The Spectacle Blog

DHS Spent a Lot of Money on Office Furniture

By on 2.23.15 | 4:43PM

I bet you thought I was never going to show up again, didn't you? Bwa-ha-ha. It was just a vacation. You're still stuck with me, America.

You're also stuck with Congress, which you may like only slightly less than me, and this week, Congress is readying for it's biggest battle yet, over funding for the Department of Homeland Security in return for Barack Obama forgetting all about that little Executive Amnesty order that has since been stayed by a Texas Federal court. While the Republicans and Democrats fight over whether DHS is using their money wisely, and whether important programs will suffer as a result of a temporary funding halt, the Department of Homeland Security, it seems, is less than concerned. After all, it's not immigration enforcement of the Transportation Safety Administration they're worried about losing the cash for. 

Nope, it's their interior design budget.

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Don’t Mess With The Mayor of Jerusalem

By on 2.23.15 | 9:22AM

In recent months, there have been a wave of stabbings in Israel by Palestinians.

One such stabbing took place near Jerusalem's city hall yesterday. What the attacker did not count on was Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem. Barkat and his security team were in the area at the time of the attack. Barkat and a member of his security team confronted the attacker and wrestled him to the ground. Barkat then went to the aid of the man who had been stabbed. Fortunately, Avaraham Goldstein sustained only minor injuries in the attack.

But if not for Barkat and his team, the situation could have been much worse.

Barkat has been Jerusalem's mayor since 2008. Although he was elected with Labor Party support, Barkat is backing Benjamin Netanyahu in next month's elections.

I have a feeling this won't be the last we hear of Nir Barkat.

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Thoughts on the 87th Academy Awards

By on 2.23.15 | 12:16AM

I must confess I have not seen the entire Oscar broadcast. I just can't miss Columbo or The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

But I saw enough of it to conclude that Neil Patrick Harris was lamer host than I thought he would be.

I did catch the tail end of  J.K. Simmons acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash. Always did enjoy him in Law & Order and the Farmers Insurance commercials.

I managed to miss Patricia Arquette's equal pay rant after she won Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, but could not avoid John Legend's dubious claim there are more African-American men under "correctional control" than under slavery in the 1850's following his win for Best Original Song for Selma. Surely there is a difference for indentured servitude than serving life in prison for homicide. 

I will say that Legend and Common's interpretation of "Glory" was compelling, but I preferred Tim McGraw's understated performance of Glen Campbell's swan song "I'm Not Gonna Miss You".

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WaPo’s Milbank: Walker Disqualified as WH Contender Because He Didn’t Condemn Giuliani

By on 2.20.15 | 4:19PM

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post is throwing a hissy fit at Scott Walker because he didn't condemn former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for saying that President Obama doesn't love America.

Giuliani made his remarks at a dinner where Walker was the guest of honor.

Milbank tut-tuts:

That dinner Wednesday, at New York’s 21 Club, is where Giuliani challenged Obama’s love of country. Even the former mayor preceded his outrageous allegation by saying, “I know this is a horrible thing to say . . . ”

Walker surely knew it was horrible, too, but he refused to say so — and in this failure he displayed a cowardice unworthy of a man who would be president.

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Oops!!! 800,000 Sent Incorrect Obamacare Tax Statements

By on 2.20.15 | 3:23PM

Today, Healthcare.gov disclosed that it sent out 800,000 incorrect statements (an estimated 20% of the total statements sent out) concerning Obamacare tax credits.

Those affected are being told to hold off preparing their taxes until new statements are sent out in March. However, 50,000 have already filed their taxes and the IRS mulling over what to do with those who have received these tax credits.

True to form, the Obama Administration is refusing to accept responsibility for its mistake and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has refused to apologize for the error.

Healthcare.gov also announced that people could sign up for Obamacare plans through the end of April and they too can look forward to receiving an incorrect tax statement next year.

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MLB’s Silly New Pace of Game Rules

By on 2.20.15 | 11:48AM

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred unveiled the new pace of game rules this morning.

I object to the installation of timers. What distinguishes baseball from football, basketball and hockey is precisely that there is no regulation of time. Each game has its own pace determined by what happens on the field. Now instead of being baseball revolving around what is happening on the field, it will revolve around these damn timers. MLB might as well install shot clocks while they are at it.

One part of the new rule reads, "The pitcher is expected to begin his motion to deliver the pitch as soon as the batter gets into the batter's box and becomes alert to the pitcher." So does this mean the catcher is no longer allowed to give signs to the pitcher as to what pitch should be thrown? Or does the catcher now have to do this before the batter steps into the box?

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On the Replacement of Pentagon Spokesman RADM Kirby

By on 2.20.15 | 12:03AM

It was announced on Wednesday that Pentagon Spokesman RADM (upper half) John Kirby will be replaced by a civilian. It may end up being SecDef Ash Carter's only good decision, but a good decision it was.

Just a few days before the news, I was in Washington DC at the American Spectator Gala dinner (John Ratzenberger was particularly fantastic, but all the speakers were very good) and mentioned to someone that I felt bad for Kirby.

He's a flag officer with 28 years in the Navy, just a couple of years and one star beyond my mother's Navy tenure when she retired, and I really felt bad for the guy.

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Obama White House Basically Now Saying Israel is Lying About Talks with Iran

By on 2.19.15 | 9:57PM

With Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress less than two weeks away, the Obama Administration is making no effort to hide its contempt for Israel.

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "There's no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate. There's no question about that.” Earnest went on to accuse Netanyahu's government of "cherry-picking" information concerning negotiations with Iran. He did not specify how Israel was "cherry-picking" this information.

State Department Spokesperson (and soon to be White House Communications Director) Jen Psaki seconded Earnest, "I think it is safe to say not everything you are hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate reflection of the details of the talks." 

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What Kerry Left Out of His Violent Extremism WSJ Op-Ed & Speech

By on 2.19.15 | 4:18PM

Today, it was John Kerry's turn to speak on the final day of the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism after writing an op-ed which appeared last night in The Wall Street Journal.

The most striking about both the speech and the op-ed is what isn't stated. In his speech, Kerry did not use the word Muslim or Islam once whereas as the only time Kerry used the word Islam in the op-ed was to make reference to Islamophobia while the only time he used the word Muslim was in the context of being victims of violent extremists. While it's certainly true that Muslims are victims of "violent extremism" it is curious that Kerry isn't prepared to use the word Muslim when discussing its perpetrators.

I want to also focus on one passage in Kerry's op-ed:

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Obama Picks Psaki New WH Communications Director Effective April 1st (No Joke)

By on 2.19.15 | 12:38PM

President Obama has named State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to be the new White House Communications Director effective April 1st.

I wish it were an April Fool's joke.

This means we'll be seeing more of Marie Harf at the State Department.

Only last week, it was Psaki who couldn't bring herself to say that last month's attacks on the Hyper Cacher grocery store in Paris was anti-Semitic incorrectly stating, “They were not all victims of one background or one nationality, so I think what they mean by that is, I don’t know that they spoke to the targeting of a grocery store.”

All four victims were Jewish and buried in Israel.

When pressed on whether the attack was "anti-Jewish" all Psaki could say that she would leave that determination to the French government despite the fact the State Department had earlier condemned the attack as anti-Semitic.

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