Spending Money In Indiana And Arkansas

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is backtracking after signing into state law a bill that would allow individual businesses to decline to entertain certain customers. The law is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. According to an analysis at the Atlantic, Indiana’s law is different in key ways from the federal law of the same name: “the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to ‘the free exercise of religion.’” There’s more:

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.

What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches.

And lo, certain for-profits have stepped forward to embrace their new rights! Because Jesus was all about refusing to serve people he or his society found distasteful. In fact, he went to the cross rather than sell pizza to same-sex couples.

You don’t remember that part? Read your bibles, folks, come on. It’s Holy Week. 

‘If You Don’t Fight For It, Your Chances Are Zero’

It's always fun to watch Warren argue with CNBC commentators.

Explaining the Sequester

Multiple attempts to explain the sequester.

What Happened During the Last Shutdown

The Republican-controlled House would like to keep the government running until December in exchange for defunding the Affordable Care Act, and the Democrat-controlled Senate is prepared to reject a budget bill that would delay the president’s health care law. With no compromise in sight at the moment, the government will shut down and hundreds of thousands of workers will be furloughed without pay, among other economic ripple effects. Here is what happened during the last shutdown:

The last shutdown, from December 15, 1995, until January 6, 1996, is also the longest in U.S. history. It had more palpable effects. In late 1995, the Clinton administration and the Republican opposition, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, sparred over balancing the government’s budget. Clinton was open to a long-term balancing plan but threatened to veto any further cuts. Gingrich did not yield and sent back a resolution that Clinton shot down—resulting in a three-week shutdown which kept 800,000 government employees at home, and forced others to work without pay (they were later paid retroactively). According to a Congressional Research Service report, the National Institutes of Health couldn’t take in new patients; bankruptcy cases got put on hold; 368 national parks closed; passports were not issued; the Bureau of Indian Affairs shut its doors; veterans’ services came to a halt. The shutdown proved hugely unpopular. Gingrich bore most of the blame, perhaps because he said he’d made negotiations more difficult after the president made him get off Air Force One from the back.

This time around, though, polls show that Americans would blame both Democrats and Republicans for the shutdown.

Photo: Phil Roeder

Rep. Tammy Duckworth Chews Out an IRS Contractor

This video of Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth has been making the rounds today, but if you have not seen it, it's a must (all eight minutes of it). A summary: Businessman Braulio Castillo injured his foot 30 years ago while attending the U.S. Military Preparatory School. He later went on to play football in college, and used his prep school injury to receive government contracts reserved for disabled vets. Duckworth gives him a good reaming out.


"The offer makes no mention of how to handle the looming battle over the federal debt limit, nor does it offer suggestions for how the deficit-cutting framework would be put into place."

Where Political Funds Get Raised

The Sunlight Foundation mapped out the locations of all the political fundraisers they’ve been invited to over 5 years. 76% of the ones in D.C. take place within three city blocks of the U.S. Capitol. Convenient!

An Easier Way to Follow the Money

Should politicians be required to wear logos of their financial supporters on their suits like NASCAR drivers do?