The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 22 2014 @ 9:15pm

There’s always a moment – sooner or later – when a regime propped up by lies will have to account for an empirical reality that refutes it and threatens to bring the entire edifice down. That’s the potentially game-changing significance of MH17, it seems to me.

Here’s Putin’s strange 13 minute address to Russians today on foreign policy – after his deeply weird televised address at 2 am. He’s visibly panicking; and the faces of his colleagues are quite a study:

Notice the petulant raging at Ukraine and then the litany of paranoia and isolation: “we know what’s really going on.” No wonder the Russian population had to be talked down from widespread panic at the thought of an imminent invasion by the West! That’s how far Putin had ratcheted up the hysteria – a very dangerous place for a leader with nukes to be in. A reader who has been monitoring the Russian Internet writes:

As you can imagine, the last few days have been a rollercoaster ride on the runet. The first reaction to the downing of MH17 was panic. They were trying to shoot down Putin’s plane! Two doubles took off from Russian President Vladimir Putin Visits SamaraAmsterdam at the same time, one filled with corpses who all had new passports and totally new Facebook pages!

The second wave of the pro-Putinists was despair – “It is all over now! The only thing standing between us and slavery to Western interests is our beloved Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!”

Now, already, it seems that they are quickly realizing that “everything has changed.” The anti-Putin journalists and posters are becoming much more courageous than they have been in recent months about opposing Putin directly. Here is a piece from Slon.ru, the Russian version of Salon:

“The nighttime address to the nation was something unprecedented, and even more unprecedented was its content, in the sense that there was no content in this speech at all. Why did Putin call up his press service, cameramen, make-up artists, and internet site workers and many others at 2 in the morning? Just to repeat once more that there would have been no tragedy if there hadn’t been any war in the Donbass, to call for peace negotiations and inviting ICAO aviation experts to the site of the crash? Couldn’t these two and a half points waited until the morning?”

The pro-Putin people have seen their arguments fall to pieces against the reality of the situation. Putin is being portrayed as in a total panic. The anti-Putin forces are worried about what he might do in such a state, but he is no longer being seen as the magician in control.

All of which makes me appreciate the deliberativeness of Obama’s response, praised by my reader earlier today. Putin is blustering, lying, and using the crudest of means to impose his will on Ukraine. Obama is just slowly raising the costs – and those just got a lot more onerous for Russia. Today, the Europeans finally approved of a host of new sanctions, yet to be implemented. That may give Putin some room to climb down. But it won’t be easy. That’s the look on Putin’s face. It’s called rattled.

Today, because the news isn’t depressing enough, we checked in on Syria’s civil war. It makes Gaza look like a side-show: up to 700 people were killed last Thursday and Friday in clashes between ISIS and Assad. Next up: Libya teeters toward ever more chaos.

I sought relief in two stand-bys: Oakeshott, the last great English Romantic, and Montaigne – yes, we kicked off our third book club discussion today.

The most popular post of the day was For Israel, There Is No Such Thing As An innocent Gazan; followed by Putin Creates His Own Reality.

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 15 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here - and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish - for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. A Founding Member writes:

I’ve been dragging my heels on renewing my subscription to The Dish. But the events of the last few weeks - clashes in Gaza, Central American children spilling into the U.S. border, the downing of a Malaysian Airliner in the skies over Ukraine, not to mention the bits and bobs of spirituality, pictures, gay sensibilities etc. etc. – demand the re-up.

I’ve got my NYT, my Gawker and yes, I hate to admit it, my Daily Mail, but I find the in-depth offerings on The Dish to be so much more nuanced, thoughtful and just off-kilter enough to make me want to read more, reflect, and oftentimes enlarge the scope of my viewpoint. Not sure what the future of media will be – digital, print, visual - but somehow, somewhere, I think you are going to be in the mix – annoying, exciting, comforting, challenging.

See you in the morning.

“Telegenically Dead” Ctd

Jul 22 2014 @ 8:33pm

Israel

As the hasbara machine fails to stymie international outrage over the Gaza campaign, Aaron Blake highlights some polling that suggests American public support for the Jewish state is on the decline:

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 38 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of Israel, which in recent days has launched a ground operation in Gaza that has resulted in more casualties than its allies would prefer (witness John Kerry’s reaction). The death toll in the current conflict includes more than 500 Palestinians. If you combine CNN and Gallup polling, that’s the most Americans who view Israel in a negative light since 1992. Israel is hardly a pariah on the scale of Russia, and 60 percent of Americans still have a positive view of Israel. But the increase in negative views reinforces an emerging trend in the American electorate: It wants nothing to do with overseas conflict, and would prefer that such conflict didn’t exist.

