Volume 3.41 (Oct 6-12)

Pick of the Week– The culture wars are back, and this time, everyone can win (Alyssa Rosenberg, WaPo)– “As we consume and discuss everything that is available to us now, we might not settle our big questions about art and politics and which values are best and how best to present them. The wonderful thing about this moment of technological and economic evolution and cultural proliferation is that we do not actually have to. The present culture war is the rare conflict in which almost everyone has a chance to win.”

The Economy

Amazon must be Stopped (Franklin Foer, The New Republic)

Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid. (Matt O’Brien, Wonkblog)

Blessed are the wastrels for their surplus could save the Earth (Stuart Armstrong, The Conversation)– “Thus, the very efficiency that has driven human production to its dizzying peaks, creates a brittleness and a fragility to crises or disasters that are slightly too large. And the whole system is connected: when one part starts being overwhelmed, when one category of ultra-specialised manufacturers go under, others that rely on it will start to suffer too. This could be followed by knock-on effects across the economy, hitting consumers and employees and spreading to other industries. A slightly-too-large disaster may bring down our interconnected economy just as effectively as a huge disaster would.  So it is important to preserve sources of resiliency where they exist. And the current waste in the world’s food system is such a source. It’s a tragedy that rich Westerners and aspiring rich Westerners eat wasteful meat and that supermarkets and individuals throw away so much food (indeed half the food purchased in Europe and the US is thrown away by consumers). But what that means is that there is a lot of slack in the system. If disaster struck, we could go back to eating more vegetables and carefully preserving excess foodstuffs. Even if half the world’s food production was wiped out by a super-plague, we’d still have enough to feed most of the people we feed today.”


Midterms: The Voter ID Mess (Steven H. Wright, NYRB)– “However these laws play out in court, most crucial will be the rules that poll workers themselves are prepared to apply on election day. Past elections have shown that poll workers can become especially confused by controversial criteria such as whether a voter must present identification. All too often, poorly-trained poll workers don’t follow their state’s voter-ID rules, demanding identification when none is required, failing to request an identification when the law requires them to do so, accepting an impermissible form of identification, or rejecting a state-approved form of identification.

 These issues become all the more concerning when there are last minute changes to the law.”

It’s All for Your Own Good (Jeremy Waldron, NYRB)– “There’s a sense underlying such thinking that my capacities for thought and for figuring things out are not really being taken seriously for what they are: a part of my self. What matters above all for the use of these nudges is appropriate behavior, and the authorities should try to elicit it by whatever informational nudge is effective. We manipulate things so that we get what would be the rational response to true information by presenting information that strictly speaking is not relevant to the decision.  I am not attributing informational nudging to Sunstein. But it helps us see that any nudging can have a slightly demeaning or manipulative character. Would the concern be mitigated if we insisted that nudgees must always be told what’s going on? Perhaps. As long as all the facts are in principle available, as long as it is possible to find out what the nudger’s strategies are, maybe there is less of an affront to self-respect. Sunstein says he is committed to transparency, but he does acknowledge that some nudges have to operate “behind the back” of the chooser.”

A Better Way to Encourage Charity (Ray Madoff, NYT)– “We should adopt a system that reduces excise taxes on private foundations that distribute greater amounts to charitable causes. Private foundations could qualify for these reduced tax rates by meeting higher payouts. Retain the current 2 percent excise tax for those private foundations that spend 6 percent or less; reduce the rate to 1 percent for those that spend between 6 and 8 percent; and eliminate the tax completely for those that spend 8 percent or more. Each year the foundation could choose its own payout and excise tax rates. This would be a simple system, easily understood by everyone. The more a private foundation spends on its charitable purpose, the less it would pay to the government.”

Foreign Affairs

Israel & the US: The Delusions of our Diplomacy (Nathan Thrall, NYRB)

Key Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, Leave No Doubt that Endless War is Official US Doctrine (Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept)

Mexico’s deadly narco-politics (Ioan Grillo, NYT)– “It’s a terrifying concept. Being ruled by corrupt and self-interested politicians can be bad. But imagine being ruled by sociopathic gangsters. They respond to rowdy students in the only way they understand: with extreme violence designed to cause terror. They stick the mutilated body of a student on public display in the same way they do rival traffickers.”

