The Spectacle Blog

A Crack In Obamacare?

By on 7.22.14 | 11:03AM

On a 2-1 vote, a panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Obamacare law as written does not permit subsidies for those who purchase health insurance through the federal exchange rather than through state-created exchanges.

It is clearly the right decision based on the text of the law, but it was nevertheless far from a foregone conclusion that the court would rule this way.

It is premature for major celebrations by opponents of Obamacare...which I'll get into in an article later today or tomorrow.

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Remaining Iraqi Christians Expelled

By on 7.21.14 | 4:18PM

The most prominent Christian landmark in Iraq was emptied of its Christians on Sunday. Mar Behnam is a Syriac Catholic church that was built by a fourth-century Assyrian king. The church was his penance for killing his son, a Christian convert. It is now under the control of Islamic extremists from ISIS, and the monks having been sent away with nothing but the clothes on their backs, according to AFP. They walked for miles before Kurdish Peshmerga forces picked them up and took them to Qaraqosh. 

The monks were the last Christians to leave the plains of Iraq; a few still live in Baghdad, but the rest have fled to Kurdistan.

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Uber Trolls Washington

By on 7.21.14 | 4:06PM

In a proverbial middle finger to authorities in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and other states, the popular taxi service Uber’s advertising has gone from clever to downright hysterical. Uber is offering free rides in the Tyson and Reston areas of Northern Virginia this week.

Uber’s campaign is brilliant because of its message. Coinciding with the long-expected opening of the Washington Metro Transportation Authority's silver line, which starts at Dulles airport and joins the orange line in Rosslyn, Uber is promoting free rides with the code name “SILVERLINE” to and from Tyson’s Corner.

This is a direct dig at some of the actions taken against the company in both D.C. and Virginia. According to Blake Seitz and the Washington Examiner, the D.C. Taxi Operators Association staged a major protest:

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A Big Victory for Property Rights in Virginia

By on 7.21.14 | 3:44PM

Property rights took a significant step forward in Virginia earlier this month when the “Boneta Bill,” which protects farmers and other residents from heavy-handed zoning policies, officially became law. The bill grew out of a dispute between Martha Boneta, who owns and operates the sixty-four-acre “Liberty Farm” in Paris, Virginia, and local government officials. Liberty Farm is about an hour car ride from Washington, D.C.

The case, which has attracted national attention, reached a critical turning point in August 2012 when the Fauquier County Zoning Board of Appeals voted to uphold a series of $15,000 per day fines against Boneta based on amendments made to the county’s zoning ordinance. The fines, which have never been enforced, were issued against Boneta for hosting a birthday party for eight ten-year-old girls and for advertising pumpkin carvings, according to a press release from the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

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Polls Give a Nod to Non-Interventionists

By on 7.21.14 | 3:12PM

As politicians across the country continue to fight amongst themselves over wedge issues that the average voter does not care about—specifically birth control—Ukraine, Iraq, Israel, and several other countries are on fire. As foreign policy continues to come to the forefront, a debate is raging over what involvement the United States should have in helping settle these crises. One thing, however, is clear: the McCains and Grahams of the Senate are losing popularity.

According to a poll done by Politico, while Republicans have a seven-point advantage on foreign policy, the hawks are losing their edge by a wide margin:

In the big picture, two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement that U.S. military actions should be “limited to direct threats to our national security.” Only 22 percent agreed with the statement that as a “moral leader,” the United States “has a responsibility to use its military to protect democracy around the globe."

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A Tribute to the Onion

By on 7.21.14 | 11:41AM

Let the world take note of the Onion and its incredible commentary on the Middle East. On Friday, it tackled the escalating conflict in Gaza with the headline: “Palestinians Starting To Have Mixed Feelings About Being Used As Human Shields.” The piece employs sarcastic understatement with aplomb, pointing out the lunacy of human action.

It would ruin the humor to try and summarize the deceptively mundane “news” article that follows that title. It’s the truth artfully concealed as a lie, however. Whether or not Palestinians have awoken to the reality that it is their leaders who put them in the line of fire and give Israel cause to retaliate, the Onion points out that truth for anyone who gets their news on the Internet.

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Morning Round-Up 7-21

By on 7.21.14 | 9:28AM

Feature of the Day: The Russian Public Has a Totally Different Understanding of What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

 

Morning Headlines

 

Domestic                                                          

  

Associated Press

1. Gaza Official Says Israeli Shells Hit Hospital

2.  Dutch Anger Swells at Treatment of Ukraine Bodies

 

Politico

1. Politico Poll: Stay Out of Ukraine, Middle East

2.  On Open Mic, Kerry Talks Israel

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James Garner, R.I.P.

By on 7.20.14 | 11:09PM

Actor James Garner passed away of natural causes yesterday. He was 86.

Garner is best known for his work on TV with his portrayal of Bret Maverick in Maverick and Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. However, Garner also enjoyed a successful film career with roles in The Great Escape, Victor Victoria, Murphy's Romance (a role which garnered him his only Oscar nomination), an updated version of Maverick with Mel Gibson and The Notebook. My Dad mentioned a film called 36 Hours in which he plays a military intelligence officer who is brainwashed into thinking WWII has ended in an effort by the Germans to extricate information about the D-Day invasion. 

I also remember the Polaroid commercials he did with Mariette Hartley.

There was an ease in his manner that made his acting natural and without pretension. It was this ease that enabled him to resonate with generations of TV and movie viewers and will continue to do so despite the fact he is no longer with us.

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Is Huston Street Heading Down the Road?

By on 7.19.14 | 1:18AM

It is being reported that the San Diego Padres have traded closer Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels.

Yet I am watching the Mets-Padres game as I write this and as of a few minutes ago, Street was in the bullpen in a Padres uniform. 

But if he is heading down the road it will have happened days after being at the All-Star Game for the second time in his career although he did not get into the game. 

The Angels bullpen has been the weak link in an otherwise revitalized team. When Ernesto Frieri struggled, he was traded to the Pirates for Jason Grilli who has largely filled a set up role for Joe Smith. Although Street has had a good year in San Diego I'm not sure he'll be much of an improvement over Smith who has 15 saves. Street is pitching in his 10th big league season. He won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2005 while a member of the Oakland A's. Street later pitched for the Colorado Rockies before becoming a member of the Padres in 2012. 

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