The Spectacle Blog


By on 12.1.15 | 9:19AM

From Paris, Barack Obama is telling the world that not only is climate change a bigger threat to the West and the rest of the world than anything else, but that if we contain climate change we will have defeated terrorism (he means the Islamic kind but won’t say so).

No, no, I’m not making this up. It’s in all the papers. Look it up yourself. (Could this perhaps be a super subtle military strategy? I’m sure IS fighters made aware of these claims are laughing too hard to be effective on the battle field. And almost nothing makes these stone killers laugh.)

In more than a half century of following politics I’ve seen a good deal of really bad policy, some motivated by political cynicism, some by delusion (this strikes me as an example of both). Too much of this bad policy has been implemented. But this latest is a dimension beyond. For the first time, I and millions of other red-blooded Americanos are now obliged to seriously consider whether the president of the United States is clinically insane.

Pay the Piper — And Let Only the Piper Call the Tune!

By on 11.30.15 | 6:16PM

On NPR this morning I heard the president of Planned Parenthood lament the fact that women’s health care is “politicized.” I agree that such politicization is lamentable. But such politicization is an inevitable consequence of government subsidization of, regulation of, and involvement in health care. And the more health care is subsidized by, regulated by, and meddled in by politicians and their deputies, the worse this politicization will be.

Thoughts on The Muslim Teenager in Missouri Beaten For Not Wearing a Hijab

By on 11.30.15 | 4:01PM

A former University of Missouri assistant professor by the name of Youssif Z. Omar was arrested last week following an incident at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri involving a 14-year old female relative.

Omar became enraged when he saw the girl was not wearing the hijab. He accosted the girl, grabbed her by the hair, forced her into his car and slapped her. Local police arrested Omar, charged him with suspicion of child abuse, but he would be released on a bond of $4,500.

Ben Carson Feeds Into Premise That “Extremists” Caused Planned Parenthood Shooting

By on 11.30.15 | 3:32PM

Earlier today, I completed an article comparing the Planned Parenthood shooting with the August 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council's headquarters in D.C. If it is not up by later today, hopefully it will be up tomorrow.

The article does not mention Dr. Ben Carson's comments on the Planned Parenthood shooting so I thought I would comment on them here instead. During an appearance on ABC This Week, Martha Raddatz asked Carson if he agreed with the assessment of Planned Parenthood's Vicki Cowart that "extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country." The good doctor replied in this manner:

Unfortunately, there's a lot of extremism coming from all areas. It's one of the biggest problems that I think is threatening to tear our country apart. We get into our separate corners and we hate each other; we want to destroy those with whom we disagree.

It comes from both sides. So, you know, there is -- there is no saint here in this -- in this equation.

Paris Climate Change Conference Expected to be Major Contributor to Climate Change

By on 11.30.15 | 11:57AM

This week begins #COP21, the United Nations Climate Change "Conference of Parties," destined to save us all from death by a thousand sunburns. Or possibly melted ice caps. Or more solid ice caps. Or snow. Or possibly no snow. Or something. They'll figure it out and then they'll tell you what to fear. No worries.

Anyway, this weekend, 150 separate world leaders flew in from all corners of the globe to attend the conference, which aims to keep global warming at "under 2 degress Celsius," a significant feat considering that the Earth has, according to the same body, warmed 0.85 degrees since 1880, and also because the planet travels around a very large, superheated body that is continually evolving and changing throughout its life cycle, thus affecting weather patterns and climate temperature on Earth. Later this week, around 20,000 individual delegates from 195 countries will arrive in Paris for the talks, by train, plane, car, bus and bike, burning over 300,000 tons of CO2, their primary ozone-depleting concern, by the end of the week.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad

By on 11.30.15 | 10:40AM

Fifty-eight years ago today my parents were married in St. John the Baptist Churchin downtown New Orleans. My mom was 19; my dad was 22. I — their eldest child — was born just over nine months later.

While I obviously have no memories of my parents’ wedding, I have in my head images of it because much of it was captured by an amateur photographer on 8mm film — a reel of silent, but color, film that I saw often as a boy whenever Dad projected it onto a screen that he’d set up in the den of our home. (I’m increasingly astonished that two people who married so young managed to remain together, happily, for 50 years, until my mom died in March 2008.)

Back then, the most popular new passenger car on America’s roads was (I believe) the ’57 Chevy Bel Air.

What About Paris?

By on 11.29.15 | 1:57PM

“Enough is enough,” President Obama said in response to the deranged shooter in Colorado Springs. Right-thinking Americans share the president’s disgust with this heinous act. But it sure would have been nice to have heard language this strong and decisive from Obama after Paris.

Happy Birthday, Vin

By on 11.29.15 | 1:55PM

Today is Vin Scully’s 88th birthday. Folks who listen to this vibrant and articulate broadcaster may find this number hard to believe. But it’s true. DOB 11/29/27 — do the arithmetic. Vin’s many fans across the nation wish him the best of days and many happy returns.

Vin has been calling Dodgers games, and lots of other sporting events, since 1950. He has told us that 2016 will be his final year in the booth. This makes his many fans — count me in this lot — both sad at this leaving and thankful for the many wonderful hours he has given us.

Happy birthday, Redhead.

Thoughts on the Planned Parenthood Shooting in Colorado Springs UPDATE

By on 11.28.15 | 6:15PM

As you know by now, three people, including a police officer, were murdered at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday. After a standoff that last five hours, the gunman surrendered to police. The suspect has been identified as Robert Lewis Dear, a man in his late 50's who had recently moved to Colorado from South Carolina and has had a number of skirmishes with the law arising from disputes with his ex-wife and various neighbors over the past two decades.

It is not clear that if Dear deliberately targeted Planned Parenthood, a point even Vicki Cowart, the President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, acknowledges. However, Cowart went on to decry "extremists" who she blamed for "creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country." Here is Cowart's statement in full:

Philadelphia 76ers Set NBA Record With 27th Consecutive Loss

By on 11.28.15 | 1:04AM

The Philadelphia 76ers have hit the record books for all the wrong reasons.

With a 116-114 loss on Friday night to the Houston Rockets, the 76ers have set a NBA record with their 27th consecutive loss. The losing streak dates back to last season when they lost their final 10 games. They are now 0-17 this season.

The single season record for consecutive losses is still 26 which is shared by the 2010-2011 Cleveland Cavaliers and last year's edition of the 76ers. 

Their next game takes place on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Should they lose to the Grizzlies and lose again to the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday, the 76ers will set an NBA record by losing their first 19 games. The New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) began the 2009-10 season with 18 consecutive losses. 

Philadelphia is no stranger to long losing streaks. In 1961, the Philadelphia Phillies lost 23 consecutive games which is MLB's longest losing streak in the modern era.