Why Not Open Up To Cuba? Ctd

Dec 19 2014 @ 5:15pm
by Dish Staff

Perhaps the most persuasive argument from skeptics of Obama’s historic opening with Cuba is that he didn’t extract enough concessions on democratization from the Castro regime. That’s the reason why Yoani Sánchez isn’t celebrating just yet:

What we have yet to hear is a public timeline that commits the Cuban government to a series of gestures in support of democratization and respect for differences. We must take advantage of these announcements to extract a public promise from the government, which must include, at a minimum four consensus points that civil society has been developing in recent months: The release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; the end of political repression; the ratification of the United Nations covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the consequent adjustment of domestic laws; and the recognition of Cuban civil society within and outside the island.

Extracting these commitments would begin the dismantling of totalitarianism. As long as steps of this magnitude are not taken, many of us will continue to believe that the day we have longed for is still far off. So, we will keep the flags tucked away, keep the corks in the bottles, and continue to press for the final coming of D-Day.

Morrissey wonders why Obama didn’t demand more reforms:

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Email Of The Day

Dec 19 2014 @ 4:44pm
by Dish Staff

A reader writes:

I live in the very small town of Pendleton, SC, which means I see Lindsey Graham on the reg. We both frequently go to 1826, a tiny little restaurant in the center of town (it was built in 1826 – clever, no?) I am a stand-up comedian. My dad was my comedic mentor from the get, even though he was a special agent with the IRS and therefore his stand-up was constrained to toasts and such … the man is a brilliant comic. We are all loud, very, very loud Irish Catholics, with zero ability to whisper.

The first time I saw Butters in town, he was seated very close to me in the Pendleton Cafe and I didn’t yet know he lived in town. I said, in a very loud voice in that very loud restaurant, “That man looks like Lindsey Graham. That IS Lindsey Graham. Oh, my gosh! They put so much make-up on him on TV!” I turned to my dining companions, all of whom stared at me with their mouths wide open. I said, in the same voice, “Did I say that in a normal voice?” And then I realized Butters was sort of cringing, and I was mortified. MORTIFIED.

Cue five years later.

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Mental Health Break

Dec 19 2014 @ 4:20pm
by Dish Staff

Get your hanky:

Would You Report Your Rape? Ctd

Dec 19 2014 @ 4:00pm
by Dish Staff

Several more readers open up:

To echo the sentiments of those before me, thank you so much for continuing this discussion. It has been one year since my rape. I have made a conscious decision not to report the incident and I don’t regret that decision for a minute.

I was 100% sober and many years removed from university. It was about three weeks into a new romance with someone in the same professional field. Earlier in the evening we had engaged in consensual sex. This time, though, he stood up and said “my turn” before forcing me to perform oral sex. I violently tried to pull back but he yanked my hair so hard that each time I tried to fight him he grabbed even harder to the point where there were clumps on my sheets. Paralyzed with fear, my body went limp as he eventually finished.

I rushed to my bathroom, sat on the floor and choked down sobs in my for what felt like hours.

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by Will Wilkinson

Here is one of the most spectacular shifts in public opinion in our lifetime.


What explains this?

Don’t ask the psychologist and social scientists who study political opinion. They don’t know.

One family of influential theories says that our political opinions are “motivated” by certain deep-seated emotional needs. According to one version, the “system justification theory” of Jon Jost, variation in the need to justify the status quo distribution of goods and power in society determines whether one has a broadly liberal or conservative worldview. In other versions of the needs-based theory, our opinions are said to be fixed by the degree to which we are or are not dominated by a need to preserve comforting illusions, or, alternatively, the need to manage uncertainty and fear.

A related line of inquiry posits that variations in political opinion arise from ingrained differences in personality and moral sensibility. Jonathan Haidt’s “moral foundations theory” is probably the best-known. Variation on the six foundations of the moral sense explains whether you have a liberal, conservative, or libertarian cast of mind. All these theories imply that our “values” and corresponding political views reflect idiosyncrasies of personality more than material interests. Indeed, the current consensus view among political psychologists and public-opinion researchers is that, contrary to older tradition in economics and political science, self-interest explains very little about our political alignments and commitments.

What is often overlooked is that both old-fashioned self-interest theories and new-fangled personality-based theories of political opinion are pretty much useless in accounting for the sort of sea change in opinion captured by the chart above. Was there a wild change in people’s interests between 1996 and now? No. Did the distribution of personality types in the American population undergo a rapid transformation. No. It’s a lot simpler than that. People changed their minds.

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What Choice Did Sony Have?

Dec 19 2014 @ 3:20pm
by Dish Staff

Frank Rich feels that that Sony’s hand was forced:

We are witnessing, in Alan Dershowitz’s phrase, the “Pearl Harbor of the First Amendment.”

But this story is far bigger than the threat to the First Amendment. And the vituperation being aimed at Sony for canceling the film’s release — coming from both the left and the right — is a sideshow that misses a bigger point. Before Sony capitulated, every major movie theater chain in the country had pulled out of showing The Interview. The Wall Street Journal reported that the nation’s largest cable company, Comcast, would have refused to show the film — and no doubt would have been joined in this veto by all the other cable and satellite providers if Sony had considered such a distribution alternative. So if Sony canceled a film that couldn’t be shown anyway, was that a cancellation or just a certification of reality? If Sony is a coward, they all are.

