The Nightstand (March 4-10)
Mitt Romney and the Politics of Passing (Stuart Parker, By Common Consent)– There’s a lot of merit in the thesis, but I am not without a couple of quibbles, some of those noted by others in the comments. The constant struggle between Mormons and various Protestant and evangelical Christian groups over the label “Christian” seems to provide some evidence of the passing phenomenon. American Mormons desperately want to “pass” as Christian, not because their faith and focus on Christ is lacking or insincere, but because Christians in the US have a special and superior status to any other faith. They are the quintessential middle- and upper-class Americans. Also, Parker looks like he has a fascinating dissertation on Mormon historiography (?) about to be published by Greg Kofford. Can’t wait.
Our Corrupt Politics: It’s Not All Money (Ezra Klein, NYRB)
NPR Ethics Handbook Targets False Balance (Jay Rosen, Climate Progress)– A couple of nights ago, on Super Tuesday, I tuned into a cable news channel to see election results for the limit of my tolerance, which appears to be about five minutes. But the five minutes was very illuminating. A reporter, on location at the local headquarters of one of the candidates, devoted his segment to reading a summary of the talking points that the candidate would be giving later in his victory speech, based on a list given to him by the campaign. This is one of the phenomena that some refer to as the stenographer model of modern media– they are just reporting to you what the Important Person (TM) says, without any context or judgment. Thankfully, it appears that NPR is moving away from such a role and towards a more truth-seeking and honest approach.
Threatened (David Remnick, The New Yorker)– A glimpse at some of the ugliness at the heart of the state and culture of Israel.
The Aspirin Strategy (William Saletan, Slate)
How to Fund an American Police State (Stephan Salisbury, The Nation)
On ‘Fixing the Moral Deficit’ (Fred Clark, Slacktivist)