Yglesias Award Nominee

Nov 25 2014 @ 6:45pm

“As I was blearily trying to indicate last night, I am open to the argument that McCulloch was in fact not right. I said his critics have a point. And as I read up on the proceeding this morning, I think that point gets stronger. For those who believe Michael Brown was murdered, what they see is a prosecutor who bent over backwards for a police officer in a way he never would have for nearly any other criminal suspect in the dock. McCulloch let Wilson testify at great length … If McCulloch was determined to get an indictment, this process wouldn’t have taken nearly as long … For those who want me to be all on one side or another of this (Twitter has been an ugly place for the last twelve hours), all I can say is that I am honestly conflicted. Even in this obscenely polarizing chapter of American life, not everything is black and white,” – Jonah Goldberg, NRO.

Hating On Click-Bait

Nov 25 2014 @ 6:00pm

Room for Debate covers the insidious practice. Jazmine Hughes feels condescended to:

[T]he majority of backlash against click bait headlines is a response to the forced push of emotion that click bait content foists onto a consumer. The promise that “you won’t believe what comes next” or “you’ll never feel the same” deprives readers of their analytic agency and imposes an uncontextualized reaction on them. It’s aggressive, empty and intellectually reductive — or, simply, super annoying. There’s nothing wrong with an enticing headline, but pique my interest, don’t belittle my intelligence.

And Baratunde Thurston comments on its cry-wolf quality:

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I suspect part of what’s behind the frustration of people like McCulloch is that social media makes everyone a critic. Thousands and thousands of people are watching over your shoulder to see if you slip up, checking what you missed, judging whether you were thorough enough, questioning your agenda. Good. Having everyone watch you do your job, or not do it, may be a pain, it may be stressful, but in an imperfect justice system, it’s not exactly a bad thing.

Tim Mak agrees:

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Obama Bites His Tongue On Ferguson

Nov 25 2014 @ 4:44pm

Last night, Beutler called on the president to give a big speech on Ferguson:

This is Obama’s first opportunity (for lack of a better word) to use the bully pulpit to steer the national agenda in a positive direction since the slaughter at Newtown, Connecticut, and it’s the first time since he became a national figure that he’ll be able to address a racially charged issue without an election in his future to deter him.

But the statement Obama delivered last night, as Cillizza remarks, “was almost doomed from the start”:

The combination of Obama’s status as the nation’s first black president and the powerful visuals coming out of Ferguson, which are catnip for cable TV, made it a) absolutely necessary that he speak about Ferguson on Monday night and b) absolutely inevitable that whatever he said would be criticized by almost everyone emotionally invested in the story — and outrun by events on the ground that were being broadcast simultaneously with his remarks.

That sort of lose-lose proposition is increasingly becoming a hallmark of the modern presidency.

How Ezra understands Obama’s dilemma:

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Mental Health Break

Nov 25 2014 @ 4:20pm

A music video with flash-fires:

Iran Talks Get An Extension, Ctd

Nov 25 2014 @ 3:55pm

Aaron David Miller and Jason Brodsky are skeptical that the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, which were just extended, will ever bear fruit, given the toxic domestic politics in both Tehran and Washington. “But,” they add, “there may well be something even more fundamental at work: a strategic disconnect”:

We can’t end Iran’s nuclear capacity, so we are working to constrain it through buying time. Iran is trying to preserve as much of that capacity as possible while easing and eliminating economic pressure. And Iran is also playing with and for time. There’s really no end state, either on the nuclear issue or sanctions relief. And thus any comprehensive agreement is, by definition, interim at best. That just doesn’t add up in today’s highly charged and suspicion-laden political environment, no matter how moderate and well-intentioned the negotiators themselves may be.

The fact is that Iran knows what it wants: to preserve as much of its nuclear weapons capacity as possible and free itself from as much of the sanctions regime as it can. The mullahs see Iran’s status as a nuclear weapons state as a hedge against regime change and as consistent with its regional status as a great power. That is what it still wants. And that’s why it isn’t prepared — yet — to settle just for what it needs to do a deal. Ditto for America. And it’s hard to believe that another six months is going to somehow fix that problem.

With Republicans champing at the bit to push through more sanctions, Jeffrey Lewis figures any future talks are doomed:

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What To Make Of Ferguson? Ctd

Nov 25 2014 @ 3:21pm

Many readers comment on the story of the week:

After reading some of Darren Wilson’s testimony, I couldn’t help but automatically think of two separate posts I have read on the Dish before – this one, which talks about a study that finds how whites think black people are magical/supernatural, and this one, about how whites, and especially the police, overestimate the ages of black kids. Both of these studies could have some insight into Wilson’s thinking as he unloaded his clip into an unarmed black teenager, whom he described as looking like a “demon” and able to charge through bullets.

