The Spectacle Blog

Salon.com Has a Very Bad Day

By on 6.30.14 | 4:57PM

The single-celled brain trust known as Salon is having another bad day. After today's Supreme Court decisions, its writers have been breathlessly issuing stories decrying the erosion of women’s rights and the weakened power of unions, with the sky falling down and “unwanted babies” lining the street and that darned “one-percent.”

Breathlessly, Salon notes:

The Supreme Court’s ruling today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which said that employers with religious objections cannot be impelled to pay for contraceptive coverage for its employees, has reignited one of the more lopsided political fights of the current era: the War on Contraception.

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The Kurds: Underdogs of the Middle East

By on 6.30.14 | 4:44PM

If after the World Cup anyone is looking for a new underdog worthy of support, I submit the Kurds as the most up-and-coming players of the geopolitical world.

The Kurds are the Middle East's classic underdog story: a swashbuckling ethnic group numbering 30 million and residing in pockets of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Left out of the twentieth-century nation-making due to a PR problem, the Kurds have been the favorite pin cushion of their respective governments. After decades of being used as pawns in geopolitical power plays, the Kurds have used the recent distraction of terrorists taking over Sunni Iraq to improve their real estate options.

The Kurdish Peshmerga army is the only fighting force that has successfully retaken Iraqi territory from the Sunni militant group ISIS. The Kurds have taken over much of northern Iraq, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. They plan to make the move permanent, said Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, at a news conference Friday:

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Bodies of Kidnapped High School Students Found in West Bank

By on 6.30.14 | 3:54PM

The bodies of three young men, assumed to be the two Israeli and one Israeli-American yeshiva (religious high school) students kidnapped on June 12, have been found "under a pile of rocks in an open field" between two towns in the West Bank, according to New York Times reporting. Initial reports are that the boys had been shot.

Let neither our utterly worthless Secretary of State, John Kerry, nor his utterly worthless predecessor, Hillary Clinton, utter a word about "calm" or "the peace process."

It is time -- well past time -- to end all U.S. financial support for the murderous Palestinians who, even when not directly involved in attacks on civilians and children, celebrate such attacks while teaching their own children that Jews are monsters deserving of suffering and death.

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Obama to Announce New Head of VA

By on 6.30.14 | 3:35PM

President Obama has announced his new pick to lead the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs. According to the Associated Press, his choice is former Procter and Gamble executive Robert McDonald. The AP reports that McDonald, while a business executive, also has a military background, "graduating near the top of his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and serving as a captain in the Army, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division.”

This is a great step for the VA. The business-style leadership that McDonald brings from his thirty-three years the private sector is exactly what the VA needs.

McDonald led Procter & Gamble from 2009 to 2013. During that time, the company website states:

P&G realized annual sales of over $84 billion. The company had more than 120,000 employees, 120 plants and 200 brands in 35 categories, of which 25 brands generate over $1 billion in sales each year.

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Why Should Unions Forcibly Collect Dues When They Spend Them on Politics?

By on 6.30.14 | 2:45PM

Take a good look at the LM-2 financial disclosure form for the Illinois-Indiana health care affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. That’s what Jennifer Parrish, a Minnesota child care worker, did a few days prior to today’s Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn. The LM-2 form is divided into three categories: representation activities, political activities, and general overhead. There’s also a gifts/grants section that shows the SEIU donates money to certain organizations that return the favor with their own contributions back to the union.

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Elizabeth Warren: ‘She’s like what Obama was…’

By on 6.30.14 | 1:17PM

The gentlelady is on a whistlestop tour through Kentucky, West Virginia, Oregon, Minnesota, and Washington state, where she "produces enormous, almost celebrity-like, enthusiasm from supporters," Buzzfeed reports:

Warren’s ability to fundraise for fellow Democrats could help her own future aspirations, whatever they may be. Though she has emphatically denied she has any plans to run for president, it certainly doesn’t hurt to give generously to colleagues now.

“She’s in the process of building a power base within the Senate,” Manley said. “For someone in year two and a half, she’s raised an impressive amount of money. This helps build up chips for whatever she has in mind further down the line.”

The crowd on Sunday was excited for Grimes, but there were many clad in T-shirts that declared: “I’m from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.” As the rally ended and Katy Perry’s “Roar” blared, it was Warren who was mobbed from fans for photos.

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Supreme Court Throws Out Contraception Mandate

By on 6.30.14 | 10:40AM

The Supreme Court this morning struck down the Obamacare contraception mandate and ruled in favor of craft supply store Hobby Lobby. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to closely held for-profit corporations just as it applies to non-profit organizations that object to providing contraceptive coverage. This is the first time SCOTUS has ruled that for-profit corporations can hold religious views, and is sure to spark debates about both religious freedom and corporate personhood. The Court said that the mandate wasn't the least restrictive means for the government to advance its goal of covered birth control. Justice Alito wrote the opinion of the Court, with Justice Kennedy concurring, and two separate dissenting opinions were filed by the liberal justices.

The Court also ruled in favor of Illinois home care workers who don't want to be forced to pay union dues, though it didn't apply the principle to all public-sector workers. If it had, the result would have been something close to a national right-to-work law. This decision, Harris v. Quinn, was also 5-4.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Forced Union Dues for Home HealthCare Workers

By on 6.30.14 | 10:37AM

In the less-widely covered opinion released today in Harris v Quinn, a 5-4 Supreme Court ruled that home health care providers cannot be forced to pay union dues to a union (in this case SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana) of which they are not members. Lower courts had ruled in favor of the union, “concluding that the (Personal Assistants) were state employees” for purposes of forced contribution to a union which has a collective bargaining agreement with the state.

The Court’s plain-language ruling:  “The First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from Rehabilitation Program PAs who do not want to join or support the union.” The opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, notes that “PAs are almost entirely answerable to the customers and not to the State, do not enjoy most of the rights and benefits that inure to state employees, and are not indemnified by the State for claims against them arising from actions taken during the course of their employment.”

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Representation Before Law: Immigration Law

By on 6.28.14 | 2:38PM

New York City and immigration go together. Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, cab drivers, and ethnic neighborhoods all point to the city’s role as a leader in immigration. As Democrats pressure Republicans to act on immigration reform, threatening executive action if legislation is not passed soon, over 180,000 illegal immigrants, many of them children from Central America, have poured over the Texas border, overwhelming facilities there.

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Mississippi GOP Needs to Find Its Soul

By on 6.27.14 | 1:59PM

After a brutal month of fighting between the Tea Party and the establishment in the hotly contested Mississippi Senate race, tragedy has struck. According to the Clarion-Ledger, sources have confirmed that Mark Mayfield, a Mississippi Tea Party leader, has taken his own life. The paper reports:

Mayfield is vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, and is one of the three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.

It continues:

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