The Rebirth of Nullification in Alabama

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The week after I spoke in Alabama, there was a happy milestone in this reddest of red states: a federal court ruling for marriage equality was set to take effect. Judge Callie V.S. Granade, a George W. Bush appointee, struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage, and the state's request for a stay was denied by both the appeals court and the Supreme Court.But at the eleventh hour, there was a shocker: Alabama state supreme court chief justice Roy Moore issued an order directing state probate … [Read more...]

Anti-Vaccination Fever Rages On

After washing your hands, vaccination is probably the simplest and best medical advance in human history. But in spite of overwhelming evidence of its efficacy at preventing death and disease, irrational fearmongering is persuading people to skip shots for themselves and their children, and we're now paying the price.In the U.S., 2014 was the worst year for measles in more than a decade, due to an outbreak in an Ohio Amish community spread by a missionary returning from overseas. And 2015 … [Read more...]

Book Reviews: Fighting Back the Right, Living the Secular Life

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(Author's Note: The following reviews were solicited and are written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Fighting Back the Right by David NioseI previously reviewed Nonbeliever Nation by David Niose, a past president of the American Humanist Association. His new book, Fighting Back the Right, tells the story of how the right wing became a formidable force in America's culture wars and what we can do about it.The modern conservative movement, in Niose's account, is … [Read more...]

The Torture Report is America’s National Shame

The Senate has released a massive report on the torture of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration, and it's as bad as many of us feared. We already knew some of the terrible things done in our name as Americans, but not the full extent. In fact, we still don't know the full extent, since what the Senate publicly released was a summary of an even longer, still-classified report.But even the redacted version is a catalogue of horrors. The Senate's investigation found that prisoners … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Mythical Golden Age of Religious Charity

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Do Right-Wing Christians Want People to be Destitute? It's about the conservative politicians who want to slash the social safety net, claiming they want to go back to a time when churches and private charity provided for everyone's needs, and the evidence showing that the actual effect of that policy would be to throw millions into destitution - and its backers not only know that, they're counting on it. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the … [Read more...]

#BlackLivesMatter: A New Civil Rights Movement

BlackLivesMatter

Just a few days after the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson unleashed fury in Ferguson, there's been another civil rights outrage in a nation that's weary of them. This time, it was the police killing of Eric Garner, a black man in Staten Island, allegedly for selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk.The circumstances of this are even less debatable than the Michael Brown shooting, since the entire encounter was captured on video. Garner wasn't violent; all he did was argue with the … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Election Chatter

It was an exceptionally ugly night for Democrats. The Republicans winning the Senate is discouraging, though not unexpected. (I had held out hope of a 50-50 tie.) But the Democrats also lost multiple governorships, including several that should have been easy holds or promising pickups. A few scattered thoughts:• If you thought the last few years of obstruction were bad, things are about to get worse. It was already a given that President Obama wouldn't be able to pass any major … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: The Millennials and the Midterms

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My newest column on the Guardian is up!It's titled "Godless millennials could end the political power of the religious right", and it concerns the demographic trends toward a more secular America that I've been covering for some time. In it, I argue that there's evidence these trends are making themselves felt in electoral politics. Here's an excerpt:The 2014 midterm elections are drawing near, and it appears that the Democrats may well lose the Senate, since they're fighting on … [Read more...]

Colorado’s Conservative History Whitewash

Fig. 1: Slave owners voluntarily set their slaves free.

There are a lot of stories I want to write about, especially the infuriating Texas law that will close down nearly every family planning clinic in the state. But for today, there's an important one that's been flying under the radar and deserves more attention: the fight over high school history classes in Jefferson County, Colorado. It's a local story, but it has a much broader national resonance.The background of this is that, in 2012, the College Board rolled out a new curriculum for … [Read more...]

Why Are LGBT Rights Thriving While Choice Suffers?

Justice

This article on the Daily Beast by Jay Michaelson spotlighted a trend that I've noticed and wondered about the reasons for: in America these past few years, LGBT rights are making great strides, while women's rights continue to fall further and further behind. The contrast between the health of these two progressive causes is striking, and cries out for an explanation.Same-sex marriage is winning victory after victory, including in red states like Kentucky and Utah, to the point where even … [Read more...]


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