The Spectacle Blog

Pete Van Wieren, R.I.P.

By on 8.2.14 | 6:34PM

Former Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren passed away this morning after a long battle with lymphoma. He was 69.

Van Wieren was in the booth with the Braves between 1975 and 2008. If you ever tuned into a Braves game on TBS you heard the voices of Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, Ernie Johnson, Skip Caray and Van Wieren. Only Sutton remains with us. 

I enjoyed Van Wieren's low key approach behind the mike. He was tremendously knowledgable, but he didn't let it get in the way of the game. 

David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shares his memories of Van Wieren here.

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What the Hell, Hamas?

By on 8.1.14 | 4:31PM

There was never any doubt that, for Hamas, continued violence in Gaza was the real path to victory. A mere 90 minutes into a three day ceasefire, as Israeli forces moved to destroy a tunnel—an activity permitted by the truce—Hamas militants emerged from the tunnel and engaged. Two soldiers were killed, one was captured, and the ceasefire was ended.

Palestinian authorities contest the timeline set forth by Israel, asserting that renewed Israeli attacks began before the kidnapping of the IDF soldier. Israel has dismissed these claims completely and vowed to rescue their man. The violation of the ceasefire has been condemned by the White House, and prompted the UN to question Palestinian good faith in the pursuit of peace.

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House Debates Useless Pro-Optics Border Bill

By on 8.1.14 | 3:06PM

Yesterday it seemed Republican Party unity was breaking down when its leadership pulled an immigration reform bill from the House floor. The removal of the bill caused consternation from both sides as members were slated to leave on their August recess.

As debate this morning began, members of the Democratic minority were lining up to play watchdog. Streaming live on C-Span, the House minority leader, Congressman Steny Hoyer, came out in full force attacking the GOP. He slammed Republicans for suspending regular order to push the bill through and called it a political stunt.

“It’s mid-morning and we still haven’t seen the bill,” he stated, forgetting all about how Obamacare was rammed through at the last minute.

Congressman Peter DeFazio decried the fact there was no funding for firefighters as fire rages in the western states. Forget that the bill is supposed to be about immigration and actual people who are suffering. Politics always comes first on Capitol Hill.

Congressman Joe Garcia tore into Senator Ted Cruz on the House floor, accusing him of meddling in the House’s business and blaming him for the bill’s failure.

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Libya’s Not Dead Yet

By on 8.1.14 | 12:27PM

Libya's post-intervention history has been so bleak that it is being compared to Iraq and cited as proof that American interventions make things worse. But that is probably a hasty judgment.

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CIS’ Misleading Analysis of Border Bill

By on 8.1.14 | 8:20AM

Perhaps the most influential anti-immigration think-tank in the United States is the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Their analysis of the Protect the Southwest Border Act of 2014 (H.R. 5230) is making its way around the Internet with everyone from National Review to commenters on these pages parroting its findings.

It seems clear that many of those on the right who object to the bill are relying on the CIS analysis, but have not actually read the bill themselves.

I have read sections of the bill, particularly sections which I see conservatives frequently objecting to, and find the CIS analysis misleading.

As writing long analyses of legislation is not my idea of a good time, I will focus on a few narrow points where I believe conservatives are being misled by CIS.

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Red Sox Clean House; Did the Rays Pay Too High a Price?

By on 7.31.14 | 6:33PM

The Red Sox weren't done dealing after sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes.

Boston traded starting pitcher John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly. They then sent lefty reliever Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for a minor leaguer. If that wasn't enough they even made a trade with the Yankees dealing shortstop Stephen Drew to New York for the versatile Kelly Johnson. Let's not forget that Boston sent lefty Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs yesterday for a player to be named later.

Throw in the Peavy deal and in less than a week the Red Sox have traded away nearly a third of their roster. The Red Sox will have a very different lineup when they take run on the Fenway Park tomorrow night against the Yankees. Their rotation is now Clay Buchholz, Rubby de la Rosa, Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Kelly. 

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Cold War II? World War III?

By on 7.31.14 | 4:54PM

A reporter asked President Obama on Tuesday if ratcheted sanctions placed on Russia by America and the EU marked “a new Cold War.” The United Kingdom’s Common Defense Committee said Thursday that NATO is unprepared for further aggression from Russia. Roger Cohen of the New York Times has explained in the Atlantic why World War III is not so unimaginable after all. It has become apparent that Eastern Europe is unstable, and in a world knit tightly together by technology and treaties, that instability may prove for everyone inescapable.

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Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin Ruling

By on 7.31.14 | 1:42PM

With a five-to-two ruling today by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Governor Scott Walker won a major battle against the long-entrenched unions in his state. After a knock-out fight against a stubborn Democratic minority in the state assembly, during which assembly members pulled the ultimate media stunt and fled the state in protest, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Walker’s union law.

The 2011 law, which led to massive pro-union protests and a failed recall attempt, reached the state’s highest court after being upheld in appeals court twice. According to the opinion:

"No matter the limitations or 'burdens' a legislative enactment places on the collective bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation," Justice Michael Gableman wrote for the majority.

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Michael Walzer Lectures Israel About Civilian Casualties in Gaza

By on 7.31.14 | 11:49AM

In early 2002, only months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Michael Walzer penned an article in the socialist quarterly Dissent which asked, "Can There Be a Decent Left?"

Walzer answers his question in the negative in a piece written forThe New Republic concerning Israel's Operation Protective Edge. While Walzer does describe Hamas as "an awful organization and deserves all its trouble", he unhesitatingly places the Netanyahu government on the same moral plane as Hamas:

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Finally Some Good News From Iraq

By on 7.31.14 | 11:39AM

The Iraqi Sunnis who live under ISIS control may be preparing for a second "Sunni Awakening" after ISIS destroyed a treasured site of Mosul's religious heritage.

ISIS concluded a recent campaign of destruction by bombing a shrine at the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was revered by Christians, Shias, and Sunnis alike, and the tomb's public bombing has triggered a resistance campaign among Sunnis, according to the AFP. A group of students, businessmen, and young professionals have been joining Kataeb al-Mosul, the Mosul Brigades, to fight against ISIS. The group received both a new spirit and a new name with the bombing of the ancient tomb—the Nabi Yunus Army, after the prophet Jonah. 

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