by Dish Staff

How will the midterms change the balance of power in the Senate? The NYT calculates the odds of various scenarios:

Senate Odds

This week McConnell previewed how a Republican Senate would function:

Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown.

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency.

Beutler doubts his strategy will work:

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Two Cheers for Bustle

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:57pm
by Freddie deBoer

While I’m on the subject of making professional online writing sustainable– yesterday, Amanda Hess at Slate took a look back at the first year of Bustle, the controversial women’s site that launched to much derision. That criticism largely stemmed from Bustle’s founder, Bryan Goldberg, and a disastrous announcement he made that made his site sound simultaneously self-important and condescending to its own audience. Internet infamy followed. And yet Hess has found that Goldberg has wooed many of his old critics, and that Bustle has been a massive success in terms of building an audience and securing ad revenue. To which I say: good, I guess?

Goldberg is a dink. His initial rollout of the site was plainly dopey, although from a troll bait, “any publicity is good publicity” standpoint, kind of genius. I can understand why people would be upset that this guy has become a powerful force in women’s media, and that he’s raking in more money. But I think there was a simple reason to cheer Goldberg’s site even back before he did his apology tour: Bustle pays, and it pays women, and that in and of itself is a kind of victory online.

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Foley’s Impossible Ransom

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:38pm
by Dish Staff

Before deciding to murder captive American journalist James Foley, ISIS had attempted to extort an enormous ransom from the US government in exchange for his release:

Long before the dark bluster behind ISIL’s rationale for killing an American civilian, there had reportedly been a call for a ransom. Philip Balboni, Foley’s boss at GlobalPost, told The Wall Street Journal that the captors demanded 100 million euros in exchange for Foley’s release. The New York Times reported the figure as $100 million USD, and says the captors also added other demands, including an exchange of prisoners being held by the United States. … Balboni also told WCVB, that the family received an email last week — after the U.S. began its bombing campaign against ISIL — indicating that they were going to kill Foley. That email made no demands and was “full of rage,” making no suggestion that he could be spared with a payment.

This revelation has left some people wondering why the administration was willing to trade with the Taliban for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but not with ISIS for Foley. Joshua Keating makes the case for why those were the right calls:

As counterterrorism scholar Peter Neumann argued in a 2007 Foreign Affairs article, governments must at times negotiate and even grant concessions to groups it considers to be terrorists. The decision about whether to do so should be made less on the basis of the group’s relative odiousness than on whether such a deal could help stop violence. …

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Teen Pregnancy Is Way Down, Ctd

Aug 22 2014 @ 2:23pm
by Dish Staff

Douthat contends that a “cultural consensus” is to thank for the decline in teen pregnancy, because “the idea that we should (and, just as importantly, can) reduce the teen birth rate unites just about every faction in American politics and culture”:

This possibility makes a case for being relatively optimistic that today’s trend will, in fact, persist, and that tomorrow’s teen birth rate could be lower still than today’s. At the same time, it leaves room for pessimism about whether our culture’s success in this area can be easily translated to the broader problem of adult out-of-wedlock births, adult family instability, and the cultural and socioeconomic problems associated with those trends. …

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by Matthew Sitman

Readers continue to respond to our thread on the books, poems, and stories that have meant the most to them. One reader sent in the above video of Mary Oliver reader her poem “Wild Geese.” Another wryly appreciates this poem:

This makes me chuckle even when I’m in that emotional black hole called depression. It was also one of my late mother’s favorites. From the irrepressible Dorothy Parker:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Another holds close a poem from Jack Gilbert:

The following poem is one that I come back to often for solace during dark times. I studied International Aid in grad school and I think it has given me a good perspective on suffering across the world: on the one hand, there’s more extreme poverty, disease, oppression, general hardship out there than most Westerners ever dream of, and on the other hand, most people across the world find ways to get by and squeeze some joy and meaning out of life anyway, even in the direst of circumstances. This poem reminds me of that.

