The Spectacle Blog

Nuclear Weapons Are Against Shiite Islam

By on 7.17.14 | 5:51PM

"Tales of 1001 Nights" (which, ironically enough, is not respected as fine literature in the Middle East itself) is the story of an ancient Persian king. In a fit of disillusioned anger, the king declares he will marry a new maiden every evening and execute her the next morning. He is thwarted when one bride distracts him with a story that never seems to end properly. The king is too eager to hear the story's end to kill the storyteller, and his wife saves her life by telling an endless spiral of stories for 1,001 nights. 

The land of Persia is now called Iran, and its nuclear negotiations with the West don't look any more likely to end by the July 20 deadline than Princess Shaharazad's stories were to end at daybreak. Iran has more than hinted at an extension of the planned six months of negotiations with Western powers in Vienna, reported Reuters. 

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Another IRS Hearing Leaves Questions Unanswered

By on 7.17.14 | 3:31PM

In another House Oversight Committee hearing today, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole was subpoenaed to testify. Cole was specifically asked to answer questions about the investigation of the IRS by the Department of Justice.

Congressman Jim Jordan, who was chairing the hearing, opened with a strong statement condemning the DOJ’s lack of response to the allegations against the IRS:

Four days after the IRS leaked they were targeting conservatives, the DOJ under Holder said they were outraged and were going to investigate. That was last May and we have heard nothing more. How much more will it take for the administration to appoint a special prosecutor?

The ranking member, Elijah Cummings, said Republicans were only being zealous because they were looking for an opportunity to attack the administration and find a conspiracy theory:

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Passenger Jet Shot Down in Eastern Ukraine

By on 7.17.14 | 1:48PM

Malaysia Airlines lost a plane in Ukrainian airspace near the Ukraine-Russia border Thursday. The company’s official Twitter page posted at 11:36 a.m. EST that it had “lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam." Reuters reported that all 295 people aboard are dead. The jet came down over Donetsk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist stronghold, crashing some twenty-five miles from the Russian border. The Russian news source Interfax reportedly broke the story citing Russian aviation officials. Its website was inaccessible as the story broke. The Associated Press reports that Anton Gerashenko, Ukraine’s interior minister, wrote on his Facebook profile that it was shot down by a Buk missile system.

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Karl Rove’s Chief of Staff Replies

By on 7.17.14 | 1:20PM

Yesterday, I ran a short post that quoted a June 4th Washington Post story on the role of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads in the Mississippi Senate runoff. The Post reported:

American Crossroads, a GOP establishment organization, has decided to shift its political focus almost entirely to the general election and will not be spending money in the likely runoff election to decide the Mississippi Senate nomination that was virtually deadlocked after Tuesday night. […]

“Other than Alaska, we have completed our work on Senate primaries this cycle and are now focused on general elections. With the Chamber, the NRSC, and a local super PAC already backing Cochran, this is not our fight,” Paul Lindsay, spokesman for Crossroads, said in a statement. 

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Another Tragedy on Malaysia Airlines - UPDATED

By on 7.17.14 | 1:10PM

For the second time in just over three months a tragedy has befallen a Malaysia Airlines flight. Today, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a surface to air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border. All 295 passengers and crew were killed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the act, but the Ukrainian and Russians blame each other for the incident. Last night, a Ukrainian war plane was shot down and Ukrainian officials say it was done by a Russian jet fighter.

While culpability has not been confirmed in either incident when I heard about the Malaysia Airlines flight being shot down I could not help but think about Korean Airlines Flight 007 which was shot down by a Soviet interceptor on September 1, 1983 killing all 269 passengers and crew including Congressman Larry McDonald, a conservative Democrat from Georgia.

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Clegg: Israel’s Response “Deliberately Disproportionate Form of Collective Punishment”

By on 7.17.14 | 11:08AM

In a radio interview, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Israel's response to Hamas is a deliberately disproportionate form of collective punishment.

To be exact, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner in the David Cameron led coalition government stated, "I have to say though I really do think now the Israeli response appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is just unacceptable."

So I gather that Clegg does not believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing rockets into Israel is a form of collective punishment?

Curiously Clegg does not mention that Israel sends warnings to civilians in Gaza that it will strike and to evacuate the area, but Hamas tells them to stay in their homes. So who exactly is creating the humanitarian crisis of which Clegg speaks?

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The Psychology of Climate Change

By on 7.17.14 | 10:54AM

"The Population Bomb: While You Are Reading These Words Four People Will Have Died of Starvation, Most of Them Children,” read the title of Paul R. Ehrlich’s 1968 book. In 1975, Newsweek’s Peter Gwynne wrote an article called “The Cooling World,” which argued that the earth was cooling and “the resulting famines could be catastrophic.” These days, you can’t drop your child off at pre-school or go to the grocery store without hearing about the latest Malthusian uproar, climate change.  

The doomsayers have run into no trouble reaching the otherwise tone-deaf executive branch. Yesterday, President Obama said, "climate change poses a direct threat to the infrastructure of America," before unleashing a number of new climate change initiatives.

To be clear, it does seem like the earth is warming and that human beings have an effect on it. That much is apparent. But the rate at which the earth is warming, the amount of influence that humans have on the climate, and the proper solutions are certainly up for debate.

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Morning Round-Up 7-17

By on 7.17.14 | 10:44AM

Feature of the Day: Microsoft to Cut Up to 18,000 Jobs


Morning Headlines




Associated Press

1. Gaza Rocket Hits Israel as Humanitarian Lull Ends

 2.  Justice Dept: Missing Emails Now Part of IRS Probe 



1. Barbours Spent to Boost Mississippi Black Turnout

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So Sick of Media Anti-Semitism

By on 7.17.14 | 9:43AM

In today's news about the charging of three Israelis (one adult and two youths) in the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khedair (who lived in Jerusalem), you can tell the professional media anti-Semites from the amateurs.

Spot the difference between the opening of these two news reports on the same story:

CNN: "An adult and two minors have been indicted in what Israeli authorities say was the revenge killing of a Palestinian teen -- a death that helped stoke tensions between Israelis and Palestinians this month -- an Israeli district attorney said Thursday."

BBC: "One Jewish man and two youths have been charged by Israeli prosecutors with the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair, the justice ministry says."

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Hamas is No Bargain

By on 7.17.14 | 12:05AM

Lucy Schouten might very well be correct when she argues that Hamas turned down an Egyptian brokered ceasefire with Israel because it believes it can get a better bargain elsewhere. 

But if we are going to use a shopping analogy it should be clear any deal Hamas enters into is no bargain. Because when it comes to Hamas life is cheap. 

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