Stephen Carter defends Sony and the theaters:

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Putin’s Pugnacious Presser

Dec 19 2014 @ 2:59pm
by Dish Staff

Dish alum Katie Zavadski graciously watched Putin’s annual three-hour press conference (yes, the above video is a trailer for a press conference) so the rest of us don’t have to:

Putin denied accusations that he is inciting a major international conflict in Ukraine, accusing the West — particularly the U.S. — of being in a pot-calling-the-kettle-black situation. “Our budget is $50 billion — the Pentagon budget is 10 times higher. Does anyone listen to us at all? Does anyone have a dialogue with us? No,” he said. “All we hear is ‘mind your own business.’ In the Ukrainian crisis I believe we are right and our Western partners are wrong.” …

But weighing most heavily on the minds of everyone in attendance was the ruble’s recent downward spiral. At the Wednesday low, one U.S. dollar was buying 79 rubles, though the free-fall appears to have stabilized. For some, Tuesday’s value drop called to mind a similar incident 20 years ago, now known as Black Tuesday. He attributed a significant portion of these ongoing economic woes to Western sanctions, introduced in part because of his annexation of Crimea. But the president also told Russians not to worry, assuring them that the economy would rebound. (Indeed, the ruble was up to 61 to a dollar during his address.) “Our economy will overcome the current situation. How much time will be needed for that? Under the most unfavorable circumstances I think it will take about two years,” he said.

Cassidy sizes up that forecast:

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What Does Cuba Mean For 2016?

Dec 19 2014 @ 2:42pm
by Dish Staff

Cuba Parties

Rand Paul came out in support of President Obama’s historic opening with Cuba yesterday, putting him at odds with his putative primary competitors:

“The 50-year embargo just hasn’t worked,” Paul said. “If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working, and probably, it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship. “In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea,” he said.

The senator’s approach separates him from several potential Republican presidential hopefuls, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Paul’s Senate colleagues Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. His more libertarian outlook could win him support in agricultural states like Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential caucuses. Paul’s comments also parallel those of Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wrote in her book “Hard Choices” that the embargo was a failure that gave the Castro regime “a foil to blame for Cuba’s economic woes.”

Kilgore expects Paul to pay a political price for that position:

Perhaps Paul is calculating that no one will care about Cuba policy by the time the 2016 nominating contest gets serious, and that could be true. But if, say, Marco Rubio is in the field, I don’t think Paul will be able to avoid the issue.

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Losing Your Faith In Santa, Ctd

Dec 19 2014 @ 2:20pm
by Dish Staff

Readers join Dish staffers in sharing their stories:

Around age 5, my father took me to the mall for some shopping and the ritual Santa visit. Whatever it was he needed to buy, the journey was unsuccessful on that front, and we traveled enhanced-buzz-13665-1354006755-0 directly to another mall to try again. Of course, there was at this second mall another Santa, one with somewhat different facial features and proportions. I quickly deduced these could not both be Santa, and, QED, Christmas was a fraud.

Pinned with the sudden outburst of my doubts, Dad didn’t miss a beat. “Well of course Santa can’t be at every mall,” he said nonchalantly. “He’s a busy guy, making toys. He has a lot of helper Santas he sends out to find out what people want for Christmas. They’re called ‘subordinate Clauses.'”

Maybe he’d been waiting his whole adult life to make that pun. Maybe it came to him in a brilliant flash. Needless to say I didn’t get it for many more years. But I bought the substance when it counted, and the benevolent illusion was preserved.

Not for this reader:

I believed in Santa until I was five or six. Then I learned about gravity, and I wasn’t sure how the sleigh could fly, since reindeer don’t have wings or jets. The more I thought about the logistics of Santa, the more they bothered me. How did Santa get around the world in one night? The Polar Express, which I loved, implied that he didn’t even get started until after midnight, and that made the whole thing seem even more implausible.

This story has an unexpected twist:

I have an older brother, by 3 years. As with most older brothers, mine delighted in ruining anything I believed in or liked.

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What Can We Do To North Korea?

Dec 19 2014 @ 1:58pm
by Dish Staff

Given how little trade most of the world does with North Korea, further economic sanctions aren’t really an option:

Trade North Korea

Peter Singer, mercifully, rules out war:

We didn’t go to war with North Korea when they murdered American soldiers ​in the 1970s with axes. We didn’t go to war with ​North Korea when they fired missiles over our allies. We didn’t go to war with ​North Korea when one of their ships torpedoed an alliance partner and killed some of their sailors. You’re going to tell me we’re now going to go to war because a Sony exec described Angelina Jolie as a diva? It’s not happening.

As Will noted, Chait recommends that the government make Sony whole. Ambinder disagrees:

I wondered online if Sony could argue somehow that it is too big to fail — that if the attack is tied to a country, then perhaps the company can be indemnified from lawsuits arising from its own alleged neglect. The answer is no.

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