All the Kingdoms of the World

By now, you've heard, we've arrived at a new low in an election season that's seen no shortage of them. In 2005, Donald Trump was caught on a hot mic backstage at Access Hollywood, bragging about his ability to sexually assault women and get away with it, and we've just heard the tape:"I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her," Trump says. "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women] — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't e … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Great Chain of Being

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand tells us that her ideal state would be a perfect meritocracy. Everyone would rise or fall as their talents merited. There'd be no corrupt bargains, no discrimination, and no hereditary ruling class.It's an appealing vision, but what the novel shows isn't the same as what it tells. Regardless of what Rand says she wants, she repeatedly undermines her meritocratic ideal by writing characters who do indeed have special … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Un-TRAPs Abortion Rights

If you're a liberal court-watcher, you may be feeling an unaccustomed fresh breeze blowing from the direction of the Supreme Court. It smells like... optimism.Over the past year, the court has handed down a string of good decisions. The justices legalized marriage equality and upheld Obamacare not once but twice.And this month, there were three more surprising victories, on affirmative action, domestic violence and guns, and now the biggest win of all: Whole Woman's Health v. … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: March 27

• With all the stealth and haste of a coup d'etat, North Carolina's Republican government rushes through a vicious and willfully mean-spirited pro-discrimination bill. Transgender people are targeted the worst, but the bill also nullifies all local ordinances that protect LGBT people, blocks private individuals from suing over racial or sexual discrimination, and prohibits municipalities from raising the minimum wage.• But North Carolina is getting a run for its money from Indiana, … [Read more...]

The Astounding Hypocrisy of Anti-Refugee Christians

With the Syrian civil war plodding through its fourth year, the country is being hollowed out as everyone who has the means to escape flees from the bloodshed. Ordinary Syrians are trapped in a vise between the indiscriminate brutality of Bashar al-Assad's military and the sadistic terror of ISIS. The United Nations estimates that over four million of them are now refugees. The vast majority have gone to neighboring states like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq, but tens of thousands are … [Read more...]

Kim Davis’ Multiple Marriages Are Fair Game

Although the vast majority of American local officials are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, there are a few stubborn bigots determined to hold out. In the state of Kentucky, 3 out of 120 county clerks are still refusing to comply, including the most notorious, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis.After repeatedly losing her appeals and then defying a direct court order - claiming she answered only to "God's authority" and not the courts or the Constitution - Davis was jailed for … [Read more...]

Anti-Sex Dogma Can’t Fail, It Can Only Be Failed

There aren't many Christians who've been at the center of not just one but two major scandals, but that twice-disgraced distinction now belongs to Josh Duggar, the Quiverfuller and reality-TV star turned pro-patriarchy political activist.First, there was the confession that he had molested his sisters as a teenager, which his parents helped to cover up, and which got him fired from his job as a professional sex scold for the Family Research Council. And now, last week, we learned that he had … [Read more...]

With Liberty and Justice For All

June 26, 2015 will be remembered as the day love won out in the United States of America. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, striking down all remaining bans on same-sex marriage.While waiting for the decision, I admit I had some doubts. I never seriously doubted that the Supreme Court would rule for equality; they signaled their intent months ago, when they refused to halt pro-marriage decisions by lower courts, and it was obvious that … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Colossal Contradiction

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter IAs we've seen previously, the supercapitalists hiding out in Galt's Gulch call Dagny a "scab", a grave insult for a worker who crosses a union picket line. Given that the word was coined by labor organizers, one might think Rand's heroes were using it ironically - but it turns out they mean it in a very literal sense, as Dagny finds out when she asks them why they've quit their jobs and forsaken the world:"Why?" she cried. "Why? What are you doing, … [Read more...]

The Hypocrisy of Tolerance at the Touro Synagogue

I'm on vacation this week in New England. Yesterday I visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island - the oldest Jewish synagogue in North America, dating back to the colonial era. It was founded by Jews fleeing a long history of persecution in Europe: first the Alhambra Decree expelling them from Spain, then the Inquisition, which harried them from Portugal to the Caribbean. They settled here in Newport and built a synagogue, which survived the Revolution, when most of the city was … [Read more...]