Volume 3.33 (August 11-17)

Picks of the WeekWorking Anything but a 9 to 5 (Jodi Kantor, NYT)

The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson (Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept)

Gaming is not the most important thing in my life (Ben Kuchera, Polygon)– Perfect piece for the father-gamers out there.


Where We Came From, State by State (The Upshot)– Great graphics on this story.

Where goes the neighborhood? (EJ Dionne, WaPo)

Is Summer Different Now? (The Upshot)

Mapping Migration in the United States (David Leonhardt, NYT)

I Do, I Do (Edmund White, NYRB)– “On the last page of Redeeming the Dream, we are told that Americans are accepting “gays and lesbians…as normal, loving, decent members of our lives and our communities.” I shouldn’t quibble, but as a gay man in his seventies I don’t quite recognize in that description most of the flamboyant, creative, edgy, promiscuous, deeply urban gays I have known. Kenji Yoshino, a law professor, wrote a book calledCovering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights in which “covering” is seen as downplaying a discordant trait in order to blend into the mainstream. It seems to me that gays are in danger of “covering” in order to obtain the permission to marry. Perhaps that’s a small enough price. I can’t decide.”


The South’s Lesson for the Tea Party (Curtis Wilkie, NYT)– “The movement’s success, with its dangerous froth of anti-Washington posturing and barely concealed racial animus, raises an important question for Southern voters: Will they remember their history well enough to reject the siren song of nativism and populism that has won over the region so often before?”

Can the GOP Ever Attract Black Voters? (Jelani Cobb, NYT)

Foreign Affairs

How Israel got American weapons behind Obama’s back (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)

The Liberal Zionists (Jonathan Freedland, NYRB)

How America lost the Middle East (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)– “The problem isn’t that America has gotten weaker. It’s that the Middle East has changed.  When the Middle East’s biggest problems were about conflict between formal governments, the United States had a lot more influence. But today, the Middle East is defined by a shifting, impossibly complicated web of ethno-religious tension, weak and failed states, and ascendant terrorist organizations. The collapse of central governments and rise of powerful non-state actors breed problems that foreign powers, even the world’s only superpower, simply cannot address.”


The data on white anxiety over Hispanic immigration (Scott Clement, Wonkblog)– ““Americans think of immigration in an ethnically specific way at this point,”Nicholas Valentino, a political scientist at the University of Michigan who studied the impact of news coverage on immigration attitudes, said in an interview. “They think of immigrants as Latino. Latinos trigger an anxiety in some Americans that other ethnic groups simply do not trigger. It changes both attitudes and behaviors on immigration policy.””


Teaching is Not a Business (David Kirp, NYT)– “While these reformers talk a lot about markets and competition, the essence of a good education — bringing together talented teachers, engaged students and a challenging curriculum — goes undiscussed.  Every successful educational initiative of which I’m aware aims at strengthening personal bonds by building strong systems of support in the schools. The best preschools create intimate worlds where students become explorers and attentive adults are close at hand.”

The Hi-Tech Mess of Higher Education (David Bromwich, NYRB)


How we’d cover Ferguson if it happened in another country (Max Fisher, Vox)

When police departments don’t look like the cities they’re meant to protect (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)– “”It’s sad,” someone commented to me yesterday about Ferguson, “that we don’t see this kind of community anger every time a child dies” — as if there were some equivalence between one black teen shooting another, and one black teen shot by a law enforcement officer. This misses the deeper grievance. Ferguson isn’t merely reacting to the shooting of Michael Brown; it’s reacting to the shooting of Michael Brown by someone who represents an institution of power that’s supposed to protect the public.”

If You are Black or Brown in America, Your Parents’ Warnings Can’t Keep You Safe (Eesha Pandit, American Prospect)

A movement grows in Ferguson (Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker)– “More than one person in the streets of Ferguson has compared what is happening here to the chaotic days of the Birmingham desegregation campaign in 1963. And, like that struggle, the local authorities, long immune to public sentiment, were incapable of understanding how their actions reverberated outside the hermetic world where they held sway—how they looked to the world. That incomprehension was the biggest asset the protesters in Birmingham had. Michael Brown was left lying in the street for hours while a traumatized community stood behind police tape in frustration, grief, and shock: an immobile metaphor for everything that was wrong in Ferguson, Missouri.”

