Sunday, March 27, 2005

faith in America

Atrios asks why the Faith in America roundtable on Meet the Press has no women. A good question. We might also ask why, at a time when "religious faith" in the US may well be falling, there's no one on the panel representing the third largest "religious" group in our nation, no religion specified:
the greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001

I don't consider myself aggressively antitheistic. People believe what they need to believe. If you read media accounts of social trends, however, it would be hard to avoid the impression that we were living through a great religious revival, a time when "traditional values" were coming to define our country, a time when the values of the Right would come to define our nation. This survey doesn't bear that out. If anything, it suggests that during the same time that religion has come to dominate the public sphere, more and more Americans have found it wanting.

This isn't paradoxical. If the power of religious faith were truly growing in this country, religious leaders would have a harder time convincing the faithful that their way of life is under attack. If "traditional values" were truly ascendent, there would be no need for a Traditional Values Coalition.

The Meet the Press preview reads
From the moral issues surrounding the story of Terry Schiavo to religious diplomacy in the Middle East, faith permeates the people and the politics of the United States of America. Sunday's show will bring together prominent leaders from some of the nation's largest religions to discuss the complex and profound role of Faith in America

Given the actual trends, shouldn't a roundtable on faith ask why faith is losing ground? Isn't the real question why faith permeates the politics of our country at the same time that it's less relevant than ever to its people?

Friday, March 25, 2005


According to Bill Bennett, executives have a duty to ignore the courts if their view of the Constitution doesn't match his, and the only recourse if he does so is impeachment. It's an interesting theory, which would seem to require that Bush police every medical facility to prevent abortions.

Monday, March 14, 2005

balkanization of cyberspace

Jack Balkin asks whether blogs encourage balkanization. I am liberal by almost any measure. I was introduced to blogs reading a conservative blog (The Volokh Conspiracy). I found it an interesting portal into the conservative worldview a view I cannot comprehend, even though I grew up surrounded by it. Most conservative sites were so busy deriding other views and attacking their adherents that I saw little reason to visit. Why should I visit a site that exists primarily to hurl insults in my direction?

Over time, my interest in even the better conservative sites waned. The analyses presented (when analyses were presented) typically proceeded from assumptions I didn't share. Attempts to find common ground with the more thoughtful posters were usually rebuffed with restatements of disagreement. I grew tired of the seeing the same memes, tired of being informed of pressing issues I didn't care much about, tired of being insulted.

Today, I read liberal blogs almost exclusively. I don't know this has made more isolated than before. If anything, the conservative blogs I have read have hardened my attitude towards conservatism. At its best, it seems more heartless today than before I read what conservatives have to say. At its worst, it seems more selfish, dangerous, fanatical, and juvenile. If I hold less hope today that out country can find a common vision, it fell from my hands while watching the acts of conservatives in power and seeing admiration in the words of even their wisest supporters.

Friday, March 11, 2005

For shame

From the SF Chronicle, on the vote to limit debate:

Democrats Yes

Biden, Del.; Byrd, W.Va.; Carper, Del.; Conrad, N.D.; Johnson, S.D.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lieberman, Conn.; Lincoln, Ark.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Salazar, Colo.; Stabenow, Mich.

From the final vote:

Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea

The Republicans, of course, have no shame. Modern conservatives don't believe in it.