The Spectacle Blog

Obama Might as Well Have Appointed Ashton Kutcher to be Secretary of Defense

By on 12.5.14 | 12:13PM

As expected, President Obama has appointed Ashton Carter to replace Chuck Hagel as the fourth Secretary of Defense in his administration.

At this point, I don't think it really matters who Obama appoints to the position. Carter was not Obama's first choice. Neither Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed nor Michèle Flaunroy wanted the job because of White House micromanagement that stymied Hagel and before him Leon Panetta and Bob Gates.

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Republicans Vote to Block Executive Action on Immigration, Sort Of

By on 12.4.14 | 5:28PM

The House just passed a bill that would, should it pass the Senate and survive an almost certain veto, prevent President Obama from using executive authority to grant amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants.

The bill was originally going to be a rider on a government funding bill, but backing down from that almost certain fight, John Boehner decided to bring the bill to a vote separately, because he's ready go home and get started on his Christmas Mystic Tan, and you all are just getting really annoying

The House of Representatives issued another largely symbolic rebuke to President Barack Obama's agenda Thursday, voting to roll back his immigration executive order that could help up to 4.1 million people avoid deportation. The measure narrowly passed with a vote of 219 to 197.

Seven Republicans from districts with large number of Latinos voted against it while three Democrats from more red districts supported the measure.

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Tony Blair’s Awkward Family Photo

By on 12.4.14 | 2:29PM

Is it just me, or does former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair look terrified to be in his own Christmas card photo?

His wife looks a bit like she's trying to hold him back. 

Nothing says "Happy Christmas!" like a terrified former Prime Minister in a slightly-too-open dress shirt, I suppose. At least it's not a "Get Well" card.

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A Pro-Hillary Org Released a Country Music Video and it is My Everything

By on 12.4.14 | 2:08PM

I could describe the video for you, but that would deprive you of the joy and emotion you'll feel as you listen to this masterpiece of a music video. 

Stand With Hillary, which is not "Ready for Hillary" but is also clearly ready for Hillary, has released a country music video for the Presidential candidate that's no doubt considered one of the least "country" people in American history. It features everything that makes America America: apple pie, construction workers, grazing cattle, riding motorcycles in the country, mountains, the family blessing before dinner, little children holding fireworks, and the aging, radical matriarch of a well-to-do political dynasty.

Becasuse, obviously. 

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Guy Who Filmed Eric Garner Death Gets Indicted

By on 12.4.14 | 1:00PM

The Eric Garner case is hitting home with people on both sides of the aisle, and for good reason. It's hard to imagine a more terrifying scenario: stopped by the police for a minor infraction based on a ridiculous tax law, dead in seconds after repeatedly begging for mercy from authorities, who stood by almost completely uninterested. The video of Garner being choked by an officer isn't just about an overreaching authority at every level, from legislative to on-the-street enforcement, it is, as Matt Lewis notes in his piece at The Week, a horrifying example of utter callousness at the value and dignity of human life. 

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Markakis Signs Four Year, $44 Million Deal with Braves

By on 12.3.14 | 11:06PM

After nine seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Nick Markakis has signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. Markakis is an Atlanta native.

A first round draft pickby the O's in 2003, Markakis made the big club in 2006 and has been a mainstay in the Orioles' lineup. His best overall season was in 2007 when he hit .300 with 23 HR and 112 RBI. In recent years, a wrist injury has limited his power. This season he hit only 14 HR and 50 RBI in 155 games although he hit a respectable .276 for the AL East champions. Markakis also won his second Gold Glove. 

It is interesting that the Braves gave up on Jason Heyward and have now signed Markakis who is six years older. While Markakis will probably not regain his earlier power numbers, his defense is superb and is still a solid hitter. Entering the 2015 season, Markakis has 1,547 hits. If he stays healthy, Markakis has an outside shot at 3,000 hits. Markakis has a lifetime batting average of .290 with 141 HR and 658 RBI. 

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Thoughts on the Grand Jury Decision in the Death of Eric Garner

By on 12.3.14 | 9:18PM

Let me begin by commenting on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's speech following the decision of a Staten Island grand jury not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner last summer. Clearly, de Blasio is a graduate of the Obama/Holder School of Demagoguery. Like Obama and Holder, de Blasio likes to make every public matter about him and about race. "We are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this date," de Blasio railed. How does de Blasio know the NYPD wouldn't have treated Eric Garner in the same manner if he were white? The mayor spoke at length about his son, Dante, and how he had to teach him to protect himself from the police. He effectively tarred and feathered his own police department. It was simultaneously shameful and shameless.

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Ian McLagan, R.I.P.

By on 12.3.14 | 8:35PM

Keyboardist Ian McLagan died suddenly of a massive stroke. He was 69.

McLagan was best known for his days with the Small Faces which later morphed into The Faces when lead singer Steve Marriott was replaced by Rod Stewart. 

McLagan's post-Small Faces/Faces career saw him work as a session man and sideman with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Billy Bragg among many others. The British born McLagan made his home in Austin, Texas where he formed The Bump Band in the late '70's. Earlier this year, McLagan joined the garage rock band supergroup The Empty Hearts.

The above video is the Small Faces' classic "Tin Soldier" featuring P.P. Arnold on backing vocals. But my favorite part of this song is McLagan's keyboard riff which begins the song. 

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CIA Thinks “State of Affairs” is Terrible

By on 12.3.14 | 5:00PM

Not that any of you watch cable television, but there's been a small epidemic of female-driven primetime dramas about what it's like inside the office of the Secretary of State. In pretty much every iteration, a plucky, courageous and outspoken, if somewhat inexperienced low-level CIA or State Department staffer, has their brillance recognized when they're shoved into the Secretary of State position. These blonde, pantsuited heroines, whose profiles are clearly based on no one in particular, are forced to navigate the torrid waters of foreign policy, while holding down their positions as Mama Bear to unruly children and an inattentive husband at home. To accomplish this, they wear dark-rimmed glasses to look smarter and say Very Serious Things while standing in rooms with lots of computers with maps on them.

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Former Dem Staffer Won’t Do Time for Sexual Assault

By on 12.3.14 | 3:18PM

While the media has been busily raking Elizabeth Lauten over the coals for her critique of the Obama daughters' fashion sense (the horror!), a former Democratic staff director for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee pleaded guilty to " third-degree sexual abuse, two misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor threats."

Apparently, Donny Ray Williams, charming as he is, wrangled a female colleage to his apartment by promising that he could introduce her to important Senate people, then spiked her drink with Ambien, waited until she was asleep and then raped her. And as if this wasn't #WaronWomen, #RapeCulture-y enough for you, Donny felt he was so successul at assaulting his female colleagues, he tried it again. 

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