Volume 2.42 (Oct 14-20)

Pick of the Week– Return to Nixonland (Lisa Graves, In These Times)– “For the more the Government or any institution knows about us, the more power it has over us. When the Government knows all of our secrets, we stand naked before official power. Stripped of our privacy, we lose our rights and privileges. The Bill of Rights then becomes just so many words.”

The Big Picture

‘Non-Essential’ Lives? (Nicole Colson, Socialist Worker)

How Multi-BIllion Dollar Corporations Rely on the Public to Feed their Workforce (Amy Traub, American Prospect)– “For fast food corporations it’s a lucrative business model—they get labor at rates too low to keep families housed and fed, the public makes up the difference, and the company rakes in the profits.”

Inequality is a Choice (Joseph Stiglitz, NYT)– “For these reasons, I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do. Some countries will be successful in creating shared prosperity — the only kind of prosperity that I believe is truly sustainable. Others will let inequality run amok. In these divided societies, the rich will hunker in gated communities, almost completely separated from the poor, whose lives will be almost unfathomable to them, and vice versa. I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate shantytowns.”

Bleak House (Charles Simic, NYRB)– “Indifference to the plight and suffering of human beings of one class or another by some segment of the population is a universal phenomenon, but spending millions of dollars to deepen the misery of one’s fellow citizens and enlisting members of one political party to help you do so is downright vile.”

Science

Trouble at the Lab (The Economist)– “And scientists themselves, Dr Alberts insisted, “need to develop a value system where simply moving on from one’s mistakes without publicly acknowledging them severely damages, rather than protects, a scientific reputation.” This will not be easy. But if science is to stay on its tracks, and be worthy of the trust so widely invested in it, it may be necessary.”

Politics

Christian, Not Conservative (Robert Long, The American Conservative)

How that Confederate Flag at the White House Got There (Sam Tanenhaus, New Republic)

President Obama Should Issue an Executive Order Raising the Debt Ceiling (Saul Jackman, Brookings)– By the time I am publishing this, the present debt ceiling crisis will be over, though surely to be followed upon by a new one in another few months.  President Obama should just jump out in front of the whole thing and raise it unilaterally before any hostages are even taken.

Democracy and Political Ignorance (Ilya Somin, Cato Unbound)– “Political ignorance in America is deep and widespread. ”  This is only a slightly more polite rendition of Larry Summer’s famous opening remarks: “There are idiots.  Look around.”

California Sees Gridlock Ease in Governing (Adam Nagourney, NYT)

Tea Party

The Tea Party- Now and Forever (Paul Waldman, American Prospect)– “The time has come to stop looking at the Tea Party as a political movement and understand it as a psychological, sociological, and religious phenomenon.”

The Tea Party as a Religion (Andrew Sullivan, The Dish)– “What the understandably beleaguered citizens of this new modern order want is a pristine variety of America that feels like the one they grew up in. They want truths that ring without any timbre of doubt. They want root-and-branch reform – to the days of the American Revolution. And they want all of this as a pre-packaged ideology, preferably aligned with re-written American history, and reiterated as a theater of comfort and nostalgia. They want their presidents white and their budget balanced now…This is a religion – but a particularly modern, extreme and unthinking fundamentalist religion.  ”

The GOP Can’t Survive Without the Tea Party (Nate Cohn, New Republic)

Education

An Industry of Mediocrity (Bill Keller, NYT)– “Of all the competing claims on America’s education dollar — more technology, smaller classes, universal prekindergarten, school choice — the one option that would seem to be a no-brainer is investing in good teachers. But universities have proved largely immutable. Educators, including some inside these institutions, say universities have treated education programs as “cash cows.” The schools see no incentive to change because they have plenty of applicants willing to pay full tuition, the programs are relatively cheap to run, and they are accountable to no one except accrediting agencies run by, you guessed it, education schools. It’s a contented cartel.”

Foreign Affairs

Who’s Afraid of Chinese Money? (Jonathan Mirsky, NYRB)

The State of Assange (Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York)

Mormonism

OUCH! How do I deal with cruel Mormon Facebook reaction to Ordain Women? (Joanna Brooks, Ask Mormon Girl)– “What you are seeing on those flaming Facebook walls and pages is this:  Mormonism has an autoimmune disorder.  Ridiculed by segments of the American mainstream for 150 years or more, encouraged to see “the world” today as hostile to their faith, lots of Mormons move through life with their defenses up. Way up. Problem is, at times Mormons become so inflamed, so tender, we turn those defenses onto people within our own community.”

Bloomberg News Pre-release: “A Plan for the Future of the Corp” (Daymon Smith, Uncorrelated Mormonism)– Warning, dangerous(ly funny) satire here.

TQM, Kaizen and Women in the Church (Mark Brown, By Common Consent)– “Apparently, we in the church still are, intentionally or unintentionally, excluding women’s voices, and this has been a recurring, predictable problem for at least the last 25 years.  If we apply the principles of kaizen to this problem, we see a textbook case of a problem that is systemic and structural. The problem might be happening in the bishop’s office, but the solution to the problem will have to come from somewhere above his pay grade.”

Beyond Family: Women’s Leadership in the LDS Church (Melissa Inouye, Peculiar People)

How Successful are Mormon Studies Books? (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– I am both surprised and gratified by these numbers.

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