The Spectacle Blog

America’s Hypocritical Oath: Political Correctness

By on 6.24.14 | 3:55PM

In an interview with Playboy this week, Gary Oldman defended Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin for their “politically incorrect” diatribes. “We’re all f—ing hypocrites,” he argued, with good reason.

Though he did not do so eloquently, Oldman, a libertarian, is making an important point. Humans are a living paradox. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function," as F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

We are imperfect, and more often than we’d like to admit, we are wrong. Yet, with the rise of the Information Age, things you say and do are more accessible and more public. Thus opportunities to trip over someone’s fragile sensibilities have increased exponentially.

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Your Daily Dose of Trey Gowdy Shouting at Obama Administration Officials

By on 6.24.14 | 3:39PM

From me to you, because you know you want some and because I want to up my clicks for the month. IRS Commish John Koskinen, quite possibly the smuggest bureaucrat in the historical pantheon of smug bureaucracy, claimed he hasn't seen any evidence of lawbreaking in the IRS's mass deletion of Lois Lerner's emails. As Gowdy delicately noted, it's rather difficult to clear anyone of lawbreaking when you don't know anything about the law:

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When It Comes to Paid Family Leave, the Question is How

By on 6.24.14 | 11:05AM

President Obama’s speech at the White House Summit on Working Families saw digressions into raising the minimum wage and self-satisfied referrals to the Affordable Care Act. But its focus was on paid family leave and pregnancy accommodations, and ought to be seen by conservatives as a challenge to meet legitimate needs without sacrificing principle and expanding centralized authority. The president advocated for the federalization of employment laws as he called for Congress to leave “none of our country’s talent behind.” Conservatives should provide an alternative.

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Morning Round-Up 6-24

By on 6.24.14 | 9:11AM

Feature of the Day: The Fear Factor: Long-held predictions of economic chaos as baby boomers grow old are based on formulas that are just plain wrong

Morning Headlines

Domestic                                                          

Associated Press

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Three Primary Races to Watch Tomorrow

By on 6.23.14 | 5:09PM

As summer rages on, races for seats all across the country are heating up. Tomorrow, as with most Tuesdays over the past few months, there will be another round of primaries, this time in seven states: Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah, along with a special election in Florida’s Nineteenth Congressional District. While many of these elections are non-stories because of unlikely challengers or major spreads in the polls, three are standing out.

Mississippi Senate

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The Middle East Doesn’t Want America in Iraq

By on 6.23.14 | 3:32PM

It's official. Iraq is having a party for all the sects in the Middle East, and we're not invited.

Our Gulf allies were surprised to hear that we ever thought we were coming.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the awkward phone call, when the leaders of the Sunni Arab world met Secretary of State John Kerry with "expressions of bewilderment" about his plans to fight ISIS on behalf of the Iraqi government.

One diplomat said the United States may have misunderstood the purpose of the events in Iraq. "We felt the Americans were greatly misinformed," the diplomat said. "The insurgency isn't just about ISIS, but Sunnis fighting back against injustice."

The leaders from the Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan felt that since the United States had decided not to come to Syria at the last minute, they should not expect to be welcomed by Sunnis in Iraq.

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Rand Paul Wants Ex-Cons to Have Voting Rights

By on 6.23.14 | 3:19PM

Rand Paul is hoping to rebrand the Republican Party as a party of opportunity and second chances with a bill that would restore the vote for those convicted of minor drug offenses.

Currently, states have felony disenfranchisement laws with varying levels of severity, resulting in approximately 5.85 million Americans who cannot vote because of criminal records. Disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect African Americans, leaving one in thirteen African Americans unable to vote because of felony convictions.

Paul believes that his bill will answer critics who claim that Republicans want to restrict voting rights. "Here's a Republican who wants to enhance the vote," he said. "This is a much bigger problem than anything else limiting voting right now. Nearly a million people can't vote. And I want to help people get their right to vote back."

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A Lesson for the Brandeis Student Body

By on 6.23.14 | 2:40PM

In October 2010, I accompanied my roommate Christopher Kain to a poetry reading he gave at Brandeis University. Before his reading, we went into the student center and were greeted with this banner.

In small letters it read "FREE GILAD SHALIT".

In much larger letters it also read "AND THE 6,011 PALESTINIAN PRISONERS HELD IN ISRAELI JAILS."

Well, a year later, Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for a thousand Palestinian prisoners. One of those Palestinian prisoners, a Hamas operative named Ziad Awad, has now been charged along with one other individual in the death of Israeli police officer Baruch Mizrahi who was shot while driving with his family en route to Passover services. 

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Mountain Men’s Conservatism

By on 6.23.14 | 11:51AM

Mountain Men is roughly a quarter of the way through its third season and continues to surprise critics with its popularity. The second season averaged between 3 and 3.5 million viewers per episode. 

What makes this remarkable is the incredibly repetitive nature of the show. The mountain men give voice-overs where they discuss the inevitable difficulties of living off the land as well as the dangers they face. The camera then moves to B-roll of beautiful landscapes. Predictably, a challenge arises and the characters must overcome it, until next week at least. There is almost no variation from this pattern, and yet the show remains quite popular. Why? 

There are two reasons for Mountain Men's success. First, it isn’t critically acclaimed shows that garner the highest ratings; even my favorite Mad Men gets crushed by formulaic (and entertaining) shows like The Big Bang Theory. These programs are popular because parents and families know what they are going to get. They can tune in and tune out because each episode is a self-contained story arc. Mountain Men is no different.

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Morning Round-Up 6-23

By on 6.23.14 | 8:47AM

Feature of the Day: Why Does the USA Depend on Russian Rockets To Get Us Into Space?

Morning Headlines

Domestic                                                          

Associated Press

  1. Obama Encouraging Family-Friendly Work Policies
  2. Kerry Confronts Threat of New War in Iraq

Politico

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