Tom Diaz looks at how fear of terrorism, which is very rare, trumps fear of all too common gun violence.
The next time you play airport security theater — remove shoes, display laptop, toss water bottle — think of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Think of the moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., the citizens in Tucson peaceably assembled to meet with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl killed by gunfire days after coming to Washington with her high school band for President Obama’s second inauguration. ...Since this is Sunday morning, I'll just say... Amen. This is your Read the Whole Thing read of the morning.
Then ponder this: Americans suffer assaults on their privacy — they are groped in public and wiretapped en masse — and surrender their constitutional protections against unwarranted searches in the name of the war on terror, yet they cannot muster the will to protect children from mass murder with military-style weapons. We have spent more than $1 trillion on homeland security since Sept. 11, 2001, yet have withheld annual funding of less than $3 million for research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on gun violence.
Lincoln Caplan reminds us that it's ridiculous to gut the Voting Rights Act in the while so many of those involved in its birth are still with us.
March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday in the annals of the civil rights struggle in America. That day, around 500 people set out to march the 54 miles from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery in support of what would become the Voting Rights Act. ...Kate Murphy visits with Americans who have have taken to trails and highways to walk across the nation.
A state trooper told them they were “an unlawful assembly” and ordered them to disperse. When they did not, they were attacked by about 150 troopers and others who wielded billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people were treated for injuries at a local hospital, including Representative John Lewis, then 25 and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, for a skull fracture.
Rather than walking to demonstrate religious commitment, many dedicate their cross-country walks to a cause recalling Peace Pilgrim (a k a Mildred Norman Ryder), who walked more than 25,000 miles across America from 1953 to 1981 for world peace. Mr. Stalls, for example, walked to benefit the microlending organization Kiva, while Mr. Ilgunas walked the length of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to draw attention to its impact on the environment. ...What cause could get you up and moving for the better part of a year? Think about that, then come inside to continue your journey along the backroads of punditry.
Walks across America tend to end with a baptismal dip in the ocean. “You have no idea the feeling I had putting my feet in the Atlantic waters,” said Richard Noble, who quit his job as a film festival cashier last year to walk 2,700 miles from San Francisco to Jacksonville Beach, Fla., for gay rights. His trip was fully financed by strangers who gave him money, food and shelter en route, as well as donated online through his blog. “You can’t experience that kind of generosity and be the same person you were before,” he said.
Paul Finkleman provides a mini-bio of the little remembered man who thought through some of the rules that, unfortunately, are still so important to us a hundred and fifty years later.
The philosopher and legal scholar Francis Lieber was born in 1798 in Germany, and as a young man was wounded in the final skirmishes of the Napoleonic wars. He emigrated to the United States in 1827, after twice being imprisoned by Prussian authorities for his pro-reform political activities. ...Leiber's writing on guerrilla forces was in many ways more humane than our current attitude, and were written in the midst of a bloody war that took the life of his own son. Your historical read of the morning.
From the start of the war, Lieber was obsessed with the legal parameters of its prosecution. On Aug. 19, 1861, he published an open letter in The New York Times to consider the nature of Confederate prisoners. The issue concerned the treatment of captured Confederates — whether they were soldiers or pirates — and also how captured Union soldiers might be treated. He noted that this was an issue that called for “considerations of law, authority, humanity, [and] wise foresight.” In arguing that traditional rules of war should be applied to prisoners, he asserted that this was not a formal or diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy but was merely “the recognition of reality.”
Paul Krugman puts together a couple of articles to show you what you already knew: conservative punditry is up for sale to the highest bidder. Want RedState founder Josh Trevino and the Heritage Foundation to support an anti-freedom, anti-Israel, anti-capitalism government and attack the candidate trying to bring democracy? Sure thing, just pony up the cash.
Geofferey O'Brien wants you to look down at the bottom of your comment and consider the impact of that little quote you've been carrying around.
