The Spectacle Blog

The Sorry State of American Politics

By on 1.13.16 | 7:14PM

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

The media rightly ridicule the bigotry and ignorance of the Republican voters who are responsible for Donald Trump’s buoyancy in the polls.  But your report today on Hillary Clinton’s proposed 4% “surcharge” on millionaires reveals that Democratic voters are also infested with a mix of bigotry and ignorance that, although different in detail from that of the Republicans, is no less uncivilized and dangerous (“Hillary Clinton Proposes 4% Income-Tax Surcharge for Wealthy Americans,” Jan. 12).

Tug-of-War Over Federal Lands Leads to Standoff

By on 1.13.16 | 6:54PM

Lost in all the hoopla over “y’all queda” and “VanillaISIS” is any basic history of how public rangelands in the West — and in eastern Oregon in particular — got to this point. I’ve seen no mention in the press of two laws that are probably more responsible than anything else for the alienation and animosity the Hammonds felt towards the government.

The first law, the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978, set a formula for calculating grazing fees based on beef prices and rancher costs. When the law was written, most analysts assumed per capita beef consumption would continue to grow as it had the previous several decades. In fact, it declined from 90 pounds to 50 pounds per year. The formula quickly drove down fees to the minimum of $1.35 per cow-month, even as inflation increased the costs to the government of managing the range. 

NARAL Slams…Nancy Pelosi?

By on 1.13.16 | 4:47PM

Thanks to an enterprising reporter, Nancy Pelosi received a nastygram this morning from one of her favorite organizations: NARAL. 

In an interview, captured by Roll Call, Nancy Pelosi, who supports abortion rights despite being what she describes as a "devout Catholic," claimed that the Center for Medical Progress videos, which captured Planned Parenthood executives describing a heinous organ-harvesting procedure using aborted fetuses, had been "doctored." Whe she was corrected by the reporter, who said that an independent review had found no evidence of doctoring,  she claimed that Republican efforts to defund the abortion provider were actually centered around denying family planning services and contraception. Then, asked whether she could explain her opposition to a bill that outlawed abortion after 20 weeks gestation, she first claimed late-term abortions were illegal, then clairified her statement by saying that she "[does not] believe in abortion on demand" — a shock, I'm sure, to most of her supporters.

The Biggest Difference & Similarity Between American & Canadian Lotteries

By on 1.13.16 | 4:40PM

In a few hours from now, the Powerball numbers will be drawn. The jackpot is presently at $1.5 billion (and growing). But not everyone is happy about it.

Michelle Malkin calls Powerball "a government-sponsored gambling racket." Malkin objects the cut state governments receive from Powerball and other lotteries. Yet I can't help but wonder if she too has bought a ticket. Or two.

I wonder if Malkin would prefer Canadian lotteries. They are tax free. Granted the jackpot isn't as large. Lotto 649 (it's called that because you can pick six numbers between 1 and 49) sold its largest winning ticket worth $64 million (about $45 million in U.S. Dollars) last October. Canada's federal and provincial governments get none of that money. Again, $64 million Cdn isn't a $1.5 billion U.S. but it belongs solely to the winner.

Al Jazeera America to Shut Down in April

By on 1.13.16 | 2:58PM

Al Jazeera America announced it would be ceasing operations as of April 30th of this year.

Aside from poor ratings and poor morale, the network had recently been sued by MLB players Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman for a story last month which alleged they received shipments of HGH. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was also named in the story and planned to make a decision about legal action after the end of the NFL season. (The Broncos are currently in the playoffs).

If AJA had been found in the wrong in the Howard/Zimmerman lawsuit it would have done untold damage to their finances and reputation and would have been even worse if Manning had joined the fray. I wonder how much of a factor this lawsuit and Manning's potential action contributed in AJA's decision to call it a day.

Good-bye and good riddance.

NY Times Proclaims Iran’s Release of U.S. Navy Sailors Represents “Warmer Relations”

By on 1.13.16 | 2:42PM

The New York Times is proclaiming that Iran's quick release of 10 Navy sailors represents "warmer relations" between the United States and Iran.

Well, if seizing two U.S. Navy boats, imprisoning the sailors and showing them on Iranian state TV in violation of the Geneva Convention represents warmer relations between the U.S. and Iran then I would say things are getting downright cozy.

I suppose the Iranian rocket which landed within a mile of U.S.S. Harry Truman was just a social call.

Twits Mock the Wrong Guy

By on 1.13.16 | 1:55PM

The Daily Mail reports that the twits of Twitterworld mocked Marco Rubio for appearing bored during Barack Obama’s State of My Ego speech last night.

Good grief. These twits must not have tuned in the speech themselves. The folks who should have been mocked were those who didn’t find the speech a bore. Those who through sheer determination managed to stay awake for the duration deserve a medal, not mockery.

The Rams Return to L.A. While St. Louis Gets Burned Again

By on 1.13.16 | 12:50PM

The NFL will return to Los Angeles. Yesterday, the NFL owners gave approval to the St. Louis Rams to move back to L.A. after a 21-year absence. A new stadium is to be built on land in Inglewood owned by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The new stadium, which is purportedly to be built entirely with private funds, is expected to be ready in 2019. Where the Rams will play until then is anyone's guess, but I would guess the L.A. Coliseum would be their temporary home.

The NFL has also given their blessing to the San Diego Chargers to move to L.A. and share the new facility with the Rams. The Oakland Raiders had also applied to relocate to L.A. The Raiders, of course, called L.A. home from 1982 to 1994. The late Al Davis infamously moved the team from Oakland to LA without NFL approval. The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995, but are now looking to pick up stakes yet again. 

As for the Rams, prior to moving to the Midwest in 1995, the Rams had played in L.A. for nearly half a century. The Los Angeles Rams had won 2 NFL championships and had one Super Bowl appearance.

Five Things You Might Have Missed in President Obama’s State of the Union Address

By on 1.13.16 | 12:07PM

I have to be honest: I watched the State of Union on DVR so that I could fast-forward through the clapping, and get straight to the part where Joe Biden starts cracking open Natty Lights under the podium. While it was on, I drank most of a bottle of red wine and watched reruns of The Big Bang Theory. To be honest, I almost forgot the event was even on, since I haven't watched basic cable in years, but alas, I work for a political publication, so I am forced to endure, at least, a partial viewing of our nation's most time-honored, non-essential tradition: a one-hour Presidential tribute to himself.

Nikki Haley Gave The Best SOTU Response in Years

By on 1.12.16 | 11:45PM

Not only did I like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's response to President Obama's SOTU, but I think it was best in years. 

Haley came off as confident, engaging, intelligent, warm and personable. Frankly, that's better than most of the people the GOP has running for the White House.

While she demonstrated contempt for President Obama's policies she did so by killing him with kindness as when she said that his achievements had fallen short of his lofty words or when she noted that international agreements ought to be celebrated in Israel, not Iran. 

Haley spoke about the shooting at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston last summer noting that the man who entered the church was welcomed with open arms, offered a chair and invited to prayer before he betrayed their good will. Despite the anger from that tragedy, she noted that people turned not to violence and vitriol, but to God. 

I like her temperament. It was music to my ears when Haley said, "We must resist the siren call of our angriest voices." Amen to that.