Volume 3.39 (Sept 22-28)

Pick of the WeekIf You Think Military Intervention is Unjustified Now, Wait Until You See the Instability It Will Cause (Matt Reimann, McSweeney’s)– “If I could avoid this war, I would. However, the spreading unrest in the region is too great to ignore, having been copiously fueled by the policies of bold leaders before me. If it wasn’t for the meddlesome military action of my predecessors, I would not be speaking to you today. Many men have come before me to intervene in a place of which they knew very little to inflict trauma, cripple economic advancement, and uproot society as a whole. I merely continue a tradition for which numerous leaders deserve credit.  If it weren’t for these steadfast leaders, the children who endured the horrors of yesterday’s wars would never have become today’s international crises. We too must assure that today’s youth have the tools and experience necessary to become full, global threats when they grow to ripe, gun-firing age.”

The Poverty of Culture (Jonah Birch and Paul Heideman, Socialist Worker)– “This is ironic, because every aspect of that narrative has been subjected to withering criticism by social scientists over the last thirty years. It is not simply that the aspects of Black culture that the narrative identifies have been shaped by structural forces like racism; for the most part, they either don’t exist at all, or else are reflective of norms and values that are commonplace in the United States–and are not, therefore, unique features of the “Black community.” Every component of the culture of poverty narrative is a phantasm, a projection of racial fantasies on to the culture of African Americans, which has for several centuries now served as the screen on which the national unconscious plays out.  Put more bluntly, they are lies.”

The Big Picture

Crowding children out of government budgets (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)– “Entitlements that benefit older Americans increasingly dominate the U.S. budget, and not just because the population of older people is increasing. We’re spending way more per elderly person, too. Per capita federal outlays on children rose by about $4,600 in the last half-century (from $270 in 1960 to $4,894 in 2011, after adjusting for inflation); during the same period, per capita outlays on the elderly rose by about $24,000 (from $4,000 to $27,975). The chasm between per capita funding received by seniors — even after taking into account all the taxes they have paid — and children looks likely to widen substantially, given the way Social Security, Medicare and child program benefits are structured.”

Why Poor Students Struggle (Vicki Madden, NYT)– “As the income gap widens and hardens, changing class means a bigger difference between where you came from and where you are going. Teachers like me can help prepare students academically for college work. College counselors can help with the choices, the federal financial aid application and all the bureaucratic details. But how can we help our students prepare for the tug of war in their souls?”

Eric Holder’s Biggest Failure (Danny Vinik, New Republic)– “Prosecuting the banks with their well-funded legal teams for criminal crimes wouldn’t have been easy. But the DOJ has a lot of legal firepower as well. Holder simply never tried to use it to hold Wall Street executives accountable. That is a major blemish on Holder’s record. Bankers sleep easier at night thanks to his decisions. And when the next financial crisis hitsand when we discover that financial fraud was a major cause of itHolder will deserve blame as well.”

This depressing chart shows that the rich aren’t just grabbing a bigger slice of the income pie — they’re taking all of it (Christopher Ingraham, WaPo)

Whistleblower’s tapes suggest the Fed was protecting Goldman Sachs from the inside (Dylan Mathews, Vox)

‘Poverty is fucking expensive’ (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)

Marriage Rates Keep Falling, as Money Concerns Rise (Claire Cain Miller, The Upshot)– “Though marriage was once a steppingstone to economic stability, young adults now see financial stability as a prerequisite for marriage. More than a quarter of those who say they want to marry someday say they haven’t yet because they are not financially prepared, according to Pew.“If you go back a generation or two, couples would literally take the plunge together and build up their finances and nest eggs together,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew. “Now it seems to be this attitude among young adults to build up households before they get married.”  In other words, marriage has gone from being a way that people pulled their lives together to something they agree to once they have already done that independently.”

