The Spectacle Blog

Do You Hear the Drivers Honk?

By on 7.1.15 | 1:36PM

Last week, taxi drivers in France protested the Uber ride-sharing service by blocking access to airports and train stations, erecting barricades, destroying vehicles, and assaulting rival drivers in confrontations that led to injuries. American celebrity Courtney Love Cobain, caught up in the chaos, tweeted: “they’ve ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. they’re beating the cars with metal bats. this is France?? I’m safer in Baghdad.”

The government of France then responded to the violence in oh-so-French fashion: it arrested Uber’s executives

My Cato colleague Matthew Feeney wrote the whole story up and you should go read hisForbes piece now. My humbler role is to set the episode to music, by way of a tune you may have found hard to get out of your head if you’ve ever seen Les Miserables

Chris Christie’s Fiscal Record

By on 7.1.15 | 1:30PM

Chris Christie joins the Republican field for president with an announcement at his former high school. Christie, the current governor of New Jersey, has worked to improve New Jersey’s fiscal situation. Christie earned a respectable grade of “B” on both the 2012 and 2014Cato’s Fiscal Policy Report Cards, partly due to his repeated vetoes of the legislature’s tax increases.

Christie has vetoed personal income tax increases five times in six years, including just last week. The 2015 version of the tax increase would have raised the top personal income tax bracket from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on income over $1 million. It was coupled with a 15 percent surcharge on corporate income taxes. Together, these two tax increases would have raised $1.1 billion, an enormous tax hike.

MLB Notes for June: The Angels Are Bedeviled

By on 7.1.15 | 1:00PM

It's hard to believe that the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati is less than two weeks away. Let's see how your favorite teams as well as the teams you couldn't care less about are doing.

AL East
Now this is a pennant race. The top four teams are separated by one game. The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are tied for first, the New York Yankees are ½ game back with the Toronto Blue Jays one game back. And then there are the Boston Red Sox. More on them in a moment.

The O's (18-11) and Jays (18-9) had the strongest months. Toronto tied a team record with 11 consecutive wins, but the O's ended the month having won 7 of their last 10 games. The Rays were 17-12 in June, but have lost 7 of their last 10. Ditto for the Yankees. Still, it's anybody's race.

Send Us Your Broke, Yearning to Breathe Bankrupt (and to Register Democrat)

By on 7.1.15 | 12:20PM

You wouldn’t think that a presidential candidate who self-describes as a fiscal conservative would want to bring a dead-broke island into the union of an already broke United States. But there it is. I don’t make up the news, I just report it.

On a campaign trip in April Jeb! Bush said he thought it was time for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state if its 3.7 million residents wish to be so included. No mention that the folks in the existing 50 states should have a say in this. This is “the best path,” Jeb! says, without saying path to what exactly.

More recently, Bush has said that Puerto Rico, which has racked up debt of $72 billion that it has no prospect of ever paying off, should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Seems this puerto is not so rico. At least it has one thing in common with the mainland US of A, debt that is has no prospect of paying off. Though this may not be enough commonality to make Puerto Rico good state-hood fodder.

Hillary Clinton is Everyone’s Emailing Grandmother, Basically

By on 7.1.15 | 12:19PM

Nothing says "I'm prepared to be your next President" like a six email back-and-forth over how to use a fax machine.

Because God is good and He loves us, especially His political bloggers, the State Department began the process of publicizing many of Hillary Clinton's "private emails." The first batch hit the web last night and while there are some revealing items — the Obama Administration was clearly aware, for example, that Hillary was using a private email server, and some administration officials who claimed to know nothing about Hillary's technological reroute were caught red-handed emailing her at a very suspicious address, and she spent a lot more time chatting up Sidney Blumenthal than anyone cared to admit —  the best part of the Hillary email cache is easily — easily — her sad, confusing relationship with her cast of supporting characters.

Evelyn Waugh, Call Your Office

By on 7.1.15 | 12:18PM

Viewing with alarm the discomfort expressed by conservatives, many of them Republicans, over the recent Supreme Court diktat on same-sex marriage, with-it Washington Post writers Philip Rucker and Robert Costa despair that Republicans will ever be able to “get in step with modern America.”

We’ll leave this pair wringing their hands for the moment and note the obvious, that many on the right, with thanks to novelist Evelyn Waugh, consider that getting in step with modern America would be a very wicked thing indeed.

Obama Isn’t Going To Walk Away From a Nuclear Deal with Iran

By on 6.30.15 | 10:21PM

President Obama proclaimed he would "walk away" from the negotiating table with Iran during a press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Roussef.

Of course, today was supposed to be the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran. But instead of walking away, Obama has extended the talks until July 7th.

His claims that he would walk away from the table is as empty and meaningless as his red line against Syria on the use of chemical weapons. There will be no Reykjavik moment here.

NYT Passes on Muhammed Cartoons, But Prints Condom Pope

By on 6.30.15 | 5:11PM

Honestly, at this point, the only people who fail to see the disconnect between demurring on an image that offends one religion but accepting an image that offends another work for the New York Times. And while all of them have, at one time or another, answered a question about their double standards with some iteration of "the two scenarios are simply different," the reality is that the NYT knows full well that Catholics, and members of other religions whose methods of conversion have developed beyond the 14th century, are unlikely to show up at their offices with an automatic weapon. They just don't feel comfortable acknowledging it because it might cost them their heads and a swath of readers who still think CAIR is an active contributor to the cause of American civil rights.

Puerto Rico is $70B in the Hole and Looking for a Bailout

By on 6.30.15 | 4:34PM

You cannot sustain an entire state's economy on ziplines and piña coladas. Greece is, of course, learning that on something of a national scale. When you pay everyone for everything they do regardless of whether they do it or not, and rely on the occasional tourist with a Groupon Getaway to create most of your GDP, things go south really quickly, especially when your unfunded pension liabilities come due.

Failing Obamacare Co-ops Give Execs Lavish Pay, And May Violate The Law

By on 6.30.15 | 3:46PM

Taxpayer-funded Obamacare health insurance co-op’s may be running afoul of the law by giving extravagant paychecks to their top executives, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

More than a million Americans have enrolled in the 23 non-profit Obamacare co-ops since they began in 2011.  The co-ops were intended to be consumer-operated non-profits focused on delivering healthcare to the working poor and others needing health insurance.

Eighteen of the 23 co-ops paid their top executives prodigious salaries ranging from $263,000 to $587,000, according to 2013 IRS tax filings.

The high take-home pay for the “nonprofit” executives appears to violate both federal law and Obamacare rules prohibiting “excessive executive compensation.”

The co-ops were originally funded in 2011 with $2 billion under Obamacare in an experiment to provide tax-paid competition to private sector health insurance providers.

Most of the Obamacare co-op executives are paid more than members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, U.S. cabinet secretaries and the governors of all 50 states.