The Spectacle Blog

‘The Giver’: A Message Driven Movie, But a Good One

By on 8.14.14 | 8:53AM

I’ll confess that I wasn’t at all sure what to expect when I went to watch The Giver at a screening last week. The movie, which opens in theaters Friday, is produced most notably by Walden Media, the company owned by conservative Philip Anschutz that intends to develop moral, life-affirming entertainment. That commitment shows. The film translated the thoughtful themes of Lois Lowry’s book well to screen. The movie worked on both counts, as an adaptation of a novel—at only 179 pages, novella might be more accurate—and as a family blockbuster. The script is true, the acting good, the design excellent.

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Krugman Upended by His Own Logic

By on 8.13.14 | 1:37PM

In a recent New York Times column, Paul Krugman made the assertion that “self-proclaimed libertarians deal with the problem of market failure both by pretending that it doesn’t happen and by imagining government as much worse than it really is.”

But suppose we flip that around — substituting “muddle-headed progressives” for “self-proclaimed libertarians” and “government failure” for “market failure.”

Compliments to Per Bylund, a research professor at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, for making the necessary adjustments in a blog post at Mises. org. This is what you get: 

Muddle-headed progressives deal with the problem of government failure both by pretending that it doesn’t happen and by imagining the market as much worse than it is.


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Impervious Arrogance

By on 8.13.14 | 10:52AM

When it comes to Iraq and Iran, I am as ignorant as a swan. But then ignorance is relative, and there aren’t too many people who know anything of value.

With a small group of people, I was brought in 2007 to the White House, where we were asked about Iran. A senior administration official told us that the U.S. wanted to beginning talking to the mullahs, and didn’t know where to begin. “We have no contacts there, and when someone from Iran comes to the UN or to the West we have to rely on friends in other countries to act as go-betweens.” Do you know, he asked us, where we might find people to talk to? The other people in the room knew no more about Iran than I did, and I came away amazed that the country’s senior foreign policy experts were so pathetically out of-touch as to look to us for advice. It was right out of Evelyn Waugh.

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Hillary ’16: The Most Inevitable Candidacy Since Hillary ’08?

By on 8.13.14 | 3:58AM

For months, the Republicans’ prospective 2016 contenders have been taking pot shots at each other. But things are now heating up on the Democratic side as well.

Andrew Stiles at the Free Beacon notes that the Democrats’ coalition—centered around a Clinton candidacy—seems to be fracturing. Stiles cites a piece by Ezra Klein titled, “Hillary Clinton’s Atlantic interview shows she’s not inevitable” and writes:

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Lauren Bacall, R.I.P.

By on 8.12.14 | 9:52PM

Legendary actress Lauren Bacall passed away today of a stroke. She was 89.

Bacall is best remembered for her on stage and off stage partnership with Humphrey Bogart to whom she was married for a dozen years until his death in 1957. They appeared together in her debut film To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo. Bacall would later marry actor Jason Robards, Jr. 

Some of her other film credits include Young Man with a Horn with Kirk Douglas and Doris Day, How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe, and Sex and the Single Girl with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and Henry Fonda. Twice she co-starred with John Wayne two decades apart in Blood Alley and The Shootist.

Curiously, Bacall never received an Academy Award nomination until 1996 when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in The Mirror Has Two Faces starring Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges. 

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Hillary Clinton Picks a Fight With Barack Obama

By on 8.12.14 | 1:50PM

Since the beginning of her Hard Choices book tour, Hillary Clinton has been actively courting the media and positioning herself as the next heir to the presidency. That task now includes taking shots at her former boss, President Obama, in a seeming shift away from the administration’s agenda.

Most notably, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published two days ago an interview with Mrs. Clinton in which the former secretary of state knocks the president’s policy on Syria:

The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad — there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle — the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.

President Obama recently made waves by coining the Obama Doctrine, his foreign policy first principle: “Don’t do stupid s--t.” 

Clinton’s response to Goldberg? “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

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Robin Williams, R.I.P.

By on 8.11.14 | 9:15PM

Actor and comic genius Robin Williams was found dead in his home this morning of an apparent suicide. He was 63. 

The world became much sadder and a lot less funny. 

Williams possessed a gift for improvisation. This was apparent from the moment he appeared on Happy Days in a guest spot. That guest spot would result in his own TV series Mork & Mindy co-starring Pam Dawber. 

It took awhile for Williams to achieve success on the silver screen, but he would have a string of hit movies including Moscow on the Hudson, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet's Society, Awakenings, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams. Williams would win Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting. 

Last year, Williams returned to the small screen in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones co-starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. However, it was cancelled after only one season.

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Could Cameras on Cops Have Prevented the St. Louis Incident?

By on 8.11.14 | 6:02PM

Tragedy struck the community of Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, on Saturday, when police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Despite officials’ urgings to remain calm, protests almost immediately formed with local residents accusing the police of brutality and murder. The officer who pulled the trigger is on leave and pending investigation.

As news spread of the shooting, Ferguson residents began converging on the scene of the shooting. According to Reuters, one of the witnesses stated:  

"We wasn't causing harm to nobody, we had no weapons on us at all." Dorian Johnson says he was walking home with his friend Mike Brown when a police officer in a car told them to get out of the street. The two kept walking when Johnson says the officer got out of the car and fired a shot. The two took off running.

Johnson continued:

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Erdogan Remakes Turkey in His Own Image

By on 8.11.14 | 5:48AM

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created a secular republic out of Ottoman Turkey as the Sultanate died in 1921. He was president of Turkey for fifteen years. Now, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the nation’s first direct presidential election. Erdogan has been prime minister of Turkey since 2003, and he has promised to fashion the role of president — after Atatürk one of little actual authority — into a position of power. To what degree the term “secular” will accurately describe this “new Turkey” Erdogan hopes to create has yet to be seen. But one suspects the father of the Turks would find much about it left to be desired. 

The BBC, describing Atatürk’s creation of the modern Turkish state, writes:

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Can Hillary Credibly Criticize Obama?

By on 8.11.14 | 12:22AM

On Sunday, The Atlantic came out with an interview of Hillary Clinton which was conducted by Jeffrey Goldberg. 

The highlights of the interview was Hillary's criticism of the Obama Administration's failure to back the Syrian rebels early on and its failure to prevent the rise of ISIS in Iraq and also gave a staunch defense of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

While Hillary's critique of the Obama Administration is spot on it does lack a certain credibility. It's not as if she is a detached observer. As President Obama's Secretary of State for four years, she was instrumental in the development of very policies she now sees fit to criticize. Let us not forget that it was Hillary who once called Bashar Assad a reformer and ripped Netanyahu every way possible. She also once stated that Israel lacked "empathy" and "generosity" towards the Palestinians. 

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