The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 29 2014 @ 9:15pm

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Above is an info-graphic from the Washington Post that visualizes the 815 civilian dead in Gaza (it’s updated day by day). The small red figures are children. 232 children have now died under the Israeli assault on Gaza, which originated in the outrage at the murder of three Israeli teens. I cede my time to Roger Cohen:

No argument, no Palestinian outrage or subterfuge, can gloss over what Jewish failure the killing of children in such numbers represents.

And to Jon Chait:

It is not just that the unintended deaths of Palestinians is so disproportionate to any corresponding increase in security for the Israeli targets of Hamas’s air strikes. It is not just that Netanyahu is able to identify Hamas’s strategy — to create “telegenically dead Palestinians” — yet still proceeds to give Hamas exactly what it is after. It is that Netanyahu and his coalition have no strategy of their own except endless counterinsurgency against the backdrop of a steadily deteriorating diplomatic position within the world and an inexorable demographic decline. The operation in Gaza is not Netanyahu’s strategy in excess; it is Netanyahu’s strategy in its entirety.

This does seem to be a tipping point, doesn’t it?

Today, we remembered Tony Judt’s prescience and the shifting American debate on Israel; noted a sea-change among the younger generation of Americans; and chronicled the latest bout of Israeli hating on Kerry and Obama. I tried to pre-empt George Tenet’s doomed attempt to prove he wasn’t a war criminal by authorizing torture; I parsed Montaigne’s conservative disposition – and Oakeshott’s “conservatism of joy“. And we noted the progress on the right marked by Paul Ryan’s latest plan on poverty.

The most popular post of the day was Why Am I Moving Left?, followed by The Shifting Israel Debate.

Some 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. 24 27 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. Dish t-shirts and polos are for sale here. One reader is about to snatch one up:

I’m much taken by the new Dish logo T-shirts and wanted to thank you for producing versions that have only the beagle logo and are thus recognizable only to the cognoscenti. An order will be forthcoming. But surely someone with your experience in pun-laden headlines should not have missed the opportunity to label this approach as “dog-whistle marketing?” Oh, the opportunity lost …

See you in the morning.

Toward A Conservatism Of Joy

Jul 29 2014 @ 8:38pm

Noting that Michael Oakeshott’s classic essay, “On Being Conservative” (pdf) was published nearly sixty years ago, Aaron Taylor notes a few of the distinctive features of what Oakeshott described as “not a creed or a doctrine, but a disposition”:

The real foes of conservatism are not socialism and liberalism, but the reactionary and innovating mentalities. Neither the reactionary nor the innovator share the joie de vivre of the conservative mindits natural inclination to rejoice in and savor what is. They are restless and tormented if things are not in a state of perpetual flux, if “progress” is not being made either backward toward an imagined age of innocence, or forward toward an imagined age of future liberation. If nothing is changing, then nothing is happening. Reactionaries and innovators eschew what Oakeshott calls the conservative mind’s “cool and critical” attitude toward change, advocating instead a radical overhaul of society and its refashioning in the image of a golden age which is either imagined to have existed in the past or lusted after as a possible future.

I think that’s what Dan Drezner is expressing in his formulation of the “Zen Masters'” approach to foreign policy:

These people think that the long arc of history is bending in their direction — that the fundamental strengths of the United States and its key allies are more robust than any potential rivals on the global stage. The worst thing to do, therefore, is to overreact in the short run to things that will balance out in the long run. They don’t believe in getting riled up too much, and that, in the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should. It’s not that they’re unaware of what Russia or China or the Islamic State is doing — it’s that they believe that these actions are short-sighted, counterproductive and very likely to fail. They believe that actors that try to forcibly revise the status quo will pay a serious price.

So, yes, Obama is a conservative. Taylor’s take on the future of this style of conservatism:

Read On

The Ruins Of Gaza

Jul 29 2014 @ 8:09pm

Gaza Damage

The Israeli army is employing what Jesse Rosenfeld calls scorched earth tactics in Gaza, practically leveling entire neighborhoods, as the UN satellite photo above illustrates:

The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the three-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory. What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. …

According to Hebrew University political scientist and longtime analyst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yaron Ezrahi, with or without the phrase ["scorched earth"], the idea does have a certain logic.

Read On

The Lie Behind The War, Ctd

Jul 29 2014 @ 7:40pm

Netanyahu has claimed that “Hamas is responsible” for the recent murder and kidnapping of three Israeli teens. Reporting suggests otherwise. Batya Ungar-Sargon attempts to undermine those reports:

It’s entirely possible that there was some “lone cell” with no more than tenuous Hamas connections—but right now all we have is [BuzzFeed’s Sheera] Frenkel’s ambiguous anonymous source and [BBC’s Jon] Donnison’s source who believes he was misquoted as our only evidence for that proposition.

Sheera Frenkel’s new dispatch provides more info on her source:

[O]ne Israeli intelligence officer who works in the West Bank and is intimately involved in investigating the case spoke to BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity and said he felt the kidnapping had been used by politicians trying to promote their own agenda.

“That announcement was premature,” the intelligence officer said. “If there was an order, from any of the senior Hamas leadership in Gaza or abroad, this would be an easier case to investigate. We would have that intelligence data. But there is no data, so we have come to conclude that these men were acting on their own.”