People think CEO pay is out of control.  The truth is much worse than they know. (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)

CEO worker pay


City Coffers, Not Police Budgets, Hit Hard by High Cost of Brutality (Rachel M. Cohen, The American Prospect)


North Carolina, in Political Flux, Battles for Its Identity (Richard Faussett, NYT)

Why government websites are terrible and how to fix them (Anna North, NYT)

Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial (Dan Froomkin, The Intercept)– “The basic idea is that when you or your organization are accused of doing something that you did in fact do, you respond with what sounds like a denial, but really isn’t.  You issue a very narrowly-crafted denial involving a lot of hairsplitting, while avoiding the central claim. Or you dismiss the accusation as unworthy of response. Or you deny something else: You raise a straw man accusation and deny that; or – possibly best yet — you take advantage of a poorly worded question.  The press typically interprets it as a denial, and since you are a credible figure, it moves on.  And if the accusation against you is ever irrefutably proven, then you point out that you never really denied it. Since you didn’t technically lie, the press, again, moves on.”

Foreign Affairs

An Israel equal for all, Jewish or not (Patricia Marks Greenfield, WaPo)– “What was necessary for Israel after the Holocaust is no longer necessary and has even become counterproductive. As long as being Jewish holds such a preeminent place in Israel, then Muslim and Christian Arabs will always be second-class citizens, vulnerable to discrimination in housing, employment, education and other areas. Nor can Ethiopian citizens be truly equal so long as their Jewishness and religious heritage are called into question by powerful religious authorities.”

Why the Islamic State is Not Really Islamic (Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept)– “In the eyes of most Muslims the Islamic State is as “Islamic” as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is “Democratic”. The Open Letter to Baghdadi is simply another example of the degree to which this violent, utopian project has been rejected by a broad consensus of Muslims around the world. From a Western perspective, it’s important to not play into ISIS’s hands by giving them the type of religious or political legitimacy they crave but otherwise do not possess.  At the end of the day Islam is what its adherents say it is, and if by and large they deem the “Islamic State” to be outside of the Islamic tradition it would be foolish and counterproductive to argue otherwise. In order to effectively fight this group, it’s important to amplify the voices of the vast majority of Muslims who are condemning them, instead of listening to those on both sides who insist that this is at heart a conflict between Islam and the West.”


Who Killed Adulthood? (Sady Doyle, In These Times)– “Under Western patriarchy, femininity has been construed as a perpetual childhood. The idea goes back to Victorian ideals of True Womanhood, but it’s been perpetuated through the ages, from Betty Crocker housewives to Barely Legal porn: “Ideal” women, which is to say white and wealthy ones, were supposedly delicate, emotional, innocent. Like children, they cried easily, were effusive about the things they liked, had naive ideas about the world. Like children, they could not work or vote; we couldn’t be entrusted with such heavy adult responsibilities. They were financially and physically dependent upon adult caretakers, namely fathers or husbands. They needed protection; they were charged with obedience. They got allowances, and when they were good girls, presents. Oh, gosh, a dishwasher? All for me?! Meanwhile, women excluded from this “ideal”—women of color and working-class women, who actually did have to work, and deal with the world’s harsher realities—were cast as “unfeminine,” and therefore appropriate targets for male sexual predation and exploitation.Much of feminism, then, has been about insisting that women can be adults, able to shoulder the same burdens as those forbidding, grey-faced patriarchs. It’s been about insisting that women can and should do the hard stuff: Get full educations, vote, work, make tough choices and wrangle with difficult ideas, become politicians and bosses.  By contrast, for privileged white men, “adult responsibility” seems to feel like a grim inevitability, the death of boyhood fun and games.”


