A reader is moved by this post:

I have sat in the waiting room of my vet’s office three times a week for the last two months, waiting while my beautiful Maine Coon gets subcutaneous fluids for his failing kidneys. I have seen an entire cross section of the population – all ages, all economic levels, many races, and definitely an abundance of both genders. It has been so heart-opening for me to watch people with their sick pets. There is an attachment that I don’t even see as I sit in the pediatricians office. The look of sweetness and aching pain on the faces of owners as they try to comfort their dog or cat is a lesson in pure love.

But what has struck me is the realization of that universal desire to love and be loved, to need to be cared for and to want to care for others. From the cranky old man in tears over his sick poodle to the hassled moms with the limping giant dog and crying toddlers, to the teenager cradling her sick cat fearing maybe the first loss in her life, the love and the care is the same. It’s such a beautiful window into our humanity. It has been quite the gift to my life to see it all.

Another reader shares his own relationship:

Thank you for sharing the post on pets and recovering from addictions. While I have some doubts about the efficacy of dolphin or wolf therapy (especially as a primary component of therapy), I can testify that pets can, and for me have, played a very helpful role in my ongoing treatment.

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Climate Change As God’s Will

Nov 24 2014 @ 2:22pm

Climate Change Religion

Emma Green passes along a worrying survey:

As of 2014, it’s estimated that nearly half of Americans—49 percent—say natural disasters are a sign of “the end times,” as described in the Bible. That’s up from an estimated 44 percent in 2011.

This belief is more prevalent in some religious communities than others. White evangelical Protestants, for example, are more likely than any other group to believe that natural disasters are a sign of the end times, and they’re least likely to assign some of the blame to climate change (participants were allowed to select both options if they wanted). Black Protestants were close behind white evangelicals in terms of apprehending the apocalypse, but they were also the group most likely to believe in climate change, too. Predictably, the religiously unaffiliated were the least likely to believe superstorms are apocalyptic—but even so, a third of that group said they see signs of the end times in the weather.

Ryan Koronowski also analyzes the poll:

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Iran Talks Get An Extension

Nov 24 2014 @ 1:57pm

After failing to reach a permanent agreement, the officials representing Iran and the P5+1 in the ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna extended the talks for seven more months:

“We have had to conclude it is not possible to get to an agreement by the deadline that was set for today and therefore we will extend the JPOA to June 30, 2015,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters at the end of the talks. He was referring to the so-called Joint Plan of Action, an interim deal agreed between the six and Iran a year ago in Geneva, under which Tehran halted higher level uranium enrichment in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions, including access to some frozen oil revenues abroad.

Hammond said the expectation was that Iran would continue to refrain from sensitive atomic activity. He added that Iran and the powers “made some significant progress” in the latest round of talks, which began last Tuesday in the Austrian capital. Hammond said that there was a clear target to reach a “headline agreement” of substance within the next three months and talks would resume next month.

The failure to meet today’s deadline was not unexpected. Elias Groll and John Hudson look over the sticking points that remain unresolved:

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The Party Of Executive Power?

Nov 24 2014 @ 1:37pm

Julia Azari suspects “strong executive action enjoys more legitimacy when it’s taken by a Republican president than a Democratic one”:

Obama’s supporters on the left haven’t really developed a good political story about why governing through enforcement is a good thing. Most justifications involve vilifying Congress – satisfying for partisans but still casting the administration in a defensive role.

For conservatives during the Bush administration, the narrative was pretty easy to develop. Unilateral presidential action defends elephant.jpgthe nation. Furthermore, the president is a legitimate defender of his own Constitutional prerogatives (so the justification goes; not necessarily my view). This works better for Republican presidents because conservatives have gained issue ownership not only over national security but also, to a great extent, over the question of Constitutional protection.

Civil libertarians are an important part of American political and legal culture. But they haven’t recently formed a political movement around their ideas about the Constitution the way that the Tea Party has. The dominant political framework for understanding the Constitution casts it as a procedural document, meant to protect against excessive government action – even when that action might bring about positive results. This framework is a much more powerful tool for conservatives than for liberals. Although liberals also sometimes draw on Constitutional principles – including limits on executive action – it’s less central to their ideology. This means the politics of enforcement are much more difficult for a Democratic president to justify – enforcement decisions must either be done on substantive, rather than constitutional grounds, or they must tread on territory usually dominated by the other party.

Maybe the Democrats need to take another look at Burke. Or be reminded of the roots of progressivism in The New Republic‘s founder, Herbert Croly. Frank Foer explains:

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Hagel Out

Nov 24 2014 @ 1:23pm

While the White House is at pains to say he was not fired, it sorta looks that way:

Administration officials said that Mr. Obama made the decision to remove Mr. Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, last Friday after a series of meetings between the two men over the past two weeks. The officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel, who often struggled to articulate a clear viewpoint and was widely viewed as a passive defense secretary, was brought in to employ.

“This,” Morrissey declares, “is what happens with Cabinet Secretaries when policies go bad”:

Presidents ditch them as a signal for a shift in direction.

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My “Scorn Of Feminism” Ctd

Nov 24 2014 @ 1:02pm

The in-tray keeps getting flooded with feedback on this subject:

Here is my take, as a long-time reader, on the reason so many of my fellow Dishheads have written in to express disappointment with the coverage of feminist issues on the Dish. I read articles such as the recent expose of the culture of silence and tacit acceptance of rape at UVA in Rolling Stone and am outraged but also moved and emboldened by the recent attention that sexual violence has gotten in the media.

