Mental Health Break

Sep 23 2014 @ 4:20pm

A colorful abstraction of what we look like from the inside:

A reader writes:

In your coverage of the Montana couple denied communion, the age of the priest (27) is important to note. My husband and I (then in our late 20s and very devout) left the Church in 2006 when our retired priest was replaced by a young (and very conservative) one. Pope Benedict had just been elected, and a new (and also relatively young) bishop was appointed to our Diocese making conservative issues his priority. For years we had “hidden” in our little liberal church where we worked to end the death penalty and served in homeless shelters. When a priest would make the national news for denying communion or protesting an abortion clinic, we’d shake our heads and be thankful – that Church was not our Church. But all that came into question when our new priest arrived and the progressive values of our congregation started to wane.

As with their actions against the Nuns on the Bus, American bishops have been dismantling little liberal congregations like mine – and their best weapons are young, conservative priests.

Read On

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

Sep 23 2014 @ 3:38pm

One more round of reader eggcorns:

I’ve been enjoying the thread. And then earlier tonight during happy hour, a friend said: “My Mom has a heart on for Pope Francis.” I didn’t even bring attention to it, I just immediately thought, “I need to write the Dish!”


Someone said “Jew him down” around me when I was 15 and working in an antique store one summer. But I heard “chew him down.”

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“A Thousand Little Saddams”

Sep 23 2014 @ 3:21pm

Reviewing recent Iraqi literature in light of the ISIS uprising, Max Rodenbeck turns to Zaid al-Ali’s The Struggle for Iraq’s Future, which he calls a “well-researched study of how Iraq has gotten into its current, worsening, and possibly terminal mess”:

The departure of Maliki, whose overstay of his welcome made him a sponge for dissent, could offer a window for reconciliation. Mainstream Sunni and Kurdish leaders, as well as some Shiites, had long demanded his exit. Yet the litany of failure that Ali describes is simply too long and wide-reaching to leave much room for optimism. Ali’s own concluding suggestions for how to right things seem sadly perfunctory. He also betrays, in occasional oversweeping judgments and in a peculiar lack of sympathy with the Kurdish yearning for independence (which seems only more justified by the ugly facts he himself reveals), an impractical wistfulness for an imaginary, whole, and complete Iraq.

What came to mind as I closed the book was the damning remark of a distinguished Iraqi exile I met in Kuwait shortly before the 2003 invasion. His father had served as prime minister under the monarchy whose overthrow in the bloody coup of 1958 had led to Iraq’s long era of turbulence. Still, he took a dim view of the looming ouster of Saddam Hussein, and held no dreams of return. “Of course the Americans will get rid of Saddam,” he said. “But what will we have then? A thousand little Saddams.”

And we have set ourselves the impossible task of trying to kill them all. And then what?

How Many New Ebola Cases?

Sep 23 2014 @ 2:58pm


Lena Sun flags a new CDC report suggesting that 1.4 million West Africans could catch the virus by January:

The report released Tuesday is a tool the agency has developed to help with efforts to slow transmission of the epidemic and estimate the potential number of future cases. Researchers say the total number of cases is vastly underreported by a factor of 2.5 in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the three hardest-hit countries. Using this correction factor, researchers estimate that approximately 21,000 total cases will have occurred in Liberia and Sierra Leone by Sept. 30. Reported cases in those two countries are doubling approximately every 20 days, researchers said. “Extrapolating trends to January 20, 2015, without additional interventions or changes in community behavior,” such as much-improved safe burial practices, the researchers estimate that the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could be between approximately 550,000 to 1.4 million.

Meanwhile, Siobhán O’Grady points out a distressing pattern in aid distribution:

Read On

A reader writes:

While I think this is important question, I also find the suicide rates not at all surprising. In fact, it is about as surprising to me as the data about soldiers taking their own lives in record numbers (that is to say, not surprising in the least).

During the middle of my residency in surgery, which was before work hour restrictions, I would go months at time without seeing the sun. I would typically work 80-100 hours a week, take in-house call every second or third night, and deal with all manner of death, dying, stress, and trauma. I was single and had little time to date, much less start a family. Showing fatigue, stating you needed a break, or any other sign that you were suffering resulted in you being labeled weak or whiny.

