The Spectacle Blog

President Obama Voted for RFRA Before He Didn’t

By on 3.30.15 | 11:55AM

I had been waiting to write on Indiana's religious freedom law until after the hyperbolic furor had died down, but I see that, given the important things going on in the world, like the part where Iran is negotiating its way to a nuclear bomb, that will probably never happen. 

Having once done Constitutional appellate litigation before I realized how soul-crushingly boring any kind of appellate litigation was and moved over to politics, I have more than a passing familiarity with religious freedom laws. Religious Freedom Restoration Acts have been around since 1993 when Sen. Chuck Schumer and then-President Bill Clinton happily codified one into Federal law, and have been the subject of over 20 years of litigation, meaning that all RFRAs - those belonging to the 20 or so states and to the Federal government - have been interpreted and narrowed, and in those same two decades, despite trying, a RFRA has never been successfully used to defend blatant discrimination

If The Obama Admin Is Negotiating on Iran’s Behalf Then Who Is Negotiating for U.S. Interests?

By on 3.28.15 | 8:28PM

I came across this post written by Daniel Halper in The Weekly Standard concerning the defection of a former aide to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Amir Hossein Mottaghi was responsible for Rouhani's social media campaign during Iran's 2013 "elections". Mottaghi was covering the P5 + 1 negotiations with Iran in Switzerland when he decided to defect.

Naturally, Mottaghi is disenchanted with the Iranian regime, but the most damning thing he said was about the Obama Administration's negotiating team when he appeared on Swiss TV. Mottaghi stated, "The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran's behalf with other members of the 5 + 1 countries and convince them of a deal."

Which Side Are We On In Yemen?

By on 3.28.15 | 4:17PM

This morning the Washington Post carried an interview with John Jenkins, former British ambassador to Iraq, in which he enunciated the view of the “international community” that a nuclear deal with Iran was the key to stemming the chaos in Yemen. “The negotiations are one of the guarantees that things won’t blow up,” opined the Ambassador.

That would be the very chaos that Iran ignited in the first place by backing the Houthi rebels who have forced Yemeni President Hadi to flee the country in the wake of the very real threat of imminent assassination.

But what accounts for Iran’s interest in Yemen? Why all of the weapons, training, boots-on-the ground, and intelligence pouring in to the Houthis from Iran? Reports 

Boston Police Officer Shot & Critically Wounded; Saved Life of Fellow Officer After Boston Marathon Attacks UPDATE

By on 3.28.15 | 1:13AM

A Boston police officer is fighting for his life after being ambushed by a suspect during a traffic stop in Roxbury. 

John Moynihan was shot beneath the left eye and is in critical condition at Boston Medical Center. The suspect, who has not been identified, was later shot and killed by police.

Moynihan was honored by President Obama last year for helping to save the life of MBTA police officer Richard Donohue who was wounded during a gun battle with the Tsarnaev brothers in Watertown following the Boston Marathon bombings.

All I can say now is that I hope Officer Moynihan pulls through and makes a full recovery.

UPDATE:Good news. Officer Moynihan's condition was been upgraded to stable and is expected to move out of intensive care within the next few days.

Logong Raditlhokwa, R.I.P.

By on 3.27.15 | 11:07PM

I was online this evening and decided to see what my old friend Logong Raditlhokwa was up to these days. Sadly, I learned that he had passed away in late January of diabetes in his native Botswana. He was only 50.

Logong was my housemate for nearly a year while I was an undergraduate at Carleton University in the early 1990's. He also attended Carleton where he was pursuing his MSW. 

Logong was one of the most engaging people I've ever met. We spent many an evening around the kitchen table discussing politics sometimes one on one and at other times with other housemates. He had a way of making people take an interest in what he was saying even if the subject was far removed from your experience. 

Fred’s Thought of the Day

By on 3.27.15 | 4:31PM

In order to be successful, the Republican Party is going to need two things: First, for establishment Republicans to understand that Tea Partiers and other conservatives didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to be hell raisers. They are reacting to the fact that, for many years now, through Republican victories and Republican defeats, the U.S. has drifted, inexorably, toward a more expanded European-type welfare state.

Secondly, for Tea Partiers to understand that our inefficient, slow-moving political system that we have always celebrated as liberty-friendly, is an impediment to the rapid corrections we’d now like to see and that the key to success is incrementalism, however frustrating — staying on the right road, moving in the right direction, and preparing for a long journey.

Down to the End With Downton

By on 3.27.15 | 3:40PM

The sound you hear in the background is moaning and sniffling across the land (probably across the world) as word gets about that Downton Abbey will finally come to an end next year after Series Six. We knew it had to end sometime, as all good things do. But many are not ready. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Grief counselors will be working overtime this weekend.

Reid Picks Schumer Over Durbin

By on 3.27.15 | 12:32PM

Illinois just can't win today. First, two terrible candidates for mayor of Chicago. Then, on his last day in office, disgraced Congressman Aaron Schock decides to compare himself to Lincoln in his farewell speech, even though, despite the fact that he was an Illinois politician, Abraham Lincoln never faced a likely FBI investigation into his misuse of campaign funds. 

And now, Dick Durbin, the Illinois Senator anticipated to be Harry Reid's successor, has fallen by the wayside in favor of Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has endorsed Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to succeed him after he retires at the end of 2016.

"I think Schumer should be able to succeed me," Reid said in a Friday morning interview at his home in Washington's West End.

The Obamas Might Abandon Chicago for New York

By on 3.27.15 | 12:13PM

Although Rahm Emanuel has pulled well ahead of challenger Chuy Garcia in the Chicago mayoral race (the last poll had him with a comfortable 15 point lead, but still without the 50% necessary to win), with a whopping 18% still undecided and a quesstionable debate performance last night, nothing is guaranteed - which might explain why the President seems less sure about his post-tenure plans. Without his former advisor in charge, there's no guarantee he'll be showered by the love and affection he expects from his waiting public.

According to reports, the fact that the Obama library still hasn't landed a permanent location points to an unsettling rumor that the Obamas will be trading their precious palace in Chicago for a home in midtown Manhattan.

Harry Reid Announces Retirement, Gaping Hole in Nevada

By on 3.27.15 | 10:42AM

Aaron already announced that Sen. Harry Reid will not seek re-election at the end of this term, ostensibly because of the horrific eye injuries he sustained a few weeks ago, after falling victim to a back-snapping physical therapy resistance band, falling into a Stairmaster and banging his face on the handle (but it's probalby more likely he's out because he's now in the minority and doesn't want to fight uphill for the remainder of his career).  

Let that sink in for a minute: a piece of exercise equipment may have done what Republicans never could. I mean that as nicely as possible, of course - I don't want anyone, including Harry Reid, to have to face a devastating eye injury, especially one that robs him of his sight - but when you think about how Harry Reid's career could have ended, and Sharron Angle comes to mind, it really brings home how ineffective the Republican ground game has really been of late.