Volume 3.34 (Aug 18-24)

Pick of the WeekWhere Online Social Liberalism Lost the Script (Freddie DeBoer, The Dish)


America in Decay: The Sources of Political Dysfunction (Francis Fukuyama, Foreign Affairs)

Breaking Out of the Party Box (Arthur C. Brooks, NYT)– “Scrambling the conventional categories would not merely shift electoral dynamics. It would improve our country. More trait-trespassing politicians would give all citizens the competition of ideas we deserve. Because of the lack of overlapping values between the parties today, most people have effectively one choice when it comes time to vote. Often, we just hold our noses and pull the lever. That makes politics about as edifying as shopping at a Soviet-era supermarket. Wouldn’t we all like some choice?”

Greenwald Derangement Syndrome and Political Mind Reading (Freddie DeBoer, The Dish)– “My response to the claim that Edward Snowden is a libertarian is simple: I don’t care. At all. It’s simply immaterial to me. I have no particular interest in his broader ideological or political beliefs. Snowden is not a candidate for President or Congress. He’s not my political czar or my personal friend. What has distinguished Snowden has been his actions, the action of releasing a small portion of a vast trove of secret government documents to the public, in order to reveal to us the extent to which our national security system has trod on our rights and on our freedom. It is of little consequence to me whether he believes in socialism or fascism or anything in between, so long as the fruits of his efforts leave us more informed and better able to at least understand how the military state has harmed us. I don’t know why that indifference to his broader politics would be surprising to anyone. I respect and value his actions, and I feel that we owe him a great debt. If he proposes political ideas that I find immoral or unwise, I will say so. There is no contradiction there.”


Global Warming is Just One of the Many Environmental Threats that Demand our Attention (Amartya Sen, New Republic)


The Enclosure of the American Mind (Anthony Grafton, NYT)– “Much of his dystopian description rings true. American universities spout endless, sickening self-praise. Professors are chosen for their specialized knowledge and receive no serious instruction in the art of teaching. As each field of study becomes denser with argument and discovery, its practitioners find it harder to offer broad courses. Students have complained for years that career services offices point them in only two or three very practical directions.  Above all, many students suffer from the relentless anxiety, the sense of exhaustion and anomie, that their hyperactivity generates and that Deresiewicz powerfully evokes. No wonder, then, that when he sketched this indictment in an essay in The American Scholar, his text went viral. Many students have contacted him to confirm his diagnosis. Some of my students tell me that they still remember exactly where they were when they read his sharp words. Anyone who cares about American higher education should ponder this book.”

Foreign Affairs

Israel is Singled Out by Israel’s Defenders (Freddie DeBoer, The Dish)– “One of the strangest and most fundamentally disingenuous lines of criticism used toattack critics of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine is that we are “singling Israel out,” that we pay special attention to Israel in a world of bad actors, and that this is indicative of obsession and, of course, anti-Semitism. The accusation is illegitimate on its face; America’s relationship to Israel, in terms of monetary aid, military aid, cooperation between intelligence services, and diplomatic protection at the UN and elsewhere, is unlike any other in the world. Read The Intercept’s exhaustive reportingon the incredible degree to which the United States supports Israel’s government and military. There is no relationship in American diplomacy –none– that is comparable to that between the United States and Israel. It is a wholly unique connection, unique in the depth of our support and in how unconditional that support is. The incredibly powerful Israeli lobby in American politics, which has earned very close to unanimous support for the Israeli government in Congress, has singled out Israel through those efforts. That’s just reality.”

Palestinians Live What Israelis Fear (Freddie DeBoer, The Dish)– “They are a record of seemingly reasonable people who have completely lost track of basic moral reasoning. And that represents itself nowhere more consistently or powerfully than here: treating what could possibly happen to Israelis as more important than whatalready is happening to Palestinians. It’s such a profoundly bizarre way to think, that only this maddening issue could bring it about.”

Why Jews are Worried (Deborah Lipstadt, NYT)– “The rationales — “it’s just rhetoric,” “it’s just Muslims” — bother me almost as much as the outrages. Instead of explaining away these actions, cultural, religious and academic leaders in all the countries where these events have occurred should be shaken to the core, not just about the safety of their Jewish neighbors, but about the future of the seemingly liberal, enlightened societies they belong to”

The Making of Vladimir Putin (Strobe Talbott, Politico)

Ferguson and Race

Shared Vision, Varying Styles (Peter Baker and Matt Apuzzo, NYT)

White political domination in Ferguson is doomed (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)

What would federal prosecutors have to prove in the Michael Brown shooting? (Paul Cassell, WaPo)

Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control — But They Don’t, Of Course (Alec MacGillis, New Republic)

Ferguson, Watts, and a Dream Deferred (Thomas B. Edsall, NYT)

