The Spectacle Blog

Austerity Saves Great Britain

By on 4.24.14 | 3:37PM

All right, not quite. But knowing how much heartburn Paul Krugman will suffer if he reads that headline makes it worthwhile.

I’ve noted before how Britain’s supposed fiscal austerity is nothing of the sort, consisting of tax increases and mere cuts to the rate of spending. In 2013, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne decided to try real spending cuts for a change, sending Europe’s financial establishment into a tizzy. Now the results are in, and Francis Menton surveys them in a delicious blog post:

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What’s the Matter With Rand Paul?

By on 4.24.14 | 3:06PM

The generally likable winner of the CPAC straw poll who hates the NSA and has garnered support from college-aged libertarians has taken a turn for the worse.

First, despite his clear pro-life beliefs, Rand Paul implied he has little or no intention of supporting bans on abortion:

“The country is in the middle (and) we’re not changing any of the laws until the country is persuaded otherwise,” he says.

Paul talked about how abortion laws can and shoulder reflect a middle ground position on abortion between life beginning at conception and abortion on demand.

Then he adds that “Republicans” have gone too far with the voter fraud issue and has no problems with early voting:

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Just Stay Home, Michelle and Eric

By on 4.24.14 | 2:58PM

In a span of less than two hours, we have two delicious news stories of similar flavor:

Michelle Obama scraps graduation speech after protests

Holder cancels speech, appearance in OKC amid angry protests

Isn't it wonderful to finally hear of protests against prominent liberals coming to speak at schools and elsewhere?

I realize that the opposition to Mrs. Obama wasn't political as much as logistical, but it's still great to see someone tell her "no, thanks."

And as for Eric Holder, he should be the subject of his own organization's investigation rather than running the place.

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Baby Incineration Reaches American Soil

By on 4.24.14 | 11:48AM

What kind of world are we living in?

The British Columbia Health Ministry has admitted that the remains of babies destroyed by abortion in [British Columbia] facilities are ending up in a waste-to-power facility in the United States, providing electricity for residents of Oregon.

The province’s Health Ministry said in an email to the B.C. Catholic that “biomedical waste” shipped to the U.S. to be incinerated includes “human tissue, such as surgically removed cancerous tissue, amputated limbs, and fetal tissue.”

When the story broke that the British HHS was involved in this disgusting practice, it was somehow easier to swallow knowing the incinerators were an ocean away. However, knowing that baby body parts are being used to generate electricity in American homes gives the abhorrent reality a new urgency.

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Mark Udall’s Corrupt Keystone Bargain

By on 4.24.14 | 11:31AM

At least that's how the folks at American Commitment put it.

While I don't think attacks based on mysterious unknown billionaires are particularly effective, the new ad from American Commitment arguing that Colorado Senator Mark Udall has sold out Coloradoans by opposing the Keystone Pipeline is a good one.

The vote against the pipeline is more important than the fact that an anti-pipeline billionaire actually supports Udall's campaign, partly because the radical environmentalist Udall's vote is not a surprise; he almost certainly would have voted that way without additional incentive from Steyer.

But as long as the left is going to keep making an issue out of rich conservatives or libertarians, it's sensible for the right to argue "they have their rich guys, too" basically as a way to neutralize this (already not very effective) tactic. And the additional local references to Steyer's malevolent reach also make this a better-than-average "see the politician and the billionaire?" commercial.

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Ross on NPR Today

By on 4.24.14 | 10:29AM

At 12:05 PM here in Colorado (11:05 AM Pacific, 2:05 PM Eastern, and you should be able to figure out Chicago time), I'll be joining Warren Olney's national NPR show, "To The Point" (with guest host Barbara Bogaev) in order to debate an outspoken anti-capitalist about income inequality and the impact of money on elections.

I hope you'll tune in, and if you can't but want to hear the segment, it should be available later in the day at the link above.


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Morning Round-Up 4-24

By on 4.24.14 | 10:06AM

Feature of the Day: A 19th-century shipwreck near the Golden Gate Bridge was just discovered (again)

Morning Headlines


Associated Press

  1. Vermont Moves Toward Labeling of GMO Foods
  2. Cleared of Murder, Man Starts Fresh 24 Years Later


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Wrigley Field Turns 100

By on 4.23.14 | 6:00PM

As I write this, Chicago Cubs fans are celebrating Wrigley Field's 100th birthday with some Wednesday afternoon baseball. In the eighth inning, the Cubs are beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2. 
I don't think Wrigley's centennial is getting the same fanfare as Fenway Park did in 2012 because it wasn't built for the Cubs and wasn't called Wrigley Field until 1927. Wrigley is a vestige of the short-lived Federal League which for two seasons tried to compete with MLB. Back then it was called Weeghman Park and it was home to the Chicago Whales. The Cubs didn't move in until 1916. 
Of course, there is the small detail of the Cubs not winning a World Series since 1908. But that hasn't stopped people from seeing games win or lose (mostly lose). 
When I think of Wrigley, I think of the long home run Dave Kingman hit in 1979 against the Phillies in a 23-22 loss that hit the porch of a house across the street. Such a thing could never be said of any other ballpark.
As for me, I have never been to Wrigley, but seeing a game there is at the top of my bucket list.

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The Beer Spectator: Why Drink Cheap Lagers?

By on 4.23.14 | 5:35PM

“I’m surprised you’re drinking that swill,” my observant roommate uttered.

“It’s refreshing, it’s cold, and I don’t have to think about it,” I replied about my beer of choice for the evening.

That beer, commonly called PBR, is one of my go-tos on a low budget week. When I can find PBR by the twelve-pack, I pick it up. Why not? 

Some hate the taste. Some reject it for its simplicity. Some even frown upon its very existence.

Yet we ignore the passion that follows such a beer; a fiery love that drives a community in Milwaukee to “bring PBR home.”

This week I'm taking a break from spring seasonals to address a question: What makes us love something so simple? The answer: It’s refreshing, comforting, cheap, and it reminds us of home.

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Reason #1450986 to Dislike the IRS

By on 4.23.14 | 4:08PM

No one has ever really liked tax collectors—from the days when Jesus walked the earth and rebuked Zacchaeus for exploiting the least of these to the twenty-first century when IRS employees guilty of back-payments on taxes, fraud, and other disciplinary issues get bonuses.

Yes, according to a Treasury Inspector General report, $2.8 million of your tax dollars between 2010-2012 made it into the purses of 2,800 IRS employees who were being punished for misconduct. At least $1 million went to 1,100 people responsible for collecting your taxes who had not paid their own taxes.

If that’s punishment, what do I have to do to get in trouble?

While normal Americans are prosecuted by IRS employees for failing to pay taxes, the people on the inside got checks and over 10,000 hours in paid vacation time. The report adds:

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