The Best Of The Dish Today

Sep 23 2014 @ 9:15pm

First Day Of Autumn In Richmond Park

My friend Damon Linker didn’t take so well to Zeke Emanuel’s piece on why he hopes to die at the age of 75. Money quote from Damon:

Reading Emanuel’s essay, I began to despair — not just about the moral outlook it expresses, but about whether its readers will even recognize how monstrous it is. Emanuel has taken the ethic of meritocratic striving that currently dominates elite culture in the United States and transformed it into a comprehensive vision of the human good. Viewed in its light, the only life worth living is one in which you endlessly, relentlessly strive to look as smart and clever as possible in the eyes of other smart and clever people. The ultimate goal of such a life is to be considered the smartest and cleverest person of all. Once old age or any other misfortune gets in the way of continually striving for that goal, one might as well cease to exist.

I think that’s an over-reaction. One does not need to embrace the cult of “achievement” or “success” to find old age, especially really old age, to be increasingly burdensome, and therefore not worth extending indefinitely at the cost of everything else. I suppose you could come away from Emanuel’s piece thinking that it values human productivity as the sole human good and thereby tacitly endorses a “eugenic” point of view. But that’s not what I took from it.

Here’s what I took from it. Life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon for most of us. And it has a very different pace at the end than at the beginning. Accepting this slower pace does not mean we should end the race before it’s over; it merely means that toward the end, the kind of things we might have done to our bodies to keep them fully poised for the future should not be our top priority. I’ve long joked that if things get really bad for me in my 70s, I’ll just stop taking my AIDS meds. But it isn’t entirely a joke. A graceful acceptance of one’s ultimate term limit can be a source of joy and peace and freedom, as opposed to the desperate life-extending mentality that leaves so many of us to die in intensive care. It is a more natural and less hubristic way to live. And to die. I have a feeling Montaigne would approve.

Today, we witnessed the launch of yet another bombing campaign against yet another country in yet another war authorized neither by Congress nor the UN. We observed the power and endurance of golf in China; the self-pity of most minorities and especially white evangelicals; Tocqueville’s insights into the current Middle East religious wars; and Nicolas Sarkozy’s chutzpah when it comes to saving marriage from the gays. Plus: results from one of the toughest window view contests ever. One contestant writes:

It’s obvious I can never win the VFYW contest. I mean, this week I identified Iqaluit, of all places. I found the right apartment building. I found the right apartment. I even found the right window. But I didn’t find the right part of the window! Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say. It feels like Lucy has whisked the football away again.

In other news, I finally broke down, got over my cheap ways, and bought a subscription.

Join him and about 20 others today here, for as little as $1.99 a month. The top two posts today were Does The GOP Really Give A Shit About The Debt? and Can The Church Survive in America? Many of the other posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. Gift subscriptions available here. Dish t-shirts and polos are still for sale here.

See you in the morning.

(Photo: A red deer is seen through the morning mist in Richmond Park on September 23, 2014 in London, England. Tuesday marks the autumn equinox where day and night are of equal lengths. By Rob Stothard/Getty Images.)

Remembrances Of Things Freud

Sep 23 2014 @ 8:36pm

Michael S. Roth defends the Austrian’s relevance 75 years after his death:

Freud recognized that we are animals that respond to our biology through memory and story-telling. Psychoanalysis became a vehicle for telling those histories in ways that acknowledged our conflicting desires. Psychoanalysis isn’t a methodology to discover one’s true history; it is a collaboration that allows one to refashion a past with which one can live. The need to do so, and the impossibility of ever doing so definitively, has ensured the continued presence of Freud in our culture.

Seventy-five years after Freud’s death, we might well ask how we live with the intensity of these stories; how do we manage their meanings? Well, we now have culturally approved pharmaceuticals. The intensity and ambivalence of our desires have given rise to massive attempts to control them, and those controls have sometimes fueled these very desires. We may find that our medications create the desire for the feeling of intensity that they were supposed to protect us from.

Jon Kelly points out that “the gap between the pub Freud and what Freud actually wrote is often quite large”:

Read On

Douthat identifies a few:

To the extent that these strikes have a limited military objective that either connects directly to the Iraqi front (by denying the Islamic State a secure rear) or targets groups plotting more actively against the United States, they trouble me much less than a more open-ended strategy in which we seek to conjure up a reliable ally (“you know, whatever the Free Syrian Army ever was,” to quote a U.S. official in Filkins’ piece) to be our well-armed boots on the Syrian ground.

Or put another way:

Read On

Oreilly

Oy vey:

[O'Reilly] knows advocating for American troops to take up the fight themselves is extremely unpopular. O’Reilly, problem solver that he is, has a solution: “elite fighters who would be well paid, well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world.” Since that worked so well in Iraq last time around. What we need is more Blackwater. In the O’Reilly fantasy, the 25,000-person force would be English-speaking, “recruited by the USA and trained in America by our special operations troops,” and dubbed “the Anti-Terror Army,” because the Avengers is already taken.

