night it was most unattractive and unbecoming. Amash won fair and square and by a decisive margin. Just because you can take a parting shot doesn't mean you should. Amash could have taken the high road but instead chose a different path.

I see that Ross isn't entirely on board with Amash's characterization of Edward Snowden as a whistleblower. I haven't seen any evidence from Snowden that the NSA has acted illegally. Even if he had, Snowden forfeited his right to sympathy the moment he provided classified information to Putin.

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Justin Amash (and I) Respond to Aaron

By on 8.6.14 | 10:24PM

I always appreciate my public debates with my AmSpec collague Aaron Goldstein. They're relatively rare because we agree more than we disagree.

But Aaron took a couple of shots at Justin Amash (in response to my praise of him) which I'd like to respond to… one of which I've asked Rep. Amash to respond to.

First, I find Aaron's description of Justin's take-down of his smear-campaign-reliant opponent and his opponent's establishment supporters — Aaron called it "self-pity" — as rather strange. If anything, it would be more like gloating, since it's hard to exude self-pity after trouncing a well-funded opponent. I'm OK with a little gloating.

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The Truth Gets Weirder in Mississippi Runoff Controversy

By on 8.6.14 | 5:34PM

The controversies in the runoff for the Republican Senate nomination in Mississippi refuse to die down. Since the unfavorable results for Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel came in, there has been a suicide of a Tea Party leader, lawsuits filed, accusations of fraud from both sides.

On Monday, McDaniel, who lost the race to incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, filed a challenge to the results. As reported by the L.A. Times:

McDaniel’s attorney Mitchell Tyner Sr. said Monday that as many as 3,500 votes were cast in violation of state rules — presumably Democrats who voted for their own candidate in the primary, then crossed over to vote for a Republican in the runoff. Another 9,500 ballots, he said, had irregularities. […] 

In this case, McDaniel is challenging the executive committee of the Mississippi Republican Party, which under state law has 10 days to decide whether to hear the case. After that, McDaniel can bring his grievance to the courts.

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Amash Awash in Self-Pity

By on 8.6.14 | 5:05PM

I watched the video of Justin Amash's primary victory speech last night that Ross posted.

Ross might think this is what America needs, but Amash's victory address comes off as childish and churlish. His speech was awash in self-pity. When I listened to Amash's remarks I could not help think of Obama's petulant tone.

Did Amash have a bruising primary? No doubt. But politics ain't beanbag. Telling the world that he thinks Pete Hoekstra is a disgrace and that he is glad to have him "fade into total obscurity and irrelevance" says more about Amash than it does about Hoekstra.

While I think it's good that Amash explains his votes, I'm not impressed with someone who considers Edward Snowden a whistleblower nor do I think much of someone who recently voted against supporting funding for Israel's Iron Dome in Israel's hour of need.

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