The Spectacle Blog

The IRS, Obamacare, and the English Language

By on 6.17.15 | 12:47PM

In the days just before the March 4 Supreme Court hearing in King v. Burwell, I got a number of calls from total strangers who had read about the case and who wanted to be plaintiffs in it. I explained to them that it was too late to join the case then, but listened to their stories of cancelled insurance policies and jobs jeopardized by Obamacare. One call stood out in particular. It was from a woman in California who had moved to the U.S. years ago from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. After explaining her health care predicament, she asked me: Do you understand how crazy this is? I left a totally dysfunctional country to come here, and now I find myself trapped in this insanity!

California University Will Ban Soda Sales On Campus

By on 6.17.15 | 12:43PM

The University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) is halting the sale of soda and other sugary drinks on campus due to health concerns.

Under the new policy, which was decided upon in May and will be implemented in July, campus vendors will be blocked from selling all drinks with added sugar calories to the school’s 4,600 students. That means no Coca-Cola, no Dr. Pepper, and no fruit punch. Diet sodas and 100 percent juice drinks will still be tolerated, and students will be allowed to bring sugary drinks on campus if they buy them elsewhere.

“The average American consumes nearly three times the recommended amount of added sugar every day,” UCSF professor Laura Schmidt said in the school’s initial announcement. “The most common single source is sugar-sweetened beverages.””

ICE Has ‘Largely Abandoned’ Efforts To Punish Illegal-Hiring Employers

By on 6.17.15 | 12:38PM

The Obama administration has “largely abandoned” efforts to enforce laws that prohibit businesses from hiring illegal immigrants, according to a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement audited 181 workplaces and charged 27 employers in the first five months of this fiscal year, the internal ICE data analyzed by CIS shows. That’s a steep decline from 2013, when ICE audited more than 3,000 companies and arrested 179 employers. And the number of fines ICE collected from employers dropped by more than half since 2013.

“The administration’s near discontinuation of worksite enforcement means that employers now face very little risk in hiring illegal workers and have little incentive to abide by the law,” CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan wrote in the report.

In 2009, the Obama administration instructed top ICE investigations personnel to stop conducting physical raids of employers, and to instead conduct “virtual raids” by inspecting personnel records.

Kentucky Insurers Request Double Digit Premium Hikes

By on 6.17.15 | 12:34PM

The Kentucky Health Cooperative, the largest insurer on Kynect, Kentucky’s Obamacare health insurance exchange, proposed a 25.1 percent health insurance premium rate increase for 2016.

Despite the daunting numbers, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is unconcerned about the double-digit rate in his administration’s signature policy.

“System-wide averages don’t give a good picture of what an individual’s out-of-pocket costs may be,” Beshear said.

Beshear bypassed the legislature and created Kynect, the nation’s first state-run health-insurance exchange, through an executive order.

“The rates for private health plans on Kynect have been filed but have not yet been approved or certified, so we don’t yet know what the final numbers will be,” Beshear said. “Changes still may occur, and rates should be finalized sometime in mid-July, but we do expect that some plan rates will go down, some will go up, and some will stay close to the same as last year.”

Financial Problems Loom

California Obamacare Exchange Is Running Out of Money

By on 6.17.15 | 12:29PM

After spending more than $1 billion on startup costs, California’s state-run Obamacare health insurance exchange has failed to produce the expected returns and is rapidly running out of money.

Covered California signed up fewer people than was required for it to become self-sufficient, Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution says.

“Even spending all of the money they did on advertising, they still managed to sign up far fewer Californians than they expected,” Chen said. “In fact, they’ve signed up about 1.27 million people, when they expected to enroll 1.8 million.

“Covered California receives $13.95 for each enrollee into the program, so falling half a million enrollees short will mean financial strain for the exchange,” Chen said.

Covered California’s 2015­–16 budget proposal outlines possible consequences of such a shortfall.

Maryland’s O’Malley Did A Hillary To His Email

By on 6.17.15 | 12:13PM

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley deleted virtually all of the messages from his primary, private email address, leaving constituent complaints and spam in an archive.

O’Malley’s official Maryland state government email address was likely linked primarily to an online form for constituent comments, while his private account was used to conduct government business, a Maryland official said.

Other than the official account, the Maryland State Archives did “not receive any digital data from the governor’s office” after O’Malley completed his second term in 2015, said Acting State Archivist Tim Baker. All but a few of the emails from the private account were deleted.

About 550,000 constituent comments and spam comments were archived. “It doesn’t look like there was an outbox associated with the email account. It doesn’t appear to us that any emails went to the governor or were sent from the governor,” Baker said.

Rachel Dolezal Shopping a Reality Show

By on 6.17.15 | 11:03AM

I don't want to pretend that we didn't know this was coming. After all, there's no greater achievement in America today than being hired by television executives to portray yourself in a docu-series about your life that people will watch while consuming entire bottles of wine on their sofa and thanking the high heavens that they weren't born with your particular strain of mental illness.

Rachel Dolezal, to the surprise of literally no one, has hired a publicist will be shopping a reality show about her life

NAACP race faker Rachel Dolezal stepped down from her job Monday, but has learned she already has a new gig in the works: Dolezal is fielding multiple offers to film a reality show, and is seeking professional representation after her bombshell interview on the Today show.

Golden State Warriors Win 1st NBA Title Since 1975

By on 6.17.15 | 12:01AM

Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors for winning their first NBA championship since 1975. Led by NBA MVP Stephan Curry, the Warriors bested the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-97 in Game 6 of the NBA Final. 

After losing by double digits, the Cavaliers did make a go of it in the final minute, but it wasn't enough. 

The Cavaliers did have a remarkable turn around this season with the return of LeBron James. But injuries to both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving during the playoffs proved costly for the Cavs. King James can't get a crown on his own. 

Once again Cleveland finds itself on the short end of the stick. Cleveland has not won a title since 1964 the Browns won the NFL Championship in the pre-Super Bowl era.

Well, they still have the Indians. They were my pick to win the World Series this year, but at the moment they are 7 games back of the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central.  

Still, the night belong to the Warriors who have given their own long suffering fans something to cheer about.

There’s Nothing Reaganesque About Donald Trump

By on 6.16.15 | 10:22PM

Jeff Lord is downright giddy now that Donald Trump has joined the GOP presidential race.

Jeff tells us it is "a fool's errand to underestimate Trump" because of his - wait for it - "Reaganesque optimism for his country."

I guess this means Jeff has given up on Ted Cruz. Three months ago, Jeff was placing the Reagan mantel on Cruz. But Cruz hasn't exactly set the world ablaze. So I guess Jeff is scrambling for another Reagan.

Trump might sing the praises of Reagan today, but when he was in office he sang a far different tune. In The Art of the Deal, Trump wrote this about The Gipper:

Ronald Reagan is another example. He is so smooth and so effective as a performer that he completely won over the American people. Only now, nearly seven years later, are people beginning to question whether there's anything beneath that smile.

Brock Holt Hits for Cycle; 1st Red Sox to Accomplish Feat Since ‘96

By on 6.16.15 | 7:01PM

There hasn't been to cheer for in Red Sox Nation this year nor for that matter last year.

But Brock Holt has been a blessing. You can put him in nearly any position and you'll get Gold Glove calibre play. He can run and has a little bit of pop in his bat.

Today, Brock Holt got a chance to be the star of the game. He hit for the cycle in the Sox's 9-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves snapping a seven game losing streak. Holt becomes the first Red Sox player in 19 years to hit for the cycle. John Valentin did it in June 1996 against the Chicago White Sox. 

Holt's cycle is the first of the 2015 MLB season.