Archive for December, 2015

Creating low information voters

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

The Michigan Legislature never ceases to amaze. Making it hard to vote is not enough. Now they want to reduce the information available to voters. It has long been illegal for municipalities to advocate for or against ballot initiatives. But cities and school districts have been able to publish objective information about initiatives. Under this legislation that would be illegal for 60 days prior to an election. What does that mean? Information will come from those with an interest in the outcome, such as, oh, let me see, maybe Americans for Prosperity? Sure, liberal and progressive groups would also be able to publish information, but we generally have less money than the Koch funded astroturf organizations.

This is an example of fixing a non-existent problem. Kind of like eliminating straight party voting.

Religious Freedom

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

This is from Juan Cole. The post is about the importance of religious freedom to the founders. Islam is particularly mentioned as included in religious freedom.

But for those of us who identify as Episcopalians, there is this:

So not only did the Founding Generation not harbor a grudge against the religion of the British Crown (which had tried to crush them), they were perfectly willing to give non-Tory Anglicans high official positions in the new Republic. It would be as though the the current chaplain of the Senate were a former al-Qaeda member who had broken with Bin Laden and declared allegiance to the United States.

That is, the Founding Generation made a key distinction between religious practice and political loyalty, and had granted freedom of religion to non-Tory Anglicans.


Read the whole post.

MSNBC and Trump

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Last night was crazy. The network that used to be considered liberal (and still is labeled as such by conservatives) is slowly going mainstream. It will soon be carrying a Bloomberg network news show. Of the liberals, only Chris Hayes and Rachel are left. (Chris Matthews is pretty centrist, DLC style.)

But last night MSNBC played most of Trump’s speech live. This was the speech in which he announced his plan to bar Muslims from entering the country. Yes, that’s newsworthy. But the whole speech was not newsworthy. MSNBC was just giving him free air time. It would have been better to use the time to play his statement on Muslims, then discuss it and talk about its basic inhumanity, impracticality, and conflict with American values.

I’m not afraid of dangerous ideas. But I want serious journalists to take their time to analyze issues, bring in knowledgeable people, and help us think through the consequences of crazy ideas.