You Never Know (Rebecca J, By Common Consent)– “I would have liked this video very much except for one thing: the moral of the story as Gordon B. Hinckley tells it does not match the story the video tells. It’s true that many people—okay, let’s just say “women,” since Pres. Hinckley’s remarks were taken from his 2003 talk “To the Women of the Church,” and male characters in this video have a combined screen presence time of about one and a half seconds—feel like failures because they do not accomplish everything they set out to do, or they don’t do as well as they’d like. They are fixated on what they haven’t done and don’t realize the good they have done. But I doubt very much our heroine in this video is crying at the end because she feels like a failure. I would bet cash money that she’s crying because she had been looking forward to having a night out with her friend and her plans were spoiled because she bit off more than she could chew. She didn’t fail at anything except the one thing she was supposed to do for herself.”

You Never Know: A Single Woman’s Perspective (McSara, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “No, I don’t have a child’s science project that suddenly has to get immediately done or a child that wants cereal instead of eggs, or the neighbor who is in childcare jam or the ward member who needs the meal delivered (oh wait, yes I do). Instead, I have a client who comes to me with a last minute project that, whoops, they forgot to tell me about a week or month ago and now needs to be done right away or they lose the deal. Or I have a finicky client who calls me about minutiae that I repeatedly remind them, very pleasantly, they can find online, all while still assisting them. Or a coworker falls sick and I suddenly need to do their work too. And similar to the video, sometimes a family in the ward needs a meal brought to them. More often than I care to think about, they all happen in the same day, when I’m already at peak capacity and am already planning to work late to get my normal work done. Coupled with these work tasks, I am the sole person for maintaining my home and all that entails. I volunteer so that I can help build the community in which I reside. I try to be a champion for my friends and my family as they go through their own challenges. I try to magnify my callings in the Church. And I’m routinely made to feel (and sometimes told) that my singleness is a thing that can, and should be fixed, so I am expected to carve out time to date and to participate in social activities that may put me into contact with potential eternal companions. I do all of these things and yet, the narrative I hear and see is that I am selfish and self-centered and what I do is not enough and that I should do more.”

5 warnings for Mormons from the Denver Snuffer schism (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

Volume 3.38 (Sept 15-21)

Criminal Justice

Government self-interest corrupted a crime-fighting tool into an evil (John Yoder and Brad Cates, WaPo)– “In America, it is often said that it is better that nine guilty people go free than one innocent person be wrongly convicted. But our forfeiture laws turn our traditional concept of guilt upside down. Civil forfeiture laws presume someone’s personal property to be tainted, placing the burden of proving it “innocent” on the owner. What of the Fourth Amendment requirement that a warrant to seize or search requires the showing of probable cause of a specific violation?”

How Gangs Took Over Prisons (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic)– “Skarbek’s primary claim is that the underlying order in California prisons comes from precisely what most of us would assume is the source ofdisorder: the major gangs, which are responsible for the vast majority of the trade in drugs and other contraband, including cellphones, behind bars. “Prison gangs end up providing governance in a brutal but effective way,” he says. “They impose responsibility on everyone, and in some ways the prisons run more smoothly because of them.” The gangs have business out on the streets, too, but their principal activity and authority resides in prisons, where other gangs are the main powers keeping them in check.”

Foreign Affairs

Israel’s NSA Scandal (James Bamford, NYT)– “Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.”

Russia is our most dangerous neighbour (Martin Wolf, Financial Times)

The Scottish vote was a class war and the rich won (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)

Scotland’s Independence Vote Shows a Global Crisis of the Elites (Neil Irwin, The Upshot)– “t is a crisis of the elites. Scotland’s push for independence is driven by a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time.”


How to rearrange your environment to lose weight (Julia Belluz, Vox)

To Get More Out of Science, Show the Rejected Research (Brendan Nyhan, The Upshot)– “The problem is that the research conducted using federal funds is driven — and distorted — by the academic publishing model. The intense competition for space in top journals creates strong pressures for novel, statistically significant effects. As a result, studies that do not turn out as planned or find no evidence of effects claimed in previous research often go unpublished, even though their findings can be important and informative.”

