Volume 3.30 (July 21-27)

Picks of the Week

The Problem with Collective Grief (Arnon Grunberg, NYT)– “The sad thing about mourning is that it really is quite unshareable, that it involves an extremely individual emotion. People have the right not to show their emotions and not to share them, even when it comes to soccer and calamity.  From this, it follows that we also have the right to admit that we sometimes feel nothing at all. The whole world puts a claim on our feelings, from the lady next door to our family members and the panhandler on the street, from the news about Gaza and on to Ukraine, from Congo to Syria. Our emotions are constantly being claimed.  That these claims have a numbing effect on us, that we are often indifferent, that we are busy enough as it is trying to provide emotional succor for those closest to us, and often don’t even succeed in doing that, seems to me not so much a sign of our inhumanity, but of our humanity. Were we to actually allow the world’s suffering to sink in, we would quickly become psychiatric cases, lulled by the power of psychotropic medications into a state of detachment.”

Blacklisted: The Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist (Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept)

Health Care

Busy Doctors, Wasteful Spending (Sandeep Jauhar, NYT)– “And therein lies the sad irony of the health cost containment paradigm in this country. There is no more wasteful entity in medicine than a rushed doctor.”

Two Americas on Health Care, and the Danger of Further Division (Margot Sanger-Katz, The Upshot)

A Challenge to American Doctors (Arnold Relman, NYRB)– “Nevertheless, it is hard to deny two basic and fairly obvious points the authors want to make. First, inadequate social services in the US contribute to our poor national health. Second, adding welfare expenditures to those of medical care does help to some extent to resolve the American “paradox” of high medical expenditures and relatively poor health outcomes. But the resolution is not as complete or convincing as claimed, and there is no evidence that expanding welfare programs, as Bradley and Taylor argue, would more effectively improve national health than directly reforming the payment and organization of medical services.”

Border Issues

The war on marijuana is racist.  So is the rest of the war on drugs (German Lopez, Vox)

Why the Border Crisis is a Myth (Veronica Escobar, NYT)– “The irony is that this cash-intensive strategy comes from leaders who consistently underfund health care, transportation and education. And they ignore the crucial fact that children crossing our borders aren’t trying to sneak around law enforcement: They are running to law enforcement.”

How the war on drugs drives the child migrant crisis (German Lopez, Vox)

Inside the remote, secretive detention center for migrant families (Dara Lind, Vox)

Foreign Affairs

Behind the Scenes in Putin’s Court: The Private Habits of a Latter-day Dictator (Ben Judah, Newsweek)

We need an international court to stamp out corruption (Mark L. Wolf, WaPo)

The Big Picture

Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League (William Deresiewicz, The New Republic)– “I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League. I’ve come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.  High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take themyou know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship. We also need to recognizeas we once did and as many countries still dothat the same is true of higher education. We have tried aristocracy. We have tried meritocracy. Now it’s time to try democracy.”

The many stubborn kinds of inequality that children face growing up in the US (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)

Economics

The Real Raw Material of Wealth (Ricardo Hausmann, Project Syndicate)– “The moral of the story is that adding value to raw materials is one path to diversification, but not necessarily a long or fruitful one. Countries are not limited by the raw materials they have. After all, Switzerland has no cocoa, and China does not make advanced memory chips. That has not prevented these countries from taking a dominant position in the market for chocolate and computers, respectively.”

Religion

Where Reason Ends and Faith Begins (TM Luhrmann, NYT)– “FAITH asks people to consider that the evidence of their senses is wrong. In various ways, and in varying degrees, faith asks that people believe that their minds are not always private; that persons are not always visible; that unseen presences should alter your emotions and direct your behavior; that reality is good and justice triumphant. These are fantastic claims, and the fact of their improbability is not lost on those who accept them.”

Politics

Elizabeth Warren’s 11 commandments for progressives show Democrats don’t disagree on much (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)–

  1. We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”
  2. “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.”
  3. “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.”
  4. “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”
  5. “We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.”
  6. “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.”
  7. “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.”
  8. “We believe—I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work.”
  9. “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.”
  10. “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.”
  11. “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!”

Corporations are people.  So what if people were corporations? (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)– “If companies are claiming the rights and privileges of people, maybe people should start claiming the rights and privileges of corporations. Rights harmonization, in other words, should flow in both directions, since we’re now all indistinguishable, equally protected“persons” — in the court’s eyes, anyway.”

A Different Idea of Our Declaration (Gordon S. Wood, NYRB)– “Jefferson’s notion of equality in fact went well beyond the political equality that Allen emphasizes. Jefferson believed that everyone, including the humblest of black slaves, had this moral sense, this capacity to feel affection toward his or her fellow human beings. This belief, stronger in Jefferson than in any other of the revolutionaries, is what has made him, a slaveholding aristocrat, the perennial spokesman for America’s democracy. Even as they differ on the meaning of equality, however, both Jefferson and Allen agree on one central point. Democracy requires that at some basic level everyone in a society must be considered the same.”

