Volume 3.36 (Sept 1-7)

Pick(s) of the Week— The Greatest Threat to Our Liberty is Local Governments Run Amok (Franklin Foer, New Republic)– “Centuries ago, in the age of monarchs, the preservation of liberty required constraining the power of the central state. In our era, protecting rights requires the opposite. Only a strong federal government can curb the autocratic tendencies burbling across the country. Libertarians worry about the threat of local tyrants, too, but only abstractly. In practice, they remain so fixated on the perils of Washington that they rigidly insist on devolving power down to states, cities, and townsthe very places where their nightmares are springing to life.”

Welcome Back to School (Shootings) (Rachel Maddux, Matter)– Once the rest of the country catches up to the South’s early start dates (we’re ahead on this, at least), I know it’s only a matter of time before we see the headlines, or the trending topics, or the vague posts of dismay and disgust, or however we get our news now. The summer was a reprieve, but here we are again, seemingly helpless in the face of what by now appears to be as much a feature of the American school year as report cards and field trips and homecoming dances.”


Why Higher Voter Turnout Scares the GOP (David Sirota, In These Times)– “In reality, same-day registration is all about turnout, not partisanship. According to data compiled by the think tank Demos, average voter turnout is more than 10 percent higher in states that allow citizens to register on the same day that they vote. Demos also notes that “four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered same-day registration.””

The Stupidity of Hating Your Senator for Living Where You’ve Sent Her to Work (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “But here’s the thing: As long as we’re going to have a republic in which the seats in our legislature are apportioned geographically, and until we have a full telepresence-based system where all members of Congress appear in the Capitol only in holographic form, our lawmakers are going to have to leave the places they represent and go to Washington in order to do their jobs. And to do those jobs well, it isn’t enough simply to hold on to your homespun values and be guided by the warm light of the people’s faith in you. It also requires things like understanding how laws work, learning about government’s strengths and weaknesses, and grasping the interplay of the various interests that inhabit Washington so you can build coalitions to accomplish important goals.”

Seeking Facts, Justices Settle for What Briefs Tell Them (Adam Liptak, NYT)


The New History Wars (James R. Grossman, NYT)– “The critics are unhappy, perhaps, that a once comforting story has become, in the hands of scholars, more complex, unsettling, provocative and compelling.  And there’s the rub. Fewer and fewer college professors are teaching the United States history our grandparents learned — memorizing a litany of names, dates and facts — and this upsets some people. “College-level work” now requires attention to context, and change over time; includes greater use of primary sources; and reassesses traditional narratives. This is work that requires and builds empathy, an essential aspect of historical thinking.  The educators and historians who worked on the new history framework were right to emphasize historical thinking as an essential aspect of civic culture. Their efforts deserve a spirited debate, one that is always open to revision, rather than ill-informed assumptions or political partisanship.”

So Bill Gates Has this Idea for a History Class… (Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT)

Teach for America has faced criticism for years.  Now it’s listening– and changing (Dana Goldstein, Vox)

The Big Picture

The Top 10 Percent of White Families Own Almost Everything (Matt Bruenig, The American Prospect)

Last year, millions of Americans were hungry.  Then Congress cut food stamps (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)– “Of those very-low-food-security households, 97 percent reported that an adult cut down their meals or skipped meals altogether, and 87 percent said this had happened in at least three months of the year. Two-thirds of respondents said they had not eaten despite being hungry, and 45 percent reported losing weight due to lack of money for food. That comes out to just over 3 million households in which someone was losing weight because they couldn’t eat enough. And 23 percent of very-low-food-security households had an adult who at times went without eating for a full day at a time in 3 or more months last year. That comes out to more than one and a half million households out of that 6.8 million.”

