The Spectacle Blog

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

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.