When Does Spanking Become Abuse?

Oct 2 2014 @ 12:07pm

Two readers offer a startling contrast to this one’s story of trauma and terror:

I’m not often in agreement with Sean Hannity, but I must agree that Adrian Peterson should not lose his career or go to jail over the abuse of his kid. I don’t see a whole lot of people asking us folks who were actually hit. The courts. The judges. The politicians. The do-gooders, tolerant of everybody except those they deem unworthy of tolerance and understanding. Hardly anyone seems to think that the opinion of the victims should matter the most.

Is it a crime? Should it be a crime? I don’t know where to draw the line, and I’ve been there. At my ripe old-age of 62, I still vividly remember my father hitting my oldest brother – strapped spread eagle to his bed – until his back was covered with deep scarlet welts. I remember my legs shaking so much as it happened that I could hardly stand. I remember my mother smacking me over and over and over again with a fly swatter – her choice of punishment weapon. I remember my father putting a cigarette in my face, threatening to burn me with it.

And never ever ever would I have wanted my father to lose his career or to have to go to jail.

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Ebola Makes It To America, Ctd

Oct 2 2014 @ 11:40am

Texas Hospital Patient Confirmed As First Case Of Ebola Virus Diagnosed In US

Abby Phillip covers how health officials are “tracing” those who’ve been in contact with America’s first Ebola patient, who has been identified as Thomas Eric Duncan:

“We are working from a list of about 100 potential or possible contacts and will soon have an official contact tracing number that will be lower,” Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home. The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”​

A second individual, who Duncan had contact with, is currently under observation. Amanda Taub enumerates the resources the US has to prevent Ebola from doing the same damage it’s done in parts of Africa:

[T]he health care systems in the three worst-affected countries are so poor that basic equipment, including even latex gloves, is often not available.

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What Hobby Lobby Hath Wrought

Oct 2 2014 @ 11:22am

In her dissenting opinion last June, Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that the Hobby Lobby ruling would have far-reaching, unintended consequences. Others agreed. Looking at how the case has been applied in lower courts, Toobin argues that the Notorious RBG was right; the ruling is “opening the door for the religiously observant to claim privileges that are not available to anyone else”:

One such matter is Perez v. Paragon Contractors, a case that arose out of a Department of Labor investigation into the use of child labor by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The F.L.D.S. church is an exiled offshoot of the Mormon Church.) In the case, Vernon Steed, a leader of the F.L.D.S. church, refused to answer questions by federal investigators, asserting that he made a religious vow not to discuss church matters. Applying Hobby Lobby, David Sam, a district-court judge in Utah, agreed with Steed, holding that his testimony would amount to a “substantial burden” on his religious beliefs—a standard used in Hobby Lobby—and excused him from testifying.

But Ilya Somin maintains that the court made the right call, and that denying constitutional rights to corporations would in fact be disastrous:

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“The Rick Scott Is Perfect”

Oct 2 2014 @ 10:48am

Jessica Roy calls this College Republican National Committee ad “just a teensy bit tone-deaf”:

Esther Breger piles on:

The ads, which somehow cost $1 million dollars, are part of CRNC’s campaign to reach young voters in a “culturally relevant way,” as CRNC’s Alex Smith told the Wall Street Journal. (Smith, by the way, is a woman.) And to be fair, Democratic campaigns have also struggled painfully in their attempts to be hip and with it, though at least their gifs and co-opted memes show some awareness of a cultural world beyond basic cable. (Note to Alex Smith: The median age of “Say Yes to the Dress” viewers is 44.)

Bernstein spots perhaps a bigger problem with the ad – it is being used in multiple states:

Making cookie-cutter ads is just asking for trouble.

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The Censor As Literary Critic

Oct 2 2014 @ 10:23am

Drawing on his new book Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature, Robert Darnton declares that censorship is “essentially political; it is wielded by the state” – but also finds that its historical use has gone far beyond just banning certain texts:

Reading was an essential aspect of censoring, not only in the act of vetting texts, which often led to competing exegeses, but also as an aspect of the inner workings of the state, because contested readings could lead to power struggles, which sometimes led to public scandals. Not only did censors perceive nuances of hidden meaning, but they also understood the way published texts reverberated in the public.

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Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Testifies To House Committee On Recent Security Breaches At White House

After a series of security breaches, Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned yesterday. Bryce Covert doesn’t fault Pierson:

This is the first year since 2010 that the agency isn’t operating with a budget below what it requested. And since that year, personnel levels have seen a severe decline. In her testimony before Congress, Pierson said that the agency’s current 550 employees is below “optimal level.”

