The Spectacle Blog

Biden Beats Bernie (and Clinton) in New National Poll

By on 9.8.15 | 2:42PM

Joe Biden joined union bigwigs this weekend at Labor Day events, trying to show how connected he is to the "working Americans" that make up the very fabric of our proud nation. Armed with his trademark aviator sunglasses, Joe spoke about the "glory days" when men were men, women were women, and REO Speedwagon was still making gold records.

The schtick, though, seems to be working. As Bernie Sanders struggles to fire up anyone who understands basic economics, and Hillary Clinton struggles to fire up, frankly, anyone, Joe Biden, who isn't even officially in the race, has been surging to the tops of polls, making his first appearance this week as the national Democratic challenger to the Clinton throne.

Joe Biden is up and Hillary Clinton is down in a new Monmouth University national poll of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters.

Hillary Clinton Announces 2.0 Update, Expanded Transparency

By on 9.8.15 | 1:55PM

Hillary Clinton hasn't had much success on the circuit lately. In fact, it's gotten so bad, she's been asking voters to sign a "loyalty pledge" before they enter one of her rallies. There's no word yet on what happens if you defect to Bernie Sanders, but most of the people who attended the rally are about to find out - of the "youth outreach" crowd, most were there to see Bill Clinton. The rest were dedicated Berniacs.

Workers Deserve Labor Law Reform

By on 9.8.15 | 12:15PM

Unions use Labor Day as an occasion to remind workers of their past good deeds and deploy their usual rhetoric claiming to have workers’ best interests at heart.  

In theory, labor unions represent workers in order to secure better working conditions and compensation, but unions don’t always work that way. Unfortunately, unions always negotiate one-size-fits-all contracts that make them the sole representative of those workers. Besides bargaining for contracts that are not responsive to all workers’ needs, labor unions commonly advocate for more coercive power that harms worker rights.

Unions use their vast political funds to advance legislation and regulation that keep in place an outdated system of exclusive representation where workers lose autonomy in contract negotiations at organized workplaces—ensuring that individual workers have no right to negotiate with management over working conditions, pay, or benefits.

Martin Milner, R.I.P.

By on 9.7.15 | 6:34PM

Actor Martin Milner passed away yesterday at the age of 83. A cause of death has not been released.

In a career that spanned half a century, Milner is best known for his roles on Route 66 (in which he co-starred with George Maharis and later Glenn Corbett) and the Jack Webb produced Adam-12 (in which he co-starred with Kent McCord). After Adam-12, Milner also made guest appearances on show such as Fantasy Island, MacGyver and Murder, She Wrote. 

Milner also has the distinction of being the first murder victim in the Columbo TV series (following the two TV movies. In fact, I saw "Murder by the Book" which featured Jack Cassidy as the murderer aired on Saturday night on the Hallmark Mystery Channel. 

Here's a short video of Milner and McCord at an autograph show in Chicago in 1996. 

Another Hero Departs

By on 9.6.15 | 8:28PM

Ben Kuroki, the only Japanese-American to have flown combat missions over Japan, has died at his Camarillo, California home. He was 98.

Kuroki, born on a Nebraska farm to Japanese-born parents, had a well-traveled war. A gunner on bombers, he flew dozens of missions in North Africa and Europe, including over the strategically important and fiercely defended Ploesti oil fields in Romania. Sergeant Kuroki later flew 28 missions on B-29s out of a base on Tinian Island in the Pacific. This last required a letter of approval from Secretary of War Henry Stimson, as Americans of Japanese heritage were not assigned to the Pacific Theater then.

Out of Control Computer Jockeys

By on 9.5.15 | 2:01PM

TAMPA — Clearly too many computer geeks calling themselves climate scientists have too much time on their hands. One sure way to spice up an otherwise dull academic existence and get some publicity is to predict something outrageous, secure in the knowledge that gullible journalists will go along with the gag.

The tag-team of Ning Lin of Princeton and Kerry Emmanuel of MIT have come up with a doozy. This brash pair claims that before the end of this century Tampa might be hit with something they call a gray swan cyclone, packing 235 mph winds and producing a 36-foot storm surge.

Wow! That’s some prediction. But hey, if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly. My guess is this event will take place just after they get rid of all the alligators in the New York City sewer system. I’d worry about it more if I hadn’t already died from acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, pesticides, and the Alar from all those apples I eat.

Atlanta Braves Lose 10 in a Row; En Route to Worst Season in 25 Years

By on 9.4.15 | 11:19PM

Mention the Atlanta Braves and one is likely to think of Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones as well as their 14 consecutive division titles, five NL pennants and a World Series title in 1995.

Right now those days seem so far away as the team lost its 10th consecutive game. The Braves had a 2-1 lead against the Washington Nationals in the 9th but couldn't hold it and lost in extra innings. 

There was a time when the Braves appeared to have a chance to contend in the NL East this season. On June 21st, the Braves had a 35-35 record. That doesn't look particularly impressive, but they had just swept the New York Mets and were 1.5 games back of the Metropolitans and 2 games back of the Nats. Since the summer solstice, the Braves have gone 19-46. Since the All-Star Break, the Braves are 12-34. The Braves are only a game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies for last place in the NL East and the worst record in MLB. Regardless of where they finish, the Braves are on their way to having their worst season in 25 years. 

Tweet for Tat (Curt Schilling vs. Gwen Ifill)

By on 9.4.15 | 9:26PM

So ESPN sees fit to extend  Curt Schilling's suspension over his tweet. I've never heard of ESPN ever extending a suspension.

Meanwhile, over at PBS, while their Ombudsman wasn't happy with Gwen Ifill's tweet, she will not be subject to any discipline.

It all might be tweet for tat, but let me pose this question.

Would ESPN have suspended Schilling had he tweeted, "Take that, Bibi!"?

I think we all the know the answer to that one. 

Greg Wallance’s Defense of Natalie Portman Misses the Mark

By on 9.4.15 | 6:00PM

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column where I took actress and director Natalie Portman to task for criticizing the Jewish community for placing an overemphasis on the Holocaust at the expense of other genocides such as what took place in Rwanda over 20 years ago.

A couple of days ago, Greg Wallance, a writer and an attorney (who for some odd reason is identified as George Wallace), wrote a piece for the Jewish Journal defending Portman’s comments and takes me along with former Israeli Labor MK Colette Avital and Holocaust survivor David Mermelstein to task for seeing fit to criticize Portman:

El Conservador No Es Un Hombre

By on 9.4.15 | 3:56PM

El hombre no es conservador,” Jeb Bush told Miami reporters the other day.

The man is not conservative. He was speaking about Donald Trump. It’s not that Jeb! has given up campaigning “joyfully. It’s that every day Trump attacks him with barbaridades,” Bush explained. Barbaridades are very, very bad insults.

Speaking in Spanish, Bush noted that one of his “nueras”—daughters-in-law— is Iraqi-Canadian. So does he also speak in Arabic or Canadian when addressing the relevant audiences? Oh, and his favorite food is “Mexican,” in case you were wondering.