Getting High For Two

Dec 18 2014 @ 5:55pm
by Dish Staff

Libby Copeland tells the story of Tamara Loertscher, “a woman arrested for drug use even though she says she stopped when she realized she was pregnant, brought to court and twice refused lawyers (even though her fetus was given one), and then sent to jail for 17 days, where she was placed in solitary confinement, denied prenatal care even as she began cramping, and not given her thyroid medication for two days, according to the woman and her lawyers”:

[Y]ou can’t consider Wisconsin’s punitive approach to pregnant women—which purports to protect “unborn children”—without first considering how the state has failed to promote actual family values.

Read On

by Dish Staff

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Erik Voeten notes that, in one respect, Cuba isn’t the only country that’s been internationally isolated by the US embargo:

The United Nations General Assembly has voted since 1992 on an annual resolution on the “necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” In 1992, with the Cold War just ending, fewer than 50 percent of all member states voted in favor of the resolution (more than half abstained). The graph above shows how quickly any semblance of support for the embargo evaporated. In its latest iteration only Israel joined the Americans in voting against the resolution, although, to its credit, the United States did get the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau to abstain.

U.N. General Assembly resolutions have mostly symbolic value as they do not create binding legal obligations. Yet, U.S. isolation probably undermined the effectiveness of the embargo.

Juan Carlos Hidalgo applauds Obama’s decision to re-establish relations:

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Sony and the First Amendment, Ctd

Dec 18 2014 @ 4:41pm
by Michelle Dean


I got a little unlucky with the timing of yesterday’s post about Sony, which went up right before we learned that Sony was pulling The Interview from release. And also before we learned that federal officials believe North Korea really is behind the hacks. My frustration with James Franco movies seems rather less funny in retrospect. In any event I guess I don’t have to worry about being forced to watch it, since apparently it won’t even appear on VOD at this moment.

I’ve been trying to muster up some fire to write about how chilling this all is for people who want to write outré speech. I wish I could write something incandescent about how unjust it is to suppress a film – even one that I’m about as allergic to as a person could be – over physical threats and privacy violations. But I haven’t been able to. I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted just contemplating how we’re going to describe this one in the history books. (“Seth Rogen, a Hollywood star of Canadian extraction…” “And then Aaron Sorkin, who was not a journalist but who wrote a fictional show about journalism, which he said was more journalistic than journalism…”)

Suffice it to say, it’s all terrible, though honestly this incident doesn’t seem half as bad to me as other events in this proto-dystopia we call America in late 2014.

(Photo: Workers remove a poster-banner for The Interview from a billboard in Hollywood, California, on December 18, 2014, a day after Sony announced it was canceling the movie’s Christmas release due to a terrorist threat. By Michael Thurston/AFP/Getty Images)

Mental Health Break

Dec 18 2014 @ 4:20pm
by Dish Staff

Behold, the rainbow-slinky master:

Yglesias Award Nominee

Dec 18 2014 @ 4:05pm
by Dish Staff

“It’s been a half century now. Unless and until someone can show me something besides political talking points to the contrary, the embargo was simply not working. The Castros remain in power and the government has not significantly changed. And as we have repeatedly demonstrated in our negotiations regarding sanctions and punishment of other nations such as Iran, Iraq or Russia, sanctions and embargoes do not work unless you can get significant buy-in from your allies. Nobody is joining us on this. Canadians regularly vacation in Cuba. Nearly every other western nation trades with them. We simply don’t have any backup here,” – Jazz Shaw, Hot Air.

Obama Just Ruined Cuba! Ctd

Dec 18 2014 @ 3:38pm
by Will Wilkinson

Shep Smith seems to think so:

Responding to that clip, Allahpundit finds that notion entirely fatuous:

This is exactly what it sounds like, a guy seemingly willing to trade away greater prosperity for Cubans if it means Americanizing the island in return for preserving the quaint, simple culture that decades of authoritarianism and economic retardation have produced. It’s basically the “noble savage” view of economics. What doth it profit a Cuban to gain a middle-American depot for cheap building materials if he lose his cheap-rum-making soul? Where are we going to go to watch people riding around in 60-year-old Studebakers now?

