Should ISIS Be Censored?

Aug 21 2014 @ 3:37pm
by Dish Staff

E.W. argues against Twitter and YouTube’s decisions to scrub the video of James Foley’s murder:

Censorship proponents are of the mind that the ISIS video constitutes propaganda and that its dissemination furthers ISIS’s aims. It is true that extremist groups have been known to use social media as a means to circumvent the checks media organisations employ to stop the spread of propaganda. But the video isn’t only propaganda. And since when has that label been sufficient grounds for censorship anyway? The amount of online content that could be wiped from social media if this reasoning was applied uniformly would be staggering. …

Twitter is not television. No one is being forced to view the footage. Evening news shows can decline to show the video because not all their viewers might be comfortable seeing it. But people have to be able to access it on their own if they wish. It’s completely understandable that family members don’t want footage of a loved one’s death to spread, but it’s not clear that that’s their decision to make.

Earlier this week, J.M. Berger noted that support for ISIS on Twitter had been falling since the revelation that the group had massacred some 700 people in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor:

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Teen Pregnancy Is Way Down

Aug 21 2014 @ 3:24pm
by Dish Staff

According (pdf) to the CDC:

Teen Pregnancy

Jason Millman unpacks the news:

Though the United States lags behind other countries, the CDC says the progress made since 1991 has amounted to 4 million fewer teen births. Citing research from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the CDC says this also saved taxpayers an estimated $12 billion alone in 2010 from costs associated with government-funded health care, child welfare and higher incarceration rates of teen moms. And having fewer babies born to teen mothers, the CDC points out, is good for other reasons. Teen motherhood comes with a higher health risk for the baby, educational limits for the mother and limited resources, since about 90 percent of teen births are to unmarried mothers. And babies born to teen mothers are more likely to eventually become teen mothers themselves.

Tara Culp-Ressler has more details:

The steepest declines in the teen birth rate appear to be occurring in the areas where it’s historically been the highest. Southern states — where the teen pregnancy rate has beensignificantly higher for years — have seen the largest drops, although there’s still a noticeable disparity between states in the South and states in the Northeast. Similarly, while teen births have declined across all racial groups, they’ve recently fallen the fastest among Hispanic women, who currently have the highest rate.

But what caused the decline? Jordan Weissmann addresses the question:

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by Jonah Shepp

SYRIA-CONFLICT

Lionel Beehner quibbles with Marc Lynch’s assessment that if the US had given arms to the Syrian rebels early on in the civil war, it would not have shortened the conflict or prevented the collapse of the state and the rise of ISIS. After highlighting some political science research to show that the question of whether outside interventions can help end civil wars is not settled, he throws this bomb:

Perhaps, then, the question we should be asking is not whether third-party interventions are, on average, helpful or harmful to civil war termination. The answer invariably is: Well, it depends. Rather, we should be asking: Is the world back in a 19th century multipolar paradigm, whereby civil wars were primarily fought between pro-democracy versus conservative/monarchist forces, and the latter typically won because their interventions were more robust and one-sided? …

In the current context, the anti-democratic axis as it were – that is, the Russia’s and Iran’s of this world – appear more willing to go “all in” to support their “proxies” than their pro-democracy counterparts in the West. That means we may be getting into bidding wars not that we can’t win – we have the bank and arms to outspend and out-supply just about anyone – but which we lack the will to win, whether due to flagging public support, setting too high a bar of excellence for our rebel or regime proxies (or fear of Mujahidin-like blowback), or – and this is where the 19th century comparison may be apt – because the stakes for us are perceived to be lower than they are for the Putins of this world.

Beehner can’t seriously believe that civil wars today are “primarily fought between pro-democracy versus conservative/monarchist forces”. On what side of this Manichaean divide would he place the Ukrainian separatists? Is the Muslim Brotherhood “pro-democracy” or “conservative”? What about Hamas? Which side is “pro-democracy” in Libya? Or Afghanistan? Or Sudan, or the Central African Republic, or Mali, or DR Congo? And for that matter, are all opponents of the Syrian regime “pro-democracy”? We know the answer to that one. Beehner’s broad characterization of contemporary civil wars seems breathtakingly reductive to me. Responding to it, Daniel Larison rightly warns against “projecting Westerners’ preferences onto anti-regime Syrians”:

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Rand Paul’s Appeal To The Young

Aug 21 2014 @ 2:37pm
by Dish Staff

Harry Enten thinks it has been greatly exaggerated:

Since the beginning of the year, there have been eight live-interview national polls that detail results among young voters (ages Paul Youth Vote18 to 29 or 18 to 34), and matched Paul against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Together, these polls give us the views of more than 1,000 young voters. The same polls matched Clinton against Christie. The surveys show that young voters don’t see any difference between Paul and other Republican politicians. …

The median of the eight surveys shows that among young voters, Paul trails by 17 percentage points more than he trails among all voters. That would represent a slight improvement over Romney, who lost young voters by 20 points more than he did voters overall. Still, Paul’s and Romney’s relative performances with young voters are within the margin of error of each other.