Then I go to the Dish, my daily source for news and analysis, and read that the real pressing issue is the “demand that men be gentlemen, rather than something other than men,” as presumably you believe feminists do.

I can’t help but feel that you have your priorities way off. We’re living through a major shift in the way our culture deals with gender, rape, and sexuality, in large part led by a new generation of feminists (men and women), and the impression one gets from the Dish on this is a sense of annoyance and a worry that masculinity as a whole is being unfairly indicted. This strikes me as an analysis not worth my time to read – something I rarely feel about the blog, even (or especially) when I disagree.

Thanks so much for your work. I hope to see more coverage of issues that actually matter when it comes to gender politics today, such as the sea change in how we address rape as a culture.

Another critic:

Andrew, your stances in the Gender Wars threads are disheartening. As passionately as you’ve argued your causes, surely you must know there is not “always a debate to be had,” and that sometimes debates get good answers on questions that are essentially settled. The endless “debate to be had” is one thing that frustrates feminism and its good cause, because it constantly has to solve the same problems over and over for every new person who comes to the table. Frankly, every feminist contradiction you’ve covered in this thread has been debated within feminism since its beginning. It’s not feminism’s burden to educate.

If I may share an anecdote: in my very first job at an entertainment news TV show, I was endlessly harassed. By men. I’m a cis-gendered straight white male.

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Every now and again, it’s worth acquainting the deep narrative about a failed presidency with the facts. If a Republican had presided over the energy revolution of the past few years, you’d never hear the end of it. But shale has changed a lot:

Net oil imports have fallen from above 60% in 2005 to below 28% this year through September (see chart above). That marks the country’s lowest dependence on foreign sources of petroleum products since 1985, almost 30 years ago. The chart shows the profound impact of the shale oil revolution on America’s energy independence and the speed at which it happened – it took 20 years for the US dependence on oil imports to rise from 27.3% in 1985 to 60.3% in 2005, and then less than a decade to completely reverse that upward trend and bring net oil imports to below 28% by this year.

That’s quite some record for a president widely panned as “hating” the oil industry. Energy independence for the US – with huge dividends not only in lower oil prices but also in greater freedom of action in pivoting away from the Middle East – is within reach – a goal, like universal health insurance – that presidents have aimed for for decades. Has this made tackling climate change even harder? Not if you look at another part of the Obama years – the rise and rise of renewables, fostered in part by subsidies.

Today, the NYT lays out the remarkable new renewable energy environment at hand:

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A Declaration Of War

Nov 24 2014 @ 12:14pm

Georgia Senate Candidate David Perdue Campaigns With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Senator Rand Paul has just opened up a new vista in American foreign policy. He is attempting to re-impose constitutional norms on war-making powers – powers so rankly abused by president Obama so many times. His resolution for the declaration of war against ISIS has some classic lines from the past, reminding us how far we have drifted from what the Founders intended:

Whereas Article I, section 8, of the United States Constitution provides, ‘‘The Congress shall have the Power to . . . declare war’’;

Whereas President George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, lectured: ‘‘The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress. Therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure.’’;

Whereas James Madison, father of the Constitution, elaborated in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: ‘‘The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.’’;

Whereas James Madison wrote in his Letters of Helvidius: ‘‘In this case, the constitution has decided what shall not be deemed an executive authority; though it may not have clearly decided in every case what shall be so deemed. The declaring of war is expressly made a legislative function.’’

Even better, his resolution carefully delimits what the US can do in Iraq and Syria – defending US property and personnel; sunsetting the war to one year; and keeping ground forces to a few limited functions (and avoiding the fiction that there are not boots on the ground already in Iraq). The benefit of such a debate is precisely to insist that, especially in an age of a volunteer military, we need to be reminded of the moral gravity of war-making, and never rush or drift into war without lengthy, deliberate, advance consideration of unintended consequences.

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The Hagel Presser

Nov 24 2014 @ 12:00pm

It’s live right now.

Marion Barry - Washington, DC

The four-time DC mayor died yesterday at age 78. David Remnick remarks, “When Marion Barry was running the city as mayor, and then in his wilderness years—as prisoner, outcast, and councilman—what you thought of him depended largely on who you were, what ward you lived in, what your advantages and disadvantages were, what you were willing to tolerate and forgive.” David Plotz, who did his college thesis on Barry, remembers the complicated figure:

He looked at the numbers, and devised a new formula, adapting the machine politics practiced a generation earlier by Irish and Italian mayors. What better way to lock in a loyal voting base than with jobs? By Barry’s second term, D.C. had by far the largest city government in the United States per capita. He coupled a permanent bureaucracy with a massive summer jobs program for kids. When I interviewed Washingtonians in the 1990s about why they were still voting for Marion Barry, an astonishing number cited the summer job he gave them back in the 1970s. …

Marion Barry won the prize of city government at the moment that cities began to slide, and before their recent revival. As a result, he left few tangible accomplishments. He inflicted on my city a bureaucracy that was too big, a mediocre police department, and horrid schools. Since the end of Barry’s ridiculous fourth mayoral term in January 1999, D.C.’s politicians have run away from him. Our mayoral candidates are competent, dreary, and technocratic. Unlike Barry, they seem more interested in governing their city than serving themselves. Marion Barry loomed over D.C. politics for 43 years, but there is no Barryism.

Adam Serwer explains why, despite Barry’s huge flaws, many think of him in a positive light:

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