What is the use of quotations? They have of, course, their practical applications for after-dinner speakers or for editorialists looking to buttress their arguments. They also make marvelous filler for otherwise uninspired conversations. But the gathering of such fragments responds to a much deeper compulsion. It resonates with the timeless desire to seize on the minimal remnant — the tiniest identifiable gesture — out of which the world could, in a pinch, be reconstructed. Libraries may go under, cultures may go under, but single memorizable bits of rhyme and discourse persist over centuries.A nifty little article, itself containing more than one good quote. Your literary obsession read of the morning.
The New York Times views the change of Obama for America into Organizing for America as a dangerous escalation in the Washington money war.
In Fact, there are no limits, because the group has reorganized as a 501(c)(4), a so-called social welfare group unbound by campaign restrictions. Corporations and billionaires can write checks of any size, aware that they are giving to a group with close ties to the White House, one that is busily promoting President Obama’s agenda. And now that this White House has torn down the last wall between its needs and those of special interests, others in the future will undoubtedly do the same. ...Ross Douthat praises "the Ratzinger Legacy," because, sure the church's reputation and popularity have suffered, but at least they didn't let women into the clubhouse or hold their own responsible for crimes. You knew there had to be someone.
Any corporation with a matter pending before the administration can give lavishly to Organizing for Action as a way of currying favor, knowing that the West Wing will take note. (The group does not have to disclose its donors but says it will, and also plans to reject money from registered lobbyists and PACs.) It is also a way for donors to bypass the limits on giving to the Democratic Party: the new group does similar work, but without the restrictions on donations.
Kathleen Parker shows that yes, it is possible to overreact (and overact) even more than Bob Woodward. What does it mean that one of Woodward's best friends in government had the temerity to (amid a nest of apologies) tell him he was wrong? What does it mean that the press wasn't allowed to stand around the tee with the president and Tiger? Why, it's the coming of state controlled media! Your unintentionally comedic read of the morning.
Leonard Pitts reinforces just how much the Voting Rights Act is not out of date.
Watching media empires built upon appeals to racial resentment, seeing the injustice system wield mass incarceration as a weapon against black men, bearing witness as the first African-American president produced his long form birth certificate, all helped me understand just how silly we were to believe bigotry was done.Margaret Roach puts some extra thought into a purchase that many of us look forward to each year.
So a chill crawled my spine last week as the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could result in gutting the Voting Rights Act. That landmark 1965 legislation gave the ballot to black voters who had previously been denied it by discriminatory laws, economic threats, violence and by registrars who challenged them with nonsense questions like, “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap.”
What could be a greener, more feel-good purchase than seeds? Aren’t the tiny plant embryos, huddled in the suspended animation of dormancy inside a simple paper packet, true innocence incarnate? ...If, like me, you are currently juggling the names of a half dozen carrots and five kinds of potatoes, wondering which variety rates a head start in the greenhouse and which deserve space in the raised beds, give this a read first. Your backyard science read of the morning.
Lately, I’ve needed a new ethical code to guide my seed shopping. I want seed that was raised in conditions like my own — in a low-input system — and if possible, in a geographically similar environment. That way, I’m contributing less to the pollution caused by conventional seed growing, and I am likely to have better growing success.
Evgeney Morozov ponders whether it's possible to out engineer the grim reaper.
...the dominant ideology of Silicon Valley today: what could be disrupted should be disrupted — even death.As someone who has long sought immortality via the Woody Allen method (i.e. by not dying), it's hard not to cheer on the engineers. If only so many of them weren't engaged in just painting over the tombstones.
Barriers and constraints — anything that imposes artificial limits on the human condition — are being destroyed with particular gusto. ...
All these efforts to ease the torments of existence might sound like paradise to Silicon Valley. But for the rest of us, they will be hell. They are driven by a pervasive and dangerous ideology that I call “solutionism”: an intellectual pathology that recognizes problems as problems based on just one criterion: whether they are “solvable” with a nice and clean technological solution at our disposal. Thus, forgetting and inconsistency become “problems” simply because we have the tools to get rid of them — and not because we’ve weighed all the philosophical pros and cons.
My own little photographic addition to the morning, taken just outside my back door.