The Spectacle Blog

Thoughts on the Shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC

By on 6.18.15 | 10:22AM

I just learned about the horrific events last night at the Emanuel AME Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in which young, white male gunman shot and killed 9 members of the church including its pastor and a member of the State Senate.

What makes this massacre all the more troubling is that the gunman joined the parishioners in prayer before he began shooting.

The Incredible Stupidity of the Washington Post

By on 6.18.15 | 8:23AM

Have you ever wondered about the ignorance displayed by writers for the Washington Post? Millennials who believe, with Barack Obama, that history began the day they were born? Folks who can’t be bothered with facts?

This morning (June 18) we learn, on page 1 of the Post, that “In 2020, a woman will be the face of the ten.” A photo of a ten-dollar bill is shown, and beneath it, in bold-face type, the following description: “The face of Andrew Hamilton, the country’s first treasury secretary, adorns $10 bills for now.” “For now.” The Post can hardly wait for this relic of American history to disappear. After all, what relevance have the Founding Fathers in this age when Obama has re-founded America?

Eleanor Roosevelt is mentioned as a possible candidate. Another, Harriet Tubman, would be a twofer—an African-American woman. “The debate over who should be the face of the new $10 bill could become part of a wider conversation about the social and economic progress of women,” intones the Post.

California Labor Commission: Uber Driver Is Employee

By on 6.17.15 | 3:23PM

According to the California Labor Commission, a San Francisco-based Uber driver who filed a claim against the rideshare company is an employee and not, as Uber argued, an independent contractor. The ruling orders Uber to pay the driver about $4,000 for expenses.

The non-binding ruling could potentially have devastating implications for Uber in California. If similar rulings are issued regarding other rideshare companies like Lyft or sharing economy players such as Airbnb, Instacart, and TaskRabbit, we could see the growth of these popular and innovative companies stifled as they cope with the costs associated with having providers classified as employees.

Rachel Dolezal in 2014: It’s ‘Misrepresentation’ for White Actors to Play Black Characters

By on 6.17.15 | 3:12PM

Last year, in a radio interview, the now ousted NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal urged a boycott of the film Exodus because white actors were playing black characters:

Hopefully nobody goes to that film. We need to boycott that film, from my perspective, because it’s miseducation, it’s misrepresentation, it’s highly offensive to the people that actually were living during that time and also to people today.

Well, I suppose if anyone is qualified to talk about misrepresentation it’s Rachel Dolezal.

Tagged by the FEC, Carly for America Becomes CARLY for America

By on 6.17.15 | 12:53PM

When friends of Carly Fiorina launched Carly for America, their team was mildly concerned that the Federal Elections Commission would be hot on their heels for naming their group after their candidate. Since Super PACs are supposed to be "legally unaffiliated" with the candidates they support, so that they can maintain an air of neutrality in their fundraising that doesn't fool anyone. They thought, perhaps naively, that the Federal government would be willing to interpret the rule liberally in the case of certain conservative organizations.

I'm not ashamed to say that I love Carly. But no one, not even the former CEO of Hewlett Packard and affiliates, should assume that the FEC will apply its rules - even its incredibly vague ones - liberally. Accordingly, the FEC issued a warning: change your name or face a fine. In deference to the vaguaries of the rule, Carly for America did change its name. It announced, today, that it's become the fully FEC-compliant, CARLY for America.

The IRS, Obamacare, and the English Language

By on 6.17.15 | 12:47PM

In the days just before the March 4 Supreme Court hearing in King v. Burwell, I got a number of calls from total strangers who had read about the case and who wanted to be plaintiffs in it. I explained to them that it was too late to join the case then, but listened to their stories of cancelled insurance policies and jobs jeopardized by Obamacare. One call stood out in particular. It was from a woman in California who had moved to the U.S. years ago from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. After explaining her health care predicament, she asked me: Do you understand how crazy this is? I left a totally dysfunctional country to come here, and now I find myself trapped in this insanity!

California University Will Ban Soda Sales On Campus

By on 6.17.15 | 12:43PM

The University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) is halting the sale of soda and other sugary drinks on campus due to health concerns.

Under the new policy, which was decided upon in May and will be implemented in July, campus vendors will be blocked from selling all drinks with added sugar calories to the school’s 4,600 students. That means no Coca-Cola, no Dr. Pepper, and no fruit punch. Diet sodas and 100 percent juice drinks will still be tolerated, and students will be allowed to bring sugary drinks on campus if they buy them elsewhere.

“The average American consumes nearly three times the recommended amount of added sugar every day,” UCSF professor Laura Schmidt said in the school’s initial announcement. “The most common single source is sugar-sweetened beverages.””

ICE Has ‘Largely Abandoned’ Efforts To Punish Illegal-Hiring Employers

By on 6.17.15 | 12:38PM

The Obama administration has “largely abandoned” efforts to enforce laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal immigrants, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement audited 181 workplaces and charged 27 employers in the first five months of this fiscal year, the internal ICE data analyzed by CIS shows. That’s a steep decline from 2013, when ICE audited more than 3,000 companies and arrested 179 employers. And the number of fines ICE collected from employers dropped by more than half since 2013.

“The administration’s near discontinuation of worksite enforcement means that employers now face very little risk in hiring illegal workers and have little incentive to abide by the law,” CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan wrote in the report.

In 2009, the Obama administration instructed top ICE investigations personnel to stop conducting physical raids of employers, and to instead conduct “virtual raids” by inspecting personnel records.

Kentucky Insurers Request Double Digit Premium Hikes

By on 6.17.15 | 12:34PM

The Kentucky Health Cooperative, the largest insurer on Kynect, Kentucky’s Obamacare health insurance exchange, proposed a 25.1 percent health insurance premium rate increase for 2016.

Despite the daunting numbers, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is unconcerned about the double-digit rate in his administration’s signature policy.

“System-wide averages don’t give a good picture of what an individual’s out-of-pocket costs may be,” Beshear said.

Beshear bypassed the legislature and created Kynect, the nation’s first state-run health-insurance exchange, through an executive order.

“The rates for private health plans on Kynect have been filed but have not yet been approved or certified, so we don’t yet know what the final numbers will be,” Beshear said. “Changes still may occur, and rates should be finalized sometime in mid-July, but we do expect that some plan rates will go down, some will go up, and some will stay close to the same as last year.”

Financial Problems Loom

California Obamacare Exchange Is Running Out of Money

By on 6.17.15 | 12:29PM

After spending more than $1 billion on startup costs, California’s state-run Obamacare health insurance exchange has failed to produce the expected returns and is rapidly running out of money.

Covered California signed up fewer people than was required for it to become self-sufficient, Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution says.

“Even spending all of the money they did on advertising, they still managed to sign up far fewer Californians than they expected,” Chen said. “In fact, they’ve signed up about 1.27 million people, when they expected to enroll 1.8 million.

“Covered California receives $13.95 for each enrollee into the program, so falling half a million enrollees short will mean financial strain for the exchange,” Chen said.

Covered California’s 2015­–16 budget proposal outlines possible consequences of such a shortfall.

Pages