Volume 3.14 (March 31-April 6)

Foreign Affairs

Bye, Bye Baby (Michael Teitelbaum and Jay M. Winter, NYT)– “But with the global economy still quite fragile, it’s a safe bet that ominous jeremiads about endangered, geriatric societies will continue. Population doom of one kind or another is a recurring fad. Like most fads, this one can be safely ignored. Humanity has many legitimate problems to worry about. Falling fertility is not one of them.”


Following Orders in Rwanda (Jean-Marie Kamatali, NYT)– “To do that, the government now must focus on changing the culture of obedience, for two reasons: so that the instinct to follow leaders blindly never again leaves evil unchallenged, and to nurture habits of individual thought that are essential to growth and freedom in any modern society. Rwandans need steps to create a true rule of law, rather than compliance: education that emphasizes critical thought, not obedience; reliance on strong legal and legislative institutions rather than strong personalities who give edicts from the top.”

China After Tiananmen: Money, Yes, Ideas, No (Perry Link, NYRB)



The Big Picture

Houston’s Hidden Homeless Live Under Bridges, In the Shadows, Out of Sight and Mind (Angelica Leicht, Houston Press)

Judges Blind to Justice (Moe Tkacik, In These Times)

Game of Homes (Rebecca Burns, In These Times)– And for a more personal take, read Kicked Out of Our Home, Courtesy of Blackstone (Michael Donley and Carmilla Manzanet, In These Times)

Sure Bigwigs Want Labor Rights– But Only for Themselves (David Sirota, In These Times)– “The problems with such a twisted ideology should be obvious. For one thing, there’s the sheer hypocrisy of insinuating that the ruling class has a right to stand in solidarity with each other, but everyone else should be prevented from exercising similar rights. Additionally, the argument posits that the real problem in an America plagued by economic inequality is that workers have too much power and the ruling class has too little—not vice versa.” One Dollar, One Vote (David Cole, NYRB)– “In other words, even if no money is redirected and channeled to a particular candidate, and even if there is no bribery or quid pro quo corruption, there is a serious problem that warrants Congress’s attention. Why should those with more money have a greater say in who gets elected? And why isn’t Congress justified in restricting aggregate contributions to offset these negative effects on the democratic process? It is this aspect of the decision—the refusal to recognize any interest beyond quid pro quo corruption—that is likely to have the most damaging effect on campaign finance laws going forward.”

What If Everything You Knew About Poverty Was Wrong? (Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones)– “Far from eschewing marriage as an institution, she found, poor women idealized it to such an extent that it became unattainable. They didn’t believe that a marriage born in poverty could survive.  In a society that increasingly saw marriage as a choice, not a requirement, low-income women were embracing the same preconditions as middle-class women. They wanted to be “set” before marrying, with economic independence to ensure a more equitable partnership and a fallback should things go bad. They also wanted men who were mature, stable, and who had mortgages and other signs of adulthood, not just jobs.”


More Than Corruption Threatens Our Democracy (Adam Lioz, The American Prospect)– “So, what’s the difference, in a democracy, between bargaining with money and bargaining with votes? Here’s one thought: the difference is that—at least in theory—everyone has an equal vote to bargain with. Not so financial bargaining power. ”

The Only Antidote to Big Money in Politics Might be Critical Thinking (Michael Austin, IVN)

John Roberts Shows He Has No Idea How Money Works in Politics (Sam Kleiner, New Republic)– “The Court comes off as remarkably uninformed when it comes to the relationship between wealthy donors and elected officials. Roberts says that legislation cannot seek to limit what he calls the “general gratitude a candidate may feel toward those who support him or his allies, or the political access such support may afford.” Roberts said “spending large sums of money” would not “give rise to such quid pro quo corruption.” The reality is, of course, that looking for evidence of direct trades of a Congressional vote for a donation will reveal very few instances of corruption. However, as Lawrence Lessig has established, there is a broader system of “dependence corruption” in which candidates must rely on wealthy donors in order to have access to the political system. The Roberts Court reflects a lack of understanding in how money actually operates in our political system and has adopted such a hollow understanding of corruption that they are able to view our system as free of any corrupting influence. “


MIT Climate Scientists Responds on Disaster Costs and Climate Change (Kerry Emanuel, FiveThirtyEight)– “The point here is that the number of bears in the woods is presumably much greater than the incidence of their contact with humans, so the overall bear statistics should be much more robust than any mauling statistics. The actuarial information here is the rate of mauling, while the doubling of the bear population represents a priori information. Were it possible to buy insurance against mauling, no reasonable firm supplying such insurance would ignore a doubling of the bear population, lack of any significant mauling trend notwithstanding.”