The Big Picture

Naomi Klein: ‘We Can’t Dodge this Fight’ Between Capitalism and Climate Change (Micah Uetricht, In These Times)


Should we ban states and cities from offering big tax breaks for jobs? (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)


References, Please (Tim Parks, NYRB)– “There is, in short, an absolutely false, energy-consuming, nit-picking attachment to an outdated procedure that now has much more to do with the sad psychology of academe than with the need to guarantee that the research is serious. By all means, on those occasions where a book exists only in paper and where no details about it are available online, then let us use the traditional footnote. Otherwise, why not wipe the slate clean, start again, and find the simplest possible protocol for ensuring that a reader can check a quotation. Doing so we would probably free up three or four days a year in every academic’s life.”


Punishment or Child Abuse? (Michael Eric Dyson, NYT)– “The lash of the plantation overseer fell heavily on children to whip them into fear of white authority. Terror in the field often gave way to parents beating black children in the shack, or at times in the presence of the slave owner in forced cooperation to break a rebellious child’s spirit. Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense. Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them.”


When is a Mormon prophet speaking as a prophet? (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

My Mormon family may not be forever (Mette Ivie Harrison, Flunking Sainthood)– “No family is ever going to have a homogenous level of church activity. If you congratulate yourself that your children are all active members, be aware that you may be encouraging them not to tell you their actual feelings regarding the church. They may feel pressed into agreement on every issue. Even adult children may worry that they don’t belong and that the love of their parents and other family members is conditional on certain behaviors. “

What’s wrong with BYU-Idaho’s Mormon dress code (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

Volume 3.37 (Sept 8-14)

Pick of the WeekThe Death of Adulthood in American Culture (A.O. Scott, NYT)

We Need Women


Mostly White Forces in Mostly Black Towns: Police Struggle for Racial Diversity (Shaila Dewan, NYT)

Foreign Affairs

Video Nation (Timothy Egan, NYT)– “We are roused to action by cruel realism, but only if it looks and sounds authentic. Reasoned calls to our better angels are no longer enough. It takes the YouTube snuff films of gangsters with a religious cause, or the fuzzy images captured by an elevator robo-cam, to move a nation.”

Here’s everything you need to know about ‘too extreme for al-Qaeda’ ISIS (Gary Brecher, Pando)

Obama’s Unauthorized War (David Cole, NYRB)

Experts: Obama’s legal justification for the war on ISIS is ‘a stretch’ (Amanda Taub, Vox)

Why More Americans Should See the Beheading Videos (Peter Maass, The Intercept)– “In the end, it is a strange twist: Instead of pushing us away from war, as the Vietnam generals feared, images of American casualties are now driving us into the vortex. Would seeing more of it really help? Instead of reasoned discussion, might there be more howls for revenge? Or might there be shrugs of seen-it-before indifference, as Susan Sontag warned in her 2002New Yorker essay, “Looking at War?” I wish we didn’t have to ask these questions — that there were no loathsome images to flash on our screens — and I wish we didn’t have a responsibility to look and think deeply. But we do, if the depravity of war is to be understood and, hopefully, dealt with.”


Women don’t stick with the sciences.  Here’s why. (Roten Ben-Shachar, New Republic)

Children with married parents are better off– but marriage isn’t the reason why (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)– “Two-parent households don’t just tend to have more money (which they might spend on tutors, museums, books or simply better health care and groceries). They also have more time (which they might spend on homework help, library visits and bedtime reading). Add the time factor to the parenting qualities I mentioned earlier (patience, commitment), and it’s possible that part of the marriage effect is really a “parenting effect”: Children with married parents also have more engaged parents, and it’s the engagement that really matters.”

