Tuesday’s reads here.
Paul Ryan declares Mitt Romney “The Stench”: Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.” Even before the stench article appeared, there was a strong sign that Ryan was freeing himself from the grips of the Romney campaign. It began after his disastrous appearance on Friday before AARP in New Orleans. Ryan delivered his remarks in the style dictated by his Romney handlers: Stand behind the lectern, read the speech as written and don’t stray from the script. […] That was Friday, and that was the end of Ryan following the game plan. At a certain point, all running mates on failing campaigns feel they must break free from the manacles placed on them by the top of the ticket. [O]n Saturday, the day after he was booed, Ryan broke free. Appearing at a town hall meeting at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Ryan showed the glitz, the glamour, the razzle-dazzle that he was supposed to bring to the campaign in the first place. From Politico.
And from Slate: “The less-than-flattering nicknames were quickly picked up by MSNBC, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman and a number of others, and reported as fact. The only problem, of course, is that the column was a satire. How do we know? (Other than by reading it in full.) We asked Simon. His emailed response: “I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.” Here’s the paragraph he’s talking about, which comes in the second half (and on the second page) of the online column: “A word about PowerPoint. PowerPoint was released by Microsoft in 1990 as a way to euthanize cattle using a method less cruel than hitting them over the head with iron mallets. After PETA successfully argued in court that PowerPoint actually was more cruel than iron mallets, the program was adopted by corporations for slide show presentations.” So to recap, No, Romney and Ryan’s relationship hasn’t disintegrated to the point where they’re lobbing mean names back and forth. Also: It never hurts to read a story until the end.”
Obama’s refreshing defense of free speech: “Mr. Obama went on to denounce violence as a response to speech, and to insist that other leaders speak out against extremism — including “those who — even when not resorting to violence — use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel as a central principle of politics.” The rhetoric was well-targeted: Anti-Americanism has become a tool of extremist and reactionary forces in the power struggles underway in post-revolutionary Arab states. The anti-Muslim video — a vile but obscure piece of Internet flotsam — was seized on by militants in Egypt and Libya as a means for rallying support in Cairo and as a cover for staging an armed assault on U.S. personnel in Benghazi.” From the Washington Post.
Why students cheat: “These are the sorts of calculations many students at Stuyvesant, New York City’s flagship public school, learn to make by the middle of their freshman year: weighing two classes against each other, the possibility of getting an A against the possibility of getting caught, keeping their integrity against making it to a dream college. By the time they graduate, many have internalized a moral and academic math: Copying homework is fine, but cheating on a test is less so; cheating to get by in a required class is more acceptable than cheating on an Advanced Placement exam; anything less than a grade of 85 is “failing”; achieve anything more than a grade-point average of 95, and you might be bound for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Yale.” From The Times.
Immigration Debate: The Problem with the Word Illegal: Calling undocumented people “illegal immigrants” — or worse, “illegal aliens,” as Mitt Romney did in front of a largely Latino audience last week — has become such standard practice for politicians and the media, from Bill O’Reilly to the New York Times, that people of all political persuasions do not think twice about doing it too. But describing an immigrant as illegal is legally inaccurate. Being in the U.S. without proper documents is a civil offense, not a criminal one. (Underscoring this reality, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority opinion on SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law: “As a general rule, it is not a crime for a movable alien to remain in the United States.”) In a country that believes in due process of the law, calling an immigrant illegal is akin to calling a defendant awaiting trial a criminal. The term illegal is also imprecise. For many undocumented people — there are 11 million in the U.S. and most have immediate family members who are American citizens, either by birth or naturalization — their immigration status is fluid and, depending on individual circumstances, can be adjusted. When journalists, who are supposed to seek neutrality and fairness, use the term, they are politicizing an already political issue. (How can using illegal immigrant be considered neutral, for example, when Republican strategist Frank Luntz encouraged using the term in a 2005 memo to tie undocumented people with criminality?) And the term dehumanizes and marginalizes the people it seeks to describe.” Jose Antonio Vargas in Time.
Lady Gaga’s Teen Bulimia: “On Tuesday, Gaga posted four photographs of herself scantily clad in underwear that plainly showed her body on her website. She then admitted to having suffered from eating disorders as a teenager (“Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15”) and encouraged others to share photographs and stories about their body image issues, in something that she is calling the “Body Revolution.” The online forum can be found on her website, LittleMonsters.com. “Hey Guys its Gaga… Now that the body revolution has begun, be brave and post a photo of you that celebrates your triumph over insecurities,” she wrote. “My mother and I created the BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION for one reason: ‘to inspire bravery.’ This profile is an extension of that dream. Be brave and celebrate with us your ‘perceived flaws,’ as society tells us. May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous.” From Huffington.
And now for something completely different from the beloved Mitt Romney: