The Spectacle Blog

Chris Christie: I Still Exist

By on 3.25.14 | 7:37AM

Following Bridgegate, Rand Paul emerged in the 2016 spotlight and Chris Christie retired to the shadows.

Debates on Paul’s foreign policy, his positions on social issues, and his attempt at broader conservative outreach at places like UC Berkeley have been front and center of both right and left publications. Christie has not.

In fact, murmurs of Jeb Bush emerging as a presidential candidate may further dwarf Christie’s standing in the media as the establishment-favored contender.

But there’s one public figure who hasn’t forgotten about Christie: Chris Christie.

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The Federal Government Runs a Paperwork Mine

By on 3.24.14 | 6:56PM

The Washington Post reports that retirement paperwork for federal employes is still processed by hand — in an abandoned mine 230 feet below the surface of the earth:

The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees’ personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mine’s tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records.

This odd place is an example of how hard it is to get a time-wasting bug out of a big bureaucratic system.

Held up by all that paper, work in the mine runs as slowly now as it did in 1977.

“The need for automation was clear — in 1981,” said James W. Morrison Jr., who oversaw the retirement-processing system under President Ronald Reagan. In a telephone interview this year, Morrison recalled his horror upon learning that the system was all run on paper: “After a year, I thought, ‘God, my reputation will be ruined if we don’t fix this,’ ” he said.

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Obamacare, Celebrity Endorsements, and Late-Night Jokes

By on 3.24.14 | 3:52PM

If you thought celebrities were only good for entertainment, think again. President Obama has wrangled some of “the best” in order to promote his signature health care plan. The program’s only chance at success is the enrollment of young, healthy people. What better way to recruit the young than with their favorite celebrities?

No, not Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus – but how about People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”? Maroon 5’s Adam Levine has been tweeting about the need to #getcovered.

In case the alluring glare of Levine isn’t enough, here is a video of his mom (along with other celebrity mothers) informing you that you need to sign up for insurance:

Jonah Hill’s mommy, Sharon Feldstein, goes straight for the guilt trip:

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Obamacare Isn’t Helping People; It’s Coercing Them

By on 3.24.14 | 12:29PM

President Obama might reach his 6 million Obamacare enrollee goal, but not people have been pining to sign up for affordable health insurance.

The explanation for the sudden surge of enrollees rests on good, old-fashioned fear. People are getting worried as companies, such as H&R Block, explain just how high the penalties for not obtaining coverage will be, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The $95 fine doesn’t sound like much, but remember: the fine is $95 or one percent of your income, whichever is higher:

One H&R Block handout for people who visit a branch specified that a married couple with two children filing jointly, and making $58,500 a year, would be hit with a penalty of $350 in 2014, then $975 in 2015 and $2,085 in 2016—far greater than the $95 many people assume they're eyeing.

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Obama — Europe ‘Not a Battleground Between East and West’

By on 3.24.14 | 10:46AM

President Obama conducted an interview with a Dutch newspaper prior to his arrival in The Netherlands to start his weeklong overseas trip. He proclaimed, "The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we view the situation in Ukraine as a zero sum game. That's the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War." 
 
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Dodgers Sweep D’Backs Down Under

By on 3.23.14 | 7:39AM

On Saturday, I got up at 4 a.m. to watch the 2014 MLB Opening Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks at Sydney Cricket Grounds in Australia. 

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Poll Dampens Democratic Hopes for Georgia

By on 3.21.14 | 4:58PM

While the GOP, hopeful of capturing the Senate, focuses on vulnerable Democrats who voted for Obamacare, the left reminds Republicans of the significance of the word “net” in their goal of a net-six win this year. 

Democrats have Georgia in mind. Although Republicans may manage to take down incumbents, the argument goes, they will need to prevent Democrats from seizing the open seat in the typically red Peach State. While demographic shifts might suggest a purple (or less red) future for Georgia, the state’s role in the 2014 cycle may be overstated.

Democratic strategists have been counting on a Todd Akin-Claire McCaskill repeat this year in Georgia. For one, Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey, running for Senator Saxby Chambliss’s open seat, “partially” defended Senate candidate Todd Akin’s infamous “legitimate rape” comments from 2012. 

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Planned Parenthood Did It All for the Money, the What, the Money

By on 3.21.14 | 3:33PM

The Federalist has an incredible article today, dealing with Planned Parenthood’s complicity in ignoring and frankly covering up Kermit Gosnell's horrors at his abortion clinic. The entire piece is well worth the read.

There are a few choice bits I’d like to deal with here. First, it is all too fitting that Planned Parenthood is trying to electorally defeat the cousin of one of Gosnell’s victims, Margo Davidson, who's running for reelection as a state representative. Davidson spoke out after seeing what Gosnell did to her cousin, Semika Shaw:

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The Beer Spectator: Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Series Is A Celebration of California

By on 3.21.14 | 1:49PM

California has its issues. A high state income tax, massive budget deficits, unfunded pension liabilities—we could go on and on.  

But today we celebrate the Golden State, and specifically the Harvest Single Hop IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, Calif. The Harvest series showcases five different beers of alternate hopping methods. This is the first. 

The beer reminded me of Christmas Eve, when my mother prepares a grand feast for our extended family. San Francisco, where I grew up, has only one true climate attribute: fog. It doesn’t snow, nor does it rain very often. 

During wintertime, the temperature drops to 40 degrees at the coldest. Obviously we’re spoiled. For this dinner, we purchase Dungeness crab. These large, orange shellfish are not as sweet as lobster, and they require a bit more work to grab the meat.

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How Nelson Mandela Forced the Resignation of Alberta’s Premier

By on 3.21.14 | 9:14AM

On Wednesday, Alberta Premier Alison Redford resigned suddenly after only two and a half years in office. Redford became Premier in October 2011 when she won the Progressive Conservative Party leadership and was elected in her own right in April 2012 when the Tories won 62 out of 87 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. 

The Tories have held office in Alberta since August 1971. This summer the Alberta Tories will become the longest serving government in Canadian history, surpassing the Nova Scotia Liberals who held power for 43 years between 1882-1925. In 2012, Redford and the Tories faced a strong conservative challenge by Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party. However, a series of racist and homophobic comments by several Wildrose candidates and Smith’s failure to condemn those statements cast sufficient doubts to lead Alberta voters to re-elect the Tories.

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