Janay Rice and the Problem with Trauma Voyeurism (Sady Doyle, In These Times)


The Case for Open Borders (Dylan Mathews, Vox)

Health Care

Doctors’ Magical Thinking about Conflicts of Interest (Aaron E. Carroll, The Upshot)– “Some physicians, especially those opposed to the Sunshine Act, believe that they should be responsible for regulating themselves. But our thinking about conflicts of interest isn’t always rational. A study of radiation oncologistsfound that only 5 percent thought that they might be affected by gifts. But a third of them thought that other radiation oncologists would be affected.Another study asked medical residents similar questions. More than 60 percent of them said that gifts could not influence their behavior; only 16 percent believed that other residents could remain uninfluenced.  This “magical thinking” that somehow we, ourselves, are immune to what we are sure will influence others is why conflict of interest regulations exist in the first place. We simply cannot be accurate judges of what’s affecting us.”


Take Away Harvard’s Nonprofit Status (Annie Lowrey, Slate Moneybox)– “There’s an old line about how the United States government is an insurance conglomerate protected by an army. Harvard is a real-estate and hedge-fund concern that happens to have a college attached. It has a $32 billion endowment. It charges its rich students—and they are mostly from rich families, with many destined to be rich themselves—hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition and fees. It recently embarked on a $6.5 billion capital campaign. It is devoted to its own richness. And, as such, it is swimming in cash.”


What Will Doom the Death Penalty? (Daniel LaChance, NYT)


The Source of New York’s Greatness (Russell Shorto, NYT)


Mormon apostle to women: ‘Now, don’t talk too much in those meetings’ (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “But let’s remember that this statement came just after Elder Ballard’s recent Ensign article about women, men, and priesthood. “Now, sisters, while your input is significant and welcome in effective councils, you need to be careful not to assume a role that is not yours,” he wrote last month.So the “don’t talk too much” injunction is not so much a random aside as a visible pattern.Elder Ballard has twice in one month told Mormon women to rein in their voices.

How much is ‘too much’? (Cynthia L., By Common Consent)

Thoughts from a Mid-Single Mormon (Jennifer Purdie, By Common Consent)– “Personally, I think single life suits me. I travel the world, complete marathons and triathlons, salsa dance, own properties in multiple states, have a career and a graduate degree, and take the time to try out new hobbies such as surfing and beach volleyball. It’s awesome. But I come to church and no one asks me about those things. They ask me if I’ve started seeing anyone and then it’s followed by the obligatory, “Why are you still single?”  I once attended a mid-singles adult ward and the women astounded me with their philosophical, thoughtful conversations. I felt as though I were in a class at any university. We had a judge, pediatrician, triage nurse, college professor, among many other impressive professions all sitting in one room together. These women were intelligent, physically attractive and made numerous positive contributions to society.”

Volume 3.36 (Sept 1-7)

Pick(s) of the Week– The Greatest Threat to Our Liberty is Local Governments Run Amok (Franklin Foer, New Republic)– “Centuries ago, in the age of monarchs, the preservation of liberty required constraining the power of the central state. In our era, protecting rights requires the opposite. Only a strong federal government can curb the autocratic tendencies burbling across the country. Libertarians worry about the threat of local tyrants, too, but only abstractly. In practice, they remain so fixated on the perils of Washington that they rigidly insist on devolving power down to states, cities, and townsthe very places where their nightmares are springing to life.”

Welcome Back to School (Shootings) (Rachel Maddux, Matter)– Once the rest of the country catches up to the South’s early start dates (we’re ahead on this, at least), I know it’s only a matter of time before we see the headlines, or the trending topics, or the vague posts of dismay and disgust, or however we get our news now. The summer was a reprieve, but here we are again, seemingly helpless in the face of what by now appears to be as much a feature of the American school year as report cards and field trips and homecoming dances.”


Why Higher Voter Turnout Scares the GOP (David Sirota, In These Times)– “In reality, same-day registration is all about turnout, not partisanship. According to data compiled by the think tank Demos, average voter turnout is more than 10 percent higher in states that allow citizens to register on the same day that they vote. Demos also notes that “four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered same-day registration.””

