Quote For The Day

Jul 23 2014 @ 10:02am

Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border

“It’s maddening to think that the tremendous military power Israel has amassed is not giving it the courage to overcome its fears and existential despair and take a decisive step that will bring peace. The great idea of the founding of the State of Israel is that the Jewish people has returned home, and that here, we will never be victims again. Never shall we be paralyzed and submissive in the face of forces mightier than us.

Look at us: The strongest nation in the region, a regional superpower that enjoys the support of the United States on an almost inconceivable scale, along with the sympathy and commitment of Germany, England and France – and still, deep inside, it sees itself as a helpless victim. And still it behaves like a victim – of its anxieties, its real and imagined fears, its tragic history, of the mistakes of its neighbors and enemies.

This worldview is pushing the Jewish public of Israel to our most vulnerable and wounded places as a people. The very essence of “Israeliness,” which always had a forward-looking gaze and held constant ferment and constant promise, has been steadily dwindling in recent years, and is being absorbed back into the channels of trauma and pain of Jewish history and memory. You can feel it now, in 2014, within very many of us “new” Israelis, an anxiety over the fate of the Jewish people, that sense of persecution, of victimhood, of feeling the existential foreignness of the Jews among all the other nations.

What hope can there be when such is the terrible state of things? The hope of nevertheless. A hope that does not disregard the many dangers and obstacles, but refuses to see only them and nothing else,” – David Grossman.

(Hat tip: Jeff Weintraub)

(Photo: Israeli soldiers weep at the grave of Israeli Sergeant Adar Barsano during his funeral on July 20, 2014 in Nahariya, Israel. Sergeant Barsano was killed along with another IDF soldier on the twelfth day of operation Protective Edge, when Hamas militants infiltrated Israel from a tunnel dug from Gaza and engaged Israeli soldiers. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images.)

Putting Food On The Table

Jul 23 2014 @ 9:32am

L.V. Anderson comments on Tracie McMillan’s multimedia piece on American hunger:

McMillan takes aim at various misconceptions about poverty and hunger by profiling four families across the country. Think all you need to eat healthy on a budget is cooking skill? Talk to Jacqueline Christian, a mother of two who works full-time as a health aide and wouldn’t have the time or energy to cook even if she weren’t living in a homeless shelter. Think it’s impossible to struggle with hunger if you’re overweight? Spend some time with Christina Dreier, an obese stay-at-home mom in Iowa who skips meals in order to feed her kids tater tots and hot dogs from a local food bank. …

What goes unsaid in McMillan’s article is that the task of feeding children on an inadequate budget falls primarily to women. That women still do the majority of household labor is well known, but usually it’s discussed in the context of middle-class obsessions like leaning in and the mommy wars, not in the context of growing poverty.

Publicists’ Bad Publicity

Jul 23 2014 @ 9:03am

Pivoting off Jennifer Pan’s recent piece on the PR industry, Ann Friedman further examines sexism-tinged stereotypes about women who work there:

The Princeton Review, in its guide to careers for college students, explains that “the successful PR person must be a good communicator — in print, in person and on the phone. They cultivate and maintain contacts with journalists, set up speaking engagements, write executive speeches and annual reports, respond to inquiries and speak directly to the press on behalf of their client.” So why do we associate PR professionals with mindless fakery rather than hard-won relationships and quick thinking?

On a New York Observer list of fictional publicists in pop culture, every notable character since the mid-’80s is a woman — typically sharp-tongued but not supersmart. Think Jennifer Saunders on Absolutely Fabulous, or Debi Mazar on Entourage. One of the most popular sketches on Comedy Central’s Kroll Show is “PubLIZity,” a reality-TV parody starring Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate as vapid pseudo-professionals in neon heels. Even when they’re portrayed as savvy, like Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones, PR people are never intellectual heavy-hitters. They are the working world’s sorority girls: salad-eating, prosecco-ordering up-talkers, manicured to the hilt.

Born With A Silver Lining

Jul 23 2014 @ 8:30am

Zachary A. Goldfarb highlights a recent study showing higher birth weights in poor communities:

Something extraordinary is happening to poor pregnant women…: They’re giving birth to healthier babies. While other economic and health disparities have widened, giving way to huge national debates about inequality, pregnant women at the lowest rung of the nation’s economic ladder are bucking that trend. They have narrowed the gap with wealthier women in the health of their babies.

While experts agree that government policy has been critical to boosting the health of poor newborns, the improvements aren’t because of a single policy or administration. Rather, they reflect improved access to care, as well as a complex array of other factors, some not easily within the government’s grasp to change, from pollution to nutrition to violence at home.

