The Spectacle Blog

Richard Mellon Scaife, R.I.P.

By on 7.4.14 | 3:05PM

Philanthropist and longtime conservative activist Richard Mellon Scaife passed away this morning less than two months after being diagnosed with an inoperable cancer. He had turned 82 yesterday. 

Scaife is perhaps best known for his association with The American Spectator during the 1990s. With Scaife's help, The American Spectator, among other things, investigated the financial dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton in connection with the Whitewater scandal. The liberal press dubbed it as "The Arkansas Project". These articles would eventually help lead to President Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives. In the '90s, Scaife was to liberals what the Koch Brothers are to them today. Hillary Clinton no doubt had Scaife in mind when she uttered the phrase "vast right-wing conspiracy". Yet when Barack Obama emerged on the scene in 200, Scaife surprised many with his endorsement of Hillary in the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary. 

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The Day Lou Gehrig Became The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

By on 7.4.14 | 12:42PM

The Fourth of July is synonymous with American independence. 

But it also marks one of the most important events in the history of baseball.

It was 75 years ago today that New York Yankees legendary first baseman Lou Gehrig bid baseball farewell. Gehrig, who had played in 2,130 consecutive games going back to 1925 and had driven in 100 or more runs for 13 consecutive seasons, inexplicably lost the ability to play. Gehrig was soon diagnosed with ALS, a disease so rare that it would bear his name. He would play his last game on April 30th.

The Yankees chose to honor him on the Fourth of July prior to a doubleheader against the Washington Senators. Although Gehrig was educated in Columbia University, he was reticient man who did not like the spotlight. However, on this day, Gehrig would deliver one of the most memorable speeches in American history.

Gehrig would be dead less than two years later.

 

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The Beer Spectator: In Support of Smoking

By on 7.4.14 | 10:04AM

My favorite smoking section is located outside the Barnstable County Superior Court on Cape Cod. Across the street from the entrance, there is a lone sign amidst the weedy grass of the parking lot median. “Smoking Section,” it declares. Smokers are not welcome to stand on the sidewalk in front of the court. No, they must walk across the street, where all can judge them.

Everybody witnesses smoking, and everybody reacts in their own ways. Some ignore it. Some cough artificially. Some announce the health hazards of smoking, as if the graphic warnings on the packs didn’t tell us enough.

Why submit oneself to such ostracization?   

It’s simple: smoking, whether it’s a cigarette, a cigar, or a pipe, is soothing. It’s social, invigorating, and recreational. It doesn’t matter how high taxes are or whether the MPAA rates a movie because of smoking on screen; some people just want their fix.

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Lena Dunham Weighs in on Hobby Lobby

By on 7.3.14 | 2:14PM

As a twenty-four-year-old woman with friends on all sides of the political spectrum, I’ve heard quite a bit about the Hobby Lobby decision over the past couple days. I’ve seen a few thoughtful responses, but mostly I’ve been struck by the illogical and factually incorrect criticisms from otherwise intelligent and well-educated friends. If someone looked at my Facebook and Twitter feeds, he would surely think that birth control was banned forever and soon there will be babies everywhere.

The panic-stricken tirades came straight from the top. Feminist actress Lena Dunham tweeted, “Women's access to birth control should not be denied because of their employer's religious beliefs.” Sandra Fluke experimented with different fonts in Photoshop to send the message that “we’re sick and tired of SCOTUS putting corporate interests ahead of women’s rights!” Meanwhile, the writers at the Salon.com office just ran around screaming about Armageddon.

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Move Over Jimmy Carter: Obama Most Unpopular President Since World War II

By on 7.3.14 | 1:39PM

A poll released by Quinnipiac University this morning has some devastating numbers for President Obama. The title of the poll, “Obama is First as Worst President Since WWII,” says it all, but let’s look at some of the other numbers.

According to Quinnipiac, Ronald Reagan is seen as the best president since World War II, with 35 percent taking that view. Reagan almost doubled Clinton’s 18 percent, with JFK trailing close behind Clinton at 15 percent. When you break down the results, the independent vote makes the difference, with 66 percent of Reagan’s support coming from that block. Meanwhile, Clinton’s support tends to be more partisan, with 34 percent of his vote coming from Democrats.

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Rick Perry a ‘West Coast Metrosexual’ For Giving Up Cowboy Boots

By on 7.3.14 | 11:35AM

In Texas they take these things seriously. Word has slipped that Rick Perry has taken off his cowboy boots for good, saying they worsen the back pain that was reportedly the proximate cause of his 2012 presidential campaign's worst moment.

But that don't sit well with the state's land commissioner, Jerry Patterson. “Tell Rick that boots can be purchased with normal heels,” Patterson commented to a columnist for the Austin American-Statesman. “I lament the fact that our governor could now pass for a West Coast metrosexual and has embarrassed us all with his sartorial change of direction.”

The New York Times further notes that:

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Japan Mulls a Self-Defense Force

By on 7.3.14 | 10:44AM

In what is being described as a “landmark shift” in Japan’s defense posture, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration authorized a reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution Tuesday. The new understanding of the article allows for Japan’s defense forces to mobilize overseas in “collective self-defense” of the country’s allies. The decision does not appear to be a popular one, as 55 percent of Japanese surveyed by Japan’s Kyodo News last weekend opposed it.

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which was implemented in 1947, is a renunciation of war, reading:

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Fourth of July Comes Early in Boston

By on 7.2.14 | 11:45PM

The annual Fourth of July concert at The Hatch Shell on The Esplanade has been moved back to tomorrow. Heavy rain and winds from Tropical Storm Arthur are expected to hit the Hub Friday making deployment of fireworks dangerous. 

The day before the Fourth, there is a dress rehearsal which is open to the public and includes everything except for the fireworks. I've had the opportunity to watch the dress rehearsal concert which is a lot of fun. A few years ago, I had the chance to hear Neil Diamond at the dress rehearsal show. This year's featured act is The Beach Boys.

Interestingly, the dress rehearsal has been used as the Fourth of July broadcast on Armed Forces Radio. But this year the dress rehearsal is going to be the show. That is unless the rain and wind arrive early. Should this come to pass then the show could be moved to Saturday. In which case, my next post will be titled, "Fourth of July Delayed in Boston". 

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Jim Brosnan, R.I.P.

By on 7.2.14 | 11:04PM

Former big league pitcher turned writer Jim Brosnan passed away last Saturday at the age of 84. 

Brosnan signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1946 when he was only 17, but would not make his major league debut with the Cubs until 1954. He would not stick in the majors for good until 1956. Mid-way through the 1958 season, the Cubs dealt Brosnan to the St. Louis Cardinals for future big league manager Alvin Dark. 

It was in 1959 that Brosnan became a nationally known figure, but not for his pitching. That season, Brosnan kept a diary which would be published the following year as The Long Season. Until then books authored by baseball players and other athletes were actually penned by ghostwriters. Even before Brosnan wrote The Long Season, his thick glasses and the books he kept in the clubhouse earned him the nickname "The Professor". 

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Thoughts on The Death of a Palestinian Teenager

By on 7.2.14 | 3:07PM

The murder of 16-year old Palestinian Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir is prompting speculation that he was killed by Jewish settlers in retaliation for the three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found on Monday after being held in captivity by Hamas for three weeks. Witnesses claim Khdeir was outside a mosque in East Jerusalem and that he was forcibly abducted by occupants in a van. Such speculation prompts Washington Post foreign affairs writer Adam Taylor to argue that this might prompt a "third Intifada".

If it does turn out that Jewish settlers were responsible for Khdeir's murder then they should be prosecuted and punished to fullest extent of the law.

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