Monday, February 20, 2012

The Long View

No Sift next week. Back on March 5.

Much of the current conservative movement is characterized by this sort of historical amnesia and symbolic parricide, which seeks to undo key aspects of the Republican legacy such as Reagan's elimination of corporate tax loopholes, Nixon's environmental and labor safety programs, and a variety of GOP achievements in civil rights, civil liberties, and good-government reforms. In the long view of history, it is really today's conservatives who are "Republicans in name only."

-- Geoffrey Kabaservice, Rule and Ruin (2012)

In this week's sift:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back to the Culture Wars

The state is committed to the strictest neutrality as far as religious associations are concerned. This must not, however, be considered as a right of the churches as such. It is, rather, the fulfillment of the rights of the individuals composing the church. ... In any other sense than this, it is absurd to talk about the rights of an association.

-- Joseph L. Blau, Cornerstones of Religious Freedom in America (1949)

In this week's sift:

  • What Abortion Means to Me. When you're a married man, so-called "women's issues" become your issues too.
  • Religious Corporate Personhood. The institutional-religious-liberty principle Catholic bishops are claiming is foreign to the American legal tradition, and would have appalled the authors of the First Amendment.
  • Prop 8 is Still Irrational. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest court to apply the rational-basis test to banning same-sex marriage. It failed again.
  • Book recommendation of the week: The Myth of Choice by Kent Greenfield. What if we're neither fully autonomous individuals nor automata controlled by our environment?
  • Culture Wars Rise With the Economy and other short notes. If the economy is getting better, Republicans will have to run on social issues. Purple squirrels. Nancy Pelosi tries to "Stop Colbert". A new push on global-warming denial. Obama and the marshmallow cannon. And the cutest thing I saw this week: video of a wolf pup and a bear cub.
  • Last week's most popular post.Five Takeaways from the Komen Fiasco got 885 views, the most by any Sift article in several months.
  • This week's challenge. Usually I focus this feature on the outside world, but this week I'd like you to help me popularize the Weekly Sift. The Sift doesn't have an advertising budget (or a revenue stream), so its readership grows only if people like you spread the word. If you think this blog's point-of-view deserves more attention, help it get some: Tell a friend, forward it, recommend it on Reddit or StumbleUpon, blog about it, share a post on Facebook, tweet a link …

Don't forget: This is the old site of the Weekly Sift. The new one is

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Authority and Belief

    I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don't have as many people who believe it.

    -- George Carlin

    In this week's sift:

    • Five Take-Aways from the Komen Fiasco. This last week has been a minefield of rumor and misdirection. I try to sort it out and see what there is to learn.
    • Scary Guys Named Saul and other short notes. Why Gingrich doesn't care who the real Saul Alinsky was. Mitt's gaffes are bad, just not as bad as they sound. Fox can't win against the Muppets. Should unresponsive adolescents be euthanized? And the Republican presidential candidates take a 3-hour cruise.
    • Last week's most popular post.Where the Jobs Are and Why had had 190 views.
    • Book recommendation of the week: Flunking Sainthood by Jana Reiss. Reiss tries to master one new spiritual discipline a month for a year -- and fails completely. But the result is a fascinating meditation on everyday life and what we want out of spirituality.
    • This week's challenge. Go over to the web site of Planned Parenthood, which does a lot of work no one else is doing. Whether you feel like doing anything after you get there is up to you.