Volume 3.39 (Sept 22-28)

Pick of the WeekIf You Think Military Intervention is Unjustified Now, Wait Until You See the Instability It Will Cause (Matt Reimann, McSweeney’s)– “If I could avoid this war, I would. However, the spreading unrest in the region is too great to ignore, having been copiously fueled by the policies of bold leaders before me. If it wasn’t for the meddlesome military action of my predecessors, I would not be speaking to you today. Many men have come before me to intervene in a place of which they knew very little to inflict trauma, cripple economic advancement, and uproot society as a whole. I merely continue a tradition for which numerous leaders deserve credit.  If it weren’t for these steadfast leaders, the children who endured the horrors of yesterday’s wars would never have become today’s international crises. We too must assure that today’s youth have the tools and experience necessary to become full, global threats when they grow to ripe, gun-firing age.”

The Poverty of Culture (Jonah Birch and Paul Heideman, Socialist Worker)– “This is ironic, because every aspect of that narrative has been subjected to withering criticism by social scientists over the last thirty years. It is not simply that the aspects of Black culture that the narrative identifies have been shaped by structural forces like racism; for the most part, they either don’t exist at all, or else are reflective of norms and values that are commonplace in the United States–and are not, therefore, unique features of the “Black community.” Every component of the culture of poverty narrative is a phantasm, a projection of racial fantasies on to the culture of African Americans, which has for several centuries now served as the screen on which the national unconscious plays out.  Put more bluntly, they are lies.”

The Big Picture

Crowding children out of government budgets (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)– “Entitlements that benefit older Americans increasingly dominate the U.S. budget, and not just because the population of older people is increasing. We’re spending way more per elderly person, too. Per capita federal outlays on children rose by about $4,600 in the last half-century (from $270 in 1960 to $4,894 in 2011, after adjusting for inflation); during the same period, per capita outlays on the elderly rose by about $24,000 (from $4,000 to $27,975). The chasm between per capita funding received by seniors — even after taking into account all the taxes they have paid — and children looks likely to widen substantially, given the way Social Security, Medicare and child program benefits are structured.”

Why Poor Students Struggle (Vicki Madden, NYT)– “As the income gap widens and hardens, changing class means a bigger difference between where you came from and where you are going. Teachers like me can help prepare students academically for college work. College counselors can help with the choices, the federal financial aid application and all the bureaucratic details. But how can we help our students prepare for the tug of war in their souls?”

Eric Holder’s Biggest Failure (Danny Vinik, New Republic)– “Prosecuting the banks with their well-funded legal teams for criminal crimes wouldn’t have been easy. But the DOJ has a lot of legal firepower as well. Holder simply never tried to use it to hold Wall Street executives accountable. That is a major blemish on Holder’s record. Bankers sleep easier at night thanks to his decisions. And when the next financial crisis hitsand when we discover that financial fraud was a major cause of itHolder will deserve blame as well.”

This depressing chart shows that the rich aren’t just grabbing a bigger slice of the income pie — they’re taking all of it (Christopher Ingraham, WaPo)

Whistleblower’s tapes suggest the Fed was protecting Goldman Sachs from the inside (Dylan Mathews, Vox)

‘Poverty is fucking expensive’ (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)

Marriage Rates Keep Falling, as Money Concerns Rise (Claire Cain Miller, The Upshot)– “Though marriage was once a steppingstone to economic stability, young adults now see financial stability as a prerequisite for marriage. More than a quarter of those who say they want to marry someday say they haven’t yet because they are not financially prepared, according to Pew.“If you go back a generation or two, couples would literally take the plunge together and build up their finances and nest eggs together,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew. “Now it seems to be this attitude among young adults to build up households before they get married.”  In other words, marriage has gone from being a way that people pulled their lives together to something they agree to once they have already done that independently.”

People think CEO pay is out of control.  The truth is much worse than they know. (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)

CEO worker pay

Ferguson

City Coffers, Not Police Budgets, Hit Hard by High Cost of Brutality (Rachel M. Cohen, The American Prospect)

Politics

North Carolina, in Political Flux, Battles for Its Identity (Richard Faussett, NYT)

Why government websites are terrible and how to fix them (Anna North, NYT)

Anatomy of a Non-Denial Denial (Dan Froomkin, The Intercept)– “The basic idea is that when you or your organization are accused of doing something that you did in fact do, you respond with what sounds like a denial, but really isn’t.  You issue a very narrowly-crafted denial involving a lot of hairsplitting, while avoiding the central claim. Or you dismiss the accusation as unworthy of response. Or you deny something else: You raise a straw man accusation and deny that; or – possibly best yet — you take advantage of a poorly worded question.  The press typically interprets it as a denial, and since you are a credible figure, it moves on.  And if the accusation against you is ever irrefutably proven, then you point out that you never really denied it. Since you didn’t technically lie, the press, again, moves on.”

