The Spectacle Blog

What Social ‘Policy’ Should Mean to Conservatives

By on 3.18.14 | 2:52PM

With Rand Paul's declaration today that the GOP must "agree to disagee on social issues," social conservatives are questioning just how effective the Republican Party can be on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Last Tuesday, a panel of conservatives hosted by the Manhattan Institute weighed in on the future social policy of the GOP.

Unanimously, the panel agreed that the GOP's pro-life position is here to say, but the right has to admit cultural defeat on obstructing same-sex marriage.

For Avik Roy, former health care advisor to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, the leftward turn of culture means scrapping social conservatism altogether:

[The GOP needs a] coherent political philosophy about what culture should look like that would accept the post [1960’s] reality.

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Rand Paul: GOP Should Soften on Social Issues

By on 3.18.14 | 1:50PM

Should Republicans soften on social issues? Rand Paul thinks so.

In an interview with, Paul was asked if he thinks that Republicans should “stay out of issues like gay marriage." Here is his response:

I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.

I agree that conservatives should band together and choose to vote for “the lesser of two evils” rather than insisting on voting for the perfect candidate. Voting on rigid principle is essentially handing your vote to the radical liberal. Even still, Paul’s approach deserves a little scrutiny.

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Morning Round-Up 3-18

By on 3.18.14 | 10:14AM

Feature of the Day: Spinoffs from Spyland: How America’s eavesdropping agency commercializes technology

Morning Headlines


Associated Press

  1. Illinois Voters to Pick GOP Governor Nominee
  2. States Looking at $0 Community College Tuition


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What Kind of ‘Tough Decisions’ Do Obama-Kerry Expect From Abbas?

By on 3.17.14 | 11:20PM

Today, President Obama hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. Obama said, “We’re going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we’re able to move it forward.”

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Abbas and a State Department official indicated that Kerry “encouraged him to make the tough decisions that will be necessary in the weeks ahead.”

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The Silliest Obamacare Ads to Date

By on 3.17.14 | 4:46PM

President Obama is getting desperate.

With only two weeks left before Obamacare’s March 31 sign-up deadline, I say we waltz down memory lane and recall some of Obama’s silliest attempts to promote socialized welfare, culminating with his most recent stunt – revealing his NCAA bracket and the “16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered."

Let’s start with these Colorado ads that just scream “stereotyping”. We have “Brosurance” brought to us by keg-standing frat-brothers:

Not sensational enough for you? How about this woman getting ready for a hot one-night stand?

However, if heterosexual sex offends you, worry not. Watch these homosexual elves perform in this Christmas-themed ad: 

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Individualist Millennials and Communitarian Conservatives

By on 3.17.14 | 4:38PM

Millennials: those most confounding of social science data points. Ross Douthat is the latest to stare into the polling numbers about my generation. He concludes:

The common denominator is individualism, not left-wing politics: it explains both the personal optimism and the social mistrust, the passion about causes like gay marriage and the declining interest in collective-action crusades like environmentalism, even the fact that religious affiliation has declined but personal belief is still widespread.

So the really interesting question about the millennials isn’t whether they’ll all be voting Democratic when Chelsea Clinton runs for president. It’s whether this level of individualism — postpatriotic, postfamilial, disaffiliated — is actually sustainable across the life cycle, and whether it can become a culture’s dominant way of life.

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Can Scott Brown Win in New Hampshire?

By on 3.17.14 | 2:01PM

As a Massachusetts native, I was very engaged in Scott Brown’s underdog Senate race and surprising victory in 2010.

Ted Kennedy’s dynastic seat was open and Brown stepped in the way of another Democrat’s chance to sit on his throne. He won 52 percent of the vote, leaving attorney general Martha Coakley and the rest of the Democrat-controlled state stunned. As a young Republican in a very blue state, I rejoiced. Although my county has always leaned right, I was surprised and excited by Brown's success.

The hammer fell in 2012 when Elizabeth Warren won back control of the seat, much to the disappointment of any conservatives still surviving in Massachusetts.

I sighed, left for college, and enjoyed my brief escape from Massachusetts politics.

Then on Friday I was scrolling through my Twitter feed only to find a snapshot of the top half of Scott Brown’s college centerfold tweeted out by Buzzfeed Benny. The explanation for this sudden assault on my work-friendly viewing? Brown is running again – this time in New Hampshire.

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Morning Round-Up 3-17

By on 3.17.14 | 10:28AM

Morning Headlines


Associated Press

  1. 9/11 Mastermind: Spokesman Had No Military Role
  2. St. Pat’s Parades Proceed Amid Tension Over Gays
  3. US Lags as Commercial Drones Take Off Around Globe


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Russian Violence and Propaganda in Ukraine

By on 3.16.14 | 7:11PM

As you watch or listen to "news" broadcasts about events in Ukraine and the Crimea, sometimes actual news with varying degrees of correct information, and sometimes either witting or unwitting propaganda, today's must-read report from Oleg Atbashian is something to keep in the back of your mind as context.

Americans, and particularly naive liberals such as President Obama and much of his foreign policy team, may be inclined to consider the actions of Vladimir Putin and of Russian and Ukrainian nationalists through a filter of western democratic well-meaning...which means that just as they did with the "Arab Spring" they will misinterpret and incorrectly predict almost everything that happens, as well as misunderestimate the determination of our competitors/enemies and overestimate our influence.

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David Brenner, R.I.P.

By on 3.16.14 | 6:07PM

Comedian David Brenner passed away on Saturday of cancer. He was 78. 

Brenner has the distinction of appearing on The Tonight Show more often than any other guest. He also was a regular guest host for Johnny Carson in the 1970s and early 1980s. Brenner briefly became a competitor with Carson when he hosted a short-lived late night talk show called Nightlife with David Brenner in 1986-87. I liked that show. Apparently, I was the only one. 
Here is Brenner's Tonight Show debut in January 1971. Carson had to implore him to come back out on stage for a curtain call. As Johnny put it with a Yiddish accent, "I did good — why should I come back?" Well, he would come back more than 150 times.
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