The Nightstand (August 5)

I like the idea I tried out last week of organizing these list by theme or topic, so I am going to continue to give that a try in the spirit of the continuing evolution of The Nightstand.

Mitt Romney Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About Edition

Romney Hasn’t Done His Homework (Jared Diamond, NYT)– This feels like when Marshall McLuhan shows up in the middle of Annie Hall to school some fool standing in line for the movies.

Capitalism, Not Culture, Drives Economies (Fareed Zakaria, WaPo)

Mormonism

Spinning the Mission Experience (John K. Williams, Worlds Without End)– Probably more true than most of us returned missionaries would like to admit (so we don’t).

Mormonism’s Occasionally Unrequited Love for Israel (Max Perry Mueller, The New Republic)

Politics and Policy

The Problem with the GOP’s Health Reform Proposals in One Chart (Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress)– I like this primarily for the chart showing what an overwhelming proportion of health spending is devoted to a very small number of people– and almost all of them are old.

Conscience and Contraception Letter— This is a letter from a group of academics, particularly law school professors, arguing that the contraception coverage mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act is not an unconstitutional infringement of religious freedom.  Nice to hear something from people who actually know what they are talking about.

Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It) (Dan Ariely, The Atlantic)– I have posted a similar article before and I will keep posting it as part of my contribution to the alleviation of public ignorance and apathy.

Barbarians in the Ivory Tower (Chris Parker, Houston Press)– Makes clear once again what an abomination for-profit colleges are.

Double Jeopardy (Geoffery Sant, Slate)– Lest we be too quick to judge, just remember that during the Civil War, a rich man could pay a poor man to take his place in the conscription draft.  To an extent, we have institutionalized this dynamic by forcing primarily the poor to fight wars that only benefit the rich.

The Republicans’ Medicaid Cruelty (Jeff Madrick, NYRBlog)

Chick-Fil-A Has Delicious Haterade Edition

Let Chick-Fil-A Fly Free (Steve Salbu, NYT)The Chick Fellatio: stuck in the craw (Wayne Self, Owldolatrous Productions), and Some words for Christians on both sides of the Chick-fil-A war (Rachel Held Evans)– I would express my thoughts more extensively on this topic, but I think enough ink has been spilled on it already.  Oh, what the hell.  The bottom line is this: most Americans (on all sides) have no idea what freedom of speech really means.  They think it means: all speech (but really only the views that I hold) must be free from public criticism or reproach.  What it actually means: those who disapprove of one’s speech cannot commandeer the machinery of the state to prevent it or punish it.  Those mayors who have said they will keep Chick-Fil-A out of their cities probably understand this, and they almost certainly understand that it would be unconstitutional to ban a restaurant for its owner’s views.  What they are engaged in is a kind of signaling to their gay constituencies that says: I’m on your side.  Give me your campaign contributions.  But as for the individual decisions of private citizens to give or withhold their consumer cash from an institution on any basis whatsoever, including the views of its ownership on issues of public policy, violations of freedom of speech simply do not enter the picture.

Culture

Glory Days: The Olympics As Ritual (Louis Menand, The New Yorker)

The Joke’s On You (Steve Almond, The Bafffler)– This critique of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert is not completely without merit.  Things can get a little too light and chummy if the guest is somebody really important.  For good measure, I have included a response from Stephen Deusner at Salon.

Team USA Deserves No Gold Medals for Internet Access (Susan P. Crawford, Bloomberg View)

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