The Spectacle Blog

Deconstructing Magna Carta

By on 6.16.15 | 12:45PM

On the day we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, leave it to the New York Times to feature a boxed op-ed on its editorial pages entitled “Stop Revering Magna Carta.” As the only bow to the occasion on those pages, one imagines that the editors could not be bothered even to write a house editorial on the subject

The piece is written by one Tom Ginsburg, professor of international law and political science at the University of Chicago, an institution with which I have some acquaintance.  As suggested by its title, this is a work of deconstruction. The Charter’s fame, you see, “rests on several myths.” Indeed, “like the Holy Grail,” Ginsburg concludes, “the myth of Magna Carta seems to matter more than the reality.” And well it should. After all, history rarely springs forth in principled perfection. At best it grows one fractured event at a time, each event gradually becoming the narrative mythology of a people.

Will Jeb Bush’s Education Record Win Him The Nomination, Or Destroy Him?

By on 6.16.15 | 12:41PM

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement Monday that he is running for president instantly makes him both a man to beat and a top target in a crowded GOP field. Bush’s big donor base, establishment backing, and more moderate reputation will almost certainly make him the top target of other GOP candidates. Whether he can survive their onslaught and emerge as the nominee will depend in large part on how well he can harness his record on a single, signature issue: Education.

Education is Bush’s biggest policy passion and gave him his biggest successes as a governor. It’s not a stretch to say that Bush has been the single biggest driver of conservative education reform in the past 20 years. Bush simply can’t afford to stay away from the issue. But all of his accomplishments are counter-balanced by the burden of Common Core, which has the potential to undo his candidacy if handled poorly.

Donald Trump Is Running for President

By on 6.16.15 | 12:36PM

So this is a thing that is happening

The real estate mogul and TV reality star launched his presidential campaign Tuesday, ending more than two decades of persistent flirtation with the idea of running for the Oval Office.

"So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again," Trump told the crowd, in a lengthy and meandering speech that hit on his signature issues like currency manipulation from China and job creation, as well as taking shots at the president and his competitors on the Republican side.

"Sadly the American dream is dead," Trump said at the end of his speech, promising to bring it back to life with his run.

Just over four years after he came closer than ever to launching a campaign before bowing out, Trump made his announcement at the lavish Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, laying out a vision to match his incoming campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

Court Finds Government Actions in AIG Bailout Were Illegal

By on 6.16.15 | 12:35PM

Ask any first year law student “what did you learn in school today” and you’ll probably get some version of the answer: “duty-breach-causation-harm.”  While this applies specifically to tort claims, it seems axiomatic, even for non-lawyers, that you can’t sue someone who hasn’t hurt you.  Or can you?

Former AIG CEO Hank Greenburg caused a ripple of shock in late 2011 when he filed suit against the U.S. government, alleging that the government’s 2008 bailout and subsequent take-over of AIG was unlawful, and claiming $40 billion in damages.  Despite skepticism throughout the legal community, the case not only survived dismissal, but went on to a full trial, during which such heavyweights as Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson, and Ben Bernanke took the stand. 

HUGE BLOW: Al-Qaida’s Top Officer Killed In Yemen

By on 6.16.15 | 12:16PM

The leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, the group confirmed in a video statement.

Nasir al-Wahishi was the head of AQAP, the Yemen affiliate of al-Qaida. Wahishi was second-in-command for the broader al-Qaida terror network. The targeted killing was “the harshest blow to the global militant network since the killing of Osama bin Laden,” reports The Associated Press.

A senior AQAP militant read a statement announcing Wahishi’s death and that his deputy, Qassim al-Rimi, had been named the new leader. The operative vowed AQAP would continue its war against America, reports the AP.

Obama Administration “Bans” Trans Fats

By on 6.16.15 | 11:39AM

Our obesity epidemic is over. 

Although the science of "trans fats" being ultimately responsible for Americans' untimely deaths and need for double airplane seats is questionable at best, and banning trans fats has become something of a backbench issue to other more pressing anti-science health concerns, like whether genetically modified organisims are, indeed, ruining our very molecular makeup, the Obama Administration took the drastic step of "banning" trans fats through the FDA, giving producers three years to phase out all trans fat use. 

The Obama administration is making good on its pledge to all but ban trans fat nationwide.

The FDA issued a final decision Tuesday that gives the food industry three years to phase out partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, which are still used in a wide variety of products from microwave popcorn to cake frosting.

Chicago Blackhawks Win Third Stanley Cup in Six Years

By on 6.15.15 | 11:10PM

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 to win the 2015 Stanley Cup in six games. It is their second Stanley Cup in three years and their third in six years. 

It is a pretty remarkable achievement for a team that at one point went nearly 50 years without winning a Stanley Cup.

No doubt President Obama is stoked about all this and will be even more insufferable than usual. Not that he needs a reason to be insufferable.

Nevertheless, the Blackhawks are the closest thing the NHL has had to a dynasty in years. 

Padres Fire Bud Black

By on 6.15.15 | 8:47PM

The San Diego Padres have fired manager Bud Black. 

He held the job since the 2007 season, but had only two winning seasons and never made the post-season. In 2007, the Padres missed the playoffs via the surging Colorado Rockies. Three years later, the Padres led the NL West nearly the entire season. In late August, they had a six game lead in the division. But they would embark upon a 10 game losing streak and never recover. The Giants took advantage of the situation and would win their first of three World Series titles.

To be fair, during most of Black's tenure, the Padres had a small payroll and he didn't have much with which to work. But the same could not be said for this season. The Padres acquired the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Will Myers and James Shields, putting their payroll over $100 million. But entering tonight, the Padres are 32-33 six games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers and only half a game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2 1/2 games of the last place Rockies.

Rachel Dolezal Sued Howard University For Discriminating Against Her for Being White

By on 6.15.15 | 7:08PM

The Smoking Gun has managed to dig up what might be the nail in Rachel Dolezal's "trans-racial" coffin: a 2002 decision from a federal Court of Appeals detailing the outcome of a racial discrimination case Rachel Dolezal filed against Howard University.

The case ended up going nowhere - in fact Dolezel paid Howard University about $3500 over the course of litigation for, it seems, legal and court fees associated with the appeals process - but the case is significant in one key aspect: Rachel Dolezal sued Howard University for discriminating against her because she was white

Bernie Sanders Tags Hillary On Trade

By on 6.15.15 | 6:03PM

Bernie Sanders is surging ahead in a bunch of inconsequential states, but that hasn't stopped the Ron Paul of the left from taking potshots at the presumptive frontrunner, who is trying to co-opt his populist rhetoric to sell Americans on a third Clinton term. 

Pages