The Spectacle Blog

Cognitive Dissonance on Pot at the New York Times

By on 8.7.14 | 10:16AM

The New York Times editorial board has come out in favor of a repeal of the federal prohibition against marijuana. It has been nearly two months since Maureen Dowd shared her experience of overindulging on a pot candy bar, writing, “I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.” The strange inner and after life of Dowd aside, the Times has concluded that pot should be strictly a state issue, without federal ban or endorsement. In its series on the weed debate, the Times opened with a whole article titled, “Let States Decide on Marijuana.” Nearly three fourths of American states have implemented laws in some way liberalizing marijuana, ranging from exceptions for medicinal use to full recreational access, as is the case in Washington and Colorado.

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Reply to Ross Re: Amash - UPDATED

By on 8.7.14 | 1:01AM

Ross has replied to my critique of Congressman Justin Amash's victory speech in Tuesday's Republican primary win.

He takes issue my characterizing Amash's remarks as being full of self-pity. Ross prefers to describe it as gloating. Well, call it what you will. But whatever Amash was doing last night it was most unattractive and unbecoming. Amash won fair and square and by a decisive margin. Just because you can take a parting shot doesn't mean you should. Amash could have taken the high road but instead chose a different path.

I see that Ross isn't entirely on board with Amash's characterization of Edward Snowden as a whistleblower. I haven't seen any evidence from Snowden that the NSA has acted illegally. Even if he had, Snowden forfeited his right to sympathy the moment he provided classified information to Putin.

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Justin Amash (and I) Respond to Aaron

By on 8.6.14 | 10:24PM

I always appreciate my public debates with my AmSpec collague Aaron Goldstein. They're relatively rare because we agree more than we disagree.

But Aaron took a couple of shots at Justin Amash (in response to my praise of him) which I'd like to respond to… one of which I've asked Rep. Amash to respond to.

First, I find Aaron's description of Justin's take-down of his smear-campaign-reliant opponent and his opponent's establishment supporters — Aaron called it "self-pity" — as rather strange. If anything, it would be more like gloating, since it's hard to exude self-pity after trouncing a well-funded opponent. I'm OK with a little gloating.

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The Truth Gets Weirder in Mississippi Runoff Controversy

By on 8.6.14 | 5:34PM

The controversies in the runoff for the Republican Senate nomination in Mississippi refuse to die down. Since the unfavorable results for Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel came in, there has been a suicide of a Tea Party leader, lawsuits filed, accusations of fraud from both sides.

On Monday, McDaniel, who lost the race to incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, filed a challenge to the results. As reported by the L.A. Times:

McDaniel’s attorney Mitchell Tyner Sr. said Monday that as many as 3,500 votes were cast in violation of state rules — presumably Democrats who voted for their own candidate in the primary, then crossed over to vote for a Republican in the runoff. Another 9,500 ballots, he said, had irregularities. […] 

In this case, McDaniel is challenging the executive committee of the Mississippi Republican Party, which under state law has 10 days to decide whether to hear the case. After that, McDaniel can bring his grievance to the courts.

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Amash Awash in Self-Pity

By on 8.6.14 | 5:05PM

I watched the video of Justin Amash's primary victory speech last night that Ross posted.

Ross might think this is what America needs, but Amash's victory address comes off as childish and churlish. His speech was awash in self-pity. When I listened to Amash's remarks I could not help think of Obama's petulant tone.

Did Amash have a bruising primary? No doubt. But politics ain't beanbag. Telling the world that he thinks Pete Hoekstra is a disgrace and that he is glad to have him "fade into total obscurity and irrelevance" says more about Amash than it does about Hoekstra.

While I think it's good that Amash explains his votes, I'm not impressed with someone who considers Edward Snowden a whistleblower nor do I think much of someone who recently voted against supporting funding for Israel's Iron Dome in Israel's hour of need.

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Hillary Clinton: Hard Choices with Old MacDonald and Steven Colbert

By on 8.6.14 | 4:53PM

Don’t worry world: should Hillary Rodham Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, there will be peace in our time — at least between giant ducks and tiny horses.

That's the takeaway from Clinton's latest interview with faux newsman Stephen Colbert. Attempting to gauge Clinton’s ability to follow through on the titular promise of her new memoir — to make hard choices — he asked the prospective 2016 contender an age-old question: Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?

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I’ll Say It Again: Justin Amash is Exactly What America Needs

By on 8.6.14 | 4:05PM

I've written about Congressman Justin Amash, whom I consider a friend, a few times. His district is 1200 miles from my home, but for the second election cycle in a row, he is the only member of Congress to whom I made a campaign contribution.

Amash is a tireless champion for liberty and for the Constitution, even when it puts him in opposition to Party leadership, and even though that opposition has cost him, for example, a seat on the House Budget Committee.

A conversation with Justin Amash gives you a glimmer of hope for the future of our nation and of the Republican Party (of which I am not a member though I wish I were inspired to be).

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A Break in the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Investigation?

By on 8.6.14 | 1:54PM

New evidence appears to confirm that pro-Russian separatists were involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. A man, known only as Vasilijus, stepped forward a little over a week ago to inform a Lithuanian news site that he is the owner of the Volvo truck identified as having transported the Buk missile system that is thought to have brought down the passenger jet. He claims that pro-Russian separatists took control of the truck and his base of business operations late last month. He has stated that the white Volvo truck cab shown in footage of the missile system’s movement is unique to his truck and thus ties the Buk launcher to the separatist band that stole it from him.

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Canada’s Green Party President Forced to Resign for Being Pro-Israel

By on 8.6.14 | 10:09AM

I have made no secret of the fact that I broke with the NDP and the Left in general over its reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. The anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments were simply too much to bear.

There is little room on the Left for supporting Israel. Yesterday, Paul Estrin was forced to resign as President of Canada's Green Party for writing a blog post on the party's website last week in support of Israel. In a blog post titled "Why Gaza Makes Me Sad" (which has since been removed from its website), Estrin writes, "Gazan officials tell their people to be killed while they hide in bomb shelters. This is worse than cowardice. It is vile and ugly and they should be put to shame. Instead, it is Israel who is put to shame."

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Two Primaries to Watch Tonight

By on 8.5.14 | 5:25PM

It’s primary day once again, as four states head to the polls to choose their party’s candidates for the upcoming 2014 midterm elections. Two of the races being decided today, one in Kansas and one in Michigan, have garnered national attention for their importance to the Tea Party and the antics of the involved candidates. Here’s what to keep your eye on tonight.

The Sunflower State’s senatorial primary pits long-time incumbent Senator Pat Roberts against Milton Wolf, a Tea Party challenger who is, incidentally, also the second cousin of President Obama.

Roberts has an 86 percent lifetime rating and an endorsement from the American Conservative Union. But he has also been in the senate for thirty-three years, which plays into the stereotype of out-of-touch career politicians. CNN reports:

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