The Spectacle Blog

Why is the Muslim World More Enraged at 200 Arab Deaths in Gaza Than at 200,000 Arab Deaths in Syria?

By on 7.22.14 | 11:44PM

A longtime reader sent me a Toronto Star article by Tarek Fatah titled "Muslim Double Standards Abound". Here's a sample:

As I write, Muslims around the world have taken to the streets and social media to protest Israel's Operation Protective Edge, that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians.

Undoubtedly the death of 200 Arabs, many of them civilian women and children, is tragic and worthy of condemnation.

However, just next door to Israel almost 200,000 Arabs have been killed by fellow Arabs in Syria, but that tragedy has triggered no public demonstrations of anger in Islamic capitals, let alone in Toronto.

I should mention that I knew Tarek in the mid to late 1990's when I was active with the NDP. We served together on the party's resolution committee. Both of us would eventually leave the NDP. 

You can read the whole thing here.

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Would Hamas Shoot Down a Civilian Airliner?

By on 7.22.14 | 9:55PM

Today, the FAA announced that airliners would not be authorized to fly to Israel for 24 hours. This follows an announcement by the State Department issuing an advisory against travel to Israel. Noah Pollak of The Weekly Standard offers this interesting insight:

So why did the State Department issue this warning not when long-range rocket fire was a more serious threat, but only yesterday, days after such fire had decreased sharply, and coinciding with Kerry's trip to the region?The answer may be that the Obama administration is using the travel warning to exert pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

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Result of Today’s Health Care Hullabaloo: Obamacare (Maybe) Back to the Supremes

By on 7.22.14 | 5:26PM

In two separate rulings today, Obamacare subsidies were both upheld in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and struck down in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both cases deal with the textualism versus intent debate—whether judges can claim to divine the intent of legislators when ruling on a law, or have to read only the text in front of them.

In the D.C. ruling, the court agreed in a two-to-one decision that the text of the Obamacare law was to be interpreted as it stood. This means that subsidies in the federal exchanges are supposed to stop, but reports have since surfaced that the president is intending to ignore this ruling until there is further deliberation.

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Obamacare and the Sting of Empty Promises

By on 7.22.14 | 4:38PM

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

Every American remembers hearing this empty promise. I bet you can even hear the inflection of the president’s voice as you read that line.

Or how about our president telling us how much money his new health care law would save us? If not, let’s refresh our memory:

I couldn’t even watch the whole thing. After a while, you just get sick of the lies.

So here’s a new question for President Obama: “Where’s my $2,500?”

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Yankees Acquire Chase Headley from Padres

By on 7.22.14 | 2:09PM

A few days after unloading closer Huston Street, the San Diego Padres have dealt third baseman Chase Headley to the New York Yankees for infielder Yangervis Solarte and pitching prospect Rafael De Paula.

The one reason I enjoyed watching Padres game was that every time Headley's name was mentioned I would repeat his name in the manner the late Harvey Korman did in Blazing Saddles when everyone referred to him as "Hedy Lamarr". That's Hedley!!!

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Court Issues Devastating Ruling Against Obamacare

By on 7.22.14 | 11:49AM

In a highly anticipated decision, this morning the D.C. Circuit Court ruled on the Halbig v. Burwell case argued back in March. The decision, which had court-watchers on edge for a better part of a month, was closely watched because of its potential impact on Obamacare subsidies and the power the IRS had to distribute those subsidies. In short, the text of Obamacare only provides for subsidies to be used in state exchanges. The lawsuit argued that this made federal exchanges, established when thirty-six states refused to set up their own exchanges, ineligible for subsidies. 

The ruling was a 2-1 decision against the government, with a concurring decision and a dissent. It mostly examined the idea of textualism versus intent by members of Congress. In the concurring opinion, Judge Randolph gets to the heart of the issue by quoting former Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis in another case:

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Beetles Don’t Necessarily Like The Beatles (Especially George)

By on 7.22.14 | 11:48AM

I'm not making this up. Apparently, a tree planted in honor of the late George Harrison has been killed by Beetles. So yes we have a Beetle on Beatle crime.

Well, I suppose all things must pass.

It's kind of odd though. Earlier this morning, I finished reading Marc Shapiro's posthumous biography of Harrison titled Behind Sad Eyes: The Life of George Harrison. Only a few hours passed between reading about Harrison's last days on earth and this tree. I bought it over the weekend at a bookstore on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village called Unoppressive, Non-Imperialist Bargain Books. Although I was glad to see books by Bob Newhart aren't considered imperialist, I must say the repeated playing of Peter, Paul and Mary songs was indeed quite oppressive.

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A Crack In Obamacare?

By on 7.22.14 | 11:03AM

On a 2-1 vote, a panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Obamacare law as written does not permit subsidies for those who purchase health insurance through the federal exchange rather than through state-created exchanges.

It is clearly the right decision based on the text of the law, but it was nevertheless far from a foregone conclusion that the court would rule this way.

It is premature for major celebrations by opponents of Obamacare...which I'll get into in an article later today or tomorrow.

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Remaining Iraqi Christians Expelled

By on 7.21.14 | 4:18PM

The most prominent Christian landmark in Iraq was emptied of its Christians on Sunday. Mar Behnam is a Syriac Catholic church that was built by a fourth-century Assyrian king. The church was his penance for killing his son, a Christian convert. It is now under the control of Islamic extremists from ISIS, and the monks having been sent away with nothing but the clothes on their backs, according to AFP. They walked for miles before Kurdish Peshmerga forces picked them up and took them to Qaraqosh. 

The monks were the last Christians to leave the plains of Iraq; a few still live in Baghdad, but the rest have fled to Kurdistan.

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