The Spectacle Blog

Conservatives Had a Very Good Night — In Manitoba

By on 4.19.16 | 11:39PM

It was a good night for conservatives -- in Manitoba.

The Canadian prairie province ousted the NDP government of Greg Selinger in favor of the Progressive Conservative Party led by Brian Pallister. As of this writing, the Tories are elected or leading in 41 seats, with the NDP reduced to 13 seats with three seats for the Liberals (although their leader Rana Bokhari has lost her seat). The Green Party appears to be shut out. 

The Manitoba NDP had the longest reigning provincial government in the country having been in power since 1999 first under Gary Doer (who would later become Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.) and then Greg Selinger. Support for the NDP severely declined after Selinger reneged on a promise to not raise the provincial sales tax from 7 to 8%. This would lead to a cabinet revolt and a departure of five cabinet ministers and a challenge to Selinger's leadership. While Selinger survived the challenge to his leadership, the writing was on the wall. 

Hillary & Trump Rebound in New York

By on 4.19.16 | 11:04PM

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton rebounded tonight in New York.

With 83% of the vote tallied, Trump has won 60% of the vote as compared to 25.2% for John Kasich and 14.8% for Ted Cruz. The "New York Values" quip did Cruz lasting damage.

While a victory in the Empire State was no surprise, with Trump's campaign has been at a low ebb over the past month, a decisive victory is certainly a shot in the arm. Trump should also do well in one week's time when five Northeastern states vote - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. 

But Trump was speaking absolute nonsense in his victory speech tonight when he claimed that Cruz was mathematically eliminated from winning the convention. Cruz is likely to fare better in May when Indiana, Nebraska and West Virginia vote as well as Pacific Northwest states Washington and Oregon. The biggest race of them all is in California on June 7th. So this thing is far from over.

Milt Pappas, R.I.P.

By on 4.19.16 | 10:39PM

Former MLB pitcher Milt Pappas has died of natural causes. He was 76.

Pappas pitched in the bigs from 1957 at the age of 18 through 1973 with the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. While never a premier pitcher, he consistently won in double digits and would finish his career with 209 wins becoming the first big league pitcher to have 200 wins without the benefit of a 20-win season. 

He first attracted attention as part of the "Baby Birds" Orioles team in 1960 that gave the New York Yankees a run for their money. The Orioles had three starting pitchers 22 and under - Chuck Estrada, Steve Barber and Pappas. That season, Pappas won 15 games. Of his 209 wins, 110 of them came with the Orioles resulting in two AL All-Star appearances including as the starting pitcher in the 1965 All-Star Game.

Who Died and Made Dodd-Frank Regulators Gods?

By on 4.19.16 | 4:28PM

Meet the new deities. They apparently sit on the Financial Stability Oversight Council and other regulatory agencies, especially those created by the Dodd-Frank banking “reform” act.

Obama administration officials and Dodd-Frank cheerleaders have been simply apoplectic in their reactions to U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer’s carefully reasoned March 30 decision reversing FSOC’s designation of the MetLife insurance company as “systemically important,” or too-big-to-fail. Expect similar reactions to a bill, H.R. 3340, voted out of the House last week that makes FSOC more accountable to Congress by placing its budget under the appropriations process. Similarly, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill last week, H.R. 1486, that would put Dodd-Frank’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spending on budget as well.

If You Have No Good Intellectual Arguments, Accuse Your Opponents of Being Shills

By on 4.19.16 | 3:45PM

The stupidest, lamest, and couldn’t-be-more-mistaken charge often leveled at those who find great merits in free markets (such as me and my colleagues at GMU Economics and the Mercatus Center, and my dear friends at institutions such as the Cato Institute and the Hoover Institution) is that we’re “bought off by” or are “paid shills for” rich business people.

Impeachment in Brazil: Myths and Facts

By on 4.19.16 | 12:36PM

On Sunday night, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted overwhelmingly (367-137) to open impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. The Senate will now vote on whether to take the case and try her, which is all but guaranteed. As a matter of fact, barring some unforeseen event, Dilma’s days as president are numbered.

These are Brazil’s most turbulent months since the return to democracy in 1985. Not only is the president about to be removed from office, but the country is also mired in its worst economic recession since the 1930s. It is not coincidence that Dilma’s popularity (10%) stands at a similar level to Brazil’s fiscal deficit (10.75%), the unemployment rate (9.5%), and the inflation rate (9.4%). The economic and political crises are feeding off of one another.

Here are some facts and myths regarding this impeachment process:

“It’s a coup!”

Doris Roberts, R.I.P.

By on 4.18.16 | 9:53PM

Actress Doris Roberts passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.

Roberts is best known for playing Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond starring Ray Romano from 1996 to 2005. She would win four Emmy Awards for this role.

Before being cast on Everybody Loves Raymond, Roberts' already had a career that had spanned 45 years dating back to the early 1950's. Her TV credits include roles on Ben Casey, Naked City, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Barney Miller (which I saw the other night). Roberts would become a series regular on Angie and Remington Steele and also appear in movies likeThe Heartbreak Kid, The Rose and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. 

Above is a video of Roberts accepting one of her Emmy Awards back in 2002.

 

Why I’m Not Impressed With Justin Trudeau’s Answer on Quantum Computing

By on 4.17.16 | 2:59AM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still getting the Obama treatment. 

During a speech in Waterloo, Ontario on Friday in which he was discussing his Liberal government's first budget, a reporter asked Trudeau about his government's strategy on ISIS, the reporter prefaced the question by stating, "I was going to ask you about quantum computing but...."

And Trudeau, ever the show off, answered the question about quantam computing much to the delight of an audience of theoretical physicists

However, Trudeau was a lot less forthcoming when it came to answering the reporter's question about ISIS. 

It's all well and good that Trudeau knows about quantam computers. Unfortunately, it does nothing to defeat ISIS. 

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper probably couldn't tell you about binary systems, but I bet he has a much better idea about how to defeat ISIS than Justin Trudeau does.

 

 

Where One Boston Day Falls Short

By on 4.15.16 | 11:10PM

Today marks the third anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

As per Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, April 15th will be known as One Boston Day in which “random acts of kindness and spreading goodwill" is encouraged.

While getting a hug from the Boston Ballet Nutcracker Bear and free admission into the Museum of Fine Arts is all well and good, kindness and goodwill are empty gestures without remembering there was an act of evil committed in this city and the religious ideology that inspired that evil is alive, well and not going away no matter how much we want to pretend it isn't there.

Water Is Not a Public Good

By on 4.15.16 | 12:45PM

Last night in my seminar on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations my students and I covered Smith’s chapters on public goods. During the course of the discussion one of my superb students, Chris Kuiper, mentioned in passing that Paul Krugman, in a recent New York Times column, mistakenly described safe drinking water as a public good. Here’s that column. Mr. Krugman emphasizes that safe drinking water is a public good according to “Econ 101.”

(Please excuse me for a moment while I take a sip of water from my bottle of Aquafina…. Ok — my thirst is now well and truly and safely quenched. Back to this blog post…)

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