Making the case against Obama’s new war (Ashley Smith and Alan Maass, Socialist Worker)


Men have Depended on the Government for Centuries– So Why Shouldn’t Women Do the Same? (Rebecca Traister, New Republic)– “But what too often goes unacknowledged is that women aren’t the only Americans who have relied on the government as a partner. Rather, it’s a model of support and dependence that has bolstered the fortunes of American men throughout the nation’s history.  It’s hard to remember that guys did not rise to the top of business and political worlds passively, by dint of their hard-wired inclinations and the gravitational pull of their penises alone. Men too, even the rich, white married ones who vote Republican as reliably as single women vote Democratin fact, especially those menhave benefitted terrifically from government policies and practices. Call it “The Wifey State,” and come to grips with the fact that white guys have been taking advantage of it since the founding.   The government, after all, has historically supported white men’s home and business ownership through grants, loans, incentives, and tax breaks (concessions that were not, until the second half of the twentieth century, made widely available to most women or to people of color). It has allowed them to accrue wealth and offered them shortcuts and bonuses for passing it down to their children. ”

Sex is Sex but Money is Money (Svetlana Z, Matter)

What liberals and conservatives think about raising children (Dylan Mathews, Vox)

Our horrible consent culture is a tax on women (Amanda Taub, Vox)

The Big Picture

During the downturn, America’s poor helped each other more.  The rich pitched in less (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)– “And yet amidst all that, something odd happened. Even during the downturn and recovery, the poorest Americans upped their charitable giving. Meanwhile, the highest-income people gave less and less, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported this week.  The rich also give to charity differently than the poor: compared to lower-income Americans, the rich’s charitable giving places a far lower emphasis on helping their disadvantaged peers. When the poor and rich are (figuratively and literally) moving farther apart, an empathy gap naturally opens up between the upper and lower classes — after all, if I can’t see you, I’m less likely to help you.  Taken together, the trends paint a disturbing picture for the future of both the American economy and philanthropy: as the rich get richer and more removed from the daily lives of the poor, the bulk of charitable giving is also likely to become further removed from the needs of the poor.”

One in four Americans think poor people don’t work hard enough (Roberto Ferdman, Wonkblog)


Whites think discrimination against whites is bigger problem than bias against blacks (Michael A. Fletcher, Wonkblog)


A Wrongful Conviction Robbed William Lopez of His Freedom, Then His Life (Lilliana Segura, The Intercept)– ““The impact of being wrongly incarcerated does not show up when you’re in prison,” Deskovic explains. Much of the trauma manifests itself later, making it harder to find a home, get a job, or sustain relationships. “Psychological research of the wrongfully convicted shows that their years of imprisonment are profoundly scarring,” the Innocence Project reportedin a 2009 study examining inadequate compensation for exonerees nationwide. At least 20 states provide no compensation for people who are wrongfully convicted. New York does, but on a case by case basis, and according to an amount determined in civil court. But as the Innocence Project notes, “After years of fighting to prove their innocence, exonerees need a safety net, not another long legal battle.” Counseling and medical care are among the most immediate services exonerees desperately need.”

Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime (Margo Kaplan, NYT)– “Part of this failure stems from the misconception that pedophilia is the same as child molestation. One can live with pedophilia and not act on it. Sites like Virtuous Pedophiles provide support for pedophiles who do not molest children and believe that sex with children is wrong. It is not that these individuals are “inactive” or “nonpracticing” pedophiles, but rather that pedophilia is a status and not an act. In fact, research shows, about half of all child molesters are not sexually attracted to their victims.  A second misconception is that pedophilia is a choice. Recent research, while often limited to sex offenders — because of the stigma of pedophilia — suggests that the disorder may have neurological origins. Pedophilia could result from a failure in the brain to identify which environmental stimuli should provoke a sexual response. M.R.I.s of sex offenders with pedophilia show fewer of the neural pathways known as white matter in their brains. Men with pedophilia are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous, a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause. Some findings also suggest that disturbances in neurodevelopment in utero or early childhood increase the risk of pedophilia. Studies have also shown that men with pedophilia have, on average, lower scores on tests of visual-spatial ability and verbal memory.”


Are We Not All Beggars? (Tracy M, By Common Consent)

Do Women Count? (Julie Smith, Times & Seasons)– “The idea of editing a prayer so that no one would think that the General Women’s Meeting was part of General Conference really grates on me. If you had set out to find one petty, bureaucratic, and completely meaningless way of being sure that Mormon women get the message that they don’t “count,” you couldn’t do any better than this–altering the words of a prayer so that their meeting literally does not count. And the real shame of it is that the General Women’s Meeting itself was nearly perfect in every way.”


Volume 3.40 (Sept 29-Oct 5)

Pick of the WeekHow American parenting is killing the American marriage (Danielle and Astro Teller, Quartz)– “Sometime between when we were children and when we had children of our own, parenthood became a religion in America. As with many religions, complete unthinking devotion is required from its practitioners. Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring. Children always come first. We accept this premise so reflexively today that we forget that it was not always so.”