The CIA and the Moral Sunk Costs of the Torture Program (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “The picture this paints is one of an agency that is simultaneously torturing prisoners, without much effect, and also trying desperately to tell a story to the rest of the government that the torture is working. And to this day, everyone on up the chain—most recently Dick Cheney, who said the other day of the torture program that he’d do it all over again, because “The results speak for themselves”—insists the same thing. Because if it didn’t work, what are they? They’re monsters. They transgressed one of humanity’s most profound moral injunctions, for nothing. And no one wants to believe that about themselves.”


Teaching Tolerance: How white parents should talk to their children about race (Melinda Wenner Moyer, Slate)

Culture War

Childless People Should Pay Much Higher Taxes (Reihan Salam, Slate)– “y shifting the tax burden from parents to nonparents, we will help give America’s children a better start in life, and we will help correct a simple injustice. We all benefit from the work of parents. Each new generation reinvigorates our society with its youthful vim and vigor. As my childless friends and I grow crankier and more decrepit, a steady stream of barely postpubescent brainiacs writes catchy tunes and invents breakthrough technologies that keep us entertained and make us more productive. The willingness of parents to bear and nurture children saves us from becoming an economically moribund nation of hateful curmudgeons. The least we can do is offer them a bigger tax break.”

Can Liberals and Conservatives Come Together to Support Families? (Noah Smith, The Atlantic)– “It’s time to reach out to conservatives on the issue of family stability. It’s becoming clear that traditional family gender roles—the idea that the man should be able to be the sole breadwinner—are not sustainable in the modern economic environment. This is probably one reason behind the breakdown of two-parent families among the working class, as documented by Charles Murray in his bookComing Apart. But liberals—the same kale-munching, bottle-recycling goofballs that National Review and David Brooks have spent decades lampooning—have found a better way. The better way is what Richard Reeves, in a landmark article in The Atlantic, calls “High Investment Parenting.” When families focus on the kids, instead of on maintaining traditional gender roles, it turns out to be a lot easier to keep the family together.”

A Marine silent no longer on gay marriage (Roger Dean Huffstetler, WaPo)

These congressmen want to tear down the wall between church and state (Christopher Ingraham, Wonkblog)

Major League Baseball, Daniel Murphy and what real men do when their wives give birth (Alyssa Rosenberg, WaPo)– “It is not clear whether that spike in anxiety means men feel more obligation from their jobs, or a greater desire to support their families. But for men like Daniel Murphy, policy is just barely keeping pace with their desire not just to verify that their offspring are healthy before returning to more manly tasks, but also to contribute in some way to the first days of life.”


Parenthood makes gaming better by making time your most precious resource (Ben Kuchera, Polygon)


I’ll be at the Ordain Women event, but… (Gina Colvin, KiwiMormon)– “But simply naming it a patriarchy ignores its additional features – because it’s not just a patriarchy.  It’s a colonial patriarchy.  It’s a white patriarchy.  It’s a class-based patriarchy.  It’s an Americentric conservative patriarchy bound to a particular economic and political order that is nearing its ‘use by’ date.”

Founder of Ordain Women desires ‘complete equal footing’ with men (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

Eli & Hannah: How Mormons Can Reverence Sacred Space and Divine Petition (Katy Meldau Cummings, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Ask Not (Stephanie Lauritzen, Salt Lake City Weekly)– “Moody’s letter represents another instance of the church contradicting its own standards and attempting to vilify the members of Ordain Women as going against a doctrine that does not exist. ”

Some non-arguments against the ordination of women (Jupiterschild, Faith Promoting Rumor)– “Protests and complaints have never resulted in change or revelation.  Anyone who asserts this needs a Mormon History refresher. The LDS church has a long tradition of revelations received in response to protests, complaints, and questioning. The 1978 revelation is the most salient, I think, (and anyone who wants to say this wasn’t because of protests needs a US history refresher). But there are many others, like Emma Smith’s protest about tobacco on her floor apparently leading to the Word of Wisdom. In any case, revelation in our tradition (including in the Hebrew Bible) almost never comes from a prophet sitting by the phone, waiting for God to call. And thank God for that.”

We Change Ourselves (fmhLisa, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Ordain Women, Women’s Ordination (Jacob Baker, All Eternity Shakes: Letters from the Vineyard)– “This is what I mean when I say that nothing at this point will “stop” Ordain Women–not that they are on an inevitable track to absolutely secure Mormon priesthood for women, but that they have become something that is more than their stated intentions, something already historicized and important whatever the ultimate outcome, and something that will go on, in tributaries and rivulets, spreading and branching in unforeseen ways.”


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