The Best Of The Dish Today

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:

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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. You can buy How To Live here.

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. 36 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.