Monday, May 5, 2014

Last Call For Church And State Of Insanity

In a 5-4 ruling today, the Supreme Court all but blew a hole in the remaining barriers between religion and local government as the conservative justices and Justice Kennedy agreed that having a "Chaplain of the Month" giving invocations at open council meetings did not violate the First Amendment.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that divided the court’s more conservative members from its liberal ones, said the prayers were merely ceremonial. They were neither unduly sectarian nor likely to make members of other faiths feel unwelcome.

“Ceremonial prayer,” he wrote, “is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town’s practices could not be reconciled “with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.”

Town officials in Greece, N.Y., near Rochester, said that members of all faiths, and atheists, were welcome to give the opening prayer. In practice, however, almost all of the chaplains were Christian. Some of their prayers were explicitly sectarian, with references, for instance, to “the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.”

But that didn't matter, as five justices found that expression of religion is not only protected under the First Amendment's religion clause, but doubly so as it is protected, free speech.  So is there anything that can actually violate the notion that the government cannot officially sanction a state religion?  Kennedy replied a very narrow window for that:

Justice Kennedy did suggest that some prayers may be unacceptable if offered consistently over time, including ones that “denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation or preach conversion.”

Justices Thomas and Scalia went even further, suggesting that only outright threats of civil reprisals based on belief or non-belief would constitute a violation.

You might then be excused for thinking that conservative jurists seem to believe that we already have a state-sanctioned religion in WASP Christianity.

In comments earlier this year only now coming to light, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court asserted that the First Amendment only applies to Christianity since neither Buddha nor Mohammed created man.

"Everybody, to include the United States Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called religion. They can’t define it," chief justice Roy Moore said in January, according to video published Friday by Raw Story.

“Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures. They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

But Christianity is under threat in America, right?

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

The Wall Street Journal is the kind of place where you can find long diatribes on why those wimpy "doctors" are pushing the silly hoax that saturated fats can cause heart disease, and why those evil climate "alarmists" are happy to see Africans dying in poverty for lack of electricity from polluting power plants but the science is 100% rock solid on why black people are genetically inferior to whites.

But liberal media, so go figure.

Generation Dudebro

Maybe this is statistical noise, and maybe it's not, but the crew at the Monkey Cage cite new evidence suggests that while Millennials in their 20's are reliably Democratic having come of age during the Bush years, voters 18-20 have grown up with a lot more Obama bashing from both the left and right and are nearly evenly split on party affiliation:

Below is the party identification of millennials broken down by age group. (I thank Esten Perez and John Della Volpe of Harvard for providing me these data.)

The graph captures the percent who identify with or lean toward the Democratic or Republican parties. The remainder identify as independents and do not lean toward either party. Older groups of millennials are decidedly Democrats. For example, the Democratic advantage is +18 (48%-30%) among 27-29-year-olds.

But among younger millennials, that advantage shrinks. In fact, Democrats and Republicans are essentially tied among 18-20 year olds: 41 percent Democratic and 38 percent Republican.

As I noted in my first post — and as Dan Hopkins recently described in more detail — the explanation is straightforward: the partisan complexion of each new generation reflects underlying economic and political fundamentals, like how well the economy is doing and how popular the president is.

Thus, it’s hardly any surprise that the youngest millennials are not as Democratic as older millennials. The youngest millennials came of age politically under a Democratic president whose popularity is below average and who has presided over a sluggish economy. Older millennials came of age politically under a Republican incumbent who became even less popular while presiding over a controversial war and a catastrophic recession. There is no reason that the two groups should be political twins.

I hit my college age years during the Clinton administration, only to run into the buzzsaw of the dot-com collapse, 9/11 and the recession, and Bush's wars.  You couldn't pay me to vote Republican.  But for today's college freshmen, the issues important to them: jobs, college loans, and digital privacy, the Democrats haven't delivered (even though most of that is the GOP's fault.)  I don't really blame them for that, then again I've got the benefit of 18 more years of experience.

Pretty striking difference however.  It's not like the youngest Millennials were responsible for 2010.

They may however be responsible for 2014.

StupidiNews, Cinco de Mayo Edition!

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