White St. Louis Has Some Awful Things to Say About Ferguson (Julia Ioffe, The New Republic)

Ferguson Will Make it Harder for America to Set a Good Example Abroad (Julia Ioffe, The New Republic)

There is Only One Way to Prevent Future Fergusons: End the War on Drugs (John McWhorter, The New Republic)

Those War-Ready Cops in Ferguson are 9/11’s Awful Legacy- And Your Taxes Are Paying for It (Alec MacGillis, The New Republic)

America is Not for Black People (Greg Howard, Deadspin)– “By all accounts, Brown was One Of The Good Ones. But laying all this out, explaining all the ways in which he didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street, is in itself disgraceful. Arguing whether Brown was a good kid or not is functionally arguing over whether he specifically deserved to die, a way of acknowledging that some black men ought to be executed.  To even acknowledge this line of debate is to start a larger argument about the worth, the very personhood, of a black man in America. It’s to engage in a cost-benefit analysis, weigh probabilities, and gauge the precise odds that Brown’s life was worth nothing against the threat he posed to the life of the man who killed him. It’s to deny that there are structural reasons why Brown was shot dead while James Eagan Holmes—who on July 20, 2012, walked into a movie theater and fired rounds into an audience, killing 12 and wounding 70 more—was taken alive.  To ascribe this entirely to contempt for black men is to miss an essential variable, though—a very real, American fear of them. They—we—are inexplicably seen as a millions-strong army of potential killers, capable and cold enough that any single one could be a threat to a trained police officer in a bulletproof vest. There are reasons why white gun’s rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying children’s toys. Guns aren’t for black people, either.”

In Defense of the Ferguson Riots (Robert Stephens II, Jacobin)– “The crowd was not irrational and apolitical. They were attempting to use this opportunity to address their broader political needs. They knew that intraracial violence within the community was also an issue, and that in most cases the perpetrators of violence are the communities’ own children, cousins, friends, and neighbors. Though many claim that black people don’t care about violence within our communities, the crowd’s calls for gang unity demonstrate that anti-police uprisings provide unique opportunities to unite people in ways that seek to resolve long-term issues like gang violence.”

The police are the issue in Ferguson, not Michael Brown’s character (Ezra Klein, Vox)– “This case is not about whether Michael Brown was One Of The Good Ones. It’s not even about whether he robbed a convenience store. The penalty for stealing cigars from a convenience store is not death. This case is about whether Wilson was legally justified in shooting Michael Brown.  It is a powerful thing to give some men and women guns and charge them with protecting the peace. It is a powerful thing because it can so easily, and so quickly, become a dangerous thing. As a society, we strictly regulate when police officers can use deadly force. The question here is whether those rules were followed, not what kind of kid Michael Brown was.”

A nation of Fergusons: Why America’s police forces look like invading armies (Amanda Taub, Vox)– “Although shocking, what is happening in Ferguson is merely a particularly severe example of a much broader and long-running phenomenon: the militarization of police weaponry and tactics in the US. In part thanks to federal programs that provide military equipment to local police (though not military training), and encourage its use as part of ordinary law enforcement, police are increasingly using SWAT-style tactics in routine policing. However, experts say, this phenomenon is extremely dangerous, and can make otherwise peaceful situations dangerous — as police appear to have done in Ferguson.”

Police are more likely to use force against protesters when black people are protesting (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)

The Front Lines of Ferguson (Rembert Browne, Grantland)– Great on-the-ground, narrative take on the story of the week.

It’s not just Ferguson: America’s criminal justice system is racist (Ezra Klein, Vox)– “But the ACLU did discover something worth knowing: after aggregating the reports and data on SWAT raids they could find, they found that the militarized police operations were overwhelmingly aimed at minorities. “Overall, 42 percent of people impacted by a SWAT deployment to execute a search warrant were Black and 12 percent were Latino. This means that of the people impacted by deployments for warrants, at least 54 percent were minorities.” (For comparison, 72 percent of Americans identified as white in 2010.) The feel of the police presence is much more militarized in minority communities than white communities.”

