The Spectacle Blog

White House Not Super Sure Who the Taliban Works For

By on 1.28.15 | 4:11PM

There's lots of news circulating this week about Bowe Bergdahl, the American solider we traded five high-ranking Taliban officials for, who may (or may not, depending on who you ask) face a court martial over his alleged desertion. It seems that, while senior Army officials are keen to tell news organizations, off the record, that Bergdahl will be brought up on charges, the White House is avoiding the question like it was Lindsay Lohan at court ordered community service. 

But that's not to say that the White House's dance around the Bergdahl question hasn't, itself, produced a few gems. Like this one, from today's press conference with rookie comms guy Eric Schultz, who has never heard of the Taliban, why do you ask?

In Wednesday’s White House Press Briefing, John Karl asked press briefing rookie Eric Schultz whether the Jordanians’ trading a prisoner for one of the hostages held by the Islamic State was similar to the United States’ trading five high-ranking Taliban members for Bowe Bergdahl.

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What Michael Moore & Ron Paul Have in Common on Chris Kyle

By on 1.28.15 | 1:20PM

A couple of days ago, with American Sniper continuing to smash box office records, Michael Moore continued his campaign against the late Chris Kyle by invoking Jesus.

Moore tweeted, “Tomorrow’s Sunday School (1) What Would Jesus Do? Oh, I know what he’d do— hide on top of a roof and shoot people in the back!”

This isn't the first time Jesus has been uttered in vain concerning Chris Kyle. After Kyle was killed nearly two years ago, Ron Paul tweeted, "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense."

Needless to say, Paul's tweet provoked outrage. Like Moore, Paul couldn't leave things well enough alone and sent a follow up tweet:

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Mitt Romney Earns Coveted Nancy Pelosi Endorsement

By on 1.28.15 | 1:03PM

I can never tell if these cross-party endorsements are supposed to serve as an underhanded dig, designed to shy Republicans away from viable candidates, or if they've just become a form of trolling. This one, for example, is baffling, because Nancy Pelosi can only want Mitt Romney to run a third time in order to ensure a Hillary Clinton victory, but yet, she can't possibly be daft enough to think that Republicans would see her ringing endorsement of Mitt Romney - yes, Mitt Romney - as some sort of clue that he's the one Democrats most fear. 

Either way, it's creepy and I hope it never happens again. Because if they get together and somehow produce a hybrid child that is one half robot and one half melting skin creature, we're truly all doomed. 

Asked if Romney has any shot at defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016, Pelosi told The Hill, “No, no. I mean, he might be a nice person — no offense, no offense — [but] let’s save you time.”

A smiling Pelosi added, “Let me put it this way — I hope he’s their nominee.”

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Marco Rubio’s Wife Crashed Into a Donor

By on 1.28.15 | 12:46PM

I wrote a bit about the 2016 Iowa candidate summit this weekend, but I failed to mention that Marco Rubio was there. Somehow, in all of the confusion and hubub and the decision as to whether to write my column about Presidential contenders or crochet shorts (I'm doing both because crochet shorts are a thing that happened), Marco Rubio failed to make much of an impact. You might also say that is a fair observation of his presence at the summit as well (though he did do quite well at a major donor summit held by the Kochs in California).

UPDATE: Turns out, I missed him at the summit because he wasn't at the summit. He flew right from Miami to the California event, so now I feel less badly or more badly, depending. 

Anyway, his wife, on the other hand, did not fail to make an impact. Hers was was on a big-money donor's $80K Porche at Marco's Florida gathering late this weekend.

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Michelle Obama Refuses To Wear Headscarf in Saudi Arabia

By on 1.28.15 | 12:12PM

Yesterday, President Obama and his wife Michelle attended the funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. And while most of the delegation - of all dudes - that met them in the nation's capital was clad in the traditional funeral black (though not the President, who wore navy blue), Michelle Obama dressed in a festive electric blue blouse and patterned coat over pants. And she refused to don the country's requisite headscarf designed to prevent her male compatriots from staring lustily at her hair.

