The Spectacle Blog

Canadian PM Praises U.S.-Cuba Rapprochement; Facilitated Talks

By on 12.17.14 | 4:23PM

In a year end interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba and revealed that he facilitated talks between the Obama Administration and Raul Castro's regime starting in June 2013.

Harper told Mansbridge, "I think that's an economy and a society just overdue for entry into the 21st century. Time will tell, but I think probably when the current generation of leadership passes you'll see some changes."

Harper is usually spot on when it comes to foreign policy, especially where it concerns the Middle East and Islamic terrorism. There is no foreign leader more publicly supportive of Israel than Harper.

But when it comes to Cuba, Harper is wearing rose colored glasses. When the current generation of leadership passes? Raul Castro is 83. Fidel is 88. Aside from some brave souls, the Castros are all Cubans know. Old habits are hard to break.

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Rick Santorum Would Like to Talk Frankly About Procreation

By on 12.17.14 | 1:19PM

I'm not sharing this because I feel like it adds anything to the debate over who should be our 2016 Presidential nominee. Frankly, I think the more candidates we have with varying degrees of insanity on varying subjects, the better. It's high time that the Republican party extoll the virtues of diversity of opinion within its ranks, and while some of the crazier folk might be apt to tarnish the party's public image in unexpected ways, at this point, they're only living up to double-standards that have already been set for them. And, if all else fails, with so many potential nominees seemingly grasping at the straws of sanity in one room, there's always a chance that a professional debate could dissolve into a wrestling match. 

I'm sharing this because I had to read it and I do not want to be alone in my misery. Ladies and gentlemen: Deep Thoughts With Rick Santorum.

I’ve spoken on a lot of college campuses and a lot of high schools, and [I've got] seven kids, so obviously sex isn’t a real problem for me.

No.

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Michelle Obama Once Got Asked for Help at Target, Thinks It Was Probably Racist

By on 12.17.14 | 1:09PM

Look. I honestly believe that yes, there are lingering vestiges of racism in our society. You don't exorcise something that pervasive in modern culture in less than a century. Occasionally - not regularly, but occasionally - we've all been known to make varying assumptions about other people based on existing stereotypes.

I have no doubt that, in their lifetimes, the Obamas have experienced lots of instances of discrimination based on skin color, and I think that's a tragedy. However, I do not think being asked to reach something on a high shelf at a big box retail store is one of those instances.

"I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn't see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn't anything new," Michelle Obama, who is 5'11", said. 

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EU Court Removes Hamas from Terrorism List - UPDATED

By on 12.17.14 | 12:39PM

An EU Court has ruled that Hamas should be removed from its list of designated terrorist organizations. The EU insists it is a technical matter and that in order for an organization to be classified as a terrorist entity, it had to be based on on Hamas' actions rather than "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet".

Apparently firing rockets targeting civilians in Israel, using their own people as human shields and wantonly attacking commuters at bus and train stations don't meet the EU's standards of what they consider to be a terrorist organization. Then again, Hamas actions are directed against Israel. As with the UN, the EU singles out Israel for the kind of criticism it will not level against other countries.

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Obama & Castro Expected to Begin Normalizing U.S.-Cuba Relations

By on 12.17.14 | 11:35AM

With the release of Alan Gross in exchange for three Cuban spies, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro are set to begin normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba in a joint press conference later today.

Presumably this means the embargo will be lifted if not immediately, then incrementally. What about Helms-Burton? Or will Obama just issue another executive order?

This is being described as the fall of the Berlin Wall moment for Obama.

Well, by last count, there are 114 political prisoners in Cuba. Will they be released and free to come and go as they please? Will former Cuban political prisoners be allowed to return from exile in Spain?

And what about multi-party elections, a free press and an independent judiciary?

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Fed District Court Declares Obama’s Executive Amnesty Unconstitutional

By on 12.16.14 | 3:43PM

It's only the first court of many that will review the order, so it's nothing to get horribly excited about, but one Federal district court in Pennsylvania has declared that some aspects of President Obama's executive action on immigration go beyond mere "prosecutorial discretion" and are therefore unconstitutional.

Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals.  As a consequence,  Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

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President Obama “Eagerly Looking Forward” to Hawaiian Vacation

By on 12.16.14 | 1:13PM

Congress has one more committee meeting this month and then they're all headed home for a month-long (or, in some cases, following the 2014 elections, a permanent) vacation. Seeing as how they've exhausted themselves working approximately half the year, clearly they deserve the time off to enjoy all the gifts they'll receive from lobbyists, and to recover from the pounding hangover they got from all of these DC holiday parties.

The President himself will also depart the Capitol this weekend, taking off on Friday for a 17-day Hawaiian vacation with his family at their private home in Kailua. The President, who has had a rough six months or so as his Administration's early policies bear fruit worldwide, is said to be "eagerly looking forward to" the nice weather and possible lack of cell phone service.

“On Friday, the first family will depart the White House en route to Honolulu, Hawaii — a flight that I know the president himself is eagerly looking forward to,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.

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Jeb Bush “Actively Exploring” 2016 Presidential Run

By on 12.16.14 | 12:38PM

In response to Jeb Bush's Facebook announcement this morning, that he is "actively exploring" a 2016 Presidential bid, I am "actively exploring" consuming an entire box of cookies.

Behold, the social media message you've been waiting for.

His Leadership PAC will be open for business and accepting donations, I assume, in January. If for some reason Jeb Bush's active exploration turns up a whole mess of people who don't want him to run for President, and the PAC never transforms into a true campaign, the Leadership PAC can then dole out it's collected sums to other candidates that support Jeb's favored positions.
 
NBC News/WSJ opinion polling shows Jeb Bush with positives in the low-to-mid 20s, but negatives only in the 30s. With name recognition and regular media coverage, those numbers should change. At least, he hopes they will.
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Taliban Attacks Pakistani Military School; 132 of 141 Killed Are Children

By on 12.16.14 | 12:03PM

The Taliban have attacked a Pakistani military school in Peshawar. As of this writing, 141 have been been killed. Of that total, 132 are children.

Whether it's in a tiny Australian cafe or a large Pakistani military school; whether it's carried out by one person or carried out by a well organized and trained militia; whether the victims are adults or children and whether the victims are almost entirely non-Muslim in one instance or almost entirely Muslim in another instance, violence and terror committed in the name of Islam is a global phenomenon. This phenomenon is not occurring with any other religious or ideological movement on a global scale.

But until we stop being afraid of telling it like it is then there will be no end to this global phenomenon of Islamic terrorism.

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Camille Cosby Defends Husband

By on 12.15.14 | 8:21PM

Camille Cosby, who has been married to Bill Cosby for 50 years, issued a statement in defense of her husband.

In her statement, Cosby made reference to the now discredited Rolling Stone story about the gang rape that purportedly took place at a fraternity at the University of Virginia:

We all followed the story of the article in the Rolling Stone concerning allegations of rape at the University of Virginia. The story was heart-breaking, but ultimately appears to be proved to be untrue. Many in the media were quick to link that story to stories about my husband — until that story unwound.

None of us will ever want to be in the position of attacking a victim. But the question should be asked — who is the victim?

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