The Spectacle Blog

Does EPA’s Supreme Court Loss Doom Obama’s Climate Agenda?

By on 6.30.15 | 10:00AM

In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down the Obama Administration EPA’s signature “Mercury and Air Toxic Rule,” which regulates emissions by fossil-fuel-fired power plants. Before regulating, EPA was obligated to decide whether regulation under one the Act’s most burdensome programs was “appropriate and necessary.” EPA interpreted that language to preclude it from considering the costs of regulation—some $10 billion per year, in exchange for $4 million or so in direct benefits. That interpretation, the Court decided, was ludicrous.

The decision may well leave the Obama climate agenda in tatters. Why that is requires a bit of explanation. In the usual case when the Court finds a rule to be unlawful, it vacates the offending action—in other words, deprives it of legal force. But that’s not what the Court did here. Instead, it sent the case back down to the D.C. Circuit for further proceedings, knowing full well that that court will follow its usual practice of “remand without vacatur”—in other words, let the agency fix any flaws in its rule while leaving the rule in place.

Bobby Jindal Is ‘Tanned, Rested and Ready’

By on 6.29.15 | 5:15PM

At first glance, it seems like Bobby Jindal is taking a page out of Richard Nixon's playbook.

But stare at his official campaign t-shirt design for a few minutes and you'll start to see a very different side of Bobby than his speeches, given in short-sleeved shirts, with an almost bookish demeanor, might demonstrate:

I kind of like it. Jindal doesn't differentiate himself from the pack very well, and a joke like makes a big difference both in demonstrating the personality he's been hiding from the public all these years, and brings to the forefront part of what makes him different from his fellow candidates: his ethnic background.

NBC Dumps Trump

By on 6.29.15 | 4:58PM

Donald Trump has a big reason for taking this Presidential bid seriously: he's got some space in his calendar to fill.

Although the real estate mogul isn't exactly hurting for business opportunity, NBC announcced today that they've cut all ties with Trump after he made what they considered to be disaparging comments about illegal immigrants (specifically Mexicans) in his initial announcement speech. That means that NBC has dropped Trump from the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, mostly, since Mark Burnett is the producer of The Apprentice and Trump had already parted ways as the host of the show (while his campaign is in full swing, anyway).  

NBC is ending its business relationship with Donald Trump over his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

"At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values," NBC said in a statement. "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."

Greece’s Debt Problem Is Becoming A Global Problem

By on 6.29.15 | 4:55PM

The worsening Greek financial crisis became a global problem Monday with stocks around the world falling following a weekend of troublesome bailout negotiations.

The decline in global stocks came after Greek officials announced plans to close its banks and impose restrictions on cash withdrawals to try to prevent the current financial crisis from getting worse. The decision and news that the bailout negotiations faltered over the weekend caught investors around the globe off guard.

“Most people’s consensus forecast was for them to muddle through with some kind of a deal,” Kymberly Martin, the senior market strategist at the Bank of New Zealand, told The New York Times. “So it has taken people a little bit by surprise.”

Common Core’s Blue Screen of Death

By on 6.29.15 | 4:50PM

The New Hampshire-based company Measured Progress, which developed online Common Core tests used in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, has acknowledged a major problem with the test’s rollout.

Technical malfunctions, such as servers crashing during testing, resulted in only 37 percent of Nevada students being able to take their exams. Montana and North Dakota only managed to test 76 percent and 84 percent of students online, respectively.

Though Measured Progress admits the online test completion rate in all three states failed to meet the federal mandate of at least 95 percent of 3rd through 8th graders, the company denies any breach of contract. Measured Progress had the task of rolling out the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced assessments online for all three states. 

Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, says the testing complications are not surprising.

Supreme Court Derails EPA’s Anti-Coal Agenda

By on 6.29.15 | 4:45PM

After a string of disappointing Supreme Court rulings on social issues, conservatives are celebrating the court’s ruling against a major EPA rule forcing coal plants to shut down across the country.

In a 5 to 4 decision the Supreme Court ruled the EPA acted “unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants” when crafting its Mercury Air Toxics Standard, or MATS, regulation improperly. The rule would limit mercury and other emissions from power plants at a cost of $9.6 billion a year to comply.

MATS had been challenged by the coal industry and 23 states who alleged the costs of the rule exceeded its benefits. Indeed, hundreds of coal-fired generators were being forced to close down because it was too costly to comply with MATS. The EPA and its environmental allies argued the rule would yield $36 billion in benefits — the court disagreed.

“No regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion.

Egypt’s Top Justice Official DEAD In Car Bombing

By on 6.29.15 | 4:41PM

Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat died Monday from injuries sustained in a car bombing that targeted his convoy while driving to work in Cairo.

Barakat was at the center of Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on perceived terrorist threats, especially those associated with supporters of deposed Muslim Brotherhood-aligned president Mohamed Morsi. Egypt’s robust anti-terrorism policies — including thousands of arrests, hundreds of death sentences and countless instances of purportedly infringed civil liberties — have flourished since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi came to prominence in 2013.

At least seven others, including bystanders, were also hurt in Monday’s blast.

Bobby Jindal Is ‘Tired Of Hyphenated Americans’

By on 6.29.15 | 4:28PM

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Iowa this week and he is hitting in hard with three town hall appearances across the state and a new television ad where he tells Iowans how “tired of hyphenated Americans” he is.

“I’m tired of hyphenated Americans,” Jindal said in the ad. “We’re not Indian-Americans or African-Americans or Asian-Americans. We’re all Americans.”

Jindal goes on to describe his own immigrant parents and how, when they came to America, they did it because they wanted to be Americans.

“The folks who want to immigrate to America, they should do so legally, they should adopt our values, they should learn English and they should roll up their sleeves and get to work,” Jindal said.


Puerto Rico Edges to Default

By on 6.29.15 | 4:24PM

Greece is expected to default on its government debts tomorrow as its bailout package from the European Union (EU) expires. The country will also hold a referendum on Friday on whether to accept the latest round of terms from its EU funders. Greece continues to grab all the headlines, but there is another government closer to home that is in a similar situation: Puerto Rico. Over the weekend, the governor of the island announced that Puerto Rico is unable to repay its $70 billion in debt.

The Washington Post describes the situation:

REPORT: Why Public Sector Unions Can Easily Break The Law

By on 6.29.15 | 4:15PM

Focusing on Michigan, a report released Monday by The Mackinac Center makes the case that there are not adequate laws to stop public sector unions from engaging in illegal activities.

In many states, like Michigan, and the federal level, public sector union members can be charged hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year in union dues. Unfortunately, as the report “Bringing Financial Transparency to Michigan’s Public Sector Unions,” argues, public sector unions are not held to the same standard of transparency and accountability their private sector counterparts are.

“This means that public school employees, state and county workers and all the other unionized public employees in Michigan do not have access to detailed financial information about the union to which they pay dues,” the report noted.