The Spectacle Blog

Malcolm Fraser, R.I.P.

By on 3.20.15 | 11:49AM

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser passed away today following a brief illness. He was 84.

Fraser was first elected to Australia's House of Representatives in 1955 when he was only 25. He would rise steadily through the Liberal Party ranks and become Minister of the Army under Harold Holt (who would disappear while swimming the following year). After the Liberals lost power to Gough Whitlam's Labor Party in 1972, Fraser campaigned to be Liberal Party leader but lost to Bill Snedden. However, when Snedden could not unseat Whitlam in the 1974 federal election, Fraser successfully challenged Snedden for the Liberal Party leadership and become leader of the official opposition in March 1975.

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Michael Brown (a.k.a. Michael Lookofsky), R.I.P.

By on 3.20.15 | 9:28AM

Michael Brown (a.k.a Michael Lookofsky) who composed the classic "Walk Away Renee" at the age of 16, passed away on March 19th. He was 65.

Brown was the principal songwriter and keyboard player for The Left Banke. Although he would never match the success of "Walk Away Renee", they did have one other notable hit called "Pretty Ballerina". Baroque pop became a short-lived craze and Brown was at the center of it.

After leaving The Left Banke, Brown was a member of several other groups like Montage, Stories (which would have a big hit with "Brother Louie" after he left the band) and The Beckies.

After the mid-1970's, Brown more or less disappeared from the music scene although he would make a handful of appearances when The Left Banke reunited circa 2012-2013.

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Open Letter to the Professor Who Banned a Student for Disputing Rape Statistics

By on 3.19.15 | 10:01PM

At Reed College in Oregon, a student claims that his professor banned him from class because he disputed the existence of a "rape culture" in the United States as well as the (obviously bogus but often stated) statistic that one in five college women is the victim of sexual assault. The student, Jeremiah True, has begun a petition calling on the professor to allow him back into class. I have signed it and I encourage you to do so as well.

I don't know to a certainty that the story is true or complete. Nevertheless, the following is the text of an e-mail I just sent to the professor in question.

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When Will The Palestinians Recognize Israel?

By on 3.19.15 | 9:51PM

I honestly don't think it really matters what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position on a Palestinian state is.

The question isn't whether Netanyahu wants to recognize a Palestinian state or not.

The question is whether the Palestinians will ever recognize Israel. I think the answer to that is quite clear.

The Palestinians and their Arab predecessors have never wanted a Jewish state even when they were offered their own by the Peel Commission during the British Mandate of Palestine in 1937, the UN Partition Plan of 1947, the Camp David and Taba Accords of 2000/2001, Annapolis in 2008 or last year when Palestinians rejected Secretary of State Kerry's peace framework when Israel was prepared to accept.

The only terms under which the Palestinians will accept a state is if it supplants all of Israel including Jerusalem.

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Hillary Clinton Says We Have a “Fun Deficit,” Wants to Create Adult Camp

By on 3.19.15 | 8:54PM

When I think of Hillary Clinton, I do not normally think, "fun." Turns out, the feeling is mutual.

This afternoon, speaking to the American Camp Association New York and New Jersey Tri-State CAMP Conference, she suggested that, since America has been so down in the dumps lately, with all this nonsense about emails and Iranians getting the bomb, maybe what we really need to address is our "fun deficit." And she knows precisely how to do it.

Adult camps.

Hillary Clinton would love to see sleepaway camps for adults and more relationship-building in Washington, she said Thursday at what will likely be her final paid appearance before launching her expected presidential campaign.

"We really need camps for adults,"  the former secretary of state told the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey’s Tri-State CAMP Conference. "None of the serious stuff ... I think we have a fun deficit in America."

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I Didn’t Know Obama Was So Enamored with Australian Politics

By on 3.19.15 | 3:52PM

When President Obama spoke of mandatory voting yesterday in Cleveland, he made specific reference to compulsory voting in Australia which has been place down under for nearly a century.

While I can see how the mandatory aspect of Australia's electoral system would appeal greatly to Obama, I'm not sure if he would be so enamored with other aspects of it.

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First a Health Care Mandate, Now a Voting Mandate

By on 3.19.15 | 12:57PM

I just read Larry's post concerning President Obama's riff on mandatory voting.

Although I suspect this is more of a trial balloon than anything else, I can't say I'm shocked this crossed Obama's lips.

If we now a have a health care mandate, is it really a huge stretch of the imagination that this administration (or possibly a future one) could embark upon a voting mandate?

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Obama Champions Mandatory Voting

By on 3.19.15 | 12:54PM

Apparently, not enough people vote in this country for President Obama's taste, and he knows just how to make voting both more palatable and more appealing to the 60% or so of Americans with the right to vote, but who seem to lack the ability.

Make it mandatory. Because if there's anything that Americans respond to positively, it's being told what to do. 

Obama floated the idea of mandatory voting in the U.S. while speaking to a civic group in Cleveland on Wednesday. Asked about the corrosive influence of money in U.S. elections, Obama digressed into the related topic of voting rights and said the U.S. should be making it easier — not harder— for people to vote.

Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote, the president said.

"If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country," Obama said, calling it potentially transformative. Not only that, Obama said, but universal voting would "counteract money more than anything."

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Getting Even With Bibi Is More Important to Obama Than Dems Retaining WH in ’16

By on 3.19.15 | 12:36PM

I was struck by something Jonathan S. Tobin wrote yesterday in Commentary concerning the relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama during the remainder of the latter's term:

It is true that Obama can up the ante on Netanyahu by abandoning a policy of supporting Israel in the United Nations as the Palestinians continue to violate their Oslo Accords obligation to negotiate rather than to attempt to gain recognition from the world body. But if that happens, it will create as many problems for him and the Democratic Party as it does for Israel.

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