Quick hits (part II)

1) David Frum suggests that how Republicans address Americans who would lose their insurance under an Obamacare repeal will be a key question in the 2016 election.

2) Donald Rumsfeld understands the Baltimore riots– or at least he understood riots in Iraq:

While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime. And I don’t think there’s anyone in any of those pictures … [who wouldn’t] accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom.

3) A professor in Texas who decided to fail his entire class.  Unsurprisingly, the university wouldn’t let him.

4) Apparently some organic food still has mad-made chemicals.  Which, of course, is worth a big shoulder shrug.

5) A nice New Yorker post about the viral face/age recognition software.

6) Most people stop listening to music people by age 33.  I’ve added Muse since that age, but that’s about it.  I do listen to a selection of newer stuff via Pandora, but little of it really sticks with me.  (Though, for some reason, I totally love this).

7) Amy Davidson on Samuel Alito’s obsession with polygamy.

8) So, the American Psychological Association helped the Bush administration with torture.  So wrong.

9) Kids will read more if you let them choose books for themselves.  Of course, this presumes they will actually choose something (I’ve got a certain 9-year old in mind).  Actually really interesting survey results.  Kids really love funny.

10) John Cassidy on the disappointing near-silence from Republican presidential candidates on Baltimore.

11)  Just in case you were not aware, we are basically using our prisons as totally inappropriate and inadequate psychiatric hospitals.  And, no, that’s not a good thing for anybody.

12) David Brooks is really good at blaming poor people and not so good at looking at the context:

On Friday, Brooks published another fatuous piece about poverty. This time, naturally, the subject was Baltimore. Brooks tried to undercut the popular trope that funding poor communities like Baltimore will improve conditions. He writes:

The $15 trillion spent by the government over the past half-century has improved living standards and eased burdens for millions of poor people. But all that money and all those experiments have not integrated people who live in areas of concentrated poverty into the mainstream economy.

This passage is instructive for a couple of reasons. First, it illustrates Brooks’ tendency to say something true without offering anything resembling context. For instance, he notes that poor people haven’t been integrated into the mainstream economy but fails to ask why that is. We’ve tossed all this money at the problem, he seems to suggest, yet things aren’t better. How could that be? Perhaps it has something to do with history, with the residual effects of institutionalized racism and the array of structural problems that have plagued Baltimore and communities like it for decades. Dumping federal dollars into a city doesn’t erase these things.

13) A Vox interview on the history of racist policing in America.

14) Simply wearing a suit makes people think differently.  It also makes people treat you differently.

15) Great, great Connor Friedersdorf piece on how conservatives fail to take police abuse seriously.  It’s not that long– read the whole thing:

Meanwhile, most conservatives either ignored or were oblivious to the Baltimore police department’s stunning record of egregious, normalized brutality and civil rights abuses. It would be one thing if these conservative pundits acknowledged that police brutality and violations of the Constitutional rights of black people are epidemic in Baltimore but argued that other factors mostly explain Monday’s civil unrest. Agreeing on what caused the riots isn’t actually vital when taken in isolation.

What’s vexing actually predates the riots: It is movement conservatism’s general, longstanding blindness to massive rights violations by police. The myopia has somehow persisted even in an era when an hour on YouTube providesincontrovertible evidence of egregious brutality by scores of thuggish cops. Per usual, let us acknowledge the many U.S. police officers who serve their communities with honor, courage, empathy, and restraint. One needn’t disrespect them to see that bad policing is common. It is more than “a few bad apples.”

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