There’s poverty in the UK, but we are better off calling it inequality (John Lanchester, The Guardian)– “I don’t for a second think that inequality is unimportant: rising levels of inequality are going to be the central focus of politics and economics pretty much everywhere in the world for the next decade. But I do think it’s not quite the same thing as what is generally understood by the word poverty. Professionals discussing poverty know perfectly well that what they are talking about is relative poverty; they are fully aware of the nuances. But most of the rest of us aren’t. People look around the UK and just don’t believe in the existence of genuinely poor people.”

America May Have the Worst Hunger Problem of Any Rich Nation (Jordan Weissmann, Moneybox)

The Number of Hungry Americans Has Barely Fallen Since the Recession (Jordan Weissmann, Moneybox)

The End of History (Noam Chomsky, In These Times)– “Arundhati Roy suggests that the “most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times” is the Siachen Glacier, where Indian and Pakistani soldiers have killed each other on the highest battlefield in the world. The glacier is now melting and revealing “thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate” in meaningless conflict. And as the glaciers melt, India and Pakistan face indescribable disaster.”

Where working women are most equal (Niraj Choksi, Wonkblog)

The class war in American politics is over. The rich won (Nick Carnes, Vox)

The human cost of Obama’s delay on immigration action (Dara Lind, Vox)

What Makes People Poor? (Thomas B. Edsall, NYT)– “Despite the conflicting nature of these left and right analyses, there is a strong case to be made that they are, in fact, complementary and that they reinforce each other. What if we put it together this way? Automation, foreign competition and outsourcing lead to a decline in well-paying manufacturing jobs, which, in turn, leads to higher levels of unemployment and diminished upward mobility, which then leads to fewer marriages, a rise in the proportion of nonmarital births, increased withdrawal from the labor force, impermanent cohabitation and a consequent increase in dependence on government support.”

Foreign Affairs

The Dying Russians (Masha Gessen, NYRB)– “The deaths kept piling up. People—men and women—were falling, or perhaps jumping, off trains and out of windows; asphyxiating in country houses with faulty wood stoves or in apartments with jammed front-door locks; getting hit by cars that sped through quiet courtyards or plowed down groups of people on a sidewalk; drowning as a result of diving drunk into a lake or ignoring sea-storm warnings or for no apparent reason; poisoning themselves with too much alcohol, counterfeit alcohol, alcohol substitutes, or drugs; and, finally, dropping dead at absurdly early ages from heart attacks and strokes.”

ISIS is a Disgrace to True Fundamentalism (Slavoj Zizek, NYT)– “Deep in themselves, terrorist fundamentalists also lack true conviction — their violent outbursts are a proof of it. How fragile the belief of a Muslim must be if he feels threatened by a stupid caricature in a low-circulation Danish newspaper. The fundamentalist Islamic terror is not grounded in the terrorists’ conviction of their superiority and in their desire to safeguard their cultural-religious identity from the onslaught of global consumerist civilization.  The problem with terrorist fundamentalists is not that we consider them inferior to us, but, rather, that they themselves secretly consider themselves inferior. This is why our condescending, politically correct assurances that we feel no superiority toward them only makes them more furious and feeds their resentment. The problem is not cultural difference (their effort to preserve their identity), but the opposite fact that they already like us, that, secretly, they have already internalized our standards and measure themselves by them. Paradoxically, what the fundamentalists of ISIS and those like them really lack is precisely a dose of that true conviction of one’s own superiority.”

Police Abuse

The Race Gap in America’s Police Departments (Jeremy Ashkenas and Haeyoun Park, NYT)

Stop saying ‘officer-involved shooting’ (Alex Pareene, The Dish)– ““Officer-involved shooting” absolves the person who actually pulled the trigger of responsibility, turning the shooting into an apparently inevitable act. The officer was just involved!”