And I have to say, I think the outfit was not only perfect. It was just awesome.

Joining President Barack Obama for a condolence visit after the death of the King Abdullah, Mrs. Obama stepped off of Air Force One wearing long pants and a long, brightly colored jacket — but no headscarf.

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Jordan Offers to Make Deal with ISIS

By on 1.28.15 | 10:08AM

Following a videotaped threat by ISIS to kill Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh and Japanese hostage Kenji Goto within 24 hours if Sajida al-Rishawi, a female terrorist involved in the attacks on Amman in November 2005; the Jordanian government has now offered to release al-Rishawi in exchange for al-Kasaesbeh. Lt. al-Kasaebeh was captured by ISIS in December when his plane was shot down in Syria.

The Jordanians made no mention was made of Goto. When ISIS executed Goto's countryman Haruna Yukawa over the weekend it indicated it would spare Goto's life if al-Rishawi was released. But it appears ISIS decided to up the ante by threatening to kill al-Kasaesbeh and Jordan has taken the bait. Should this deal go through and Goto isn't a part of it one must wonder if Japan will make ISIS an offer it won't refuse.

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Obama Backs Down on Assault on 529 College Savings Plans

By on 1.27.15 | 10:52PM

On Tuesday, just 36 hours after receiving scathing criticism from yours truly on these pages, President Obama has backed down on his proposal to effectively end 529 college savings plans.

Even senior Democrats were urging him to pull the plug on his stupid idea… which is why I wish he hadn’t.

As I noted, this was a great issue to beat Obama up with among his own base, though I questioned whether Republicans would have either the smarts or the cojones to actually take advantage of Obama’s policy gaffe.

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Drunken Government Employee Crashed the Drone Into the White House

By on 1.27.15 | 3:50PM

So our mystery Drink-and-Droner has been revealed. 

According to the New York Times, the guy who, yesterday morning, caused a huge ruckus by crash-landing a drone on White House lawn and testing the limits of the Secret Service's abilites at 3am, has been revealed to be an officer with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Apparently, he was enjoying some adult beverages on his apartment balcony and playing with a drone that "belonged to a friend" when it miiiiiiight have flown over the White House. He later admitted the dalliance to authorities - after  his friends told him about the news story - though it does not appear he asked for his drone back.

 It was 42 degrees, lightly raining and pitch black near the White House when an inebriated, off-duty employee for a government intelligence agency decided it was a good time to test-fly his friend’s quadcopter drone that sells for hundreds of dollars and is popular among hobbyists.

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Scott Walker Forms Up a Committee for 2016

By on 1.27.15 | 3:37PM

Coming off a very big opener this weekend, Scott Walker is forming up the requisite "exploratory" committee for a 2016 Presidential run. The "Our American Revival" organization submitted its paperwork yesterday and the website is scheduled to go live sometime today. 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose speech to activists in Iowa last weekend drew strong reviews, has taken the first formal step toward a presidential candidacy in 2016, establishing a committee that will help spread his message and underwrite his activities as he seeks to build his political and fundraising networks in the months ahead...

“Our American Revival encompasses the shared values that make our country great; limiting the powers of the federal government to those defined in the Constitution while creating a leaner, more efficient, more effective and more accountable government to the American people,” Walker said in a statement in the release announcing the committee.

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Thoughts on the 70th Anniversary of The Liberation of Auschwitz

By on 1.27.15 | 3:36PM

It was 70 years ago today that Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Army (one of the few good things to have happened under Stalin). 

As only a few thousand detainees remained in the camp, the liberation was of little help to those who had been evacuated under orders by Himmler earlier in the month and sent on a march to their deaths. Nevertheless, the liberation marked the end of a horror which saw more than 1 million people lose their lives, a majority of them Jews.

When I was a boy growing up in Thunder Bay, I attended Shaarey Shomayim Synagogue. Several of the congregants had survived Auschwitz including the man who served as our cantor. You could hear the horror in his voice every time he sang during Shabbat services. I also remember seeing that tatoo on his arm.

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