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.

Read On

But How Will It Play In Miami?

Dec 18 2014 @ 2:02pm
by Dish Staff

Cuba Support

The supposedly implacable, politically powerful bloc of Cuban exile voters in southern Florida has long been one of the obstacles to a rapprochement with Cuba, but Annie Lowrey points out that this bloc isn’t as solidly Republican or pro-embargo as it used to be:

Is there a chance that President Obama’s policy might swing some Cuban-Americans back towards the Republican Party? Certainly, and we won’t know for sure until we get new polling data, likely in a number of weeks. But it is worth noting that those younger Cuban-Americans tend to be much more supportive of diplomatic normalization than their older counterparts. A recent Florida International University poll found that 90 percent of young Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County — 90 percent! — favor having diplomatic relations with Havana. A similar proportion support lifting the travel ban, and just more than 60 percent of young Cuban-Americans support ending the embargo.

Nate Cohn looks at some other evidence that Cuba just isn’t that much of a political flashpoint in Florida anymore:

Read On

Losing Your Faith In Santa

Dec 18 2014 @ 1:37pm
by Dish Staff

When did you stop believing in Santa Claus? Email us your tales of childhood disillusionment and we’ll post the most interesting ones. To start us off, here’s a handful of stories from Dish staffers. Managing editor Chas:

Through a stroke of creative genius, my parents delayed my realization about Santa by at least a few years. When I was 4 or 5, they forged a letter from Santa in which they not only thanked chas-santamy sister and me for leaving some food, pizza, for the reindeer, but they actually printed, in pizza sauce, a single hoof print on the letter. This became irrefutable evidence of the existence of Santa and his reindeer, which I held tight to for years as more and more classmates and friends learned the truth and attempted to convince me. I remember actually citing the letter in one particularly contentious debate around the lunch table in 4th grade. Finally, as with many, it was my own snooping around for presents that finally exposed the lie. I found a Sega Genesis box with a price tag in my parent’s closet, and then on Christmas morning it was one of the gifts I’d received from Santa.

Thinking back I think the hoof print was actually from one of our cats, so how I mistook it for a hoof I have no idea. Also, you’d think the similar handwriting would be a dead-giveaway too.

Dishtern Phoebe:

As a child – not sure how old – I was at a Christmas party for my father’s work, and I confessed to the Santa that I was Jewish. The man in the Santa suit, a colleague of my father’s, told me not to worry – he was Jewish, too.

Associate editor Tracy:

As a four-year-old, I had the bright idea of asking Santa to sign the note I left out with his milk and cookies. So with my parents’ help, I drafted an entreaty along these lines:

Read On

by Dish Staff

James Poniewozik wants the film made available on demand – now:

Maybe Sony is waiting to see if it can put the film in theaters later; maybe it’s afraid of further cyber repercussions. But if this is an issue of principle, then act like it. Americans have broadband, big-screen TVs, and plenty of free time around Christmas. Give us the chance to make our own statement, if we so choose, to show that we don’t want bullies squelching our expression.

Artists and audiences lost an unprecedented battle here. But we can still win the war, even if we have to do it in our living rooms.

Aisha Harris agrees:

Read On

The End of Serial, Part Two

Dec 18 2014 @ 12:47pm
by Michelle Dean

Adnan Syed

Well, it’s over. And naturally, in the way of Serial, my view on it is an internally incoherent, conflicted mess.

I suppose if you are afraid of spoilers you’d better stop reading here, though I’ve always thought the idea of being “spoiled” maps awkwardly onto non-fiction.

But I can’t write about Serial without calling today’s episode “meandering.” Over close to an hour, Koenig wandered through new interviews that didn’t resolve any questions, dropped a quick serial killer theory into the mix and digressed for quite awhile about AT&T billing practices. And then she came to a careful, qualified and ultimately inconclusive, er, conclusion:

If you asked me to swear that Adnan Syed is innocent, I couldn’t do it. I nurse doubt. I don’t like that I do, but I do. I mean most of the time I think he didn’t do it.

My first thought was that a lot of people are going to write editorials about how unsatisfactory an ending this was. That was a theme of Serial commentary for the beginning: people were begging for the catharsis of a good ending. They were maybe begging for it a little too hard, myself included. Some people wanted a good story; others wanted good reporting. I tend to agree with the Texas Monthly‘s Pamela Colloff, who I interviewed for the Guardian last week about Serial. I think it’s better to have some idea where you’re going with a story, as a reporter, before you put it in front of the public.

