Legislators in North Carolina recently introduced a bill to make Christianity the official state religion. That bill has now been turfed, but we can probably expect similar moves in the future.
An Omnibus Poll, sponsored by YouGov.com and the Huffington Post, reveals just how far from the nation’s roots we have traveled on the subject of separating church and state and retaining the nation’s neutrality when it comes to how Americans chose to practice their respective religions.
According to the survey, 34 percent of Americans would favor making Christianity their official state religion while less than half (47 percent) oppose the concept. Thirty-two percent of those polled indicated that they would also favor a constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States with just over half (52 percent) opposing the notion.
Leaving aside for a second the abject failure of millions of Americans to grasp the most basic precepts of their Constitution, this poll actually provides more questions than answers. Read more
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, they say. How true, how true, especially when it comes to reducing the wisdom of brilliant, complex minds to their pithiest quotes. In a recent thread on what has become of the GOP, one commenter went all-in with Henry David Thoreau’s famous (and greatly abused) edict: that government is best which governs the least. (Thoreau was actually quoting someone else, but he endorsed the idea, so let’s go with it.)
As I explained at the time, I used to be an enthusiastic young Republican and I was known to quote that line myself. Granted, I was just spouting something I’d heard others say – I hadn’t actually read Civil Disobedience. But by gods, it sounded good. It’s brief, it’s clever, it has the smell of truthiness about it and it comes with the credibility that automatically attends canonical high school reading assignments, even if we hated them at the time.
But there are a couple of problems with the quote. Read more
Part two in a series.
Forgive me for abstracting and oversimplifying a bit, but one might argue that American politics breaks along the following 10 lines:
- Social Conservatives
- Business Conservatives
- Traditional Conservatives (there’s probably a better term, but I’m thinking of old-line Western land and water rights types)
- Blue Dog Democrats
- New Democrats
- Progressives Read more
Part one in a series.
A little thought experiment for a Monday morning…
Over the past few years I have tried to make as much sense as I could out of the American political landscape. By nature, I’m a theoretically minded thinker, and the point of these exercises has been to try and articulate the structures, shapes, motivators and dynamics the define who we are so that I might develop better theories about why so that I might then think more effectively about how we might be nudged in a more productive direction. Facts → Theory → Action, in other words.
I have observed a few things along the way.
I tend to avoid programs produced by major network news divisions like I would the galloping herpes, but I do occasionally tune into CBS Sunday Morning. In its better moments, Charles Osgood helms a tranquil, reflective magazine foregrounding the people, places and things that define what’s best about American culture. At its worst, of course, it’s just another fair and balanced mainstream media medicine show, with a comment from Ben Stein.
This morning we got a frustrating dose of worst, as the producers decided to have a look at what’s happening in Wisconsin. Read more
It was Sun Tzu, I believe, who first suggested that in order to win the war, you sometimes have to lose the battle. This precept has been on my mind quite a bit since the results of the recent election began rolling in. For instance…
Earlier today one of my political lists was discussing the aftermath of the elections and pondering the future of the progressive movement, such as it is. In response to a couple of thoughtful comments I posed the following question:
In terms of what’s best for the country in the long run, which would be better:
- Obama gets re-elected in 2012? Or,
- Obama gets beaten in 2012, allowing Dems to realign and get started gearing up for 2016 assault on Mt. Mitt?
This is a cynical question, but it is not an insincere one.
The always level-headed Guy Saperstein made an important point: Read more
Back in February I authored a look at the implications of Colorado’s infamous Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) on the state, and in particular on the city of Colorado Springs, which has been forced to cut services that most would regard as essential in order to comply with one of the most foolish bits of legislation in the nation. Teabagger Paradise, I called it, and it must be admitted that my tone was on the snarky side in spots, and I accept that those who don’t share my take might have been a little put off. Sorry about. Still, I stand by my conclusions.
When all is said and done, the most satisfying course of action will be to grab some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show. Read more
A few days ago FCC Chair Julius Genachowski suggested that the administration was seriously considering abandoning the president’s uncompromising pledge to enforce net neutrality. Some suggested at the time that the comments had the vague odor of trial balloon about them. If so, the president found out, quickly and unequivocally, what folks thought. Some reasoned, some entreated, while others of us nard-stomped for all we were worth.
If, in fact, Obama was using Genachowski to test the waters, the conclusion had to be that it’s full of alligators. So today, it looks like the administration might complete the 360:
FCC to Overhaul Regulation of Internet Lines Read more
I’d like to begin by showing you a picture and asking you what you see.
Good. With that in mind, have a look at this one and tell me what you see. Read more
Part 2 of 2. (Read part 1…)
It’s Time to Separate Church and State, Once and for All
If you recall, anti-Catholic prejudice was once a problem for Catholic politicians in the US. John F. Kennedy went so far as to address the issue head-on in his 1960 campaign – probably because he didn’t feel he had much choice. Here’s what he told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12 of that year:
I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters — and the Church does not speak for me.
He went on to assert his respect for the separation of church and state and vowed that Catholic officials would not dictate policy to him. As noted in part 1, the times, they have a-changed. Read more
Part 1 of 2.
I tripped across a provocative headline in the Wall Street Journal the other day: “They Need to be Liberated from Their God.” Turns out the story was about Mosab Hassan Yousef and his spying on Hamas. Which was a little disappointing. There’s no doubt that Palestinian Muslims need to be liberated from their god, but given the recent explosion in documented attacks by US Christians on their fellow Americans (as well as on reason and basic common sense), I thought perhaps the WSJ was going to be the first mainstream “news” outlet to do a story on Jesus Gone Wild!
I keep a running tab of stories that strike my interest. Read more
In Mike’s most recent Nota Bene, he points us to a disturbing, if not altogether surprising little vignette from Capitol Hill.
When House Democrats gathered on Friday for their end-of-the week caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol, caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) told the group he wanted them to hear first from Rep. Michael Capuano, who’d just returned from a primary campaign for the Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy.
Larson asked Capuano, who finished in second place, to share the wisdom he learned on the campaign trail. Read more
America’s democratic ideal doesn’t work perfectly. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all, and in these cases it feeds our cynicism to the point where we’re tempted to conclude that the very possibility of true freedom is a sham. I know whereof I speak, because there are few people out there more soaked in bile than I am.
Still, this whole “marketplace of ideas” is a marvelous concept. Perhaps the most marvelous concept in history. Drawing on the Miltonian belief that if people are allowed to enter the agora and freely state their cases, then “the truth will out” (that is, an educated and informed citizenry will unerringly perceive the truth and that weaker ideas will be disregarded in favor of stronger ones), our nation’s founders crafted a Constitution that assured people the right to voice their opinions, free from government intrusion. Read more
We’re not sure who wrote this, but we sure do respect their courage in standing up to the Red Menace. Please print out the following, sign it, and return it to us as soon as possible:
I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:
I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.
I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public. Read more