The Spectacle Blog

Boko Haram Kills 48 Children in School Suicide Bombing in Nigeria

By on 11.10.14 | 12:46PM

Although they have not claimed responsibility, it is very likely that Boko Haram is responsible for a suicide bombing at a school in Nigeria which has claimed the lives of 48 children and injured at least 80 more.

Boko Haram came to international notoriety last spring when it kidnapped 276 girls from a Nigerian school and have married most of them off to jihadists.

Their violence has escalated since the Nigerian government announced it had reached a ceasefire with the group last month. But a week ago, a suicide bomber killed 29 Shiite Muslims observing Ashura and also broke nearly 150 of its members out of a state prison.

My guess is that Boko Haram is just getting warmed up and will do much destabilize Nigeria and bring misfortune to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.

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Clay Aiken’s Donors Feel Duped by Reality Show Campaign

By on 11.10.14 | 12:39PM

There are two things to take from this FrontiersLA article. One, that Clay Aiken was still collecting money for his failing campaign at the end of September, at homes of the Hollywood less-than-elite (apparently, he couldn't excite Gwyneth Paltrow, so he had to settle for the support of a correspondent for Extra). And two, no one who attended any of his LA fundraisers knew that they were being taped for a reality show, because they were under the impression that Clay Aiken was a serious candidate for Congress. 

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Obamacare Architect Says Law Passed Because You’re All Stupid

By on 11.10.14 | 12:02PM

We learned on Friday that the Supreme Court will take up an appeal from the Fourth Circuit in the case of King v. Burwell, even though there's no split between the circuits on how to handle Obamacare's subsidies, when they're handed out to people in a state that doesn't set up their own Obamacare insurance exchange. The crux of that problem? Apparently, Democrats were in such a hurry to pass the legislation before anyone read it, that they failed to read it themselves, resulting in some unclear language that might not pass Constitutional muster: they limited the subsidies, allowing them to only apply to participants in state exchanges. According to Obamacare's architect Jonathan Gruber, that was totally just a typo.

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It Looks Like Walker Wants White House Bid

By on 11.10.14 | 10:53AM

In an appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker gave every indication that he wants to run for President in 2016.

Among other things, Walker made a point of saying "Governors Make Much Better Presidents," and repeatedly took aim at Hillary Clinton calling her the "big loser" in last week's mid-terms and that she represents "everything that's wrong with Washington."

Although Walker last month pledged to serve his entire four year term if re-elected he opened the door wide on seeking higher office. “I said my plan was for four years," said Walker. "I have a plan to keep going for the next four years, but certainly I care deeply for my state and my country and we`ll see what the future holds.”

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Why the Supreme Court Will Uphold Obamacare

By on 11.10.14 | 10:17AM

My colleague on these pages, Dave Catron, is persuaded that the Supreme Court’s decision to take certiorari on the Obamacare litigation (Burwell) means that one can expect the Court to undo the 2012 Sebelius decision which upheld the law. I can’t argue with Dave’s analysis. Certainly a close reading of the statute might persuade one that Obamacare is in trouble. But I don’t see it that way. One thing that’s clear from John Roberts’ decision in Sebelius is that the canons of statutory construction get thrown out the window when they get in the way of a politically minded judge.

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Thoughts on The Fall of the Berlin Wall 25 Years Later

By on 11.9.14 | 8:08PM

It has been 25 years since the fall of The Berlin Wall and with it the reunification of Germany.

During my visit to Ottawa this summer I received a piece of that wall. I had been visiting some friends of mine who are planning to move at the end of the year. They had no use for it and asked me if I wanted it. 

I took that piece of the wall because I want to be reminded of how Communists kept their own people imprisoned for nearly 30 years. I also keep it as a reminder of freedom's fragility.

When President Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate he implored Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down that wall and just over two years later, liberated East Germans heeded those words. Yesterday, Gorbachev stood at the Brandenburg Gate and warned of a new Cold War. Sadly, these days Gorby is an apologist for Vladimir Putin blaming the U.S. for triumphalism. Given how Obama ceded ground on missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic and has let Russia run roughshod over Crimea and Ukraine that is hard to believe. But peace can only sustained through strength and when one party abdicates the wise use of power a Cold War is sure to follow.

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The Connecticut Compromise — What Was That All About?

By on 11.9.14 | 1:37PM

Students of the Framers’ 1787 debates over the Constitution will recall that the country came close to splitting apart after the Connecticut Compromise in July of that year. And what was the compromise? It centered over whether states should be equally represented in the Senate, or whether they should be represented according to their population, as in the House of Representatives. The small-state delegates won that one, giving us equal representation by states in the Senate, prompting some large state delegates to contemplate a walkout. 

For many years this was thought to shape American politics in an important way, and in fact probably did so. With equal representation by states, the Senate was perhaps more isolationist and certainly more sympathetic to farmers. We also saw more pork, in the shape of government offices and military bases, in places such as West Virginia and Alabama than we would have otherwise. 

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Higher Than What?

By on 11.9.14 | 1:29PM

Days before an election for governor in which candidates had spent more than $100 million on TV commercials, students on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando couldn’t identify either candidate when shown photos. UCF is one of the nation’s largest government universities with an enrollment just south of 60,000.

The video was filmed by an outfit called Knight News. One student told Knight’s Danielle Apolinar when shown a picture of Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, “I’ve seen him in a commercial, I just can’t remember his name.” Another student, shown the same picture, identified Scott as Mitt Romney. They didn’t know who Democrat Charlie Crist was either.

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Are Ed Miliband’s Days Numbered?

By on 11.9.14 | 2:54AM

Britain's Conservative led coalition government has faced a rough road during its term in office. David Cameron hasn't gotten on with Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrat junior partners, the UKIP has cut into Tory support and London Mayor Boris Johnson is clipping at his heels. Under these conditions, the Labour Party should be ready to return to power with Ed Miliband as a Prime Minister in waiting.

And yet Ed Miliband is very much in danger of losing his job. It isn't a matter of policy so much as it is a seriess of awkward gaffes be it having trouble eating a bacon sandwich, giving money to a beggar, being unable to shake hands with voters or kiss his wife. In the grand scheme of these things are trivialities. Yet the Labour Party's National Executive Committee is meeting to discuss Miliband's leadership. Labour MPs and potential succesors Alan Johnson, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham (who I had the unfortunate experience of working with when I was a parliamentary intern with Tessa Jowell nearly two decades ago) say they stand firmly behind Miliband but that only fuels speculation. Well, so much for David Axelrod's help. 

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Why Republicans Will Confirm Loretta Lynch

By on 11.8.14 | 11:07PM

I am inclined to think that the newly elected Republican Senate will confirm President Obama's appointment of Federal Prosecutor Loretta Lynch to be the new Attorney General.

First, anyone Obama could have appointed is an upgrade over Holder. I realize that's a pretty low bar to pass, but after nearly six years of Holder the bar has just been elevated even if only a few inches. Given that Obama wasn't going to appoint a conservative Republican, this was probably the least bad choice he could have made.

Second, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has praised Lynch's professionalism. If anyone is knowledgeable about New York prosecutors it would be Giuliani. If Lynch had engaged in dubious behavior in her office, Giuliani would surely sound the alarm.

Third, Mitch McConnell can and should choose his battles very carefully. Unless new information comes to light which demonstrates that Lynch has said or done anything unlawful or unethical, I think Republicans will confirm Lynch.

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