The Rise of the SWAT Team in American Policing (Clyde Haberman, NYT)


The Lingering Stain of Slavery’ (The Dish)


On Credibility, Allyship and Who Gets the Benefit of the Doubt (Katie L., Feminist Mormon Housewives)


Volume 3.35 (August 25-31)

Pick(s) of the Week

Does it Help to Know History? (Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker)– “The real sin that the absence of a historical sense encourages is presentism, in the sense of exaggerating our present problems out of all proportion to those that have previously existed. It lies in believing that things are much worse than they have ever been—and, thus, than they really are—or are uniquely threatening rather than familiarly difficult. Every episode becomes an epidemic, every image is turned into a permanent injury, and each crisis is a historical crisis in need of urgent aggressive handling—even if all experience shows that aggressive handling of such situations has in the past, quite often made things worse.”

The Problem with Local Change (Julie Smith, Times & Seasons)”By suggesting that the problem be solved in an ad hoc, local manner, I have denied that there is a systemic problem. If there is a systemic problem, this is the wrong response. Addressing a systemic problem locally denies that it is a systemic problem. ”

Writing Skills

(credit: xkcd)

The Big Picture

The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism (Thomas B. Edsall, NYT)– “Collection companies and the services they offer appeal to politicians and public officials for a number of reasons: they cut government costs, reducing the need to raise taxes; they shift the burden onto offenders, who have little political influence, in part because many of them have lost the right to vote; and it pleases taxpayers who believe that the enforcement of punishment — however obtained — is a crucial dimension to the administration of justice.  As N.P.R. reported in May, services that “were once free, including those that are constitutionally required,” are now frequently billed to offenders: the cost of a public defender, room and board when jailed, probation and parole supervision, electronic monitoring devices, arrest warrants, drug and alcohol testing, and D.N.A. sampling.”

Race and Ferguson

How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops (Erwin Chemerinsky, NYT)

There are Millions of Mike Browns in America (Mona Chalabi, FiveThirtyEight)

Michael Brown’s Unremarkable Humanity (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “The “angelic” standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious “morality” to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of “twice as good” while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community “with rough patches” becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily “black-on-black crime” becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing.”

Ok, fine.  Let’s talk about ‘black-on-black’ violence (Lauren Williams, Vox)– “One of the primary problems with this argument is that “race-on-race” crime is not a phenomenon unique to black Americans. (Jamelle Bouie debunked this myth in the Daily Beast, and my colleague Matt Yglesias recently exposed the scourge of white-on-white murder.)  But even though the term “black-on-black” crime is misleading, this much is true: a disproportionate number of murder victims are black. African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population and 50 percent of homicide victims, according to the FBI’s (imperfect) data. But not only is it unoriginal and transparent to trumpet these stats whenever tough questions about systemic racism arise, it’s also untrue that so-called violence in black communities is being ignored.”

The Fire This Time: America’s Withdrawal from the Fight Against Racism Guarantees More Fergusons (Bob Herbert, The American Prospect)

Are Police Bigoted? (Michael Wines, NYT)– “Researchers have sought reliable data on shootings by police officers for years, and Congress even ordered the Justice Department to provide it, albeit somewhat vaguely, in 1994. But two decades later, there remains no comprehensive survey of police homicides. The even greater number of police shootings that do not kill, but leave suspects injured, sometimes gravely, is another statistical mystery.  Without reliable numbers, the conventional wisdom is little more than speculation.”

How police are racist without even knowing it (German Lopez, Vox)


Migration Isn’t Turning Red States Blue (Harry Enten and Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight)


The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built its Own Secret Google (Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept)


End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email (Clive Thompson, NYT)

How Social Media Silences Debate (Claire Cain Miller, The Upshot)– “And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with. In many cases, people don’t even make that choice for themselves. Last week, Twitter said it would begin showing people tweets even from people they don’t follow if enough other people they follow favorite them. On Monday, Facebook said it would hide stories with certain types of headlines in the news feed. Meanwhile, harassment from online bullies who attack people who express opinions has become a vexing problem for social media sites and their users.”