Ryan Kearney accuses those afraid of “spoiling” Cuba of fetishizing poverty:

When Americans daydream about visiting Cuba before it’s “spoiled,” they’re implying that the island today is some kind of paradise. I have been there. It is not a paradise.

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The Outrage Manufacturing Process

Dec 18 2014 @ 3:20pm
by Michelle Dean

Slate has a big package today about “The Year In Outrage.” It’s thought-provoking, worth your time and effort.

I’d rather talk about it laterally, though, than re-litigate old social media controversies. There’s plenty enough of the latter in the Slate thing. Let’s, instead, consider the outrage manufacturing process, which I think is more complicated than usually described. You can do it half by accident. You know, by joking on Twitter.

For example: Last night I was reading Twitter when a link came into my feed. It was to an Los Angeles Review of Books essay about Joan Didion. I clicked.

The first sentence of the piece was a run-on sentence. Then it made proud reference to the author’s attendance at literary parties. I persevered. I was then rewarded with this paragraph:

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I hope I don’t seem too outraged to you when I say that this is not a good paragraph about Joan Didion. It tells you nothing about Didion. It also doesn’t tell you much about the writer, Emmett Reslin, other than his lack of apparent shame. It would be a pretty embarrassing paragraph to record in your private journal. But there it was, published by the Los Angeles Review of Books. The Los Angeles Review of Books is edited. An editor read this paragraph, and published it.

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A Poem For Thursday

Dec 18 2014 @ 3:00pm
by Alice Quinn


“The Afternoon According to Saint Matthew” by Mary Ruefle:

There’s the black truck
with orange flames
on its hood. There’s the girl
in the pink pajamas. There’s her sister
in a bumblebee suit.
They are playing with dirt.
When they find bugs
they scream
but no one hears them.
Their minds are growing though.
In the late afternoon light
they scoop the dirt into tin cans
so they can bury it
in the backyard.
I think we have a case
of two women grinding at the mill—
one will be taken and one
will be left,
but it’s way too early
to tell.

(From Trances of the Blast © 2013 by Mary Ruefle. Used by permission of Wave Books. Photo by David Poe)


Dec 18 2014 @ 2:42pm
by Dish Staff


Before Tuesday’s horrific attack on an army school, Carl Bialik grimly notes, Pakistan’s terrorism problem was on a downward trend, from utterly horrifying to just god-awful:

More than 3,000 Pakistani civilians died in terrorist attacks in both 2012 and 2013, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which monitors violence in the region. This year, through Sunday, 1,595 civilians had died, including 26 this month. Twenty-six is a horrific total for most countries in a year — 20 more than the number killed in all of 2013 in the U.S., which has roughly 75 percent more residents than Pakistan. But it’s also a monthly rate of about 58 civilians, the fewest killed in a month in Pakistan since 56 civilians died in August 2007. Tuesday’s attack reversed that modest progress; December now is the deadliest month since February.

So how did Pakistan become so unmanageably violent? In part, Matthew Green blames the government’s longstanding policy of cultivating ties with some militants in order to fight others:

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Dissent Of The Day

Dec 18 2014 @ 2:17pm
by Will Wilkinson

A reader rebuts me:

Wilkinson’s argument amounts to saying that a president with personal connections in government (via a dynasty for example) would be a good counter to overly independent, unaccountable bureaucracies such as the CIA. The Bush dynasty is the perfect example of the reverse. George HW Bush was the director of the CIA. Before Dick Cheney was George W. Bush’s vice-president and man behind the curtain, he worked in the White House under Nixon and was GWHB’s Secretary of Defense. Does Wilkinson think that Dubya’s personal connections made the CIA more accountable? Probably not. And Dubya would be one more personal connection between Jeb and war crimes. All that would make torture and CIA unaccountability more likely, not less.

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