The Spectacle Blog

The Torture Memos and the New War on Terror

By on 12.9.14 | 1:02PM

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report this morning detailing the CIA's detention and interrogation of suspects during the War on Terror, from the beginning until 2009. The report, compiled by staff members working for the Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is over 6,000 pages long and provides a graphic accounting of CIA torture and imprisonment, and goes into detail about how the CIA continued its global operations outside of Congressional and Bush Administration oversight.

The report details how the CIA treated detainees in its custody, suggests that the practice known as "waterboarding" was far more widespread than previously believed, and notes that while the CIA routinely justified its tactics as necessary to save lives and prevent acts of terrorism, the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" it practiced did not provide as much information as they initially claimed. 

Send to Kindle

Jonathan Gruber is Sorry He Called You Stupid

By on 12.9.14 | 12:54PM

Jonathan Gruber is testifying before Congress today about his role in constructing and passing the Affordable Care Act. You should know all about this, because the Administration released a memo detailing how the Bush-era CIA used Enhanced Interrogation Techniques including something I don't want to get into titled "rectal feeding" to obtain information in the War on Terror, that pretty much every news outlet is covering instead of Jonathan Gruber testifying before Congress.

Now, don't get me wrong. The Torture Memo is important. So important, in fact, it probably shouldn't have been used to detract from hearing on how the Administration and Congressional Democrats, along with their advisors, may have misled the American public on heath care reform. But I digress. Jonathan Gruber is testifying today, and he has a very special message for all of you idiots out there, who were duped into believing Obamacare was actually about improving your health care system: he's sorry.

Send to Kindle

White House Ebola Czar Going Back to Real Job

By on 12.9.14 | 12:29PM

Ron Klain, America's newly-appointed "Ebola Czar" will return to his real day job next month after a stellar less-than-thirty days on the job. He may have done nothing, but nothing was, apparently, exactly what was desperately needed in the face of a terrifying foreign disease, which Ron swiftly defeated by never actually showing up for a single press conference, or, perhaps, for his entire job at all.

And now, Ron may retire back to his venture capital job, where his only chance of catching a communicable illness will come when he accidentally switches drinks with Leonardo DiCaprio at a Democratic fundraiser.

With the Ebola crisis seemingly in hand, Ron Klain, the veteran political operative the White House plucked from a venture capital gig to coordinate the government’s response, is planning a late-winter return to the private sector.

Send to Kindle

Barack Obama Can Get Rather Testy With Journalists

By on 12.8.14 | 7:04PM

Apparently, Barack Obama isn't always as friendly with his White House correspondents as conservative media would have you believe. While they might be clipping his photos out of Tiger Beat magazine and pasting them into dreamy collages on their cubicle walls, Barack Obama spends his time thinking about the press mostly considering which swear words to use the next time he runs into them, at least according to retired ABC News journalist Ann Compton.

In an interview with C-SPAN, Compton noted that, at least recently, the press has had a contentious relationship with President Obama, that has, on more than one occasion, resulted in a good old-fashioned swearing session on the part of the President, who seems to feel that the media he relied on to abrogate their duty as the Fourth Estate in order to pave the way for his Presidency, hasn't been duly compliant in recent years.

Send to Kindle

Columbia Law School Lets Students Take Exams Late Because of Ferguson

By on 12.8.14 | 5:39PM

My first year of law school, it snowed so much on the morning of my Contracts exam, that I had to have my dad drive me to school and wait for hours in the library while I finished my test because the school refused to cancel or move the test even though basically everyone was snowed into their respective apartments. And there was no reason they should have moved the test. Aside from general concerns about safety and welfare, that are almost always secondary to a legal education, causing mental anguish seems to be the goal of most first year legal programs, and no one gives actual lawyers the day off of work because they didn't have the requisite foresight to buy Hunter boots on clearance sale. At least, so I've heard. I got all that education and barely practiced.

Send to Kindle

Tony Oliva & Dick Allen Fall One Vote Short of Cooperstown

By on 12.8.14 | 3:12PM

As I predicted in October, no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Golden Era Veterans Committee.

Minnesota Twins batting legend Tony Oliva and Philadelphia Phillies/Chicago White Sox slugger Dick Allen fell one vote short of being inducted into Cooperstown while pitcher Jim Kaat fell two votes short. Astonishingly, Gil Hodges received "three or fewer votes." Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider are all in Cooperstown and Hodges, who was the best first baseman of his era, should be with them.

Send to Kindle

Joe Biden Discovers Ladyfolk Can Program Computers, Too

By on 12.8.14 | 1:49PM

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden celebrated today's "Hour of Code," encouraging students to learn computer code and engineering, by interacting with a group of middle school students from Newark, NJ, learning how to create basic computer programs. While the President listened intently to the kids as they explained what they were working on, Joe Biden helpfully demonstrated that his smartphone had more power in it than the computers used in the Apollo space program, and then waxed poetic about female equality in the sciences.

No word on whether Biden was trying to convince the girls or himself. Fortunately, the girls were unfazed, and, now comforted in knowing that no only was Biden correct, but that he had provided them with at least one clear example of their intellectual superiority, went back to their work. 


Send to Kindle

Mary Landrieu’s Loss Was Hilariously Terrible

By on 12.8.14 | 1:46PM

Obviously, we all know what's actually responsible for Mary Landrieu's Senate loss - racism - but what we haven't discussed is exactly how terribly Mary Landrieu performed in her runoff against Bill Cassidy. We should, because the 9th Senate seat pickup for Republicans wasn't just a subtle, narrow win on the heels of a much larger national trend. It was the kind of delicious, total walloping that comes around perhaps only once a cycle, if that. The only close thing in recent memory, that I can think of, was that time I agreed to do a shot of blue alcohol every time Mitt Romney lost a swing state in 2012.

Anyway, here are some of the gorier details

— Cassidy won 49 of Louisiana's 64 parishes. Six years ago, when Landrieu defeated Republican John Kennedy without a runoff, the Democratic senator carried 38 parishes.

Send to Kindle

Obama Must Accept Responsibility For The Death of Luke Somers

By on 12.7.14 | 12:00AM

In his statement concerning the death of American photojournalist Luke Somers in a failed rescue mission by Navy SEALS in Yemen, President Obama said, "It is my highest responsibility to do everything possible to protect American citizens."

And when those efforts fall short it is incumbent upon President Obama to accept responsibility for failure.

Let us not forget how Obama and those who supported him constantly reminded us how he was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. Remember the slogan, "Osama bin Laden is dead; GM is alive."

Yes, Obama gave the order to kill bin Laden. But Obama also gave the order to rescue Luke Somers. 

If President Obama is going to take credit for our military's success, he must also accept responsibility when our military's failure.

Unfortunately, accepting responsiblity has never been President Obama's strongsuit.

Send to Kindle

Obama Admin Considering Sanctions Against Israel

By on 12.6.14 | 8:07PM

The Obama Administration is reportedly considering sanctions against Israel over the construction of settlements in Jerusalem. 

It's not like these settlements would end up being part of a future Palestinian state . None of that matters. This is about sticking it to Israel.

This is the same Obama Administration that is actively opposing any further sanctions against Iran in the vain hope of obtaining a nuclear agreement. 

However, I don't expect the Obama Administration to embark upon any sanctions until after Israel's elections in March. If the Obama Administration were to do that then Israeli voters would close ranks around Netanyahu. The last thing Obama wants is a strong Bibi. 

Send to Kindle