Why Republicans Can’t Solve Their Problem with Women Voters (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “All of which means that the idea that Republicans are none too friendly to women is constantly reinforced, in ways both substantive and emotional. If you’re a woman, you’re not happy when the Republican party blocks equal pay legislation. But when you then hear some of them try to argue that the wage gap isn’t really a problem in the first place, and maybe you should just be staying at home with your kids anyway, well that’s going to really piss you off. And having a bunch of GOP bros tell you that they’re the real pro-women party because they don’t want people to depend on government isn’t going to go too far to change that.”

The Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion (Emily Bazelon, NYT)


Harvard, Yale and Princeton could all afford to make tuition free (Libby Nelson, Vox)

How to Get Kids to Class (Daniel J. Cardinali, NYT)– “To bridge this divide, our community school model seeks to bring a site coordinator, with training in education or social work, onto the administrative team of every school with a large number of poor kids. That person would be charged with identifying at-risk students and matching them up with services that are available both in the school and the community.”

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges (Richard Perez-Pena, NYT)


Money in the Bank (Dan O’Sullivan)– The economics of pro wrestling.  As a former fan, understanding these kinds of realities is a bit hard to take.

What Amazon Knows– and You Don’t– About the Future of Video Games (Danny Vinik, The New Republic)– “In the U.S., 59 percent of people play them. The average player is 31 years old, and 61 percent of them are under 35. While younger generations are growing up with computers and smartphones, baby boomers and Gen Xers are just becoming comfortable with gaming. But that segment of the market is growing fastand not just among men. In 2013, the number of female gamers older than 50 grew by 32 percent.”


Staff Bathroom (John F., By Common Consent)– A parable.  (Interestingly, the post has been deleted from the site and I had to get it from Google’s cache)

Embracing and magnifying our MBA culture! (Cynthia L., By Common Consent)

3 key messages from Elder Ballard on men, women and Mormon priesthood (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “Here’s what this sounds like to my ears: “Sisters, submit your opinion at times for consideration and then just submit, period, because whatever decision is at hand is not yours to make. Don’t overstep the bounds the priesthood has graciously allowed you.” ”

The Things we Can’t UN-See (Donna Kelly, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Women and the Church– Constructively Engaging the Arguments (James Olsen, Times & Seasons)


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)

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)

Volume 3.32 (August 4-10)

1001 Blistering Future Summers (Climate Central)


Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived? (Robert Draper, NYT)

Revenge of the conservative nerds (Ezra Klein, Vox)– “Its argument isn’t the classically conservative argument that the left is full of nerds and their ambitious, arrogant designs should be mistrusted; it’s that the left is full of faux-nerds who lack scientific training but nevertheless wear glasses — and their ambitious, arrogant designs should be mistrusted. Or, to put it more simply, the problem isn’t nerds so much as liberal poseurs.”

Why Tea Party Members of Congress Act So Darn Crazy— And Liberal Democrats Don’t (Paul Waldman, American Prospect)


What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu? (Gary Gutting, NYT)– Interview with Jonardon Ganeri


If We Want Feminism to Have Real Impact, Then Let’s Stop Teaching So Much Theory (Elizabeth Segran, New Republic)

Men Have Every Right to Complain About Parenting (Rebecca Traister, New Republic) (NOTE: I don’t feel like this title gives a good sense of what this article is really about)– “But what of the two-parent, hetero unions in which men are full-fledged, equally-stressed-out participants? They exist! The fact that we don’t hear very much about themall while hearing lots of valuable stuff from the women who are bearing the brunt of the pressuresmeans that in some way we are reinforcing this unequal set up as a norm, re-affirming an expectation that women, even those who enter socially and professionally equal partnerships, are somehow destined to wind up uniquely over-taxed, fighting the demons of guilt and overwork fundamentally on their own.”