Meanwhile, Max Fisher, no great friend of Netanyahu, argues that it’s not fair to claim that Netanyahu used these kidnappings as a pretext for war:

Read On

Medicare Gets Its Annual Check-Up

Jul 29 2014 @ 7:13pm


Jason Millman sums up the Medicare trustees’ report:

This year’s verdict: Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be solvent through 2030, which gives the program four more years of solvency than projected in the trustees’ 2013 report. It’s also 13 years later than the prediction issued by the trustees just before passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

Margot Sanger-Katz wonders how long the good news will continue:

Medicare’s trustees acknowledged that the spending slowdown driving their improved forecasts was still mysterious, and that its durability couldn’t be counted on. They are not alone in that view: There’s a healthy debate among academics and health care policy experts about why health spending has slowed recently. “No one knows” what’s causing the slowdown, said Charles Blahous III, the lone Republican among the trustees, at a news conference announcing the findings. Robert Reischauer, another public trustee, agreed that scholars were “many years away” from understanding the slowdown’s precise causes, though he was more optimistic that the slowdown could stick.

Drum posts the above chart:

Read On

Face Of The Day

Jul 29 2014 @ 6:49pm


A special forces soldier precedes a group of members of different Amazonian ethnic groups participating in the traditional military parade commemorating the 193rd anniversary of Peru’s independence in Lima on July 29, 2o14. By Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images.

The Anti-Vaxx Movement Gets Worse

Jul 29 2014 @ 6:14pm

Amanda Marcotte explains:

It’s hard to believe it was possible, but anti-vaccination fanaticism has taken a darker turn, as Chris Mooney reports for Mother Jones: Now, it’s not just vaccines that parents are foolishly rejecting for their children, but also a simple injection of vitamin K that has been a standard part of newborn care since the 1960s. Some parents now find themselves rushing to the emergency room with babies sick with vitamin K deficiency bleeding. “This rare disorder occurs because human infants do not have enough vitamin K, a blood coagulant, in their systems,” Mooney writes. “Infants who develop VKDB can bleed in various parts of their bodies, including bleeding into the brain.” Bleeding in the brain can cause brain damage and, in some cases, death.

Mooney examines the overlap between the anti-vaccine and anti-vitamin crowds:

Read On

The Age Gap On Gaza

Jul 29 2014 @ 5:45pm

Gaza Blame

Aaron Blake parses a new Pew poll asking Americans who’s to blame for the war in Gaza:

While all age groups north of 30 years old clearly blame Hamas more than Israel for the current violence, young adults buck the trend in a big way. Among 18 to 29-year olds, 29 percent blame Israel more for the current wave of violence, while 21 percent blame Hamas. Young people are more likely to blame Israel than are Democrats, who blame Hamas more by a 29-26 margin. Even liberal Democrats are split 30-30. The only other major demographic groups who blame Israel more than Hamas are African Americans and Hispanics.

The poll echoes a Gallup survey from last week. Gallup asked Americans whether they thought Israel’s recent actions were justified. While older Americans clearly sided with Israel, 18 to 29-year olds said by a two-to-one margin (51-25) that its actions were unjustified. No other group was as strongly opposed to Israel’s actions.

Ron Fournier warns Israel of what polls like these portend:

Read On

Data Geeks Are Watching You Flirt

Jul 29 2014 @ 5:12pm

In a post yesterday cheerily titled “We experiment on human beings!”, OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder admitted to conducting Facebook-style research on OKC users. As Sonali Kohli sniffs, the experiments “mostly show that people are extremely shallow and easily manipulated”:

For example, here’s what happened to traffic when OkCupid removed all the pictures from profiles for a day:


When people couldn’t see photos, they left the site in droves. Users who stuck around wound up responding to first messages faster, spent more time chatting than usual and exchanged contact information sooner. But when the photos returned, the blind dates generally stopped talking.

That’s “extremely shallow”? More like extremely human. The way we scope out potential partners doesn’t end when we go online. As Jacob Kastrenakes notes, another experiment involved the outright manipulation of users:

Read On

Noah Smith hails the congressman’s anti-poverty plan as “a sea change in the way Republicans see the role of government”:

In his first inaugural address, Ronald Reagan famously declared: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Over the next 2 1/2 decades, Republicans and conservatives tended to drop the “in the present crisis” part. They’ve treated government as an obstacle to human welfare always and everywhere, instead of a tool that can sometimes be used to improve things. Ryan’s plan is the first glimmer of a big awakening on the right — the realization that the crisis we now face isn’t the same as the one we faced in 1981. Perhaps a decade-and-a-half of falling real incomes and falling mobility has finally cracked the hard shell of triumphal post-Reaganism. If so, the fear that the conservative movement would degenerate forever into obstructionist self-parody — that the Tea Party is the future — has proven unfounded.

Think about it: In 2014, the Republican Party’s main idea man — who just two years ago ran for vice president on the same ticket as a man who called the poorer half of America “takers” — is now proposing to use a government bureaucracy to send social workers to help poor people make more money, while simultaneously mailing them government checks. That is a big, big deal. Compared with that epochal shift, the particulars of Ryan’s plan hardly matter.

Michael Brendan Dougherty agrees:

Ryan’s plan — along with Dave Camp’s tax plan and proposals by Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee on a range of issues — reveals that at least some in the GOP are moving beyond the party’s “You didn’t build that,” anti-47 percent posturing. These proposals constitute green shoots in what had been a policy-thinking desert for the Obama-era right. If I had my druthers, some enterprising senator would pick up a few of Jon Huntsman’s proposed financial reforms.

Read On