The Economy

Finally, the Truth about the AIG Bailout (Noam Scheiber, NYT)

This one chart shows how broken the US economy is (Matthew Yglesias, Vox) income gains distribution graph

Five things the Goldman tapes teach us about financial regulation (Nolan McCarthy, WaPo Monkey Cage)

The Big Picture

Inequality is killing American babies (Dylan Mathews, Vox)– “The authors find that there’s very little difference between the US (which has 6.17 infant deaths per 100,000), Finland (3.36), and Austria (4.16) when it comes to deaths in the first month (“neonatal deaths”). The differences come when you look at months two through twelve of an infant’s first year.  Then, the authors break down the mortality rates for each country by social standing. They find infants born to “mothers who are high education/occupation, married and white” in each country have basically identical mortality rates. American children of rich white moms who went to college do just as well as their Finnish counterparts. But there’s a BIG gap between less advantaged groups in each country. “Higher postneonatal mortality in the US,” the authors write, “is due entirely, or almost entirely, to high mortality among less advantaged groups”:”

Economic Inequality is Much Worst then Most Americans Believe (David Sirota, In These Times)– “In the report, Harvard University and Chulalongkorn University researchers analyzed survey data from 40 countries about perceptions of pay gaps between rich and poor. In every country, respondents underestimated the size of the gap between CEO and average worker pay. In the United States, for example, the researchers found the median American respondent estimated that the ratio of CEO to worker income is about 30-to-1. In reality, the gap is more than 350-to-1.  The study also found the median American respondent said the ideal pay gap is about 7-to-1—a lower ideal than respondents in many industrialized countries. Additionally, no major industrialized country has anywhere close to a 7-to-1 pay gap. That ratio is more than seven times lower than the actual gap in social democratic countries like Denmark and Sweden.”

Losing the birth lottery (Markus Bergstrom, WaPo)– “One could certainly argue that racial discrimination is worse than borderism because it excludes people from opportunities within their own countries. But how much worse? Many aspiring immigrants are born into nations where jobs are nonexistent, corruption is rife and indiscriminate violence plagues daily life. Being legally segregated into poverty and tyranny because of one’s ancestry is a cruel fate, regardless whether it’s because of race or citizenship.”

White people are more likely to deal drugs, but black people are more likely to get arrested for it (Christopher Ingraham, Wonkblog)


The left Democrat mirage (Lance Selfa, Socialist Worker)

Who are ‘We the People’? (Eric Lewis, NYT)– “Corporations (as well as unions) can spend on political speech to further their group interests as though they were individual political actors. Corporations can assert religious rights to gain legal exemptions from laws that would otherwise apply to them. Muslim detainees at Guantánamo Bay, however, have none of these rights.”

When sunshine doesn’t always disinfect the government (Jason Grumet, WaPo)– “The opposite of transparency is privacy, not corruption. Despite the scars of past scandals, we must recognize that there are moments in government where the imperative for deliberation trumps the imperative for access.  While clearly well-intended, the requirements of open meetings are ironically driving serious discussions further underground. On federal advisory committees created to address national crises such as the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill or the 2008 financial crisis, for example, no more than two members could discuss substantive issues without advertising the meeting in the Federal Register and allowing the public to listen in. The result of such rules is not transparency but either a cumbersome sequence of two-person conversations, larger “informal” conversations that skirt the law or the avoidance of controversial issues.”

Americans have no idea how the government spends money (Christopher Ingraham, Wonkblog)


Why Rumors Outrace the Truth Online (Brendan Nyhan, The Upshot)


Contraception, News Coverage and Identifying Fringe Groups (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “Which doesn’t mean they necessarily shouldn’t be quoted in an article like this one, but it does mean that they should be identified with a little more precision. Simply saying that the group “takes an abstinence-only position” isn’t enough, not by a long shot. It’s fair to say that almost no one who read this article would have heard of them, and just by reading it you might think they’re a direct competitor to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But they aren’t. They’re a group with a miniscule membership that was created to advance a socially conservative policy agenda. So in order to make readers understand, you have to say something about the group’s size relative to the organization that really represents pediatricians, and something about their raison d’etre. It isn’t hard—all that’s necessary would be, “…the American College of Pediatricians, a small group of doctors that advocates socially conservative positions on matters of marriage, sexuality, and contraception…” or something similar.  They would no doubt interpret that identification as belittling them, but it’s the truth. What they got instead was The New York Timesputting them nearly on par with the AAP, something they certainly don’t deserve.”

