The Spectacle Blog

UK Brewery Success Shows Lost Freedom in U.S. — A State of the Union Preview

By on 1.12.16 | 12:48AM

On Tuesday evening, President Obama will give his final State of the Union address. In evaluating the state of the U.S., it’s useful to look at the state of economic freedom, including the ability for ordinary Americans to start and invest in a new business without undue government interference.

By several measures, economic freedom has declined rapidly since 2009. Though some harmful policies were enacted in during the Bush administration, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting mandates that made it so much more difficult smaller companies to go public, the Obama administration has not reversed those policies and pushed through many new detriments to economic freedom. These include Obamacare, which makes it difficult for small and midsize firm to hire new employees to due to the expensive and prescriptive insurance coverage mandates, and the Dodd-Frank “financial reform,” which has crippled the ability of community banks and credit unions to lend to Main Street consumers and businesses.

Fiorina & Paul Demoted From GOP Main Stage; Paul Declines to Appear in GOP Undercard Debate

By on 1.11.16 | 10:41PM

Only seven candidates will appear on the main stage this Thursday's GOP debate on the Fox Business Channel. Both Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul have been demoted.

While Fiorina has agreed to be part of the GOP Undercard Debate with Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, Paul has declined to participate. A spokesman for the Paul campaign claims he is running "a top-tier campaign." But the truth of the matter is that Paul's isolationist libertarianism simply doesn't resonate in the age of ISIS. Sharing a stage with Santorum is too much for his ego to bear. 

Yet this is also a big setback for Fiorina. Back in August, Fiorina wiped the floor with the competition at the GOP Undecard Debate and earned her way to the GOP main stage. She went face to face with Donald Trump after he made disparaging remarks about her appearance and got a boost. But Fiorina could not sustain that momentum. 

Hillary Clinton’s Dance Moves Will Ruin Your Monday

By on 1.11.16 | 7:50PM

This afternoon on Ellen, Hillary Clinton attempted to perform "The Dab," a series of hand motions replicating a dance now popular among "the youth."

The results were not so much endearing as they were...somewhat terrifying. 

I don't think this will go very far in convincing the kids Clinton frequently shoos off her lawn that she's "with it" and "hip," unless they're using their grandmothers as the working standard. But it's worth noting anyway. It's Monday and you could use a laugh. Or a terrifying memory burned into your retinas.

Paul Ryan Invites Little Sisters of the Poor to State of the Union

By on 1.11.16 | 7:45PM

I don't think I'll be watching Barack Obama's final State of the Union address tomorrow night unless I am forced to watch it because the television remote is out of reach at the gym or I get so despondent just thinking about it that I'm rendered immobile and can no longer change the channel. There are, after all, important shows to watch on Netflix, like reruns of basically anything.

With only a year left in his Presidency, officially ("lame duck" starts around 18 months before a term ends and Obama hasn't accomplished much in the way of anything since losing a Democratic Congress early on), there's nothing Obama can say tomorrow night that will make any legislative impact. He could offer a few more executive orders, wax poetic on the benefits of funding Planned Parenthood to the tune of half a billion dollars and please liberals with a smug commitment to ending gun violence and global warming with the very wave of his magic wand, but he's out of time. All he has left is Oval Office edicts.

FBI Looking to Expand Clinton Probe into Public Corruption

By on 1.11.16 | 7:29PM

Hillary Clinton has been out of the spotlight for a few weeks, hoping to avoid making any false moves lest Bernie Sanders finally overtake her in a primary state and, probably, to avoid taking press questions ahead of Michael Bay's Benghazi movie's premiere. But that doesn't mean everything's wine and roses in the Clinton camp.

As the FBI reaches further into Clinton's time as Secretary of State, and whether she knowingly violated restrictions placed on sending classified information, sources are now saying the agency is concerned that Clinton may have forged some improper ties between the State Department and her namesake foundation.

Fox News reports, exclusively.

According to reporting from Fox News, the FBI probe of Hillary Clinton‘s email use has expanded and is now investigating whether the “intersection” of Clinton Foundation donations and State Department decisions during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State violated corruption laws.

