The Spectacle Blog

Reason #1450986 to Dislike the IRS

By on 4.23.14 | 4:08PM

No one has ever really liked tax collectors—from the days when Jesus walked the earth and rebuked Zacchaeus for exploiting the least of these to the twenty-first century when IRS employees guilty of back-payments on taxes, fraud, and other disciplinary issues get bonuses.

Yes, according to a Treasury Inspector General report, $2.8 million of your tax dollars between 2010-2012 made it into the purses of 2,800 IRS employees who were being punished for misconduct. At least $1 million went to 1,100 people responsible for collecting your taxes who had not paid their own taxes.

If that’s punishment, what do I have to do to get in trouble?

While normal Americans are prosecuted by IRS employees for failing to pay taxes, the people on the inside got checks and over 10,000 hours in paid vacation time. The report adds:

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Unlikely Bedfellows: Slavers and Frackers

By on 4.23.14 | 1:38PM

What do slave owners and oil CEOs have in common? According to The Nation’s Chris Hayes, both everything and nothing.

In his article “The New Abolitionism," he explains that at the time of the civil war, slavery was a $10 trillion industry which wealthy southerners depended on for subsistence. Doing some interesting mathematical guess-timating which I am unqualified to question, Hayes determines that the fossil fuel industry is also worth about $10 trillion.

Coincidence? He thinks not.

In case you were flabbergasted by Hayes’s audacity comparing frackers with men who owned, abused, and exploited other human beings, rest assured: Hayes explains he knows the two are unworthy of comparison.

However, that doesn’t stop him from noting “similarity” after “similarity." He goes through the history of each, explaining the selfish greed of slaveowners and oil moguls, and how slavery was an outdated method of production, just like oil has become in the modern age:

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Happy Birthday Bill Shakespeare

By on 4.23.14 | 11:36AM

The greatest writer of English, almost certainly the greatest writer of any language, was born 450 years ago today in John Shakespeare's home on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon. Mother Mary Arden Shakespeare and child did fine. The world is so much the better for this blessed event.

William Shakespeare is still read with profit today, though his plays are rarely staged anymore, and when they are they are too often given some disfiguring twist: the cast of Hamlet in punk dress and talking on smart phones, Puck and Oberon as homosexual lovers, Othello as a cross-dresser. But our Bill will outlast this kind of literary vandalism and will continue to be read for generations to come. Hamlet, Falstaff, Bottom the Weaver, Beatrice, Rosalind, Malvolio, Mercutio, and the worlds they live in are too fascinating, amusing, and edifying to be forgotten in a post-everything haze. Our Bill is forever.

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GOP Hasn’t Surrendered on Obamacare

By on 4.23.14 | 11:19AM

President Obama has taken executive power to a new level with his ongoing unilateral rewrites of Obamacare, but the Republicans have had enough.

Thirty-eight Republican lawmakers signed a legal brief challenging Obamacare on the grounds of a special Obama-decided provision to allow congressmen and their staffs to receive federal health care subsidies. If they were private-sector workers, most of them would make too much money to qualify for government aid.

Senator Ron Johnson, who filed a lawsuit regarding the provision in January, said, “Relief came in the form of a special tax treatment available only to them, granted in a manner that exceeded the president’s legal and constitutional authority."

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Morning Round-Up 4-23—Short

By on 4.23.14 | 10:44AM

Feature of the Day: More High School Grads Decide College Isn’t Worth It

Morning Headlines

Domestic                                                          

Associated Press

  1. APNewsBreak: Clemency After 10 Years in Prison?
  2. Republican Activists Push Party on Gay Marriage
  3. Federal Judge to Hear Oregon Gay Marriage Case

Politico

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Albert Pujols Hits 500th Home Run

By on 4.22.14 | 10:35PM

Tonight, Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run. The Los Angeles Angels slugger did so off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Taylor Jordan in the fifth inning. It was Pujols' second HR of the evening as he took Jordan deep in the first.  

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Supreme Court Ruling Empowers Voters to Strike Down Racial Preferences

By on 4.22.14 | 4:06PM

When Sandra Day O’Connor wrote her majority opinion in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger Supreme Court decision, she explicitly said that voters had every right to strike down race and gender preferences. That’s important because the news media does not typically report on this part of the decision.

O’Connor also ruled in Grutter that the University of Michigan Law School could use race as one of many factors in a “narrowly tailored fashion” to achieve diversity. That’s the part that gets all the press. But the majority in Grutter also outlawed the use of hard, systemic quotas. Moreover, the Court made it clear that quotas could not be used in a separate, but related case known as Gratz v. Bollinger, which said the point system used at the University of Michigan’s undergraduate program was unconstitutional.

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Game of Thrones: Sin in the Sept

By on 4.22.14 | 4:03PM

Recap: Royal funeral, Sansa’s getaway, incestuous sex scene, Lannister-Dorne geopolitical conspiracy, Oberyn bisexual orgy, the Hound’s reckless robbery, Gilly-Sam sexual tension, blood magic, senseless slaughter and an impending wilding threat, Jorah Mormont friend-zoning, and one-on-one combat for the city of Meereen. Oh, and spoilers. 

“Your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid,” Tyrion warned Cersei back in season two. A Lannister always pays his debts, even debts with other Lannisters. Yet Tyrion is falsely accused, so which Lannister am I talking about?

Rather than ponder the question: “Who had the most incentive to kill Joffrey?” we should instead ponder: “Who had the most incentive to frame Tyrion?” Perhaps Lord Tywin is responsible for Joffrey’s gasping demise. After all, Tyrion is a blemish of shame on the Lannister’s Lion sigil. Lord Tywin blames Tyrion for his family’s shortcomings. Tywin’s wife died giving birth to the “hideous monster.” And yet, Tyrion and Tywin are the most alike—calculating, pragmatic strategists with an appreciation for power.

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IRS Revokes Tax-Exempt Status for Another Conservative Group

By on 4.22.14 | 4:00PM

You would think the IRS would want to lay low while they are battling allegations of targeting conservative non-profits.

Think again. That didn’t stop them from revoking the tax-exempt status of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty for saying mean things about the Clintons and John Kerry, according to USA Today.

The 501(c)3 group received a letter from the IRS explaining that it had, “shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns” and made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications.” Although it obscures the name of the organization, the accusations align with writings from the Patrick Henry Center.

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MSNBC Host Attacks Capitalism. No! Wait! Climate Change. He Meant To Say Climate Change.

By on 4.22.14 | 2:15PM

Remember that time when the world's population exceeded its food production capacity, countless thousands of people dropped dead of starvation, and those of us who survived were reduced to eking out a subsistence level existence? No? That's because those late-18th century predictions of English cleric and economist Thomas Malthus never came to pass. Malthus failed to account for such factors as technologically improved means of production and declining birthrate. To any thinking person, a Malthusian prediction should be dismissed with laughter.

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