Keating remarks on the role Twitter has played in leveling the propaganda playing field:

Read On

Keeping Secrets From Ourselves

Jul 22 2014 @ 8:11pm

Joshua Rothman contemplates the “artist’s sense of privacy” in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which he describes as an “inner privacy, by means of which you shield yourself not just from others’ prying eyes, but from your own”:

By learning to leave your inner life alone, you learn to cultivate and appreciate it. And you gain another, strangely spiritual power: the power to regard yourself abstractly. Instead of getting lost in the details of your life, you hold onto the feelings, the patterns, the tones. You learn to treasure those aspects of life without communicating them, and without ruining them, for yourself, by analyzing them too much.

Woolf suggests that those treasured feelings might be the source of charisma: when Peter, seeing Clarissa at her party, asks himself, “What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? … What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?,” the answer might be that it’s Clarissa’s radiance, never seen directly, but burning through. Clarissa, meanwhile, lets her spiritual intuitions lift her a little above the moment. Wandering through her lamp-lit garden, she sees her party guests: “She didn’t know their names, but friends she knew they were, friends without names, songs without words, always the best.” That’s the power of artist’s privacy. It preserves the melodies otherwise drowned out by words, stories, information.

Libya’s Sorta-Kinda Civil War

Jul 22 2014 @ 7:41pm

Tripoli residents are fleeing their homes by the thousands after militia clashes destroyed the country’s main airport and left 47 people dead. A look at the airport:

The Economist brings us up to speed:

Militias from Misrata, frustrated at their failure to capture the airport after a week of fighting with the Zintan militia that holds it, arrived with tanks to pound the perimeter. The Zintanis responded with shells and anti-aircraft fire. As the violence expanded, huge fires burned in the city’s western districts. “A shell hit my neighbour’s house and a lot of people left,” says Seraj, a resident of the western suburb of Janzour. “We stayed inside, it was not safe on the streets.” When the smoke cleared, Zintanis remained in control of the airport, but it is now a shambles of wrecked buildings and burned-out aircraft. …

Without command of any troops willing and able to intervene, Libya’s foreign minister, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, on July 17th asked the UN Security Council to send military advisers to bolster state forces guarding ports, airports and other strategic locations. He warned that Libya risks going “out of control” without such help. But he found no takers. The Security Council, which passed resolution 1973 authorising NATO bombing of Gaddafi’s forces in March 2011, worries about committing troops to a war featuring a mosaic of competing factions. “Whose side are we supposed to intervene on?” asks a Western diplomat in Tripoli.

The government is apparently weighing whether to ask the International Criminal Court to go after the leaders of these militias. Mark Kersten, who finds this idea pretty rich given Libya’s prior refusal to hand over Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to the ICC, is skeptical that it would do anything:

Read On

Face Of The Day

Jul 22 2014 @ 7:11pm

Naturalization Ceremony At Metropolitan Museum Of Art

Giselle Fernandez sits with her mother Katy, who is participating in a special naturalization ceremony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on July 22, 2014. Over fifty people representing countries from Albania to Burundi took part in the morning ceremony at the American Wing of the museum. The Oath of Allegiance was administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Deputy Director Lori L. Scialabba. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Dating With Mental Illness

Jul 22 2014 @ 6:40pm

Molly Pohlig opens up about seeking a partner while suffering from a “tangle of depression, anxiety, OCD, and borderline personality disorder”:

I am not ashamed of my condition. Or not exactly. I think there is still a lot more stigma than we admit, and every joke someone cracks about being “so OCD” makes it harder to explain that while you all think you’re totally cool with me being obsessive-compulsive, it’s a lot more than lining up pencils and touching the light switch. Men have broken up with me after getting only a glimpse of my worst looming on the horizon, and others have stayed with me through abhorrent behavior because they were afraid of what I might do if they left.

I have no qualms about someone seeing my cellulite, but I am afraid of him seeing my self-inflicted scars; I’m not sure I would trust a person who had caused herself such violence, so why should he trust me? I am getting ready to switch medications, which can be ugly. Can I—should I—invite someone along for the ride? I’ve seen how my illness affects my loved ones, and as much as I long for marriage and children, I often think everyone might be better off if I moved to a secluded fjord in Iceland and just sent postcards.