Allahpundit dismantles O’Reilly’s pipe dream:

The flaw is that there’s no obvious next step if the mercenaries succeed in routing ISIS from Raqqa and eastern Syria. Who takes over and rules that half of the country if that happens? Assad? He’ll butcher the Sunni civilians there and the Sunnis know it. A new sectarian rebellion against the regime would spring up overnight. Some sort of multinational Sunni force of Saudi, Turkish, and Jordanian troops? Iran will never let the Saudis have that kind of foothold, and besides, none of those countries want the headache of pacifying radicalized Sunni Syrian civilians. NATO doesn’t want it either, of course; an army of western peacekeepers would be even more culturally estranged from Syrian Arabs than a multinational Sunni force would.

The theoretical virtue of Obama’s “arm the Syrian moderates” plan is that if the moderates were to defeat ISIS, they’d be comparatively well positioned to take over as rulers of eastern Syria. They’re natives and they’re Sunnis; they’re probably acceptable to the locals. But of course, the moderates aren’t going to defeat ISIS, which puts us back at square one.

(Image via Barbara Morrill)

Face Of The Day

Sep 23 2014 @ 7:20pm

John Key Photo Opportunity With Maori Party & Act Party

Newly elected New Zealand Prime Minister John Key greets Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell at The Beehive in Wellington, New Zealand on September 23, 2014. On Saturday evening, the National Party leader was re-elected after defeating Labour opposition leader David Cunliffe. By Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images.

Choosing “Yes”

Sep 23 2014 @ 6:41pm

Freddie responds to Vanessa Grigoriadis’s piece on campus rape:

I think that it’s a mistake to create different standards of consent for college students. The potential unforeseen consequences scare me, and besides, a central aspect of the fight against sexual assault is to insist that rape is rape. I think it sends a retrograde message to suggest that there is a different standard that is applied only to college students. I would argue that a clear takeaway from the New York piece is that the establishment of this entire separate legal system for campus sexual assaults, while undertaken with good intentions, has added a layer of complexity and lack of accountability that has backfired badly. …

I feel strongly that explicit consent laws actually undercut the absolute ownership by the individual over her or his own sexual practice.

Read On

Scaring Up Some Votes

Sep 23 2014 @ 6:15pm

The Republicans are already using ISIS as a wedge issue:

Sargent passes along a new Scott Brown ad that also hypes the ISIS threat:

It’s true that the President’s approval on terrorism has plummeted and the GOP now holds a huge advantage on foreign policy. Republican strategists have been pretty explicit in explaining that they see this as a way to exploit a general public sense that things have gone off the rails, and polls do show high wrong-track numbers and rising worry about terrorism. If things go wrong, which is certainly possible, this could well redound to the benefit of Republican candidates.

But for now, it’s hard to imagine that arguments such as Brown’s above are going to cut it. After all, if GOP candidates are really going to paint the U.S. response to ISIS as insufficiently realistic about the nature of the threat, then that should theoretically open them up to thequestion of whether they support sending in ground troops. You’d think that if the criticism continues now that operations are underway, it would be harder for them to duck that basic follow-up.

Waldman agrees that ISIS fear-mongering is unlikely to work:

Read On

The View From Your Window

Sep 23 2014 @ 5:45pm

Herzlyya-Israel-12pm

Herzlyya, Israel, 12 pm

Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, writing in Politico, wants the US to target Assad, not just ISIS:

Assad’s record presents clear evidence: If his regime somehow survives the current conflict, ISIL will mysteriously regenerate itself while Assad approvingly observes. Unless the United States wants to be striking ISIL in Syria yet again in another five to 10 years, America should hit Assad now.

Larison pulls his hair out:

Attacking Syrian regime forces would drag the U.S. into a much larger, riskier, and more ambitious campaign that could have very dangerous consequences for U.S. pilots and could create yet another crisis in U.S.-Russian relations. The war against ISIS already promises to be long and desultory, and a war against the Syrian regime would make everything harder, raise the costs of the ongoing campaign, and risk the possibility of regime collapse and the even greater chaos that would consume the country as a result. The war against ISIS is a serious mistake, but fighting both the regime and ISIS at the same time would be a disaster.

Quote For The Day

Sep 23 2014 @ 4:45pm

Syrians fleeing the war in their country wait to cross into Turkey

“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” – Barack Obama, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, December 10, 2009.

(Photo: Syrians fleeing from clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants and Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces in the Ar-Raqqah Governorate of Syria, wait at the Turkish-Syrian border to cross into Turkey on September 19, 2014 in Suruc district of Sanliurfa province of Turkey. By Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)