The Spectacle Blog

Two Primaries to Watch Tonight

By on 8.5.14 | 5:25PM

It’s primary day once again, as four states head to the polls to choose their party’s candidates for the upcoming 2014 midterm elections. Two of the races being decided today, one in Kansas and one in Michigan, have garnered national attention for their importance to the Tea Party and the antics of the involved candidates. Here’s what to keep your eye on tonight.

Kansas:
The Sunflower State’s senatorial primary pits long-time incumbent Senator Pat Roberts against Milton Wolf, a Tea Party challenger who is, incidentally, also the second cousin of President Obama.

Roberts has an 86 percent lifetime rating and an endorsement from the American Conservative Union. But he has also been in the senate for thirty-three years, which plays into the stereotype of out-of-touch career politicians. CNN reports:

Send to Kindle

Rand Paul Isn’t Exactly a Profile in Courage

By on 8.5.14 | 4:51PM

Senator Rand Paul wasn't exactly a profile in courage earlier this week in Iowa. While having lunch with GOP Congressman Steve King, two amnesty activists (one of whom referred to herself as a DREAMer) confronted the pair. While King stuck around and chatted with the two, Paul, not having finished his hamburger, did an impression of Jesse Owens that would have impressed the late Cleavon Little. Or like Sir Robin in Monty Python and The Holy Grail he bravely turned tail and fled.

This does not make Paul look good at all. Politicians can ill afford to be seen running from people even if those people aren't likely to be your supporters. Of course, the amnesty activists had an agenda an axe to grind. But so does everyone. It comes with the territory. Unless people have violent intentions there's no reason to slip a politician seeking higher office out the back door, especially if one is seeking the White House.

Send to Kindle

On Losing Jim Brady

By on 8.5.14 | 4:28PM

Jim Brady’s death brought to mind a wistful moment in The Prince of Darkness, the late Robert Novak’s priceless memoir. On March 23, 1981 — one week exactly before John Hinckley shot bullets into President Reagan and his press secretary — Novak and his partner Rowland Evans sat down with Reagan in the Oval Office for a 30 minute interview. Novak had called Brady to request it, and to his surprise Brady was the only aide present, and he left after five minutes. “We were alone with the president,” Novak writes, for another 30 minutes it turned out. At which point, Brady returned, “hand-signaled” to Novak that time was up but gave him and Evans five additional minutes to wrap things up.

Reports Novak:

Send to Kindle

Simon & Schuster’s Director of Publicity Responds

By on 8.5.14 | 1:00PM

Earlier today we received this reply from Simon & Schuster’s director of publicity to my column today, “Reagan Authors in Plagiarism Fight”:

Dear Mr. Lord and Mr. Pleszczynski,

Send to Kindle

Toledo Lives, But Every City Is Mortal

By on 8.5.14 | 10:15AM

The tap water is once again safe to drink for the residents of Toledo, Ohio, the state’s fourth largest city, the Associated Press reports. Toxin levels in the area’s water system caused by an algae bloom in Lake Erie were declared low enough for safe human ingestion on Monday. Whether the Eukaryotes were solely to blame for the incident is not completely clear, and investigators will be inspecting Toledo’s pipes to make certain that the aging system did not contribute to the problem.

The episode does highlight, however, the fragility of the modern city, which can be crippled not merely by hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. With many people packed into a relatively small area and dependent on bureaucracies for their very survival, it’s a miracle disruption is so infrequent.

Send to Kindle

Pedants’ Corner: Jane Austen Wasn’t an ‘18th-Century Novelist’

By on 8.4.14 | 6:36PM

I've complained here before about seeing my second favorite novelist referred to as a "Victorian." This howler has been popping up less and less of late. (No credit due here, of course: people probably just started using Wikipedia….) But now I'm beginning to see a similar mistake. In a piece—not entirely without interest—in the Atlantic about Austenian political economy, one finds her referred to in the headline as an "18th-century novelist."

Send to Kindle

Why Doesn’t The Obama Admin Consider Hamas Disgraceful?

By on 8.4.14 | 5:05PM

Yesterday the Obama Administration publicly rebuked Israel for an attack on a UN Relief Works Agency school yesterday which left 10 Palestinians dead and displaced 3,000 others.

The Obama Administration proclaimed it was "appalled" by the incident and characterized as "disgraceful". State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lectured Israel when she said, The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israel Defense Forces. We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties."

Send to Kindle

Obama Makes News by Taking Reporters’ Questions

By on 8.4.14 | 4:18PM

For most of his tenure, Barack Obama has seemed content to ignore the White House press corps—so much so that now the president has made news simply by taking questions. Politico reports:

President Barack Obama had just done the unthinkable.

He took questions last week from the White House press corps — not just once, but twice. He didn’t call only on the reporters who were selected ahead of time by his senior aides. He even stuck around longer than he wanted at a briefing Friday to appease the room of shouting correspondents.”

“Hold on, guys. Come on. You’re not that pent up,” Obama joked. “I’ve been giving you questions lately.”

This never used to happen in the Obama White House, a place so obsessed with message control that the president could go months without talking with the press corps. However, in the past seven weeks, Obama has taken questions an average of once a week.”

Send to Kindle

James Brady, R.I.P.

By on 8.4.14 | 4:17PM

Former White House Press Secretary James Brady passed away today. His family issued a statement indicating he died "after a series of health issues". He was 73.

Only months after being named Press Secretary, Brady sustained a gunshot wound to the head during the assassination attempt of President Reagan on March 30, 1981. It had been reported that Brady had died of his wounds, but he would pull through. Slurred speech and partial paralysis left him unable to continue in the job although Reagan saw to it that he kept the title of Press Secretary throughout his presidency. Larry Speakes and later Marlin Fitzwater held the titles of Deputy Press Secretary.

Send to Kindle

Where Will the Islamic State Stop?

By on 8.4.14 | 2:16PM

Militants with the Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, launched a complex invasion into Lebanon on Sunday, overwhelming Lebanese troops and securing Arsal, a city predominantly made up of Syrian refugees. The sophistication of the attack came as a surprise to Beirut, whose underfunded army “says it doesn't have the proper weapons to fight off militants,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The Islamic State, meanwhile, might be making as much as $3 million a day selling crude oil on the black market.

It is too soon to tell where the expansion of the Islamic State will stop, but militants continue to gain ground and infrastructure—taking, for instance, Mosul’s largest dam on Sunday, putting in their hands control of the region’s electrical power and the ability to flood the valleys below. 

Send to Kindle

Pages