The Spectacle Blog

Christopher Lee, R.I.P.

By on 6.15.15 | 12:04PM

Actor Christopher Lee passed away on June 7 of heart failure and respiratory problems. He was 93.

Before Lee became an actor, he served in Britain’s RAF during WWII, primarily in North Africa and later in Italy. Part of his military career was spent hunting down Nazis.

After the war, Lee embarked upon an acting career. He mostly played bit parts, but by the late 1950s would begin find his niche in horror films as Dracula, playing him in 10 films over the next 15 years. He would also appear in the British horror classic The Wicker Man. His other notable appearances during the 1970s were as the villain in the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun as well as the disaster movie Airport ’77.

 Younger audiences will remember Lee for his role as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus in two of the Star Wars prequel movies and as Saruman in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. In his later years, Lee also had an unlikely career as a heavy metal artist releasing several albums including Charlemagne: The Omens of Death and a Heavy Metal Christmas.

Jeb Bush is “Making a Difference” In His First Campaign Video

By on 6.15.15 | 12:03PM

When they made this ad, I think, Jeb Bush still assumed he had it all in the bag. With that interpretation of his campaign deader than a Game of Thrones main character in a season finale, the ad seems either way too early or way too late to be effective. 

Or, I could just be biased because it's a Jeb Bush ad. I report, you decide. 

The ad's primary focus is, of course, Jeb Bush's middle-of-the-road-ness, a quality that Jeb has embraced from the beginning. And why not? It's not as though he could run to the right of Ted Cruz and look authentic. He's got a record a mile long and a brother and father who've at least influenced his political leanings. Instead, he's Jeb Bush the problem solver, Jeb Bush the guy children love unconditionally, Jeb Bush the man who will embrace America in a big bear hug and give them a chocolate milk and tell them not to worry their precious little heads because everything is going to be just fine. 

Hillary Clinton Releases Campaign Platform, Playlist

By on 6.15.15 | 11:51AM

Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run for President a second time on Saturday, with a long platform speech on New York's Roosevelt Island.

Apparently, we're supposed to think of Hillary as a fighter, a caricature of herself that she drove home time and again throughout her speech with stories about her mother, her upbringing in a posh northwest suburb of Chicago, and her efforts to crash through the glass ceiling on the coattails of her husband.

Hillary Clinton used the first major rally of her second run for the White House Saturday to make a populist case for her presidential campaign, declaring that the goal of her presidency would be to tip the nation's economic scales back toward the middle class's favor.

Clinton used her gender to cast her candidacy as historic and forward-looking. And she used the story of her mother, Dorothy Rodham, to show that she understands the challenges of climbing out of poverty...

Missouri Dem Gets Lots Of Union Cash After Killing Right-To-Work Bill

By on 6.15.15 | 10:47AM

Despite not running for office, Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon received a sizable campaign contribution Wednesday from a major union less than a week after killing a bill that would have ended forced union dues in the state.

House Bill 116 was signed by House Speaker John Diehl and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, both Republicans, in late May and would have made Missouri the 26 state to ban forced union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The policy, known as right-to-work, tends to be heavily favored by the right but opposed by those on the left including labor unions. The measure, however, was killed in early June after Nixon decided to veto it.

Baltimore cop, activist slams O’Malley’s civil rights record

By on 6.15.15 | 10:39AM

Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley’s credibility is coming under attack from an unexpected source, a long-time friend and African-American civil rights advocate in the Baltimore Police Department.

Sgt. Louis H. Hopson, who has worked at the Baltimore Police Department for 35 years and is a board member of the Vanguard Justice Society, an influential association of Baltimore African-American police officers, charges that O’Malley didn’t know what to do about race relations when he was the city’s mayor from 1999 to 2007. O’Malley was then elected Maryland governor twice.

Hopson blames many of Baltimore’s current racial problems on O’Malley and says many in that city’s  African-American community fear an O’Malley presidency.

Hopson made Baltimore civil rights history in 2004 when O’Malley was mayor and trouble was brewing within the police department.  White supervisors were accused of improperly sanctioning African-American police officers.

