1. We had 456 visitors to this blog from the Philippines during the past month. If you’re one of them, please stay safe. If you’re not one of them, please keep the people of the Philippines in your thoughts and/or prayers, give to disaster relief if you can, and — if you’re American — let your elected representatives know that you’re not one of those cramped, parochial jerks who thinks the richest country on Earth ought to cut all foreign aid and adopt a me-first attitude (because those officials don’t seem to see any political downside to pandering to such jerks).
The latest variation of this perennial survey confirmed, yet again, that Stupid and Selfish correlate very closely, which isn’t surprising:
A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans think 28 percent of the budget goes to foreign aid. That would make foreign aid pricier than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or all defense spending.
Of course, foreign aid isn’t that pricey. About 1 percent of the budget goes toward foreign aid.
2. The Senate passed ENDA — a bill that would protect LGBT workers from discrimination in the same way that workplace law protects workers against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and religion. The vote was 64-32, and I’d be celebrating this as a big win, except that Speaker of the House John Boehner probably won’t even allow a vote on the bill in that chamber. It might possibly have enough votes to pass there as well, but Boehner’s House is run by a minority of the majority — it doesn’t work by winning votes, but by preventing them from ever occurring.
PRRI’s Robert Jones has the numbers on public support for ENDA: 73 percent of Americans support legal workplace protections for LGBT workers; 60 percent of Republicans support ENDA; 59 percent of white Protestants support ENDA. (Note that the 73-percent overall support points to a 27-percent overall opposition. There’s that number again.)
3. The lone Republican senator to speak against ENDA was Indiana’s Dan Coats. Coats, confusingly, argued that protecting workers from discrimination would mean discriminating against employers who wished to discriminate against those workers — the old intolerant to intolerance canard of the Stupid Brigade. Coats also said ENDA would “require employers to hire individuals who contradict their very most deeply held religious beliefs.”
Dan Coats is a white evangelical. Dan Coats just rose in the U.S. Senate and said that being anti-gay is, for white evangelicals, the “very most deeply held religious belief.” Forget the Bible. Forget the creeds. Forget loving God and your neighbor. Screw that Jesus guy. The “very most deeply held” belief, according to Dan Coats, is being anti-gay.
American evangelicalism is white political tribalism. Nothing more. Dan Coats just said so, and he wasn’t lying.
4. Kimberly Knight points us to J. Barrett Lee’s angrily funny “Biblical Guide to Debunking the Heterosexual Agenda.” Familiar territory if you followed the Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day series here, but still nicely done.
5. Sarah Posner reports that former President George W. Bush is helping to raise funds for
Tsion Ben-Judah the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that aims to convert Jews to Christianity in order to “restore” Israel and bring about the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the world (and thus the slaughter and eternal torment of any Jews who fail to convert).
6. Mark Silk predicts the Supreme Court will punt on Town of Greece v. Galloway — a case challenging official prayers at town council meetings. Silk thinks the court will escape ruling on the substance of this establishment of religion by finding that the plaintiffs don’t have legal standing to bring their complaint:
The available jurisprudential standards for upholding town council prayers aren’t very good. The three-pronged Lemon test requires the government act to have secular purpose, to neither advance nor inhibit religion as its primary effect, and to not involve an excessive government entanglement with religion. Yesterday’s oral argument showed problems with all three prongs.
As for Sandra Day O’Connor’s endorsement standard, it’s hard to argue that beginning town council meetings with prayer doesn’t constitute an endorsement of religion. That throws things into the realm of longstanding historical practice: Since legislative bodies have had chaplains saying prayers since the beginning of the Republic, these [are not] considered in violation of the Establishment Clause. The oral argument showed the justices not very enthusiastic about this, especially since the Greece town council only began inviting prayers in 1999.
The Obama administration, by the way, has sided with the Town of Greece in support of its official prayers. That’s wrong. And dumb.
7. I need your help. The new season of American Horror Story uses a recurring bit of music that I recognize, remember and seem to think I even own somewhere in the basement of my iTunes account — a reprise of some album track from some album I can’t quite recall. But I can’t place it.
My best Google-fu, so far, only turns up the repeated suggestion that this is an original piece composed by James S. Levine for the show. I’m 99.9-percent certain it’s not, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out where this is from: