Last night, if you were savvy enough to catch it (considering it was deliberately positioned opposite playoff football and Downton Abbey), the two candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination faced off while Martin O'Malley looked on helplessly. To the untrained eye, flipping through stations to avoid prime time network entertainment, it looked like, in the words of Jim Gaffigan, your grandparents arguing. If you paid attention, it was still your grandparents arguing.
The Spectacle Blog
Over the weekend, Iran released four American prisoners in a swap with American authorities. In return for releasing 7 Iranian "sanctions violators" and ending investigations into 14 more, Iran gave back wrongly held American citizens, including a Washington Post journalist, who had recently been the subject of a show trial, and a pastor arrested for building Christian churches.
Although everyone was overjoyed at the prospect of their return, I don't think I was alone in wondering what, exactly, Iran was getting in for their de facto hostages other than just a homecoming for some low-level criminals, two thirds of whom had yet to be caught. It turns out, Iran was actually awarded the Powerball jackpot: a $1.7 billion winfall - a settlement for money the US owes to Iran for various reasons. And it's the first of many possible winfalls. Because, of course it is.
I have just finished watching the Democrat presidential candidates debate which emanated from South Carolina and aired on NBC.
Given Bernie Sanders' recent surge in the polls in Iowa, it was clear NBC did everything it could to stack the debate in favor of Hillary Clinton. The audience was stacked in favor of Hillary supporters while Andrea Mitchell interrogated Sanders (particularly for past criticisms of both Presidents Obama and Clinton). By contrast both she and Lester Holt asked softball questions of Hillary (i.e. what kind of advisor would former President Clinton be) and almost entirely ignoring Martin O'Malley. In fact, I was watching the debate with my Dad. When he saw O'Malley he asked, "Who is this guy?"
O'Malley did have one great moment when Holt informed the audience that Hillary would be getting 30 extra seconds, O'Malley chimed in by asking, "Can I have 30 seconds, too?" This drew him heavy applause. During the very last segment, Lester Holt said he was going to give an opportunity for candidates to say things they didn't feel they had a chance to talk about. He drew laughter when he promptly turned his attention to O'Malley.
Today, Donald Trump tells George Stephanopoulos that Ted Cruz is "a nasty guy" and "nobody likes him."
That's a far cry from what Trump said scarcely four months ago when he and Cruz made a joint appearance at a DC rally against the Iran nuclear deal. Trump told reporters that Cruz was "a friend of mine" and "a good guy."
Trump says Cruz is a good guy. Trump says Cruz is a nasty guy. Trump loves Cruz. Trump loves Cruz not.
So how do you from being a good guy to a nasty guy in Donald Trump's book?
Well, there's a couple of ways. You can criticize him or gain on him in the polls.
Last month, when Cruz began surging in Iowa, Trump called him "a little bit of a maniac" in an interview with Chris Wallace. For good measure, Trump also said Cruz had the "wrong temperament" to be President.
I have just finished watching the NFC playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals in which the Cardinals won 27-20 in OT on a game winning touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald. Moments earlier, Fitzgerald had caught a pass from Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and rushed 75 yards to take the ball to first & goal.
I don't want to take anything away from the Cardinals and particularly Fitzgerald. The man is a future Hall of Famer. The game itself was outstanding to the very end. Yet I think it ended too soon. I dare say the Packers were robbed. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had to throw an incredible Hail Mary pass to even get to OT. And then they don't even get a chance to run the ball down the field?
Could you imagine MLB invoking a rule in which if the visiting team could win an extra inning game without the home team getting its at bats? That's basically the NFL's overtime rules amount to in the grand scheme of things.
In the space of 72 hours there have been three terrorist attacks carried out on three continents.
On January 12th, ISIS terrorists kill 11 people, nearly all of them German tourists, outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
On January 14th, mulitple bombs are detonated near the Sarinah shopping mall in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Two civilians are killed including a Canadian. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack as well.
On January 15th, al Qaeda gets in on the act by seizing hostages at the Splendid Hotel and Capuccino Cafe in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, a landlocked country situated in northwestern Africa. Although the Burkina Faso security forces, with assistance from the U.S. and French militaries, manage to free 126 hostages, 23 civilians are killed.
This again demonstrates that Islamic terrorism is a global phenomenon. There may be different organizations and they may have different methods, but the objective is the same: Kill as many civilians as possible (and if they are tourists then so much the better) with the objective of getting the world to submit to Islamic rule.
Iran's state news agency is claiming that Iran has released four American hostages who are dual American-Iranian citizens.
According to FARS, the four Americans - Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. marine Amir Hekmati and and an unidentified man believed to be businessman Siamak Namazi - in exchange for six Iranians held in this country on sanctions related charges.
The State Department has yet not comment on this report. Anything Iran says must be greeted with the utmost skepticism. I'll believe they are free when they are back on American soil.
Nevertheless, if the Obama Administration is prepared to trade five Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl then it more than plausible that they are prepared to make this deal.
Last week, The Drudge Report posted an alarming headline: “Children aged five eating own weight in sugar each year.” Follow the link and you’ll be shocked to learn that:
The average five-year-old consumes the equivalent of their body weight in sugar in the course of a year, health officials have warned.
The Telegraph article includes no citation to backup or hyperlink to the study that’s the basis for this shocking claim. Annoying. The next paragraph offers a common sense approach to solving what’s being couched as a public health nightmare:
Parents are being urged to take control of their children’s habits…
Immediately followed by some predictable big government solutions:
…as the Government prepares to publish its strategy on child obesity, amid calls to introduce a tax on sugary drinks and foods.
Here are my thoughts on the GOP main debate in North Charleston, South Carolina which has just concluded on the Fox Business Network.
John Kasich - He basically sung his greatest hits of the '90's. For Kasich everything is riding on New Hampshire. Unless he finishes second or a very strong third, I expect he will drop out.
Chris Christie - The New Jersey Governor was his usual assertive self. He called Obama "a petulant child" and later said he gave the criminals the benefit of the doubt and embraces lawlessness. Somehow I'm sure he didn't tell Obama this during Hurricane Sandy. Christie made several barbed comments about Rubio and Cruz when he said he hated "interrupt a debate on the Senate floor". He cut both of them off when they weren't forthcoming about answering a question about entitlements. However. Christie lost an exchange with Rubio when he claimed he never gave money to Planned Parenthood. In fact, Christie gave money to PP in 1994. It was a long time ago, but he did give them money.
I finished watching the GOP Undercard Debate which took place in North Charleston, South Carolina and aired on the Fox Business Network.
Undercard veteran Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee were joined by Carly Fiorina. It was her first time on the undercard since August. All three had their moments, but I think Santorum and Huckabee cancel each other out and will be gone after the Iowa caucuses.
Fiorina resonated the most with the audience. But her debate performances are always excellent. Thus the question remains if she will resonate her way back to the GOP main stage in a fortnight, a mere three days before the vote in Iowa.
I will be live tweeting the GOP main stage debate at #GOPDebate which begins at 9 p.m. EST. My Twitter handle @aargold24.