Tear gas is banned in international warfare– and in use in Ferguson, MO (Sarah Kliff, Vox)

Enough is enough in Ferguson (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)

Black People Are Not Ignoring ‘Black on Black’ Crime (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “It is not “black on black crime” that is background noise in America, but the pleas of black people.  There is a pattern here, but it isn’t the one Eugene Robinson (for whom I have a great respect) thinks. The pattern is the transmutation of black protest into moral hectoring of black people.”


The Most Wanted Man in the World (Wired)– Great interview and profile of Edward Snowden


The surprising link between lead and teen pregnancy (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)

Why most of the people Ebola kills never contract it (Amanda Taub, Vox)– “New, worrying information from Sierra Leone suggests that damage from the disease may go far beyond deaths from the Ebola virus itself. Rather, Ebola is claiming more victims by damaging already-weak local health systems and their ability to respond to other medical problems, from malaria to emergency c-sections. The Ebola-driven rise in deaths from those other maladies may outpace the deaths from Ebola itself.”

A $10,169 blood test is everything wrong with American health care (Sarah Kliff, Vox)

The Science Behind Suicide Contagion (Margot Sanger-Katz, The Upshot)


Visible Women (Melissa Inouye, Peculiar People)– “I can see how someone looking in from the outside could get the impression that women are not respected within Mormonism because the markers of women’s spiritual authority are subtle and often invisible in terms of formal church structure. An investigator who walks in to a Mormon congregation on Sunday sees a row of older men sitting on the stand and a group of younger men administering religious rites. To this outside observer, neither the formal leadership of the Relief Society president nor the informal influence of women within the community are immediately apparent.  And indeed, Mormon women who live in countries and regions where women are assumed to be inferior to men are not respected as spiritually equal to men, even by themselves. Church lessons and talks on marital companionship can only make so much headway against this powerful cultural current. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, the deeply patriarchal culture dictates that women do most of the everyday chores, defer to their husbands on decisions like whether to become pregnant or what to name their child, and generally act as servants to the men of the family.”

The Hypothetical ‘Missionary Library’ (Ben Spackman, Times and Seasons)

Salt Lake City, We Have a Problem (Dave Banack, Times and Seasons)– “It has always been the case that some missionaries “come home early,” as the gentle phrasing goes. It turns out that more missionaries are coming home early than ever before. The percentage is now into the double-digits, and it turns out the folks in Salt Lake City are already well aware that we have a problem. This is based on information quietly passed down the priesthood chain, coupled with an urgent request to extend support and guidance to our young men and women as they prepare for and depart on LDS missions. So the leadership recognizes there is a problem and, surprisingly, the young returning missionaries are not being blamed. But acknowledging a problem is only the first step. What is going on and what can be done to improve things? How can we fix the problem?”

Mormon apostle: ‘Disciples of the Lord are defenders of marriage’ (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “I agree with much of what Elder Nelson said about marriage in general. It is the foundation of a happy and enduring family life. It’s a partnership of shared goals, mutual loyalty, and the cultivation of each individual’s gifts. The family can be eternal.  Yes to all those things.  But I cannot agree with his unyielding determination to restrict the institution of marriage to a man and a woman only.   Nor can I abide the us-versus-them mentality that I sense here, pitting LDS Church members as sacred remnants in a world gone bad. Elder Nelson even goes so far as to quote Paul about the last days in which how blasphemers, lovers of pleasure, disobedient boasters, and the prideful will appear to carry the moment while lovers of Jesus Christ suffer persecution.”

A Disciple of the Lord (Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “I am a disciple of the Lord. I believe a disciple of the Lord seeks to be a conduit for God’s love for all of his people. God’s love is everlasting and unbound, and I believe it is my God-given responsibility to show every man, woman, and child, be they gay or straight, black or white or brown that they are a precious child of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother and they deserve everlasting and boundless love, regardless of who they love or the choices they make. This is the discipleship I’ve chosen for myself—to freely love *all* of God’s children and to stand in solidarity with them as they attain the full measure of their creation and joy.”

Just HOW do Mormon women hold the priesthood? (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

When the Levee Breaks (Lori Burkman, Rational Faiths)


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