George Jonas, R.I.P.

By on 1.11.16 | 3:46PM

Journalist, novelist and poet George Jonas passed away yesterday at the age of 80. No cause of death was given, but he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a few years ago.

Jonas was born in Hungary growing up under both the Nazis and the Communists. He would flee to Canada in the midst of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. These experiences would make Jonas into a "classical liberal" who cast a cold eye upon totalitarianism in all its forms.

He would spend most of his adult life at the CBC working as a producer for both radio and TV. For many years, Jonas was a columnist at the Toronto Sun before moving on to The National Post. In 2014, Jonas was bestowed with Canada's highest civilian honor The Order of Canada.

The Man Who Would Be King (Apologies to R. Kipling) — of the World

By on 1.11.16 | 1:56PM

I hope readers enjoyed as much as I did Aaron Goldstein’s speculation this morning on Barack Obama’s post-presidential career as King of the World — the only post equal to Obama’s own estimation of his intellectual and moral weight. If only Obama had been offered the UN job in 2007, look at the agony and destruction we would have been spared. Obama would have been able to spend his days with scores of humbugs and hustlers just like himself, and his actions would have had no effect in the real world.

My suspicion though is that Obama doesn’t really want this job, or any other, come to that. He never held a position any linear thinker would describe as a real job before being elected president, so why mess with something that works? (Or, in Obama’s case, doesn’t work.)

Slaughtering the Myth of Chinese Currency Manipulation

By on 1.11.16 | 12:43PM

Five or six years ago in the green room of the D.C. satellite of Fox News I met Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Upon discovering that I once taught economics at Clemson University and had lived in Seneca, SC (where he has a home), he inquired about my opinion of Chinese currency manipulation. No more than ten words of my reply escaped my mouth before it become clear that Sen. Graham was not really interested in my opinion. Instead, he assumed that I shared his notion that the Chinese government manipulates the yuan in order to render that currency unfairly undervalued against the U.S. dollar — and that this undervaluation, in turn, harms the American economy. Upon realizing that I regard his notion as economically mistaken, he tuned me out and became noticeably contemptuous of me — me who, I’m sure, he then pegged as an egghead academic who doesn’t understand reality in the crisp, clear, and complete way that he, a politician, understands it.

David Bowie, R.I.P.

By on 1.11.16 | 11:31AM

Singer-songwriter and occasional actor David Bowie passed away yesterday following an 18 month battle with cancer. Bowie died two days after his 69th birthday.

It was on his 69th birthday that Bowie would release his final album Blackstar.

I read something quite interesting about Bowie in Patrick Humphries' biography of Nick Drake. In the '60's, in order to appear on BBC Radio, artists had to audition before a talent panel and Bowie (who was then known as David Jones) was no exception. Bowie's didn't fare so well at the audition. The BBC talent panel determined that Bowie was "a singer devoid of personality."

Only a panel of government bureaucrats could conclude that David Bowie was devoid of personality.

Rose Hamid Just Became The Sandra Fluke of The 2016 Presidential Campaign

By on 1.9.16 | 1:40PM

Rose Hamid, the Muslim woman ejected from the Donald Trump rally in South Carolina yesterday, got exactly what she wanted. 

Hamid, a US Airways flight attendant and co-founder of Muslim Women of the Carolinas, was clever in strategically placing herself behind and above Trump so she could be visible when she stood up sporting her hijab. 

Hamid was even more clever to protest silently. Trump has been repeatedly disrupted by hecklers and when hecklers shout they do themselves no favors. But Hamid's only statement was a shirt that read, "Salaam, I Come in Peace." Because she didn't say anything, Trump wasn't sure what was going on when he heard a commotion in the audience. When she was removed from the arena, her silence stood in sharp contrast to the heckling and jeering she received from Trump supporters. Because Trump supporters played right into Hamid's hands we get these headlines:

CNN: Silently protesting Muslim woman ejected from Trump rally

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