The Spectacle Blog

Obama’s Ex-Im Flip-Flop Tied To Chumminess With Top Beneficiaries

By on 6.23.15 | 12:41PM

President Barack Obama’s views on the Export-Import Bank have evolved considerably during his time as president, taking him from a populist critic of the bank to one of its biggest supporters.

During the 2008 presidential election, candidate Obama said Ex-Im “has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare,” but today, President Obama and his subordinates describe the bank as “essential,” Connor Lynch observes in a blog post for Americans for Tax Reform.

Ex-Im is a New Deal-era government agency that provides financing assistance to American exporters. Many conservative lawmakers and interest groups see the bank as a form of corporate welfare, and hope to prevent Congress from extending the Ex-Im’s charter, which would prevent the bank from making any new loans, though it would still be able to service its existing commitments.

Ten Years After Kelo v. New London

By on 6.23.15 | 12:37PM

Ten years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision upholding the City of New London, Connecticut’s “right” to condemn Connecticut homeowners’ properties, transfer them to a state-created entity called the New London Development Corporation, which would then transfer those properties to a private developer of a planned mixed-use redevelopment project aimed at supporting an adjacent Pfizer research facility. (Land of the free, right?) At issue was the interpretation of the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause “public use” standard.

The Court relied primarily on three previous cases involving the “public use” standard:

Berman v. Parker (1954)—This case upheld the right of municipalities to declare entire areas blighted, even if the parcel in question isn’t blighted. It also accepted Washington, D.C.’s argument that the area condemnation was necessary to prevent future blight. An all-around terrible decision.

Dick Van Patten, R.I.P.

By on 6.23.15 | 12:32PM

Actor Dick Van Patten passed away today of complications from diabetes. He was 86.

Van Patten’s acting career spanned 75 years first appearing on Broadway at the age of seven. He was on TV in its very earliest days as a cast member of the CBS TV show Mama,which ran from 1949 to 1957. But he is best remembered for starring in the ABC TV series Eight Is Enough, which aired from 1977 through 1981. In recent years, he made guest appearances on programs like Arrested Development, That ’70s Show,and Hot in Cleveland.

Some of Van Patten's film credits include Charly, Soylent Green,and Dickie Roberts: Child Star. He also appeared in three Mel Brooks movies — High Anxiety, Spaceballs,and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

He was the older brother of actress Joyce Van Patten and for a time was the brother-in-law of actor Martin Balsam. He was also the half-brother of actor Vince Van Patten and father of actor/tennis and poker player Vince Van Patten.

OPM Hack Affects 18 Million Americans and Counting

By on 6.23.15 | 12:22PM

Remember when the Office of Personnel Management assured us that "only" 4 million or so Americans were ultimately affected by the massive Chinese hack that exposed more private internal systems than a Miley Cyrus Instagram post? 

Yeah, let's just say that they wildly underestimated their own personnel management file system. Even their recent admission, that it could be in the ballpark of 14 million files now in the hands of a coalition of Chinese hackers came in a little low. According to a recent report given to Congress, by FBI Director James Comey and obtained by CNN, the number is actually closer to 18 million, and includes personnel files established for job applicants and profiles of Federal family members, not just regular employees. 

Approximately 18 million Americans reportedly had their personal records compromised when hackers attacked the Office of Personnel Management's databases last year.

In Defense of a Better Taco Emoji, Sort Of

By on 6.23.15 | 11:46AM

There is much sadness among Mexican street food advocates that the "taco emoji" which many of us have waited for with bated breath, will not depict an "authentic" Mexican taco, but rather the kind of meat-lettuce-tomatoes-and-cheese option that Americans have come to consider "tacos" because that's what they can manage to eek out as an order at 2am in a Taco Bell drive-thru after consuming several adult beverages and, perhaps, engaging in some regrettable karaoke.

Not that that's ever happened to me, but you understand.

Anyway, a group of "social justice warriors" have decided to object, tongue-in-cheek, to the Americanized taco emoji in an offbeat effort to encourage Americans to embrace the more authentic taco toppings, including cilantro, onions and the occasional wedge of lime, all settled nicely in a corn tortilla rather than a giant Dorito. 

Leading the First Polls Is…Jeb Bush?

By on 6.22.15 | 5:39PM

I'm just going to call this my Pauline Kael moment

How can 75% of Republicans be willing to vote for Jeb Bush? I don't know a single person who doesn't throw up a little in their mouths just thinking about it.

And yet, America, here we are. In the midst of Jeb-mentum

Three-quarters of GOP primary voters say they could see themselves supporting Mr. Bush or Mr. Rubio, a significantly larger share than for any other contender…

When presented with six election developments that might raise concerns, only 4% of all poll respondents said their top worry was that “too many people from the same families are running as have run in the past,” a concern that might also apply to Democrat Hillary Clinton. The top concern was that “wealthy individuals and corporations will have too much influence over who wins,” a worry expressed more by Democrats than by Republicans…

ISIS Trains Young Boys For Jihad Inside Metal Cage

By on 6.22.15 | 4:00PM

The Islamic State is training young boys to fight jihad inside a massive metal cage, according to a video released by the terror group.

Small groups of young boys are shown fistfighting inside the barrier, dressed in matching grey outfits and black masks. One pulls out a weapon and aims it at another boy, apparently part of a training exercise. An older militant, dressed in camouflage, directs the boys.

Screenshot from Islamic State videoScreenshot from Islamic State video

Shots Fired Over Questionable AP Photo Of Ted Cruz

By on 6.22.15 | 3:51PM

The Associated Press has found itself under fire over some photos taken Saturday depicting Sen. Ted Cruz and a poster of a gun pointed at his head.

The photographs, by AP photographer Charlie Neibergall, was taken while Cruz was talking at the Celebrate the 2nd Amendment event in Iowa. Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate, has been a huge supporters of gun rights. Despite the criticisms, the AP notes it was not trying to make the senator look bad.

“Five of the photos published by AP included images of guns seen on a wall in the background so that it appeared a pistol was pointed at Sen. Cruz’s head,” the AP told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a prepared statement. “The images were not intended to portray Sen. Cruz in a negative light.”

Nevertheless, critics argue the photos were tasteless and that the same thing wouldn’t happen to a candidate on the left.

Darryl Hamilton, R.I.P.

By on 6.22.15 | 3:48PM

This is just awful. I have just learned that Darryl Hamilton, former MLB player and on-air personality for the MLB Network, was killed in a murder-suicide outside his home in Houston last night. He was 50.

Hamilton was shot several times by his girlfriend Monica Jordan who then turned the gun on herself. Found unharmed at the scene was their 14-month old child. Now that child has no parents.

The Government Has to Pay for the Raisins It Confiscates

By on 6.22.15 | 3:41PM

The near-unanimous Supreme Court decided today in favor of the farmers whose raisins the federal government wanted to take as part of a cockamamie New Deal-era regulatory scheme. The Court ruled 8-1 in support of Cato’s position that taking personal property is a compensable action, regardless of whether the government purports to act on the property owner’s behalf, and 5-4 on the question of compensation for that taking. (This is two years after the Court ruled 9-0 that the Marvin and Laura Horne could have their day in court and raise their constitutional challenge, rather than being stuck in some byzantine administrative purgatory.)

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