The Stupidity of Hating Your Senator for Living Where You’ve Sent Her to Work (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “But here’s the thing: As long as we’re going to have a republic in which the seats in our legislature are apportioned geographically, and until we have a full telepresence-based system where all members of Congress appear in the Capitol only in holographic form, our lawmakers are going to have to leave the places they represent and go to Washington in order to do their jobs. And to do those jobs well, it isn’t enough simply to hold on to your homespun values and be guided by the warm light of the people’s faith in you. It also requires things like understanding how laws work, learning about government’s strengths and weaknesses, and grasping the interplay of the various interests that inhabit Washington so you can build coalitions to accomplish important goals.”

Seeking Facts, Justices Settle for What Briefs Tell Them (Adam Liptak, NYT)


The New History Wars (James R. Grossman, NYT)– “The critics are unhappy, perhaps, that a once comforting story has become, in the hands of scholars, more complex, unsettling, provocative and compelling.  And there’s the rub. Fewer and fewer college professors are teaching the United States history our grandparents learned — memorizing a litany of names, dates and facts — and this upsets some people. “College-level work” now requires attention to context, and change over time; includes greater use of primary sources; and reassesses traditional narratives. This is work that requires and builds empathy, an essential aspect of historical thinking.  The educators and historians who worked on the new history framework were right to emphasize historical thinking as an essential aspect of civic culture. Their efforts deserve a spirited debate, one that is always open to revision, rather than ill-informed assumptions or political partisanship.”

So Bill Gates Has this Idea for a History Class… (Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT)

Teach for America has faced criticism for years.  Now it’s listening– and changing (Dana Goldstein, Vox)

The Big Picture

The Top 10 Percent of White Families Own Almost Everything (Matt Bruenig, The American Prospect)

Last year, millions of Americans were hungry.  Then Congress cut food stamps (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)– “Of those very-low-food-security households, 97 percent reported that an adult cut down their meals or skipped meals altogether, and 87 percent said this had happened in at least three months of the year. Two-thirds of respondents said they had not eaten despite being hungry, and 45 percent reported losing weight due to lack of money for food. That comes out to just over 3 million households in which someone was losing weight because they couldn’t eat enough. And 23 percent of very-low-food-security households had an adult who at times went without eating for a full day at a time in 3 or more months last year. That comes out to more than one and a half million households out of that 6.8 million.”

There’s poverty in the UK, but we are better off calling it inequality (John Lanchester, The Guardian)– “I don’t for a second think that inequality is unimportant: rising levels of inequality are going to be the central focus of politics and economics pretty much everywhere in the world for the next decade. But I do think it’s not quite the same thing as what is generally understood by the word poverty. Professionals discussing poverty know perfectly well that what they are talking about is relative poverty; they are fully aware of the nuances. But most of the rest of us aren’t. People look around the UK and just don’t believe in the existence of genuinely poor people.”

America May Have the Worst Hunger Problem of Any Rich Nation (Jordan Weissmann, Moneybox)

The Number of Hungry Americans Has Barely Fallen Since the Recession (Jordan Weissmann, Moneybox)

The End of History (Noam Chomsky, In These Times)– “Arundhati Roy suggests that the “most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times” is the Siachen Glacier, where Indian and Pakistani soldiers have killed each other on the highest battlefield in the world. The glacier is now melting and revealing “thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate” in meaningless conflict. And as the glaciers melt, India and Pakistan face indescribable disaster.”

Where working women are most equal (Niraj Choksi, Wonkblog)

The class war in American politics is over. The rich won (Nick Carnes, Vox)

The human cost of Obama’s delay on immigration action (Dara Lind, Vox)

What Makes People Poor? (Thomas B. Edsall, NYT)– “Despite the conflicting nature of these left and right analyses, there is a strong case to be made that they are, in fact, complementary and that they reinforce each other. What if we put it together this way? Automation, foreign competition and outsourcing lead to a decline in well-paying manufacturing jobs, which, in turn, leads to higher levels of unemployment and diminished upward mobility, which then leads to fewer marriages, a rise in the proportion of nonmarital births, increased withdrawal from the labor force, impermanent cohabitation and a consequent increase in dependence on government support.”