End Partisan Primaries, Save America (Charles Schumer, NYT)– “We need a national movement to adopt the “top-two” primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff. This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.”

The Public Lightens Up about Weed (Juliet Lapidos, NYT)

How Did the GOP Turn into a Bunch of Clowns? (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)

The Gaza Crisis

Are the Media Reporting the Gaza War Fairly? (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “If Israel is losing the propaganda war, it’s because propaganda can only take you so far when the facts are telling a story you’d rather people didn’t hear.Social media has something to do with it, but it’s still traditional media that show the largest numbers of people what’s going on. And when you have a Palestinian death toll that now exceeds 500 and is going nowhere but up while the numbers of Israeli civilians who have died is still in the single digits, you just aren’t going to be able to spin a story of equal suffering and blame. It’s as though Hamas said, “I dare you to kill those people,” and Israel replied, “You got it,” then turned to the rest of the world and said, “Hey, what do you want — he dared me!””

Who Bears More Responsibility for the War in Gaza? (John Judis, The New Republic)– “Israel is one of the world’s last colonial powers, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are its unruly subjects. Like many past anti-colonial movements, Hamas and Fatah are deeply flawed and have sometimes poorly represented their peoples, and sometimes unnecessarily provoked the Israelis and used tactics that violate the rules of war. But the Israeli government has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to rule harshly over its subjects, while maintaining a ruinous blockade on Gaza. That’s the historical backdrop to the events now taking place.”

Wild speculation on a highly controversial subject (The Yorkshire Ranter)

MH17, Iraq, Gaza and the deadly verbal dance around killing people (Annabelle Lukin, The Conversation)– “The global outrage over the killing of 298 civilians on flight MH17, apparently by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels, is deafening. But the killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops in the Gaza strip – now at a figure well beyond the death toll in the fields of the Ukraine – just doesn’t seem to get people as hot and bothered.  Dead Palestinian children are no less dead than dead Dutch, Malaysian or Australian children. They are equally killed – murdered – by missiles made and sold by war profiteers.  If we can’t condemn all killing, then our hand-wringing over the deaths of the MH17 passengers is hypocritical. We are no better than Putin.”

God’s Foreign Policy (Andrew Sullivan, The Dish)– “What’s absurd is the lockstep support for anything Israel might do in the United States. It’s the only country which, in a conflict with a US administration, will have Congressional Republicans and Democrats backing a foreign government over their own – and being rewarded for it in terms of money and votes. It’s the only country in which a foreign leader can address the US Congress as a rebuke to the US president – and get a standing ovation. It’s the only foreign country that receives $3 billion in aid and still gets to dress down the US president in the White House itself.”

Why the US has the most pro-Israel foreign policy in the world (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)

Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment is Grotesque but not Original (Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept)– “One can say many things about a military operation that results in more than 75 percent of the dead being civilians, many of them children, aimed at a population trapped in a tiny area with no escape. The claim that there is no intent to kill civilians but rather an intent to protect them is most assuredly not among them. Even stalwart Israel supporter Thomas Friedman has previously acknowledged that Israeli assaults on Lebanon, and possibly in Gaza, are intended ”to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties” because “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians” (which, to the extent it exists, is the classic definition of “terrorism”). The most generous claim one can make about what Israel is now doing in Gaza is that it is driven by complete recklessness toward the civilian population it is massacring, a form of intent under centuries of well-settled western law.”

Mormonism

A Bird in Hand is Worth Two in the Bush (Kimberly, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “So, I propose that we start treating the people who are actually warming the pews as valued community participants, instead of perpetuating behaviors that alienate these members, including the coarse injunction to “just leave”, which is hardly the missionary perspective Christ embodied.   If we note that only 30% of LDS members actually attend church, it might be a better choice to value the fact they are invested enough to be there, regardless of political leanings, doubts, personal tragedies, struggles with doctrine, or even activists who are inspired to ask their leaders for revelation pertinent to modern days.”

A Lost & Tired Generation (Sara Katherine Staheli Hanks, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

The challenge of ‘hastening the work’ in the UK (Aaron R., By Common Consent)– “The church is not growing in the UK. Baptisms are slowing and the younger generation – those raised in the church here – are not staying. The converts of the 70s-80s are still running the church but are now less socially tied to it. More than all of this, the old guard are carrying the weight of the unfulfilled promise of eternal families to mundane services every week; and that is not sustainable.”

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