“A Brief For The Defense” by Jack Gilbert:

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A Party Past Its Prime

Aug 22 2014 @ 1:42pm
by Dish Staff

Despite serious misgivings about the current state of the GOP, David Frum hasn’t given up on the party. But he understands just how big the GOP’s problems are:

Three big trends have decisively changed the Republican Party over the past decade, weakening its ability to win presidential elections and gravely inhibiting its ability to govern effectively if it nevertheless somehow were to win. First, Republicans have come to rely more and more on the votes of the elderly, the most government-dependent segment of the population — a serious complication for a party committed to reducing government. Second, the Republican donor class has grown more ideologically extreme, encouraging congressional Republicans to embrace ever more radical tactics. Third, the party’s internal processes have rigidified, in ways that dangerously inhibit its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The GOP can overcome the negative consequences of these changes and, in time, surely will. The ominous question for Republicans is, How much time will the overcoming take?

Why he still believes conservatism will be reborn:

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A Blow To The Head For Hamas

Aug 22 2014 @ 1:15pm
by Dish Staff

Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed Abu Shammala, one of

The IDF assassinated three Hamas commanders in a strike on a building in Gaza yesterday:

Israeli forces had a day of successful air strikes Thursday, killing three senior Hamas officials just a day after the organization claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. The strikes targeted leaders of Hamas’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. According to Hamas, the strikes killed Mohammad Abu-Shamalah, Raed al-Attar, and Mohammed Barhoum, all highly sought by Israeli forces. The IDF initially only confirmed the deaths of Abu-Shamalah and al-Attar, but later confirmed that Barhoum had been killed as well. … These triumphs against the Qassam Brigades leadership came just a day after Hamas’s Saleh al-Arouri claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and deaths of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel.

Morrissey thinks these assassinations are particularly significant:

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by Dish Staff

Beinart blames the Clintons’ tendency to hold grudges:

The winning-by-losing strategy works best when it gains you some influence over the person who defeats you for the nomination. Sometimes that means earning a place alongside them on the presidential ticket, as Edwards did in 2004. Sometimes it simply means convincing their supporters that you have a bright future and may be worth supporting down the line. The strategy works less well if the person who defeats you becomes your sworn enemy, committed to doing you political harm. It’s the fear that the Clintons may do exactly that that is limiting the pool of willing challengers.

And for good reason. Throughout their careers, Bill and Hillary Clinton have shown a willingness to remember, and punish, political betrayals.

Pivoting off Beinart, Carpenter worries about Hillary’s “self-formulated bubble”:

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by Dish Staff

SYRIA-CONFLICT

The border between Iraq and Syria is meaningless to ISIS, and may soon become meaningless to the US as well, with administration officials dropping hints right and left that the air campaign against the “caliphate” might eventually cross it. The hints began with deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes on NPR early yesterday morning:

“We don’t rule anything out when it comes to the protection of Americans and the disruption of terrorist plotting against the United States. So we would not restrict ourselves by geographic boundaries when it comes to the core mission of U.S. foreign policy, which is the protection of our people.” … When Kelly McEvers floated an idea put forth by Ryan Crocker, former American ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq, that the U.S. work with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad against ISIL, Rhodes dismissed the idea out of hand. Citing a “vacuum” caused by Assad’s policies and “barbarism against his people,” Rhodes explained that ISIL was able to grow because of Assad, not in spite of him.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey rounded out the suggestion in a press conference:

So far the airstrikes against ISIS have been successful, but the New York Times notes that the military’s current strategy is to contain the group, not destroy it. ISIS has been building up its base in Syria for more than a year, and General Dempsey said the threat would eventually have to be “addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border.”

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Our Black-On-Black Crime Fixation

Aug 22 2014 @ 12:21pm
by Dish Staff

Steven Chapman admits that “rates of violent crime are far higher among blacks than among whites” but he wants more attention to that fact that “these rates have dropped sharply over the past two decades”:

There’s another, bigger problem with the preoccupation with “black-on-black crime.” The term suggests race is the only important factor. Most crimes are committed by males, but we don’t refer to “male-on-male crime.” Whites in the South are substantially more prone to homicide than those in New England, but no one laments “Southerner-on-Southerner crime.” Why does crime involving people of African descent deserve its own special category?

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