Jessica Grose argues that Medicaid expansion played a major role in this improvement:

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foriegn markets

Yglesias argues that the EU is in the driver’s seat:

Here’s the one fact you need to know to understand where the real balance of power lies: Russia’s top trading partner is the European Union, but the EU’s top trading partner is the United States followed by China. In other words, the 306 billion euro trading relationship is a big deal either way you slice it, but it’s fundamentally a bigger deal for Russia than it is for Europe

And, as Tim Fernholz illustrates with the above chart, the Dutch have significant Russian capital under their control:

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How Immigrants Reduce Crime

Jul 23 2014 @ 7:29am

Exploring the vicious cycle of high homicide rates and declining populations that has afflicted American “murder capitals” like Detroit and New Orleans, Kriston Capps uncovers how other cities have managed to escape that cycle:

Nationwide, violent crime has dropped in two waves. Violence fell just about everywhere in the 1990s, with rates leveling off in the 2000s. Then, around 2007, violent crime dropped again—hugely—in several cities, among them D.C., New York, Dallas, and San Diego. What’s working for these cities?

Immigration.

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The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 22 2014 @ 9:15pm

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:

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.

“Telegenically Dead” Ctd

Jul 22 2014 @ 8:33pm

Israel

As the hasbara machine fails to stymie international outrage over the Gaza campaign, Aaron Blake highlights some polling that suggests American public support for the Jewish state is on the decline:

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows 38 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of Israel, which in recent days has launched a ground operation in Gaza that has resulted in more casualties than its allies would prefer (witness John Kerry’s reaction). The death toll in the current conflict includes more than 500 Palestinians. If you combine CNN and Gallup polling, that’s the most Americans who view Israel in a negative light since 1992. Israel is hardly a pariah on the scale of Russia, and 60 percent of Americans still have a positive view of Israel. But the increase in negative views reinforces an emerging trend in the American electorate: It wants nothing to do with overseas conflict, and would prefer that such conflict didn’t exist.

Keating remarks on the role Twitter has played in leveling the propaganda playing field:

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Keeping Secrets From Ourselves

Jul 22 2014 @ 8:11pm

Joshua Rothman contemplates the “artist’s sense of privacy” in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which he describes as an “inner privacy, by means of which you shield yourself not just from others’ prying eyes, but from your own”:

By learning to leave your inner life alone, you learn to cultivate and appreciate it. And you gain another, strangely spiritual power: the power to regard yourself abstractly. Instead of getting lost in the details of your life, you hold onto the feelings, the patterns, the tones. You learn to treasure those aspects of life without communicating them, and without ruining them, for yourself, by analyzing them too much.

Woolf suggests that those treasured feelings might be the source of charisma: when Peter, seeing Clarissa at her party, asks himself, “What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? … What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?,” the answer might be that it’s Clarissa’s radiance, never seen directly, but burning through. Clarissa, meanwhile, lets her spiritual intuitions lift her a little above the moment. Wandering through her lamp-lit garden, she sees her party guests: “She didn’t know their names, but friends she knew they were, friends without names, songs without words, always the best.” That’s the power of artist’s privacy. It preserves the melodies otherwise drowned out by words, stories, information.

Libya’s Sorta-Kinda Civil War

Jul 22 2014 @ 7:41pm

Tripoli residents are fleeing their homes by the thousands after militia clashes destroyed the country’s main airport and left 47 people dead. A look at the airport:

The Economist brings us up to speed:

Militias from Misrata, frustrated at their failure to capture the airport after a week of fighting with the Zintan militia that holds it, arrived with tanks to pound the perimeter. The Zintanis responded with shells and anti-aircraft fire. As the violence expanded, huge fires burned in the city’s western districts. “A shell hit my neighbour’s house and a lot of people left,” says Seraj, a resident of the western suburb of Janzour. “We stayed inside, it was not safe on the streets.” When the smoke cleared, Zintanis remained in control of the airport, but it is now a shambles of wrecked buildings and burned-out aircraft. …

Without command of any troops willing and able to intervene, Libya’s foreign minister, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, on July 17th asked the UN Security Council to send military advisers to bolster state forces guarding ports, airports and other strategic locations. He warned that Libya risks going “out of control” without such help. But he found no takers. The Security Council, which passed resolution 1973 authorising NATO bombing of Gaddafi’s forces in March 2011, worries about committing troops to a war featuring a mosaic of competing factions. “Whose side are we supposed to intervene on?” asks a Western diplomat in Tripoli.

The government is apparently weighing whether to ask the International Criminal Court to go after the leaders of these militias. Mark Kersten, who finds this idea pretty rich given Libya’s prior refusal to hand over Saif al-Islam Qaddafi to the ICC, is skeptical that it would do anything:

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