The Spectacle Blog

Saudi King Abdullah Dies; Succeeded by Crown Prince Salman

By on 1.22.15 | 10:39PM

King Abdullah, who ruled Saudi Arabia for the past decade, has died following being hospitalized for a lung infection on New Year's Eve. He was 90.

Abdullah will be succeeded by his half-brother, Salman. However, Salman is no spring chicken. At 79, he has also had his share of health problems. 

Abdullah's death comes only hours after neighboring Yemen's government has fallen following fighting against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels. This is music to the ears of the mullahs in Tehran.

Look I get that Saudi Arabia is no paradise. King Abdullah did not brook dissent. Indeed, earlier this month a blogger named Raif Badawi received 50 lashes on top of 10 year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine for criticizing the country's clerics and morality police. In fact, Badawi is due to receive 950 more lashes over 19 more sessions. International pressure has forced the Saudis to twice postpone the next lashing session, but Badawi has to sit in a jail essentially for doing something I do every day.

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The White House on Ball-Gate

By on 1.22.15 | 5:43PM

My sources at 1600 tell me President Obama will finally comment later this evening on the most over-inflated issue facing the republic this week. But I doubt it will reassure many to hear our commander-in-chief say, “If you like your football, you can keep your football.”

And this does not tell us what climate change has to do with this?

Bah humbug.

Somebody throw a flag.

“Personal foul — pointless distraction —15 yards — repeat first down.”

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Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress Moved to March 3rd; Angry Obama Won’t Meet With Him

By on 1.22.15 | 4:31PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before a joint session of Congress has been moved from February 11th to March 3rd as Netanyahu also wants to attend the AIPAC Convention in Washington, D.C.

The White House, which was already angry because House Speaker John Boehner advise them of his invitation to Netanyahu beforehand, now says President Obama won't meet with him because the speech will take place two weeks before Israel's election and doesn't want to influence the outcome of the election.

As usual, Obama thinks the whole world revolves around him. John Boehner doesn't need Obama's permission to invite Netanyahu to speak before Congress.

But I'm sure Netanyahu has got to be happy. For once Bibi doesn't have to suffer that fool.

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On Eve of #MarchforLife, GOP Lawmakers Drop Abortion Bill

By on 1.22.15 | 3:56PM

In politics, you have only so many friends. Part of the great balancing act of being in elected leadership, aside from doing important work while sporting the approximate IQ of an electric toaster oven, is to keep those who are reliabily in your camp happy, while maintaining enough openness to attract those who could, one day, become part of your election campaign. Sometimes, this balancing act is difficult, as with foreign policy - a war-weary America is loathe to involve itself in more Middle Eastern conflicts, while Middle Eastern conflicts still provide the globe with the lion's share of its instability, for example - and sometimes this balancing act is easy  - don't, for example, anger an important key demographic, with a youthful component, on the eve of its most important event of the year. 

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Psaki on Yemeni Gov’t Collapse: “We Are Seeking a Peaceful Transition.”

By on 1.22.15 | 3:16PM

On September 10, 2014, in a nationally televised address by President Obama on ISIS/ISIL (the one in which he said ISIL isn't Islamic), he stated:

This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

Scarcely 100 days have passed and now Yemen's government has fallen with the president and cabinet resigning.

So much for President Obama's counterterrorism strategy.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "We are seeking a peaceful transition."

A peaceful transition to what?

On one side, there are the Iranian backed Shi'ite rebel Houthis and on the other you have al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Pick your poison.

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What Will Come of the Jeb-Mitt Summit?

By on 1.22.15 | 1:04PM

Jeb Bush is making his way to Utah to meet with Mitt Romney.

Somehow I don't think they'll be talking about jazz or bee keeping.

Speculation abounds that Bush will try to gently persuade Romney not to run in 2016.

Unless Bush makes Romney an offer he can't refuse, I don't see Mitt bowing out. And what can Jeb offer Mitt that he doesn't already have?

So don't be surprised if Romney tries to persuade Bush not to run. If that's the case don't expect Bush to budge either.

The argument is that if Bush and Romney run then someone like Ted Cruz can cruise his way to the nomination.

But if Bush and Romney cancel each other then surely Cruz and Rand Paul cancel each other out as well. Ditto for Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. While you're at it you can ditto Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal.

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Argentinian President Now Says Prosecutor Didn’t Kill Himself; Claims “They Needed Him Dead”

By on 1.22.15 | 12:09PM

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has done an about face. Well, sort of.

When prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead hours before he was due to testify in front of Argentina's Congress to detail allegation that Fernandez de Kirchner had entered an agreement with Iran not to prosecute those responsible for the 1994 attack on Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center which killed 85 people in exchange for Iranian oil, Fernandez-Kirchner claimed that Nisman had committed suicide.

Argentinians reacted by taking to the streets with the Charlie Hebdo inspired slogan, "Yo Soy Nisman".

Now Fernandez-Kirchner says Nisman didn't kill himself after all. On her website, she wrote, "They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead.”

Of course, Fernandez-Kirchner did not specify who "they" were. Yet let us consider Fernandez-Kirchner's rhetoric in recent years against Argentina's Jewish community which is the largest in Latin America.

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Healthcare.gov Sells Your Personal Data To Basically Everyone

By on 1.22.15 | 11:33AM

I was most of the way through my bottle of wine by 9pm CST on Tuesday, but I'm fairly sure that a major part of Obama's State of the Union proposals, made with regard to technology, centered around protecing Americans from cunning and dastardly commercial data companies who harvest your Internet preferences without your consent and sell them in bulk to major retailers who then use them to determine which products they can successfully market to you through social media. It's how one click over to Neiman Marcus's website to check on how much Michelle Obama's Michael Kors suit cost has managed to fill my Facebook news feed with ads begging me to drop $3K on something that looks like a Chanel knock-off Hazmat suit.

Anyway, the White House, which has often used micro-targeting data in its own campaigns wants to require companies to inform consumers that their data is being collected, and subsequently, allow those same consumers to opt out.

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The Current Balls-Up

By on 1.22.15 | 10:43AM

At least the current NFL balls-up gives sportswriters and TV bloviators something to write and talk about in that hard-to-fill two weeks before the actual ball game. Some of the most tedious sports coverage on the planet takes place in this over-long run-up.

For me the central question is if the footballs were deflated enough to make a difference, how come the officials who handled them all day didn’t notice this and throw them out of the game? And my main fear is that Roger Goodell, hoping to prove that his own balls aren’t soft, will over-discipline in this case.

I don’t have a dog in the Super-Bowl hunt. But I think it would be wildly excessive to bar Pats coach Bill Belichick from the sidelines on Super-Day, as the easily excitable Tampa Tribune sports columnist Martin Fennelly called for this morning. Steady on, Marty. Take a few deep breaths.

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Palestinians Tweet #JeSuisCouteau/I Am a Knife Following Tel Aviv Bus Stabbings

By on 1.22.15 | 9:17AM

When the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were murdered two weeks ago, the civilized world took to social media with #JeSuisCharlie.

Yesterday, a dozen people were stabbed aboard a bus in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian from the West Bank, Palestinians took to social media with #JeSuisCouteau which in English means, "I am a knife."

This on top of a Hamas official who called the attack "a bold, heroic act."

Can we expect anything less from the Palestinians who from the time they wake up until they go to bed are fed a non-stop diet of hatred towards Jews and Israel?

How can Israel be expected to make peace with such an uncivilized people?

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