What’s love got to do with it? (Amanda Bennett, WaPo)– “Why does this upset me so? Well, you see, I got married two years ago, a few days shy of my 60th birthday. My friends (and new husband) tell me I still look super awesome, and I can still do a pretty good downward dog. But the inescapable fact is that — under normal circumstances (more about that later) — I am way past reproductive age. I have the hot flashes to prove it. If, as Niemeyer says, the whole point of marriage is not the mere parenting of kids but actual biological reproduction, it is clear to me that he believes that my marriage is invalid. To opponents of gay marriage, marriage is all about breeding. Since my breeding days are over, it looks like, marriage-wise, I should be, too.”

Justices’ Rulings Advance Gays; Women Less So (Adam Liptak, NYT)


Liberals Are Killing Art (Jed Perl, New Republic)– “The erosion of art’s imaginative ground, often blamed on demagogues of the left and the right, is taking place in the very heart of the liberal, educated, cultivated audiencethe audience that arts professionals always imagined they could count on. The whole question is so painful and so difficult that I have frankly hesitated to tackle it. It is relatively easy to point to the deformations of art at the hands of politically correct left-wingers and cheap-shot moralists on the right, as the late Robert Hughes did in the fast-paced, witty series of lectures that he published as Culture of Complaint in 1993. It is far more difficult to explain why people who pride themselves on their carefully reasoned view of the world want to argue that art is not a value in and of itself, but rather a vehicle or a medium or a vessel through which some other human value or values are expressed. That these thoughts are often voiced indirectly makes them no less significant. Indeed, such thoughts may be all the more significant because they are being expressed by critics and scholars who would deny that they are in any way discomfited by the unique powers of the arts. An illiberal view of art is gaining ground, even among the liberal audience. This is one of the essential if largely hidden factors that is undermining faith in our museums, our libraries, our publishing houses, our concert halls, symphony orchestras, and theater and dance troupes.”

The case against time zones: They’re impractical and outdated (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)

This is what it’s like to have HIV in 2014 (German Lopez, Vox)– “There was a consistent theme in these interviews. After people were diagnosed, they quickly learned that proper medication can make the disease less deadly and more difficult to transmit. Indeed, HIV isn’t the death sentence it was in the 1980s and early 1990s. The age-adjusted death rate among people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS dropped by 93 percent between 1987 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A large part of that, the CDC explains, is attributable to the development of highly effective antiretroviral medication.  The big problem for these HIV-positive people instead came through the stigma attached to the disease. Three decades after the rise of HIV terrorized the world, many misunderstandings attached to the disease remain — from misconceptions about whom it affects to confusion about how it’s actually transmitted.”

Foreign Affairs

Gaza: Is Israel Fighting a Just War? (Jeff McMahan, The Prospect)– Highly philosophical and technical take on the subject.

Did Israel violate international law in Gaza? (Amanda Taub, Vox)


Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more (Dara Lind, Vox)


A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion votes cast (Justin Levett, Wonkblog)

Voter Discrimination Just Got Easier (Stephen Wright, NYRB)


A New Report Argues Inequality is Causing Slower Growth.  Here’s Why It Matters. (Neil Irwin, The Upshot)

Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted (Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight)

Can Family Leave Policies Be Too Generous? It Seems So (Claire Cain Miller, The Upshot)– “A well-regarded study of 22 countries by two Cornell University economists found that European countries’ family-friendly policies made it possible for more women to work — but that European women are more likely to be in part-time jobs that do not lead to positions of power. As a result, women in Europe are half as likely as men to be managers, while in the United States women are just as likely to be managers.”


In Good Conscience… (Joe Spencer, Peculiar People)– “What I can’t make sense of is what can be meant by the formula itself. If one decides that certain convictions (or the lack thereof) are sufficient motivation to walk away, I don’t see how I can object. In such a case, one has made an eminently subjective decision the validity of which has no measure apart from the subject’s passion. But the formula regarding good conscience or good faith indicates that the matter has been decided for one. The formula appeals to a set of objective criteria the validity of which is supposed to be publicly available.”