The Spectacle Blog

Tony Gwynn, R.I.P.

By on 6.16.14 | 7:30PM

My heart sank when I learned that San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn passed away of cancer today at the age of 54. 

I don’t say this lightly, but Gwynn was the greatest pure hitter in National League history. Gwynn won eight NL batting titles joining Honus Wagner as the only men to have accomplished that feat in the history of the Senior Circuit. In the strike shortened season of 1994, Gwynn hit .394. What could have been? If anyone could have hit .400, it was Gwynn. After hitting .289 in his rookie season of 1982, Gwynn never hit below .309 for the next 19 seasons. His lifetime batting average was .338. On seven occasions, Gwynn led the NL in hits and finished with 3,141 career hits. 

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Round Three: USA and Ghana at the World Cup

By on 6.16.14 | 5:01PM

The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team makes its 2014 FIFA World Cup debut today at 6 p.m. ET. The Yanks face the Ghana Black Stars, which is sweet of lady luck—or FIFA, if match-fixing allegations are true—giving America the chance to find out if the third time really is the charm and get revenge for our knockout by Ghana in the last two World Cups. "Why can’t we beat them?" the Wall Street Journal asks with a tone of existential ennui.

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The Hillary Tapes

By on 6.16.14 | 4:59PM

The Washington Free Beacon released audiotapes that paint an unflattering picture of twenty-seven-year-old Hillary Rodham Clinton. The tapes come from an early 1980’s interview in which Clinton fondly remembers serving as the defense attorney for Thomas Alfred Taylor, a forty-one-year-old accused of raping a twelve-year-old after luring her into a car. Young Hillary, all callousness and self-satisfaction, tells the alleged rapist’s story, including the crucial technicality discovered by his clever lawyer.

In the tape, she suggests that she knew her client was guilty: “He took a lie detector test! I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs [laughter].”

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Game of Thrones: Privy Patricide on Father’s Day

By on 6.16.14 | 4:42PM


Game of Thrones recaps often read like fantastical obituaries. The season finale on Father’s Day marked the start of the Lannister downfall with Tyrion’s murder of his father Tywin. “I am your son.” Tyrion declared, before skewering Tywin on the privy with two close-range crossbow shots. So continues the dirge of Ice and Fire.

George R.R. Martin, the Grim Reaper, has created a show culture in which a character’s death scene becomes a celebratory event for the actors. For Ned Stark’s actor Sean Bean, death was just another day in the life of his volatile acting career, but for the victims of the Red Wedding, the situation was more emotional and surreal.

Actor Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, cried on the plane ride home. After Ygritte’s last scene, the crew presented her with her character’s engraved bow.

Lord Tywin’s Charles Dance reportedly went out with applause and a personalized speech from the executive producers.

“He died like a boss,” said co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss in a joint statement.

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‘Don’t Be Hasty’ in Iran and Iraq

By on 6.16.14 | 3:29PM

The deterioration of Iraq into sectarian violence demands the same strategy espoused by Treebeard the Ent in Tolkien's The Two Towers: "Don't be hasty."

The al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS added the strategic Iraqi city of Tal Afar to its prizes Monday, and took another step towards its stated goal of establishing a Sunni Islamic state across Syria and Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry has said Washington is "open to discussions" for cooperation with arch-enemy Iran to return power to Iraq's Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the AP.

The loss of Iraqi cities that Americans died to gain is painful, but that pain must not send us staggering into our next disaster. If we learned nothing else from the first encounter in Iraq, let us at least remember to make a plan before we go in—preferably a plan that considers the millennium-old forces of sectarianism that define so much of Middle Eastern politics.

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Who is Lois Lerner Kidding?

By on 6.16.14 | 3:13PM

Last week, reports surfaced that the infamous Lois Lerner had “lost” several years—yes, you read that correctly, years—of IRS emails between 2009 and 2011. Lerner and her cronies at the IRS claim that a computer crash caused the emails to be deleted. There are multiple problems with this story.

First, the technological component is blatantly false. As John Fund at National Review noted:

Norman Cillo, a former program manager at Microsoft, told The Blaze: “I don’t know of any e-mail administrator [who] doesn’t have at least three ways of getting that mail back. It’s either on the disks or it’s on a TAPE backup someplace on an archive server.” Bruce Webster, an IT expert with 30 years of experience consulting with dozens of private companies, seconds this opinion: “It would take a catastrophic mechanical failure for Lerner’s drive to suffer actual physical damage, but in any case, the FBI should be able to recover something. And the FBI and the Justice Department know it.”

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Nancy Pelosi Thinks She Knows More Than the Catholic Church

By on 6.16.14 | 2:53PM

The state of California, the city of San Francisco, and the Twelfth Congressional District of California are very upset with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

In spreading the tradition of the Catholic Church, the San Francisco archbishop is speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s June 19 march. The teachings of that march, according to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, are “venom masquerading as virtue.”

Apparently, Pelosi learned the fundamentals of virtue during her twenty-six years in Congress.  

Indeed, the congresswoman asked in a letter to the archbishop, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?”

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee penned their own joint letter promoting “reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”

Why are these politicians, who parade themselves as loving moralists, practicing self-aggrandizement masquerading as tolerance?  

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Morning Round-Up 6-16

By on 6.16.14 | 9:00AM

Feature of the Day: The Lack of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth

Morning Headlines


Associated Press

  1. Common Core Upsets Homeschooling Parents
  2. Feds Aren’t Inspecting 4 in 10 Higher-Risk Wells
  3. Sunni Militants Capture Northern Iraqi Town


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Spurs Win 5th NBA Title in 15 Years

By on 6.15.14 | 11:47PM

Congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs for winning their 5th NBA Championship. They beat the Miami Heat 104-87 on Sunday night to win the series in five games. The Spurs avenged their loss to the Heat in the NBA Finals a year ago.

Head coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan have been in San Antonio for all five titles. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have earned their fourth NBA championships. The Spurs won their first NBA title in 1999 and won three more in 2003, 2005, and 2007. 
This year was probably their last chance as the 38-year old Duncan becomes a free agent while Popovich is 65 and may be contemplating retirement. In an era of flash and trash talk, the Spurs have been champions by simply going about their business and outplaying everyone else. The Spurs might very well be the most unheralded championship team in all of professional sports.
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Casey Kasem, R.I.P.

By on 6.15.14 | 10:48PM

Casey Kasem passed away on Sunday following a battle with Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. He was 82.  

I don’t wish to dwell on the battle which took place between his wife and children during the final weeks of his life. Like millions of people, I remember Kasem as the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo and the host of the syndicated TV show America's Top 10 and the syndicated radio program America's Top 40. I spent many a Sunday during the mid-1980s listening to Kasem countdown the hits on America's Top 40 as well as his long distance dedications
Although Kasem was an immense success I still can't help but think of "W.O.L.D." by Harry Chapin when I think of his passing. Just consider it my long distance dedication is for Casey Kasem.
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