LGBT Issues

The best legal case for same-sex marriage could be children (German Lopez, Vox)– “Still, the courts have cited marriage’s benefits for children in previous same-sex marriages. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who’s widely expected to act as the deciding swing vote when the Supreme Court rules on marriage equality, cited the children of same-sex couples in his decision that struck down the federal ban on same-sex marriage. Kennedy wrote that stigmatizing same-sex marriage “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”  Kennedy’s point is backed by some of the research into the issue. One study found the children of same-sex parents can be happier than the rest of the population. But another study concluded that prohibiting the children’s parents from getting married could actually inhibit their developmental outcomes.”


The myth of religious violence (Karen Armstrong, The Guardian)– “After a bumpy beginning, secularism has undoubtedly been valuable to the west, but we would be wrong to regard it as a universal law. It emerged as a particular and unique feature of the historical process in Europe; it was an evolutionary adaptation to a very specific set of circumstances. In a different environment, modernity may well take other forms. Many secular thinkers now regard “religion” as inherently belligerent and intolerant, and an irrational, backward and violent “other” to the peaceable and humane liberal state – an attitude with an unfortunate echo of the colonialist view of indigenous peoples as hopelessly “primitive”, mired in their benighted religious beliefs. There are consequences to our failure to understand that our secularism, and its understanding of the role of religion, is exceptional. When secularisation has been applied by force, it has provoked a fundamentalist reaction – and history shows that fundamentalist movements which come under attack invariably grow even more extreme. The fruits of this error are on display across the Middle East: when we look with horror upon the travesty of Isis, we would be wise to acknowledge that its barbaric violence may be, at least in part, the offspring of policies guided by our disdain.”


Want to reduce teen pregnancy and abortion? Start with long-term birth control (Jason Millman, Wonkblog)– “Teenage girls who were offered these types of contraceptives at no cost were significantly much more likely to use them, and they had substantially lower rates of pregnancy, birth and abortion when compared to U.S. teens, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Just about 4.5 percent of U.S. teens between 15-19 report using long-acting contraceptive methods, which have a much lower fail rate under typical use (less than 1 percent) when compared to birth control pills (9 percent) and male condoms (18 percent), according to the CDC. The costs can be prohibitive, though. Without insurance, an IUD could cost more than $1,000 for a one-time insertion.  But removing financial and educational barriers to accessing these forms of birth control increased their usage, according to the NEJM study, which holds pretty major implications for the U.S. teen birth rate that — despite hitting record lows last year — is still 5.5 times higher than the rate in Western Europe and trails the rest of the developed world.”

The Best Birth Control Method for Your Teenage Daughter (Rebecca Leber, New Republic)


Growing Bold Mormon Daughters: The Impossibility of Emma Watson and Jacinda Ardern (Gina Colvin, KiwiMormon)– “Lets face it, the political consciousness and engagement required to make an impassioned speech to the UN on gender equality isn’t the object of Mormonism. Mormon young girls are socialized, under the direction of elderly men, to accept marriage and motherhood as the greatest expression of their feminine selves. The extensive curriculum material that our Mormon young are exposed to does not currently place an emphasis on the development of a social justice mind set, nor does it encourage our girls to bring an end to their relative powerlessness.    Rather they are socialized to accept their powerlessness in a patriarchal system, and to be unconscious of class, race and gender inequalities.  Even if you argue that its not the role of church to produce such young women, I can’t help but think that her church experience might at some stage be an impediment to the development of an expansive and thoughtful politically engaged mind.  There would have been a great deal of religious impedimenta for the Mormon Emma Watson to sift and sort through in order to craft an insightful personal narrative that calls attention to inequitable highly gendered systems that privilege patriarchies. Perhaps I might have been able to raise her awareness but eventually she would have had to battle with the religious discourses that so overwhelmingly seek to shape the paradigms and frameworks through which she sees and makes sense of the world. That’s no easy task in the face of the plentiful resources that are deployed in order constitute the ideal Mormon woman of the Mormon Brethren’s imagination.”

Changing our General Conference Scorecards (Joanna Brooks, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “But representation can’t be the only thing that matters when we watch General Conference. It can’t be the only thing on our Mormon feminist scorecards.  As a Mormon feminist, I want a feminist movement that’s about more than changing the score in the game of representation. I want a much bigger agenda, a bigger scorecard, a scorecard on how well we’re doing in this religious movement that is supposed to be about getting everyone safely to Zion.”

Attacking the Family (Sam Brunson, By Common Consent)– “Unless we want to argue (and I certainly don’t) that the wealthy are more moral than the poor, and the highly-educated more moral than the less-educated, the numbers don’t permit us to tell a story based purely on moral failing.[fn4] Instead, it forces us to tell a socioeconomic story.”

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.”