Half of black men in the US have been arrested by age 23 (Dylan Matthews, Vox)

America’s Racial Divide, Charted (Neil Irwin, Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz, The Upshot)

Black students in Ferguson are more likely to be suspended and arrested (Libby Nelson, Vox)

How for-profit policing led to racial disparities in Ferguson (German Lopez, Vox)

The cold, hard cash at the heart of Ferguson’s out-of-control justice system (German Lopez, Vox)

My white Mormon feelings matter most (Winterbuzz, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “The harsh reality for all of us is that due to systemic and structural set ups that were instituted long before our time, we are all racist, even if we don’t want to be. We are all affected by white supremacy and there’s a population that benefits from it and populations that are oppressed by it. Study after study after study are showing subconscious racial discriminations that are gifted to us by our culture.”

White-on-white murder in America is out of control (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)– “Yet the disturbing truth, according to the FBI’s most recent homicide statistics, is that the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of white-on-white crime. Back in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, a staggering 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.  This is not to say that white people are inherently prone to violence. Most whites, obviously, manage to get through life without murdering anyone. And there are many countries full of white people — Norway, Iceland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — where white people murder each other at a much lower rate than you see here in the United States. On the other hand, although people often see criminal behavior as a symptom of poverty, the quantity of murder committed by white people specifically in the United States casts some doubt on this. Per capita GDP is considerably higher here than in France — and the white population in America is considerably richer than the national average — and yet we have more white murderers.”

Reparations for Ferguson (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “Among the many relevant facts for any African-American negotiating their relationship with the police the following stands out: The police departments of America are endowed by the state with dominion over your body. This summer in Ferguson and Staten Island we have seen that dominion employed to the maximum ends—destruction of the body. This is neither new nor extraordinary. It does not matter if the destruction of your body was an overreaction. It does not matter if the destruction of your body resulted from a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction of your body springs from foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and it can be be destroyed. Protect the home of your mother and your body can be destroyed. Visit the home of your young daughter and your body will be destroyed. The destroyers of your body will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.   It will not do to point out the rarity of the destruction of your body by the people whom you pay to protect it. As Gene Demby has noted, destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. All of this is old for black people. No one is held accountable. The body of Michael Brown was left in the middle of the street for four hours. It can not be expected that anyone will be held accountable.”

How Ferguson Highlights the Danger of For-Profit Policing (Jordan Weissmann, Slate Moneybox)

I’m Polite, Middle-Class and Harassed By Police.  Here’s Why (Andrea Cambron, American Prospect)

The Ferguson Police Department’s Top 10 Tips for Protester Relations (Paul Waldman, American Prospect)– “4. Don’t forget to position snipers with their guns trained on the crowd. That gives protesters a gentle reminder that remaining quiet and polite is the best way to avoid getting a high-velocity bullet through your skull, which, let’s face it, nobody really wants.  ”

Nobody Knows How Many Americans Police Kill Every Year (Reuben Fischer-Baum, FiveThirtyEight)

We Made Police Misconduct Inevitable (Freddie DeBoer, The Dish)– “I don’t want to oversell this; certainly, we’ve been living in a culture of deference towards police for far longer. But as we did with the presidency, the military, the intelligence services, and soldiers, we responded to 9/11 by buffeting our police officers with obsequious respect and endless displays of extreme gratitude. We feted them at football games and through parades in their honor. We plastered stickers celebrating them on our cars. We exhorted each other to “thank a first responder today.” We set about to create a culture of unwavering, unquestioning, credulous support for our police, and that has everything to do with today’s problems.  None of this should be surprising. In times of crisis, people often retreat to militarism, nationalism, and extreme respect for authority. This is part of why an aggressive foreign policy is so counterproductive; every time we rattle our saber at Iran, for example, we empower the theocracy and the establishment government and hurt the resistance. Our showy disdain for Russia, the way we layer disrespect on their displays of national pride and celebrations of their history– like we did during Sochi– only causes them to embrace Putin and his narrative more. You might find that foolish, but we did the exact same, affixing flags to our cars and writing our national security state a blank check in the form of the PATRIOT Act and similar legislation. And we told the cops, more or less explicitly: you can do whatever you want. The results are unsurprising.”

Surveillance/Civil Liberties/Technology

Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read? (Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept)

The Big Picture

Bank of America Settles for $17 Billion- and It Still Feels Like Wall Street Got Away with Murder (Jordan Weissmann, Slate Moneybox)


A Modest Proposal for BYU-friendly “gay-marriage” cards (Hermia Lyly, Young Mormon Feminists)

Putting Eternal Salvation in the Hands of 19-Year Old Missionaries (Andrea Bennett and Kim Fu, Atlantic Monthly)

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