The Spectacle Blog

The Reason Wilco Isn’t Boycotting Other RFRA States

By on 3.31.15 | 10:27AM

Emily takes Wilco to task for boycotting Indiana in protest of the passage of its RFRA statute, but not 9 other states which are on their tour that have RFRA on their books.

But there's a reasonable explanation. The RFRAs that were passed in the 9 other states in question only applied to religious assemblies and institutions, not to for profit entities. One of the states Emily cites is Louisiana which states its law is applicable "to a church, association of churches or other religious order, body or institution which qualifies for exemption from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) or (d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986."  

It's true that the Hobby Lobby decision has effectively amended those statutes, but that decision is clearly beyond the control of the state legislature in Louisiana and the other 8 states with RFRA statutes. Thus Wilco has no reason to cancel their tour dates in those states.

Wilco Cancels IN Show But Not Shows In 9 Other RFRA States

By on 3.30.15 | 7:39PM

Wilco, which is a band that you'll know if, like me, you were a depressed kid in college in the early 2000s, who thought that listening to whiny musicians would make you seem "cooler" to the other depressed kids in college in the early 2000s, has cancelled it's Indianapolis tour date in protest over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Biden Remembers Ted Kennedy — And the Senate Locker Room

By on 3.30.15 | 5:08PM

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate opens today in Boston, and the ribbon cutting, which featured a line of VIPs and high-profile speakers, has lent itself to a wealth of unintentionally hilarious Ted Kennedy tributes. 

First, President Obama, who opened the Center, took a moment to consider a world where we were all more like Ted Kennedy: a world where, I suppose, we all conducted ourselves with blatant disregard for the human beings around us, as we failed repeatedly to bridge any sort of partisan divide, pursuing our own dogged commitment to amassing influence and tolerating large quantities of alcohol. 

And then, Vice President Joe Biden, who, like many people, recalled that the erstwhile Senator was Virgil-like guide into the deeper, darker areas of Senate life.

Like, the naked ones.

Tripping With the Obamas

By on 3.30.15 | 2:37PM

The first couple are falling all over themselves lately. First Michelle, dressed in what the Daily Mail described as “silver stilettos,” took a stumble when she reached for the hand of Emperor Akihito during her Japan trip earlier this month. She ought perhaps to have stayed down, for when she righted herself she towered over the unfortunate man and his Empress. From the photos, she needed to squat in order to shake the Emperor’s hand, and to incline her head in order to converse.

Clinton Musical to Premiere Off Broadway

By on 3.30.15 | 1:57PM

Are you ready for Clinton: The Musical, America? 

Well, tough. It's happening whether you like it or not. This spring, two Australian playwrights are bringing the former First Family to the American theater scene, allowing you to pay actual money to relive the 1990s in all of its terrible, Clinton-y glory. 

The cast of characters includes Dick Morris, Newt Gingrich, Monica Lewinsky and former Clinton special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who sings "A Starr Is Born" and "Sexual Relations." There's a dancing press corps and music that takes you back to Celine Dion, Hanson and the Spice Girls.

"It really does its job of taking down America and uplifting it at the same time, in a weird sort of way," said Dan Knechtges, the Tony Award-nominated director and choreographer. "Nothing is sacred."

Two men will play the 42nd president — one a wholesome, intelligent Clinton, and another a randy, rogue one (Tom Galantich and Duke Lafoon share the task.) Only Hillary can see both.

NSA Headquarters Stormed by Men in Drag

By on 3.30.15 | 1:38PM

The Daily Mail is reporting that two men dressed as women tried this morning to ram the through NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, opening fire on a security guard who tried to stop them.

It’s not yet known if this was a terrorist incident, but if it was, is dressing in drag now à la mode for this crowd?

The RFRA Obama Voted for in Illinois is Different From The One Passed in Indiana UPDATED

By on 3.30.15 | 1:13PM

I have no desire to defend President Obama, but I must part company with Emily Zanotti's characterization of Indiana's newly enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act as "almost identical" to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he supported when he was a State Senator in Illinois nearly two decades ago.

Connecticut to Boycott Indiana Over RFRA, Forgets It Has Its Own

By on 3.30.15 | 1:10PM

Presient Obama isn't the only person who has selective memory when it comes to voting for and passing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

This morning, the governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, announced that he would be the first governor in the union to sign an executive order limiting state-sponsored travel to Indiana because of Indiana's ostensibly "discriminatory practices." He was so proud of this that he sent not one but two tweets patting himself on the back for his progressive stance on the subject, how he will not allow states to "turn back the clock" on all the progress we've made in the last two decades, and how he is standing up for truth, justice and the American way.

But Governor Dan Malloy has a teeny-tiny problem. Turns out, Connecticut has a RFRA, enacted in 1993, shortly after the Federal government passed theirs. And it's almost identical to the law that Indiana recently passed. It reads, in  part:

Jennifer Granholm Wants to Muscle Out O’Malley

By on 3.30.15 | 12:56PM

Back in the glory days of Michigan's economic recession, when the state was spending millions to market its "Cool Cities" in the hopes that someone, anyone, would come and save itself from a crippling financial crisis, I moved out of state.

Now, of course, I had the luck of marrying someone from Illinois, which, for several years, decided to follow Michigan's lead in a race to the bottom, but while I didn't miss the empty strip malls and burgeoning meth crisis, I did miss haranguing Michigan's then-governor Jennifer Granholm, who had been hired for her singles-line operator voice and her sentient facial moles in a last ditch effort to save the state by ignoring all common sense on financial management. After she was booted, she had a brief stint on Obama's initial economic team, only to be laughed off the roster by everyone in America. I thought, then, that I'd lost the opportunity to be a thorn in Michigan's Dating Game contestant former governor forever. 

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

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