Another continues along those lines:

The rhetoric Wilson used may or may not have been “dehumanizing”, but those were the words of a police officer who was so terrified that he didn’t employ any other means of defusing the situation other than with deadly force, and he came to that conclusion in less than 90 seconds. If Wilson truly believed Brown was a “demon”, he had no business wearing a badge or carrying a gun, just based on the complete panic conveyed in his own words. The conduct of the entire Ferguson PD this whole time was that of a police force that held the citizens of the community with deep contempt, so it’s not surprising that Wilson approached this situation immediately as a worst-case scenario. It’s not even a racial reaction in my opinion; it’s a systemic failure of community policing and police training. Given Wilson’s previous run-in with the community where he displayed neither judgement or emotional control, what happened with Brown looks inevitable in hindsight.

Another dissents:

Andrew, I’m begging you for the second time, please don’t make comments about firearms anymore. How can you say Wilson had “no need” to shoot Brown that many times? The reason law enforcement went to high-capacity handguns and dumped the six shooters is because of the ability of people to withstand multiple gunshot wounds and continue fighting (or shooting.) The catalyst for this approach was the 1986 Miami shooting in which to FBI officers were killed AFTER they had shot two bank robbers multiple times. The robbers eventually died of their wounds, but in the meantime, they kept firing and killed the agents. Officer Wilson adhered to his training: shoot until the suspect is on the ground.

Another makes the same argument and adds:

I consider myself a leftist in good standing, but frankly, Mike Brown is to the Left what Benghazi is to the Right.

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The View From Your Window

Nov 25 2014 @ 3:00pm

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay-CA-11-24 am,

Alcatraz Island, California, 11.24 am

The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions is suing Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill, claiming that their admissions policies discriminate against Asian students:

The lawsuit filed against Harvard cites an Asian-American student who was denied admission despite being valedictorian of a competitive high school, achieving a perfect ACT score and a perfect score of 800 on two of the SAT II subject exams, and participating in numerous extracurricular and volunteer activities. The applicant, the lawsuit states, was “denied the opportunity to compete for admission to Harvard on equal footing with other applicants” due to his race.

The suit cites statistical evidence to claim that Harvard holds Asian applicants to a “far higher standard than other students” and that Harvard uses “racial classifications to engage in the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body.”

The data are unassailable:

To get into the top schools, Asians need SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers. In 2008, over half of all applicants to Harvard with exceptionally high SAT scores were Asian, yet they made up only 17 percent of the entering class (now 20 percent). Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in America, but their proportion of Harvard undergraduates has been flat for two decades.

The discrimination against an entire race of students is simply unmistakable. Fixing it could be accomplished not at the expense of racial diversity, but in curtailing affirmative action for athletes and legacy admissions. And there’s evidence that the discrimination is based, in part, on racist stereotypes:

A new study of over 100,000 applicants to the University of California, Los Angeles, found no significant correlation between race and extracurricular achievements. The truth is not that Asians have fewer distinguishing qualities than whites; it’s that — because of a longstanding depiction of Asians as featureless or even interchangeable — they are more likely to be perceived as lacking in individuality. (As one Harvard admissions officer noted on the file of an Asian-American applicant, “He’s quiet and, of course, wants to be a doctor.”)

Why is that kind of thing not an outrage to liberals usually accustomed to seizing questions of racial discrimination with alacrity? Kaitlin Mulhere peruses what ending racial discrimination against Asians would actually lead to:

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Israel demolishes Palestinian attacker's home

In response to the recent spate of “lone wolf” terror attacks in Jerusalem, Israel revived its controversial practice of demolishing the homes of the perpetrators last week:

Israel on Wednesday blew up the house of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem who rammed his car into Israeli pedestrians in October, killing 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorean woman studying in the city. The Wednesday blast, which rocked the densely populated Silwan neighborhood on a steep hillside just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, marked the restart of a policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians responsible for anti-Israeli attacks. According to Danny Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and left-wing activist who tracks developments in East Jerusalem, it was the first punitive demolition in the city since April 2009, when police razed the home of a Palestinian who went on a rampage a year earlier, killing three Israelis.

The government also issued demolition orders to the families of the attackers in last Tuesday’s synagogue massacre. Just imagine for a moment how such a policy—which, to be perfectly clear, punishes entire extended families for the crimes of individuals—would fly in any other Western country, especially if it targeted members of a particular ethnic group. The return of the demolitions speaks volumes about how Netanyahu, who vowed after Tuesday’s attack to “settle the score with every terrorist”, approaches this conflict. For him, it really is about settling scores. Will Saletan remarks on just what kind of message this policy sends to the Israeli public:

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