The Spectacle Blog

Hold Your Applause

By on 9.29.15 | 3:31PM

There is a good deal of whooping and shouting just now in advanced circles about the confirmation that there is water on Mars. I’ll hold my applause until NASA finds that there is also Scotch on Mars.

The advancement of knowledge is usually a good thing. Though in this case it’s hard to imagine how Homo sapiens sapiens is better off for knowing there is water, and therefore possibly microbes, on Mars. And none of the stories on this find tell us how much tax money a dead-broke country spent to find this out.

Fantasists in the space biz still harbor ambitions to visit the red planet. (Figure the price-tag on this round trip.) Should this unlikely event take place, the temptation to bring some of those microbes home would be irresistible. Though with what we know of the declining effectiveness of antibiotics, I’d have thought we have more than enough pernicious domestic microbes without importing more. I fear Martian microbes would be at least Tijuana-squared.

Is it Already “Make or Break” Time for Jeb Bush?

By on 9.28.15 | 5:02PM

According to the Washington Post, Jeb Bush has until Halloween to clean up his act, or his donors will be bailing for greener, less moderate, possibly less entitled pastures.

Jeb Bush has been something of a non-entity through the first leg of the 2016 campaign. He came in assuming that the waters of the GOP pool would simply part to allow him to walk easily into the nomination, as though he were some sort of second coming of Mitt Romney, and not the third coming of the Bush dynasty. He's run up against Donald Trump, no doubt, which makes it much harder to capture any breathing room even in debates, but Jeb has also failed to distinguish himself from his rivals, he's been skipping fundraisers, and though he's still cashing his checks, the people writing them are starting to speculate that they might have backed the wrong horse - so they've reportedly given Jeb an ultimatem.

Trump Sounds Like Obama & Hillary on NAFTA

By on 9.28.15 | 4:34PM

During his interview which aired on 60 Minutes last night, Donald Trump declared NAFTA "a disaster" and went on to say "we will either renegotiate it or we will break it."

His rhetoric echoes that of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on NAFTA during the 2008 campaign. In her debate with Obama in Cleveland in February 2008, Hillary stated, "I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America." For his part, Obama stated, "One of the first things I’ll do as President will be to call the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico and work with them to fix NAFTA." During the Ohio primary, Obama called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake."

Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Pumpkin Spice

By on 9.28.15 | 4:16PM

I've been on the Hillary beat for a while now and I can confidently say that there are few things on which we agree. 

Today, on her quest to invigorate the women who are supposed to fall in line behind her candidacy simply because she and they have a matching set of genitalia and a shared love of Amy Schumer, Hillary Clinton decided to make a bold proclamation: unlike every middle-aged minivan driver on the planet, she doesn't support America's embrace of the pumpkin spice latte.

The Democratic presidential candidate revealed in a Facebook Q&A on Monday that she used to be a fan of Starbucks’ popular autumn-timed drink. That is, she says, until she eyed the nutrition facts.

When a Facebook user asked if Clinton is a “pumpkin spice latte kind of gal,” the former secretary of State replied, “Ha! The true answer is I used to be until I saw how many calories are in them. –H”

Trump on 60 Minutes: “We Need Socialized Medicine”

By on 9.28.15 | 12:39PM

This weekend, I got my third health insurance cancellation notice in three years. First, they cancelled the wonderful individual plan we bought for ourselves before the Obamacare law kicked in, after threatening to raise the price on it by over 50%. Then, they cancelled the plan we selected from the then-nonworking Obamacare exchange, which covered less than our original plan but was $50 more expensive per month, and had a 300% higher deductible, leaving us without insurance for three months. And now, they're cancelling our new plan. Obamacare may, literally, be the worst law ever passed.

