The Spectacle Blog

Erdogan Regains Power in Turkish Elections

By on 11.1.15 | 6:24PM

Five months after losing their parliamentary majority to the Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice & Development Party (AKP) has regained power in new parliamentary elections.

Of course, it could be said that the AKP never truly lost power as it prevented the HDP from officially taking power. There is no doubt that increased tensions with Syria played a big factor especially with Russia's overt presence in the region. You might recall that Russian aircraft entered Turkish airspace last month which were met by two Turkish F16s.

Then there were the bombings in Ankara nine days later which claimed the lives of nearly 100 people. The Turkish government blamed the attacks on both ISIS and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). These seems implausible given that the PKK has been actively fighting ISIS for over a year now. As I wrote at the time:

Al Molinaro, R.I.P.

By on 11.1.15 | 3:35PM

Actor Al Molinaro passed away at the age of 96 on Friday due to gall stones.

Molinaro is best known to TV audiences for his portrayal of Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple and Big Al Delvecchio on Happy Days and its shortlived spin-off Joanie & Chachi. I was most familiar with the latter role and his trademark phrase, "Yup! Yup! Yup!"

Molinaro took a somewhat unusual path to acting. For many years while living in California, Molinaro ran a collection agency and would eventually get involved in real estate. These ventures would made him independently wealthy. Upon achieving this wealth, Molinaro would pursue his dream of acting and his dream came true.

He also did many TV commercials as you can see here with Super Bowl champion William "The Refrigerator" Perry.


True Art of the Deal

By on 10.31.15 | 8:00AM

Along with Jeffrey Lord I have been saying for over a year that Donald Trump should be taken very seriously as a candidate for president. He is affable, intelligent, accomplished, even amusing. Moreover, as he would say, he is a high-energy candidate. He has performed stupendously on the campaign trail and in the debates. He will approach the convention with more votes than anyone else. Then the man who wrote The Art of the Deal will be looking for a deal. The deal will have to be plausible and constructive. What will it be? Well, allow me to offer a suggestion.

Thoughts on The RNC Suspending Ties with NBC

By on 10.30.15 | 4:13PM

RNC Chair Reince Priebus has suspended the committee's relationship with NBC in a letter to the aptly named Andrew Lack, the network's news chief, following the debacle that was the CNBC debate on Tuesday. There was surely a lack of respect for the candidates by the moderator and panelists assembled for that show trial of a debate.

With the likes of Mark Levin calling for Priebus' head, there was little else he could do. The announcement affects the debate scheduled for February 26, 2016 in Houston. The debate was to be held in conjunction with National Review. It is a critical debate as it would take place only four days before the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in a dozen states.

RNC Cancels Feb NBC Debate

By on 10.30.15 | 2:59PM

In the continuing fallout over the hyper-partisan and incompetent job done by CNBC (owned by NBC) moderators, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has "suspended the partnership" with NBC News. This probably ends NBC's participation, and perhaps the participation of Telemundo as well, but some debate will still happen on February 26th, and probably still at the University of Houston.

Priebus is facing tremendous criticism for implementing debate rules that some candidates, such as Ben Carson, thought were "not good for the process." Campaigns are also unhappy that the debates are taking place in states that vote fairly late in the primary season and thus are not where candidates want to be spending their time.

Priebus should refuse to let NBC back in for a debate this cycle, if only to impose a slight modicum of discipline on the networks to tell their moderators to at least pretend to be neutral and simply looking to create a discussion that will inform the American voting public.

Had to Call It Something

By on 10.30.15 | 1:40PM

One of the commenters on my “Sign of Decay” blog item correctly points out that what we’re calling candidate debates are in fact not debates, as anyone who has seen a real debate knows. (Those encounters back in the day between William F. Buckley Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith were great fun — the forensic equivalent of the Ali-Frazier fights.) So why are these current simultaneous candidate press conferences called debates when no one is debating anyone else? Chirping at one another from time to time, but hardly debating.

Another Sign of Decay

By on 10.30.15 | 10:52AM

I’m surprised and disappointed. The L.A. Times is reporting that Nielson, the TV rating folks, claim more people watched the Tuesday night Republican debate than watched a really swell World Series game on at the same time (full disclosure — I’m pulling for the Royals). If this is correct — i.e. if Nielson’s sample is representative and its measuring technology sound (not everyone agrees they are) — then this is yet another sign of intellectual and moral decay in the land of the not-as-free-as-we-used-to-be and the home of the Atlanta Braves.

It’s an occasion of great sadness to imagine that more Americanos would rather watch a bunch of politicians fencing with and being hectored by a bunch of left-stream journalists than enjoy baseball’s fall championship showcase. This hit me with the same force as the jolt I endured on learning that sushi is available in some Major League ball parks. Enough to make a grown man weep.

Where Rubio Has an Edge Over Cruz

By on 10.29.15 | 4:07PM

There is little doubt that the two GOP candidates who came out of last night's debate the strongest were Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Obviously, it remains to be seen if this will be reflected in their poll numbers. It might be a bigger challenge for Cruz as much of his natural support is with Trump, but if he starts to cut into Trump's support then watch out. Let's put it this way. If Jeff Lord turns his attention from Trump to Cruz then we know that the ground has shifted.

With this in mind, I think it is safe to say that Cruz excites conservatives more than Rubio. But if Cruz wins the Republican nomination, I don't see him beating Hillary Clinton. If you were to ask Hillary's camp to pick between Rubio and Cruz, I bet they would say Cruz without hesitation.

Padres Name Andy Green New Manager

By on 10.29.15 | 2:49PM

While the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins have hired themselves experienced, but recently fired managers in Bud Black and Don Mattingly, respectively, the San Diego Padres have gone in a different direction and have hired Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Andy Green to be their new manager. Green reportedly beat out former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire for the job.

Originally drafted by the D'Backs in 2000, Green spent parts of four seasons in the majors with Arizona and the New York Mets as a utility infielder. He also played baseball in Japan.

Green joined the D'Backs in 2012 as a minor league manager for their Single-A affiliate in Missoula, Montana and later their Double-AA affiliate in Mobile, Alabama before joing the D'Backs coaching staff in 2015. At 38, Green is the second youngest manager in MLB. Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays is five months younger than Green.

Paul Ryan Elected Speaker of the House

By on 10.29.15 | 11:04AM

With 236 votes from members of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan has been elected Speaker of the House.

Watching Ryan walk through the House, smiling, talking, hugging Democrats and Republicans alike, I have more hope than I've had in a long time that at least in this one branch of government we will see some return to true debate, civility, and a much better discussion with the public about the meaning and importance of proposed laws.

I do not expect that it will be easy or perfect; the House, and the Republican Party itself, have too many months and years of division, anger and hyper-partisanship.

Nor do I want (or expect) Ryan to "go along to get along"; part of the reason I've supported him for so many years, despite occasional votes I have disagreed with, is that I believe Ryan to be a man of true principle and deep understanding, but who also realizes that politics is the art of the possible.