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...]

When Will We Have an Atheist President?

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So far this year, a rightward-leaning Supreme Court has issued two major rulings granting sweeping new privileges to religious belief. Atheists and secularists in America are angry and frustrated, and it's natural to wonder when we'll have a government that heeds our wishes. Is there any prospect of an atheist president any time soon, or a nonbeliever in some other high political office?My message, to atheists and friends of secularism, is that there's reason to hope. It won't be next … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Unleashes Chaos

The Supreme Court handed down its Hobby Lobby decision this week, and it was as bad as many of us had feared. In a 5-4 ruling (of course), five conservative male justices handed down the worst church-state decision in years, possibly even worse than the atrocious Hein decision: that a privately held corporation can impose limits on how workers use the health insurance they've earned as part of their compensation.For better or for worse, past cases about religious exemption have turned on the … [Read more...]

The FRC’s Bizarre Prayer Barrage

As you probably know, I don't believe in the efficacy of prayer. There's neither empirical evidence nor logical argument to support the proposition that a supernatural being is listening to our requests and can be persuaded to grant them if asked politely enough. Still, when believers pray for the healing of the sick or the welfare of the needy, there's at least a benevolent intention that I can respect.Then there's the Family Research Council.This religious-right group regularly issues … [Read more...]

No, There Isn’t Any Common Ground on Choice

In 2005, the then-county executive of New York's Nassau County, Thomas Suozzi, gave a speech at Adelphi University in which he expressed the hope to find "common ground" on reproductive choice:"As a Democrat, I do not often find it easy to talk with other Democrats about our need to affirm our commitment to the respect for life and how we need to emphasize our party's firm belief in the worth of every human being," he said. "As a Catholic, I do not often find it easy to talk with other … [Read more...]

Seven Million and Counting

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Last week, the open enrollment period for Obamacare officially ended, and a major goal has been reached: about 7.1 million people signed up for insurance on the exchanges. This surpasses the CBO's initial estimate of 7 million enrollments (which, I should note, was lowered to 6 million after the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov).It's important to stress that 7 million isn't the total number of people who've gained health insurance thanks to Obamacare. It doesn't include people who were … [Read more...]

Should We Reach Out to Conservative Atheists?

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Last month, American Atheists sought to rent a booth at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Surprisingly, CPAC accepted their money at first, only to change their mind at the last minute.That entirely foreseeable outcome would have been more than sufficient as free publicity, but American Atheists president Dave Silverman decided to attend as an individual. While he was there, he gave several interviews asserting that atheism should have a bigger place among conservatives. … [Read more...]


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