1. The New York City-based Satanic Temple is more of a performance art troupe than an actual religious group. When the state of Oklahoma opted to enshrine Christian privilege — literally — with a Ten Commandments monument at the statehouse, the Satanic Temple responded by seeking to add a “Satanic” monument to the display.
Yes, basically they’re just trolling the unconstitutional Christian hegemons, but this trolling is really well done.
2. Rep. Jim Gerlach, who represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, where I live, will not run for re-election. My Chester County neighbor Martin Longman notes that this “open seat” probably won’t become any more competitive because the 6th is a disjointed Rorschach blot that snakes and twists and turns to include as many rich and/or white voters as possible while excluding as many non-rich and/or non-white voters as possible. Gerlach is also a gifted politician — particularly when it comes to local, retail campaigning and to constituent service — but his biggest advantage always came from the misshapen shape of the district itself. The 6th is skillfully designed to ensure a 60/40 GOP edge, and it will likely continue to do so.
3. Here’s some useful advice, although it’s also probably the sort of useful advice that’s more useful if you take it before you need to use it: From Consumerist’s Mary Beth Quirk, “How to Keep Your Pipes From Bursting This Winter;” from her colleague, Laura Northrup, “Digging Out From a Snowstorm: Know Your Shovels;” and from Grist’s Ask Umbra, “What’s the best way to seal up a drafty house?”
4. Nicholas Lemann reviews George Brock’s Out of Print: Newspapers, journalism and the business of news in a digital age. “Employment in the American newspaper industry fell by 44 percent between 2001 and 2011” (via AZSpot). I read that and feel like waving back, “Hi! Yes, that’s me — laid off from a newspaper in 2011!”
As Alan Bean reminds us, though, this massive reduction in the number of newspaper personnel has ramifications beyond the financial struggles of former journalists: “This kind of colossal screw-up is happening across the country on stories large and small because newspapers don’t have enough reporters to cover important stories well, nor, in many instances, do they have the luxury of fact-checking. When reporters are doing the work of three people the temptation to cut corners becomes overwhelming and mistakes are inevitable.”
Yep. That 44 percent used to do stuff at newspapers, and the stuff we used to do no longer gets done. The death-spiral of newspapers may have started due to paper papers’ failure to respond to the new challenges of digital media, but at this point newspapers are shrinking mainly because they’re no longer adequately staffed to do what they do properly or well. They’re no longer able to get it first or to get it right.
5. Janet Yellen has been confirmed as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. The first woman to lead the central bank was nominated by the same president who nominated half of all women who have ever served on the Supreme Court. That’s a big historic milestone, but it’s hard to recognize it as such without also thinking that it’s #&@% 2014 and maybe this is the sort of milestone we ought to have passed sometime last century. Better late than never, I suppose.
6. “It is morally wrong for employers to deny the women who work for them access to basic health care,” Debra Haffner writes. The headline to her essay cuts to the core of the evil, sinful, unjust campaign to allow CEOs to restrict health insurance for women: “It’s Not a Sin to Use Birth Control — It’s a Sin to Impede Access to Birth Control.”
Exactly. The Little Sisters of the Poor are cashing out all the moral capital they’ve previously accrued and spending it on evil. They are in the wrong. The Little Sisters of the Poor are openly advocating sin. Injustice. Wickedness. Immorality. What they are seeking is “an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of humankind and injures human solidarity.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor need to repent, confess their sin and plead for forgiveness from God and neighbor. That is the moral dynamic of this debate. That and only that.
7. This “Tea Party Anthem” by David Ippolito (via everyone) is pretty sharp, although NSFW. It’s kind of a reminder, too, of how good Anne Hathaway was in Les Miz — when even parody versions of “I Dreamed a Dream” incorporate your choices, you know you did something right.