The understaffing, for which Pierson was not responsible, could have played a significant role in the breach that led to her losing her position. Former secret service agents told the Washington Post that the incident may have been related to the severe staffing shortage in the division responsible for securing the White House. It’s gotten so bad that the agency has had to fly agents in from around the country, who are less familiar with the grounds and response plans.

Ron Fournier mostly blames the state of the Secret Service on the decision “fold it into the fledgling monstrosity that would come to be known as the Homeland Security Department”:

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How We Fund Injustice

Oct 2 2014 @ 8:57am

Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert take a close look at our huge prison population:

Many will seek to make our system of incarceration more “fair.” But as Naomi Murakawa argues in her new book The First Civil Right, it’s precisely this response that feeds an unjust system resources and lends it legitimacy. Many of the initial sentencing acts were meant to provide fair, predictable guidelines, but prosecutors took advantage of them instead to rapidly escalate incarcerations. Money that President Clinton earmarked for “community policing” ended up being used by police for zero-tolerance programs like “stop-and-frisk.” As a result, we incarcerate too many people, for too long, and for the wrong reasons. The necessary agenda—from stopping the “war on drugs” to rejecting carceral force as our first response to social problems—requires not investing more in the existing criminal-justice system, but simply doing less.

Marilynne Robinson’s much-anticipated Lila returns to the small town in Iowa where two previous novels, Gilead and Home, were set – but this time, she focuses on the woman who drifted into the life of the much older Rev. John Ames and gave him an unexpected son. Reviewing the book, Leslie Jamison marvels at the story Robinson tells, which grapples with “what makes grace necessary at all—shame and its afterlife, loss and its residue, the limits and betrayals of intimacy”:

The novel weaves together two narrative threads: the present arc of courtship, marriage, and pregnancy; and the entire past life that delivered Lila to Ames’s church in the first place. Ames, marked by early grief after his first wife and their baby died in Lilachildbirth decades earlier, is no stranger to loss himself. “I had learned not to set my heart on anything,” he tells Lila, and she is drawn to this. “He looked as if he’d had his share of loneliness, and that was all right. It was one thing she understood about him.” When you’re scalded, touch hurts: one of the scalded recognizes another, and touches carefully, always. They are both haunted—Lila by the ghost of Doll, the wild woman who cared for her, and Ames by the specter of the life he never got to live with his first family. Part of the beauty of their bond is a mutual willingness to honor the integrity of their former lives. He prays for the “damned” souls of her past, and she begins to tend the grave of his late wife, clearing weeds and pruning the roses.

Lila takes as its core concern what might have constituted, in another narrative, a happy ending: two lonely souls who never expected happiness somehow finding it. But Robinson’s quest is to illuminate how fraught this happiness is, shadowed by fears of its dissolution and the perverse urge to hasten that dissolution before it arrives unbidden.

Jamison adds these thoughts about the grace suffusing Robinson’s writing:

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A reader adds to the natural gas thread:

The relative merits of methane, coal, and other energy sources should not be considered in a vacuum. As on practically any other issue, real-world practices and legal-institutional incentives have a great influence. The North Dakota energy boom is taking place in a location without the infrastructure (insufficient gas pipeline or local refining capacity) to make a lot of the natural gas yield usable – and without regulations requiring emissions capture. So a lot of the gas is being “flared” – burned off in the oilfields. This flaring adds CO2 to the atmosphere equivalent to that emitted from a million cars a year.

These pictures of the Bakken field from space are pretty dramatic.

Speaking of the Bakken region, Maya Rao took a job at a North Dakota truck stop this summer to get an inside look at booming regional economy and the motley cast of characters fueling it:

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The Best Of The Dish Today

Oct 1 2014 @ 9:00pm
by Dish Staff

Andrew is still on his speech circuit in California, so he’s not able to wrap up the Dish tonight. But if you missed his longer posts, Andrew, above all, laid into the president and various members of his administration for covering up alleged torture at Gitmo. He also took aim at the NYT’s sponsored content guru, Meredith Kopit Levienat, for spreading more “re-purposed bovine waste”, and then blasted Roger Cohen for playing the Godwin card with ISIS. But Andrew himself caught shit from readers over his incessant whining about NYC. More importantly, another reader shared a long and heartbreaking story of child abuse – a post that’s already getting a lot of feedback from readers, so stay tuned for followups.

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. 21 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. One writes:

I finally subscribed. Despite some gripes, your coverage of Obama’s war on ISIS finally did it. Excellent debate.

(If I may put in a small gripe/request on the side: can we please do without horse-race speculation of the “Hillary vs X” type until we actually have declared candidates? Please? Honestly don’t give a hoot about hypotheticals. It’s just noise. Let’s focus on actual events.)

Much more Dish in the morning.