Foreign Affairs

An Israel equal for all, Jewish or not (Patricia Marks Greenfield, WaPo)– “What was necessary for Israel after the Holocaust is no longer necessary and has even become counterproductive. As long as being Jewish holds such a preeminent place in Israel, then Muslim and Christian Arabs will always be second-class citizens, vulnerable to discrimination in housing, employment, education and other areas. Nor can Ethiopian citizens be truly equal so long as their Jewishness and religious heritage are called into question by powerful religious authorities.”

Why the Islamic State is Not Really Islamic (Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept)– “In the eyes of most Muslims the Islamic State is as “Islamic” as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is “Democratic”. The Open Letter to Baghdadi is simply another example of the degree to which this violent, utopian project has been rejected by a broad consensus of Muslims around the world. From a Western perspective, it’s important to not play into ISIS’s hands by giving them the type of religious or political legitimacy they crave but otherwise do not possess.  At the end of the day Islam is what its adherents say it is, and if by and large they deem the “Islamic State” to be outside of the Islamic tradition it would be foolish and counterproductive to argue otherwise. In order to effectively fight this group, it’s important to amplify the voices of the vast majority of Muslims who are condemning them, instead of listening to those on both sides who insist that this is at heart a conflict between Islam and the West.”

Culture

Who Killed Adulthood? (Sady Doyle, In These Times)– “Under Western patriarchy, femininity has been construed as a perpetual childhood. The idea goes back to Victorian ideals of True Womanhood, but it’s been perpetuated through the ages, from Betty Crocker housewives to Barely Legal porn: “Ideal” women, which is to say white and wealthy ones, were supposedly delicate, emotional, innocent. Like children, they cried easily, were effusive about the things they liked, had naive ideas about the world. Like children, they could not work or vote; we couldn’t be entrusted with such heavy adult responsibilities. They were financially and physically dependent upon adult caretakers, namely fathers or husbands. They needed protection; they were charged with obedience. They got allowances, and when they were good girls, presents. Oh, gosh, a dishwasher? All for me?! Meanwhile, women excluded from this “ideal”—women of color and working-class women, who actually did have to work, and deal with the world’s harsher realities—were cast as “unfeminine,” and therefore appropriate targets for male sexual predation and exploitation.Much of feminism, then, has been about insisting that women can be adults, able to shoulder the same burdens as those forbidding, grey-faced patriarchs. It’s been about insisting that women can and should do the hard stuff: Get full educations, vote, work, make tough choices and wrangle with difficult ideas, become politicians and bosses.  By contrast, for privileged white men, “adult responsibility” seems to feel like a grim inevitability, the death of boyhood fun and games.”

Mormonism

You Never Know (Rebecca J, By Common Consent)– “I would have liked this video very much except for one thing: the moral of the story as Gordon B. Hinckley tells it does not match the story the video tells. It’s true that many people—okay, let’s just say “women,” since Pres. Hinckley’s remarks were taken from his 2003 talk “To the Women of the Church,” and male characters in this video have a combined screen presence time of about one and a half seconds—feel like failures because they do not accomplish everything they set out to do, or they don’t do as well as they’d like. They are fixated on what they haven’t done and don’t realize the good they have done. But I doubt very much our heroine in this video is crying at the end because she feels like a failure. I would bet cash money that she’s crying because she had been looking forward to having a night out with her friend and her plans were spoiled because she bit off more than she could chew. She didn’t fail at anything except the one thing she was supposed to do for herself.”

You Never Know: A Single Woman’s Perspective (McSara, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “No, I don’t have a child’s science project that suddenly has to get immediately done or a child that wants cereal instead of eggs, or the neighbor who is in childcare jam or the ward member who needs the meal delivered (oh wait, yes I do). Instead, I have a client who comes to me with a last minute project that, whoops, they forgot to tell me about a week or month ago and now needs to be done right away or they lose the deal. Or I have a finicky client who calls me about minutiae that I repeatedly remind them, very pleasantly, they can find online, all while still assisting them. Or a coworker falls sick and I suddenly need to do their work too. And similar to the video, sometimes a family in the ward needs a meal brought to them. More often than I care to think about, they all happen in the same day, when I’m already at peak capacity and am already planning to work late to get my normal work done. Coupled with these work tasks, I am the sole person for maintaining my home and all that entails. I volunteer so that I can help build the community in which I reside. I try to be a champion for my friends and my family as they go through their own challenges. I try to magnify my callings in the Church. And I’m routinely made to feel (and sometimes told) that my singleness is a thing that can, and should be fixed, so I am expected to carve out time to date and to participate in social activities that may put me into contact with potential eternal companions. I do all of these things and yet, the narrative I hear and see is that I am selfish and self-centered and what I do is not enough and that I should do more.”

5 warnings for Mormons from the Denver Snuffer schism (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)

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