Foreign Affairs

The Dying Russians (Masha Gessen, NYRB)– “The deaths kept piling up. People—men and women—were falling, or perhaps jumping, off trains and out of windows; asphyxiating in country houses with faulty wood stoves or in apartments with jammed front-door locks; getting hit by cars that sped through quiet courtyards or plowed down groups of people on a sidewalk; drowning as a result of diving drunk into a lake or ignoring sea-storm warnings or for no apparent reason; poisoning themselves with too much alcohol, counterfeit alcohol, alcohol substitutes, or drugs; and, finally, dropping dead at absurdly early ages from heart attacks and strokes.”

ISIS is a Disgrace to True Fundamentalism (Slavoj Zizek, NYT)– “Deep in themselves, terrorist fundamentalists also lack true conviction — their violent outbursts are a proof of it. How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper. The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilization.  The problem with terrorist fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending, politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority toward them only makes them more furious and feeds their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that they already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them. Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists of ISIS and those like them really lack is precisely a dose of that true conviction of one’s own superiority.”

Police Abuse

The Race Gap in America’s Police Departments (Jeremy Ashkenas and Haeyoun Park, NYT)

Stop saying ‘officer-involved shooting’ (Alex Pareene, The Dish)– ““Officer-involved shooting” absolves the person who actually pulled the trigger of responsibility, turning the shooting into an apparently inevitable act. The officer was just involved!”

The Rise of the SWAT Team in American Policing (Clyde Haberman, NYT)


The Lingering Stain of Slavery’ (The Dish)


On Credibility, Allyship and Who Gets the Benefit of the Doubt (Katie L., Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Volume 3.35 (August 25-31)

Pick(s) of the Week

Does it Help to Know History? (Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker)– “The real sin that the absence of a historical sense encourages is presentism, in the sense of exaggerating our present problems out of all proportion to those that have previously existed. It lies in believing that things are much worse than they have ever been—and, thus, than they really are—or are uniquely threatening rather than familiarly difficult. Every episode becomes an epidemic, every image is turned into a permanent injury, and each crisis is a historical crisis in need of urgent aggressive handling—even if all experience shows that aggressive handling of such situations has in the past, quite often made things worse.”

The Problem with Local Change (Julie Smith, Times & Seasons)”By suggesting that the problem be solved in an ad hoc, local manner, I have denied that there is a systemic problem. If there is a systemic problem, this is the wrong response. Addressing a systemic problem locally denies that it is a systemic problem. “

Writing Skills

(credit: xkcd)

The Big Picture

The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism (Thomas B. Edsall, NYT)– “Collection companies and the services they offer appeal to politicians and public officials for a number of reasons: they cut government costs, reducing the need to raise taxes; they shift the burden onto offenders, who have little political influence, in part because many of them have lost the right to vote; and it pleases taxpayers who believe that the enforcement of punishment — however obtained — is a crucial dimension to the administration of justice.  As N.P.R. reported in May, services that “were once free, including those that are constitutionally required,” are now frequently billed to offenders: the cost of a public defender, room and board when jailed, probation and parole supervision, electronic monitoring devices, arrest warrants, drug and alcohol testing, and D.N.A. sampling.”

Race and Ferguson

How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops (Erwin Chemerinsky, NYT)

There are Millions of Mike Browns in America (Mona Chalabi, FiveThirtyEight)

Michael Brown’s Unremarkable Humanity (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “The “angelic” standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious “morality” to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of “twice as good” while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community “with rough patches” becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily “black-on-black crime” becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing.”