No Quiet On The ISIS Front

Jul 22 2014 @ 6:13pm

Hanna Kozlowska provides an update on Syria, where as many as 700 people were killed last Thursday and Friday in fighting between ISIS and regime forces – the highest death toll in 48 hours since the start of the war in 2011:

The Shaar gas field in central Syria saw some of the heaviest fighting. It is a crucial gas supply facility for the country’s central region and among the largest in Syria. Islamic State fighters attacked the field Wednesday night — just hours after Bashar al-Assad was sworn in for a third, seven-year term as president — and seized it Thursday, killing 270 government soldiers, guards, and staff. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based NGO, at least 40 militants from the group formerly known as ISIS were killed. Over the weekend the body count grew by 100. More than 170,000 people have died since began in March 2011. And the war created an unprecedented refugee crisis displacing 2.8 million people, including many women and children.

On Monday, Islamic State fighters clashed in Damascus with other anti-Assad rebels who initially embraced the group but now are trying to expel it from the city. They’ve successfully ousted the organization from sections of the capital and its outskirts but the Islamic State’s influence has recently expanded, encompassing an oil-rich area in the eastern Deir Az Zor province. The organization controls much of Syria’s east.

The conflict also continues to have a severe impact on its neighbors. Alice Su takes stock of the ever-heavier burden the Syrian refugee crisis is imposing on Jordan, which is also host to thousands of refugees from Iraq and other war-torn countries:

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Dodd-Frank Turns Four

Jul 22 2014 @ 5:42pm

Suzy Khimm checks in on the impact of Wall Street reform upon Dodd-Frank’s four-year anniversary yesterday:

We’ve eliminated some of the causes of the last crisis, but that doesn’t mean we’ve prevented the next one. The toxic mortgage products that led to the last financial collapse have been all but eliminated from the marketplace. If anything, policy experts and advocates are concerned that federal officials have gone too far in tamping down mortgage risk. But the next crisis isn’t likely to resemble the last one. Faced with increased regulation and scrutiny in one sector, financial institutions will simply turn to other kinds of financial products. A post-recession boom in subprime auto lending and junk-rated corporate debt, for instance, have recently raised concerns that few had anticipated four years ago. Such risky loans will continue unless regulations are implemented and enforced more effectively, said [finance professor Anat] Admati.

Patrick Caldwell blames regulators and Republicans for failures in implementation:

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Warren’s speech last week at Netroots Nation gave it new life. Her fans even created this cringe-inducing hathetic theme song:

But there are few signs that Warren is preparing for a run:

[S]he is not doing behind-the-scenes spadework expected for a White House run. When she headlined the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in March, Warren did not take down names and numbers of the people she met. She traveled with only one aide, hitching a ride from the airport from a local party official, said Corey Day, the party’s executive director.

“There was no advance guy making sure the room was exactly right and her water was cold,” Day said. “You didn’t sense an urgency for her to build a political operation. It was just her and her message, all very low-key.”

Weigel understands the game activists are playing:

The Dean campaign lost every major primary. The lesson activists took away: Try something. The media, at least, is going to cover a primary threat more than it covers a sui generis student loan bill. Thus the Warren “presidential campaign,” a masterful branding and messaging exercise.

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Criminally Bad Parenting, Ctd

Jul 22 2014 @ 4:44pm

Douthat takes a deeper look at “the obligations of conservatives, who tend to support measures that encourage single parents to take jobs, to fiercely oppose policies and practices that then punish such parents when they leave their kids unsupervised.” He suggests building on “direct, paycheck-based success rather than trying to build out the existing K-through-12 system,” and warns against looking to Europe for answers:

[T]he more regimented and mandate-thick a society’s child care system, the more likely it is to have unexpected and perverse consequences for parents and families whose lives don’t quite fit the system’s implicit norms — which could mean anyone from high-achieving professional women (who often fare better in the laissez-faire U.S. than under family-friendly socialism) to would-be stay-at-home parents (who get nothing from a government-run child care system, and who can be effectively prodded into the workforce by the taxes required to pay for it).

Which is why it’s a little unfortunate that American liberalism is pressing so hard right now on ideas (universal daycare, mandated family leave) that could just import some of the European system’s problems to our shores.

Ross returns to the practical childcare issues for struggling families within the US:

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