Jurisdictions covered by the preclearance requirement continued to submit, in large numbers, proposed changes to voting laws that the Attorney General declined to ap­prove, auguring that barriers to minority voting would quickly resurface were the preclearance remedy elimi­nated.
— Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
dissenting opinion in Shelby County v. Holder
June 25, 2013

I didn’t want to be right, but sadly I am.

— Ruth Bader Ginsburg
interview with Associated Press
July 24, 2013

This week the conversation about race continued

CNN’s Don Lemon did a “No Talking Points” segment whose final bottom-of-the-screen admonitions was “Black people. Clean up your act!” In response, hip-hop activist Jay Smooth schooled him:

There are two types of advice that people usually give. There’s advice that you give to try and help someone with their problems, and then there’s advice that you give to help yourself feel better about not knowing how to help them with their problems. And the difference is all in the context.

The specifics of Lemon’s eat-your-vegetables guidance is unobjectionable, from “Pull up your pants” to “Just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should.” But in the context of a black man speaking to CNN’s mostly white audience at a time when white people are blaming black culture for Trayvon Martin’s death and refusing delivery on any talk of systemic racism, Jay Smooth is right: “His advice was f**king terrible.”

No doubt black culture could improve, just as white culture could improve. But white people are looking for ways to ignore or wash their hands of the systemic racism in the justice system. Don Lemon gave them one.

The comment thread on last week’s Sadly, the national conversation on race has to start here is worth a look.

Best thing I ran into this week: Peggy McIntosh’s TED talk “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion“. Terrible title, but an excellent message, not just about recognizing white privilege, but moving forward from there without getting trapped in liberal guilt.

And lots of people were talking about the increasing chaos in Congress

Another one of the basic, didn’t-used-to-be-controversial appropriations bills failed this week, and Congress took its summer recess with no plan for getting back on track. Increasingly it’s looking like the House might shut down the government in October, not because that’s part of somebody’s hardline negotiating strategy, but because the Republican majority is too fractured to pass anything. I flesh out that scenario in Chaos in Congress.

and the Ariel Castro sentence

The man who kidnapped three Cleveland women and kept them as sex slaves for years got life without parole plus a thousand years. Some radioactive waste doesn’t have to be held that long.

But we should be keeping tabs on voting rights

which I do this week in Voting Rights one month after Shelby.

and you also might be interested in …

This guy is likely to be the Republican candidate for Congress in my district. ObamaCare “is a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.” Sometimes I think the whole point of Tea Party rhetoric is to screw discourse up so badly that there’s no chance of reasoning together about our common problems.

The issue isn’t even whether corporations have freedom of religion. It’s whether their God is bigger than your God.

Every time it starts to sound like the NSA’s spying might be adequately controlled, something else comes out.

If it seems like the Republican Party is more anti-environment than it used to be, that’s because it is. Four former Republican EPA chiefs just called for action on climate change. If any Republican leaders in Congress or potential Republican presidential candidates have signed on to their program, I haven’t heard about it.

Google’s support for anti-science Senator James Inhofe is hurting their image:

The WSJ and New York Sun worry that women want Janet Yellin to become Fed chair just because she’s a woman.

Jonathan Chait points out what ought to be obvious: Women are used to being told that men would like to appoint women to powerful positions, but can’t find any who are qualified. (Finding that elusive qualified female was why Mitt Romney needed his “binders full of women“.) But now that the obvious and most qualified person is a woman, men seem to be saying “Not so fast.” That’s the source of the conflict, not “liberal diversity police”.

Here‘s Allison Lundergan Grimes’ announcement of her Kentucky senate campaign. Tough, charming, young, female, with real Kentucky roots — I think I’d be scared if I were Mitch McConnell and had to defend my role in creating the logjam in Washington. Recent polls show a tight race, if Mitch can make it past the Tea Party in his primary.

Lauren Green’s interview with author Reza Aslan — where she seemed dumbfounded by the notion that a scholar who practices Islam might write a book about Jesus — has been touted as possibly “the single most cringe-worthy, embarrassing interview” in the history of Fox News. (But Salon points out that there’s a lot of competition for that honor.)

Even if Aslan were writing as a Muslim rather than as a scholar, a Muslim writing about Jesus is no more suspicious than a Christian writing about Moses. Muslims revere Jesus as a forerunner of Mohammad — much as Christians revere Moses, the central figure of Judaism.

To me, this is all about projection. Right-wing Christians are quick to assume that a Muslim writing about Jesus must be doing a hit piece, because they have done so many hit pieces on Mohammad since 9-11.

With all the hoopla, you’d think they were revealing the 12th Imam, not the 12th Doctor Who.

The problem with laws that allow journalists not to reveal their sources is that “journalist” has no obvious definition.

Columbia Journalism Review does a retrospective on media coverage of the IRS scandal-that-wasn’t.

That big peak on the left is all the it-looks-really-bad speculation early in the story, and that flat-lining to the right is the non-coverage as the facts came out and showed that nothing really bad actually happened. Maddowblog’s Steve Benen sums up:

It’s tempting to chalk this up to human nature — there’s a major event, and everyone pays attention, but as time passes, our attention wanes and we lose interest. It happens all the time, and it’s understandable.

I’d argue, however, that what happened with the IRS story is something slightly different. … Outlets didn’t move on when nothing happened; outlets instead made a conscious decision not to report when all kinds of things happened — things that made the story itself appear baseless. In other words, in this case, the media only cared about the allegations from Republicans, not the evidence that proved those allegations false.

Let’s end with something fun: bears pole-dancing

Those motion-sensitive cameras out in the woods are recording some amusing things.

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  • erastus  On August 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    In reference to your reference about last week’s “conversation about race,” may I suggest that Sam Martin read, if he hasn’t, Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.”

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