Read On

The Senate Races Chug Along

Sep 23 2014 @ 2:21pm

David Leonhardt figures that, “while the 2014 election is certainly is not the most important of our lifetimes, it is important in some stealth ways”:

Even if no major legislation is likely in the next two years, the people elected this November will be in the Senate for another four. The 2014 elections could well mean the difference between a Democratic Senate and a Republican Senate in 2017. (The map is more favorable to Democrats two years from now than this year.)

Imagine a Washington in 2017 in which President Marco Rubio and a Republican House want to cut top tax rates sharply — but Senator Bruce Braley, an Iowa Democrat who squeaked out a win in 2014, is part of a 51-member Democratic Senate caucus that stands in the way. Or imagine that President Hillary Clinton wants to push an immigration overhaul — but can’t get any momentum behind a bill in either a Republican-led Senate or House.

Nate Cohn maintains that “there’s plenty of time for Republicans to take the lead as undecided voters make up their minds”:

Read On

Sarkozy’s Unseemly Return

Sep 23 2014 @ 2:00pm

Emily Tamkin furrows her brow at the former French president’s return to the political scene:

One might think that given [his] particularly expansive marital history, Sarkozy would decline to comment on supposed threats to the institution. But non. In a televised interview over the weekend, Sarkozy—who recently announced his intention to return formally to politics and lead his right-wing UMP party—criticized the policies of French President François Hollande, including the current president’s leadership on LGBTQ issues. The thrice-married politician believes that Hollande’s government, in introducing legislation allowing for same-sex marriage, is “humiliating families and humiliating people who love the family.”

Evan Mulvihill argues that Sarkozy’s stance makes him a bad conservative:

Sarkozy said he supports inheritance rights for gay couples, but doesn’t want to create “civil unions” because they would “harm the institution of marriage.” France already has a sort of civil union called PACS. How a conservative politician can justify wanting less families on the planet, we do not know. Would that Sarkozy were more like British PM David Cameron, his neighbor to the west, who has said that he does not support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative, but that he supports it because he is a Conservative.

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Here’s a fact you kinda know already if you watch Fox News, but it’s good to see it quantified in a new Pew poll. 50 percent of white evangelicals believe they are subject to a lot of discrimination, while only 36 percent of them believe the same thing about African-Americans. So it’s not just Bill O’Reilly who’s whining. White evangelical Fox News viewers really do believe they are subject to more discrimination than blacks. But this is not entirely about evangelicals; the belief that your own group is especially persecuted is pretty damn endemic:

While 61 percent of Hispanics say “there is a lot of discrimination against” blacks, 71 percent say the same of themselves … And while Catholics are less apt to see discrimination against their own, fully 33 percent agree that they face “lots” of discrimination. No other group sees Catholics facing even close to that amount of discrimination.

The data has some other little nuggets. When you look at the aggregate views, the balance seems about right to me. The victim pecking order goes like this, from the most victimized to the least: gays; Muslims; blacks; Hispanics; Jews; evangelicals; atheists; Catholics. The most empathetic group? The religiously unaffiliated. They believe that gays, Muslims, blacks and Hispanics have a harder time than they do. How ironic that it’s the faithless who are the most able to appreciate the struggles of other minorities.

What Nate Silver Hath Wrought

Sep 23 2014 @ 1:18pm

Philip Klein points out how “political coverage has moved from feverishly covering horse race polling, to hyping up daily fluctuations in predictive models of which party will control the Senate after 2014″:

Political news abhors a vacuum, and when trying to appeal to a broader audience, it’s inevitable that journalists will boil everything down to the question of “who is going to win?” Data journalism isn’t changing that. All that’s changing is that people are freaking out over fluctuations in statistical models instead of just daily polls.

And the election results won’t tell us which model is superior (at least not yet). John Sides makes that clear:

I will be pleased if our forecasts are correct — especially in races like North Carolina, where early predictions based on the underlying fundamentals were somewhat controversial. And some models might end up performing better in this particular election. But evaluating forecasting models will require many years of elections, not just November’s.

But you could say that this is simply a natural extension of greater and greater sophistication and data processing than anything we’ve done before. So why be surprised that we’re just as OCD now as we were before? We’ve just got more tools to work obsessively – as the interwebs try to capture your attention every second of the day.