Bill Clinton Wanted to Enlist Steven Spielberg to Make Hillary More Likeable

By on 9.28.15 | 12:24PM

Clinton supporters remain remarkably confused as to why their chosen candidate is having such a difficult time relating to the common people, even though she's clearly been communing with the proletariat on a regular basis since this candidacy took flight. To the public, of course, Hillary's lack of appeal is self-evident; her prickly, false demeanor speaks volumes abou ther ambition and her desire to lead. She'd make an excellent President - if only the job didn't involve actual Americans.

According to a new book, Bill Clinton recognized Hillary's disconnect early on and tried to hire master filmmaker Steven Spielberg to mold Clinton's image. The effort, though, turned out less like the director's remarkable crafting of an extraterrestrial into a friendly sidekick in E.T. and more like his remarkable crafting of an angry, reanimated T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

Biggest Threat to Israel: Too Many Babies?

By on 9.27.15 | 4:44PM

A recent Reuters report was titled: “Israel’s soaring population: Promised Land running out of room?”

As a mother of two daughters born through the technological miracle of IVF, I want to address one particularly pernicious idea in this article. After quoting Israeli “experts” who bemoan their country’s alleged overpopulation, the writers add this: ‘Israeli government policy encourages population growth with benefits such as child allowances, free schooling from the age of three and funding for up to four in vitro fertility treatments a year.’

This implies that IVF is a major driver of population growth. To someone who went through many failed treatments - at great expense - the idea is laughable. Yes, eventually I did achieve two successful pregnancies, thank God. IVF is physically and emotionally very stressful.  Furthermore, it is complicated, painful, and success is not guaranteed.

Who would go to such lengths? Only women who desperately want to be mothers. Is it a bad thing that the Israeli government helps such women?!

Edward Gibbon, Call Your Office

By on 9.27.15 | 12:25PM

In his visit to America, Pope Francis has had considerable truck with politicians. And has pronounced and prompted (some – not I - would say hectored) on subjects not generally considered the province of religious leaders. This had led to a spate of foolish assertions and spurious expressed hope on the part of TV talking heads, political writers, and others in the chatterati.

No. The Pope, no matter how sincere he is, will not leave behind him a better political atmosphere. The differences that existed when he arrived will persist irreconcilably after he leaves. The scales will fall from no one’s eyes. I suggest it’s time for those asking these silly questions and expressing this dubious hope to revisit their Gibbon.

He spoke to the impact of religion on politics: “The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”

Mets Clinch NL East; Make Post-Season for First Time Since ‘06

By on 9.26.15 | 8:19PM

Here is what I wrote about the New York Mets at the beginning of the 2015 season:

The Mets will shock the world and capture an NL Wild Card berth. 

The New York Mets did one better. Today, they clinched the NL East with a win a 10-2 victory over the hapless Cincinnati Reds today. The much maligned Matt Harvey threw 6 1/3 innings with Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and David Wright each hitting home runs. It marks the first time the Mets have made the post-season since 2006.

The Mets got off to a strong start with a 15-8 mark in April which included an 11-game winning streak. But the Washington Nationals would rebound in May and take over the division on May 20th. The Mets would rebound in June and regain first place on June 11th. But less than two weeks later, they would drop seven in a row and fall under .500. During that losing streak, they only scored more than two runs once. The impeccable pitching of Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergaard and the ageless Bartolo Colon plus Jeurys Familia wasn't enough. 

Jolly Calls Conservatives Idiots

By on 9.26.15 | 3:00PM

Republican Congressman David Jolly has represented the 13th District of Florida – mostly the city of St. Petersburg – since he won a special election in 2014 after the death of long-time Congressman Bill Young. Lines have been redrawn so that CD13 now favors Democrats, so Jolly will seek the U.S. Senate seat Marco Rubio is leaving in order to run for President.

Jolly has been known as a Republican moderate. He’s pro-life and strong on gun rights, but early on became one of the first, perhaps the first, Republican member of Congress to support same-sex marriage. “I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty.” He explained, “To me that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their (sic) faith and by their (sic) church, not by their (sic) state.” He hasn’t said whether this standard also applies to polygamists and sheep fanciers.