Magna Carta Turns 800

By on 6.15.15 | 12:10AM

Today marks the 800th anniversary of King John consenting to the Magna Carta. On that day, King John and all monarchs succeeding him would no longer be above the law. It effectively marked the beginning of liberty and limited government.

Ceremonies commemorating the occasion will take place at Runnymede near the River Thames in Surrey. Fittingly, Queen Elizabeth II will be in attendance.

Last summer, one of the four existing copies of the Magna Carta was on display at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Here is my account of that visit.

Ten Straight Wins For The Toronto Blue Jays

By on 6.13.15 | 6:42PM

The Toronto Blue Jays won their 10th consecutive game with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings over the Boston Red Sox courtesy of a home run by catcher Russell Martin.

If the Tampa Bay Rays lose their game against the Chicago White Sox (they are down 4-3 in the 8th inning) then the Jays will climb into second place in the AL East and be one game back of the New York Yankees in the AL East. 

The key to the Jays' success has been sheer offense. The Jays have scored at least 7 runs in 7 of their 10 victories during this streak. Martin, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson are their key offensive players. Indeed, Donaldson is having an MVP season. Trading Donaldson to the Jays might prove to be the undoing of A's GM Billy Beane whose team is languishing in last place in the AL West despite the best efforts of Brett Lawrie. Beane and Donaldson had a shouting match with each other during last season prompting Donaldson's departure. I saw an interview with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons the other day and he said that Donaldson provided the spark that the Jays' clubhouse has been missing in recent years. 

There is a Difference Between Rachel Dolezal & Caitlyn Jenner

By on 6.13.15 | 2:36AM

Over at The Federalist, Sean Davis is puzzled as to why there is outrage towards NAACP organizer Rachel Dolezal pretending to be black but not towards Bruce Jenner identifying as a woman:

Which of course brings us to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.

How, exactly is what Dolezal did any different than what Jenner is currently doing? Rachel Dolezal is not black, and Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman (putting aside the basic biological facts of how sex-selection and chromosomes work, Jenner’s not even undergone the so-called sex change surgery; by all accounts, his equipment is still intact). Rachel Dolezal changing her wardrobe, her makeup, and her hair do not make her black. Pretty much everyone seems to agree on that, for obvious reasons. You don’t turn red into blue by magically declaring that red is now blue.

Republicans Shouldn’t Be So Eager To Give Obama Trade Promotion Authority

By on 6.12.15 | 11:51PM

It puzzles me that a majority of Republicans are on the same page with President Obama where it concerns giving him Trade Promotion Authority on TPP and other trade agreements.

I realize that most Republicans favor free trade and so do I. But putting aside the fact that TPA is blatantly unconstitutional, I don't understand why the Republican Congress is so eager to relinquish their power to a President hostile to the rest of their legislative agenda and eager to demonize them.

Let me put it another way. How can Republicans trust Obama's negotiating skills concerning TPP when his negotiating skills have just allowed Iran to keep it secrets concerning the military aspects of its nuclear program

If we can't trust Obama to look out for America's interests where it concerns Iran's nuclear program then how can we trust Obama to look out for America's interests in international trade?

With this in mind, Republicans shouldn't be so eager to give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority.

I Hate To Say It But The Red Sox Really Suck

By on 6.12.15 | 11:26PM

After the Boston Red Sox scored five runs in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays, I turned to my roommate Christopher Kain and said, "They are going to find a way to blow it." Christopher looked at me like I shouldn't have said such a thing, but at the same time knew it was entirely possible. 

The Jays got a run in the second on a triple by Justin Smoak in which Sox centerfielder Mookie Betts did a face plant on the bullpen fence. He would later leave the game with a sprained back.

Christopher and I went to eat at Doyle's. By the time our food arrived, it was the 3rd inning and the Sox took an 8-1 lead on a three run home run by Dustin Pedroia. Jays starter Drew Hutchison gave up all eight runs. When John Gibbons came to give him the hook I'm sure he asked, "What kept you?"

But the Jays showed some life in the fifth scoring three runs and cutting the lead in half to 8-4 on a double by Ryan Goins and a single by Josh Donaldson. Still, Joe Kelly pitched six servicable innings.