Ben Affleck and the slave state of New Jersey

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Slavery in New Jersey didn’t really end until the 13th Amendment was adopted after the Civil War. I wasn’t taught any of that history when I attended school in New Jersey. We learned about slavery in the South, but not about slavery in South Brunswick and South Orange and South Plainfield. [Read more...]

The politics and theology of Superman

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Basically there are only two limits on Superman’s use/abuse of his power: 1. His benevolence; and 2. A couple of eccentric billionaires have green rocks hidden in caves under their mansions, just in case. Neither of those seems quite satisfactory. [Read more...]

Meanwhile, in a secret base beneath the Walmart …

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On Monday, Walmart abruptly shut down five of its stores for at least six months due to “problems with plumbing.” But no plumbers have been hired and no plumbing permits have been requested at any of the five locations. This is probably just crude garden-variety worker intimidation and union-busting. But what if it’s something else entirely? [Read more...]

A fireside chat with Abraham Lincoln on the eve of emancipation

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“You come to me as God’s ministers, and you are positive that you know exactly what God’s will is. You tell me that slavery is a sin; but other’s of God’s ministers say the opposite – which am I to believe?” [Read more...]

Warren Buffett: Slumlord and scurvy little spider

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When Warren Buffett first moved into the manufactured home business, it seemed like his much-touted philosophy of investing for value would be a boon to the industry that provides so much of America’s affordable housing stock. His reputation as an investor who sought out quality goods and services, growing his fortune with their success, suggested he would focus on the beneficial aspects of factory-built homes, leading away from the unsustainable predatory practices and value-less rent-seeking that have plagued the business. But that didn’t happen. Buffett’s “value” talk, it turns out, is pure shinola. And he’s raised value-less rent-seeking to an art form. [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars (4.9)

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“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (4.8)

Fred Kaplan on the outline of the deal with Iran. Mary Hunt on the Vatican Council on Women. Helaine Olen on the amnesia of the poor scolds. Marika Rose on the meaning of “Christianity.” And Ed Kilgore reminds us that “We’ve Used ‘Religious Liberty’ for Discrimination Before.” [Read more...]

The Dyer consequences of ‘weaponized’ religious liberty for religious minorities and for the majority

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The execution of Mary Dyer obviously had rather extreme consequences for her as an individual from a religious minority, but the consequences of that execution for the religion of the Puritan majority was even more extreme. It required that majority religion to take the shape of a political weapon. And it meant that this function as a coercive, weaponized tool of political power trumped any other consideration of creed or dogma or doctrine. [Read more...]


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