But overnight I got to thinking about the analogy people sometimes draw between Serial and the Paradise Lost documentaries about the West Memphis Three. It’s certainly true that the first of those did more or less what Serial did. Gathering a great deal of information about an unsatisfying case up in its arms and then dumping it onto the screen, the documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky simply sowed doubt. In fact, the first two documentaries point the finger at what was ultimately determined to be the wrong alternative suspect, if anything. They were just as digressive and speculative as Serial. And yet: those documentaries did ultimately lead to the West Memphis Three getting out of prison.

Though even now, after their release, it’s still not clear who murdered the three children in Robin Hood Hills. And even though it pretty clearly wasn’t Damien Echols, Jesse Miskelley, and Jason Baldwin, technically, on paper, they haven’t been exonerated. They entered an Alford plea, which is something of a declaration of stalemate where the truth is concerned. So even the catharsis of that ending was a little false, a little ersatz.

A lot about innocence and guilt is about gut feeling. Jurors vote based on gut feelings. And at least Koenig’s honest about what’s animating hers:

Read On

Jeb’s Electability Argument

Dec 18 2014 @ 12:30pm
by Dish Staff

Jeb Bush Favorables

Kilgore finds it wanting:

[D]espite his name ID, his resume, and his “centrist” positions on at least some subjects, this on-paper “winner” is not very popular with the general electorate. In two solid years of being pitted against Hillary Clinton in polls, Bush has not led a single one, and trails her in the latest RealClearPolitics average by over 9%. That’s a poorer margin than for Ryan (6%), Christie (7%), and Huckabee (8%), and about the same as for Paul. Ted Cruz is the only regularly polled putative GOP candidate running significantly worse than Bush against HRC (an RCP average gap of 13%), and that’s largely because he’s far less well-known.

Hillary may currently beat him in the polls, but Frum insists that Jeb entering the race is bad news for her:

Read On

by Will Wilkinson

Michelle’s post on the the difficulty of teaching rape law in this, the age of the “trigger warning,” put me in mind of my graying Gen-Xer suspicions that kids these days are entitled precious overdramatic snowflakes too poignantly damaged by their not-very-harsh lives to conduct adult conversations about adult topics, and that this triggering business is bosh.

Trauma is all-too-real, and experiences that throw those who have been traumatized back into painful memories of their trauma are all-too-real. But how common is it, really? How important is it, really, to avoid triggering events? Is not being reminded of a trauma others cannot be reasonably expected to know anything about the sort of thing to which we might be morally entitled? Does anyone have a right not to be triggered, such that we’re all obligated not to do it? Is there any science about this that might help answer these question? It turns out there is! And because it confirms my biases I am eager to share it with you.

Read On

The View From Your Window

Dec 18 2014 @ 11:40am


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 10.25 am

Would You Report Your Rape? Ctd

Dec 18 2014 @ 11:25am
by Dish Staff

This reader thread, sparked by Danielle Campoamor’s story, is among the most powerful ones we’ve had this year. So far we’ve heard from a convict who was raped in prison, a white coed assaulted by a black basketball star, a young teenager sexually abused by his teacher, a followup from a woman who told us about her rape, and several others. Our next installment is from a gay reader – with an unexpected twist:

When I was 26, I was raped while traveling to London. I stayed several days longer than my straight friends and decided to go hit up the gay bars after they left. I met a guy from Germany, we danced and decided to go back to my hotel room. At some point he started to try to put it in. I told him that I wasn’t bottoming unless he wore a condom and that I didn’t have any. He held me down and went at it anyway. Which is the dictionary definition of rape, isn’t it?

I did not report the incident immediately and waited till I returned to the US several days later to seek treatment. I was honest with the doctor about what happened. She exerted extreme pressure on me to report the incident and get counseling. The process of trying to report such a crime is horrible. The police engaged in every behavior victim’s advocates dislike; victim blaming, disbelief, and homophobia were a constant.

Read On

Hollywood Lets The Terrorists Win

Dec 18 2014 @ 11:02am
by Dish Staff

Columbia Pictures' Premiere Of "The Interview" - Arrivals

Cyber war expert Peter Singer calls Sony canceling the theatrical release of The Interview “a case study in how not to respond to terrorism threats”:

We have just communicated to any would-be attacker that we will do whatever they want.

It is mind-boggling to me, particularly when you compare it to real things that have actually happened. Someone killed 12 people and shot another 70 people at the opening night of Batman: The Dark Knight [Rises]. They kept that movie in the theaters. You issue an anonymous cyber threat that you do not have the capability to carry out? We pulled a movie from 18,000 theaters.

Eugene Volokh is also dismayed:

I sympathize with the theaters’ situation — they’re in the business of showing patrons a good time, and they’re rightly not interested in becoming free speech martyrs, even if there’s only a small chance that they’ll be attacked. Moreover, the very threats may well keep moviegoers away from theater complexes that are showing the movie, thus reducing revenue from all the screens at the complex.

But behavior that is rewarded is repeated.

Read On