Ok, fine.  Let’s talk about ‘black-on-black’ violence (Lauren Williams, Vox)– “One of the primary problems with this argument is that “race-on-race” crime is not a phenomenon unique to black Americans. (Jamelle Bouie debunked this myth in the Daily Beast, and my colleague Matt Yglesias recently exposed the scourge of white-on-white murder.)  But even though the term “black-on-black” crime is misleading, this much is true: a disproportionate number of murder victims are black. African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population and 50 percent of homicide victims, according to the FBI’s (imperfect) data. But not only is it unoriginal and transparent to trumpet these stats whenever tough questions about systemic racism arise, it’s also untrue that so-called violence in black communities is being ignored.”

The Fire This Time: America’s Withdrawal from the Fight Against Racism Guarantees More Fergusons (Bob Herbert, The American Prospect)

Are Police Bigoted? (Michael Wines, NYT)– “Researchers have sought reliable data on shootings by police officers for years, and Congress even ordered the Justice Department to provide it, albeit somewhat vaguely, in 1994. But two decades later, there remains no comprehensive survey of police homicides. The even greater number of police shootings that do not kill, but leave suspects injured, sometimes gravely, is another statistical mystery.  Without reliable numbers, the conventional wisdom is little more than speculation.”

How police are racist without even knowing it (German Lopez, Vox)


Migration Isn’t Turning Red States Blue (Harry Enten and Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight)


The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built its Own Secret Google (Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept)


End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email (Clive Thompson, NYT)

How Social Media Silences Debate (Claire Cain Miller, The Upshot)– “And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with. In many cases, people don’t even make that choice for themselves. Last week, Twitter said it would begin showing people tweets even from people they don’t follow if enough other people they follow favorite them. On Monday, Facebook said it would hide stories with certain types of headlines in the news feed. Meanwhile, harassment from online bullies who attack people who express opinions has become a vexing problem for social media sites and their users.”


Why Republicans Can’t Solve Their Problem with Women Voters (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “All of which means that the idea that Republicans are none too friendly to women is constantly reinforced, in ways both substantive and emotional. If you’re a woman, you’re not happy when the Republican party blocks equal pay legislation. But when you then hear some of them try to argue that the wage gap isn’t really a problem in the first place, and maybe you should just be staying at home with your kids anyway, well that’s going to really piss you off. And having a bunch of GOP bros tell you that they’re the real pro-women party because they don’t want people to depend on government isn’t going to go too far to change that.”

The Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion (Emily Bazelon, NYT)


Harvard, Yale and Princeton could all afford to make tuition free (Libby Nelson, Vox)

How to Get Kids to Class (Daniel J. Cardinali, NYT)– “To bridge this divide, our community school model seeks to bring a site coordinator, with training in education or social work, onto the administrative team of every school with a large number of poor kids. That person would be charged with identifying at-risk students and matching them up with services that are available both in the school and the community.”

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges (Richard Perez-Pena, NYT)


Money in the Bank (Dan O’Sullivan)– The economics of pro wrestling.  As a former fan, understanding these kinds of realities is a bit hard to take.

What Amazon Knows– and You Don’t– About the Future of Video Games (Danny Vinik, The New Republic)– “In the U.S., 59 percent of people play them. The average player is 31 years old, and 61 percent of them are under 35. While younger generations are growing up with computers and smartphones, baby boomers and Gen Xers are just becoming comfortable with gaming. But that segment of the market is growing fastand not just among men. In 2013, the number of female gamers older than 50 grew by 32 percent.”


Staff Bathroom (John F., By Common Consent)– A parable.  (Interestingly, the post has been deleted from the site and I had to get it from Google’s cache)

Embracing and magnifying our MBA culture! (Cynthia L., By Common Consent)

3 key messages from Elder Ballard on men, women and Mormon priesthood (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “Here’s what this sounds like to my ears: “Sisters, submit your opinion at times for consideration and then just submit, period, because whatever decision is at hand is not yours to make. Don’t overstep the bounds the priesthood has graciously allowed you.” “

The Things we Can’t UN-See (Donna Kelly, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Women and the Church– Constructively Engaging the Arguments (James Olsen, Times & Seasons)