Today’s Reads

  • I have no idea how the Republican Party can misunderstand the fact that the founders set up our system such that parties would HAVE to embrace moderates in order to win majorities. And yet apparently there is debate about whether the party should be more purely conservative or more of a proverbial big tent. I’m all for them being more purely conservative in the sense that they stick to their fiscal principals and give up social conservatism, though. (And I must say, I actually agree with Lindsay Graham as he is quoted in the article- way to not embarrass me on this one, Sen. Graham!)
  • Nicholas Kristof continues to be my favorite New York Times columnist (yes, I know how pretentious it must be to even have a favorite NYT columnist), and today’s column about the appalling backlog of rape kits in this country is a great example of why I love his writing.
  • I really recommend this well-written essay by a surgeon pondering how he has become habituated to cutting humans open and wondering if those who justified torture, as well as those of us reading and seeing about it in the news, have become habituated to these atrocities. He writes,

    While our current president speaks of moving forward, and not looking back at this chapter of our history, can we afford to turn away? In doing so, we accept how we have become habituated. We risk seeing the brutality not as an atrocity but as part of who we are. We become the surgeon who might have shook when first taking the knife in hand but who now dares to cut with eyes closed.

  • Yglesias writes that we might be wrong in repeating the mantra that “torture doesn’t work.” He notes that it works just fine for what it’s intended: generally producing false confessions for show trials and propaganda under dictatorships, and little else.
  • Until I read this article, I had no idea that any educated woman would be able to bring herself to defend female genital mutilation. I still don’t agree with her, but now I have a greater appreciation for the nuance of an argument that seems to many of us extremely straightforward.
  • And, finally,Ezra Klein explains what Jon’s been saying to me the last few days as I wondered why we’re flipping out about a flu that’s way less deadly, so far, than the regular flu. Jon keeps telling me, “It’s because it is spreading so fast.”

Klein writes:

It’s true that the flu is, as of now, not especially deadly. Survival rates are quite high. That’s a very good thing. And there’s some evidence that this flu will prove mild. Possibly even more mild than a bad flu season. But it’s not the end of the story. Influenzas mutate. The question is whether it mutates out of existence or towards lethality. ‘Towards lethality’ becomes more likely if more people catch the flu and thus more mutations emerge. So being aggressive in stopping the spread of the largely non-lethal variant is important if we want to avert the development of a more lethal strain. It’s not about stopping this flu. It’s about stopping what this flu can become.

So, wash your hands, cover your mouths when you cough or sneeze, call your doctor if you’re running a fever, take this thing seriously, but don’t panic.

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