Ponnuru points out that Paul’s performance with young voters was underwhelming when he won his Senate seat:

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by Freddie deBoer

Apps

For awhile now, I’ve been arguing against the notion of a STEM shortage, the idea that our labor problems stem in part from a failure to produce enough graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields to meet demand. This idea is, well, just wrong, plainly wrong. I aggregated a lot of the data here, and here’s a great piece from The Atlantic by Michael Teitelbaum making the case. I have been committed to debunking this idea for two major reasons. First, because facts matter, and one of the most dangerous things to us as a society are those ideas that sound good from a narrative point of view but lack factual backing. The idea of the STEM shortage plays into a bunch of our petty prejudices, most powerfully our idea of the future. But the data simply doesn’t back up that notion.

The second reason is because the notion of a STEM shortage plays into a misguided and destructive vision of our economy– a moralizing notion of our labor market where your outcomes are all a matter of choices that you have made. This is the chumps narrative, where people who have suffered in our labor market have done so because they have pursued foolish, “impractical” careers or education. Virginia Postrel has written cogently about this phenomenon in the past, pointing out, among other things, that it isn’t the case that people with supposedly impractical majors systematically underperform the average, and also that they are such a small slice of the labor force that they can’t possibly account for our problems. I’ve pointed out many times before that going to law school went overnight from being the mercenary path for those bent on riches to a pie-in-the-sky, impractical move for dreamers, as soon as the law job market collapsed. The narrative changes to preserve the idea that individuals are responsible for their own joblessness, and in so doing keeps us from pondering systemic change.

Look at the app economy, which was meant to be the hot new ticket into the land of abundance. (See this 2012 piece from The Atlantic for an indicative example of app economy woowoo.) What could better play into our notions of how to get ahead in America in this new age than the app economy? It’s dynamic! It’s innovative! It’s disruptive! Gone are the days of putting on a suit to go work in some stodgy firm. These days, it’s all about being your own boss, building an app with some buddies in your dorm room, and reaping the whirlwind. It’s a Tom Friedman wet dream, an Aspen Ideas Festival panel sprung to life, the validation of every buzzwordy Wired article and Business Insider post you’ve ever read.

Whoops!

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The Cost Of Raising A Kid

Aug 21 2014 @ 1:38pm
by Dish Staff

It’s absurdly expensive:

It costs approximately $249,930 on average for a two-parent, middle-income family to raise an American child from birth until age 18, according to a Department of Agriculture report released on Monday. The data were adjusted for inflation for 2013, and they ultimately show that child-rearing prices have skyrocketed more than many people imagined over the course of the last half-century. The report considers the costs of housing and utilities, food, transportation, clothing and diapers, healthcare expenses, childcare and education, as well as “miscellaneous costs” such as entertainment and personal care products. As Think Progress notes, the report conspicuously fails to include birth-related costs or the costs of lost time, earnings and opportunity that many people give up (overtly or not) by deciding to have kids. Additionally, the report fails to consider the cost of college, which costs parents approximately $30,000 to $40,000 per year.

Josh Zumbrun throws some cold water:

[A] closer look at the methodology casts some of the numbers in a new light.

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Too Much Gun For A Small Town

Aug 21 2014 @ 1:21pm
by Dish Staff

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Amanda Taub spells out why militarized small-town police are especially dangerous:

When the ACLU asked officials in the town of Farmington, Missouri (less than a 90 minute drive from Ferguson) to provide a copy of training materials for its Special Response Team, which is roughly like a SWAT team, the town sent only a copy of a single article. The article warned that “preparations for attacks on American schools that will bring rivers of blood and staggering body counts are well underway in Islamic training camps,” and went on to say that “because of our laws we can’t depend on the military to help us … By law, you the police officer are our Delta Force.”

In contrast, SWAT programs in larger cities tend to train extensively, and constantly. The Los Angeles police department’s SWAT teams go through months of intensive training before being brought on, and once there spend at least fifty percent of their on-duty time training, former LAPD Deputy Police Chief Stephen Downing told me. It is effectively impossible, Downing suggested, for small police departments to appropriately train their officers in the use of SWAT-style equipment, because they simply do not have sufficient resources or personnel. Small departments simply do not have the resources to support that type of program, but they do have the guns and trucks and armor, which they use.

Taub also runs down some of the military equipment the Ferguson cops are using:

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by Dish Staff

In the wake of James Foley’s murder, Fred Kaplan urges Obama to start building a regional coalition to defeat ISIS:

If the jihadists of ISIS are as dangerous as Obama says they are (and the evidence suggests they are), then it’s time to plow through diplomatic niceties and pursue the common interests of nations with which we otherwise might not get along. Yes, it’s politically awkward, to say the least, for Obama to make common cause, even on this one issue, with Assad (a monster whom he once said “must go”) and the mullahs of Tehran (most of whom regard America as the “great Satan”). But in World War II, Roosevelt and Churchill joined with Stalin to defeat Hitler—and, if they hadn’t, Hitler would have won.

The net against ISIS should be widened further. A good model here is the 1990–91 Gulf War, in which Presidents George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker assembled a vast coalition to push Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait. Nearly every Arab country in the region—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, even Syria—sent whole armored divisions or air wings. Many of them didn’t do much in the war, but the important point was that they were there. Their presence demonstrated that this wasn’t a war of Western imperialists against Muslim Iraq; it was a multinational war against aggression.

Jacob Siegel expects the US intervention in Iraq to escalate, but points out that merely holding the recent gains against ISIS will require a sustained involvement anyway:

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Living In Fear Of The Police

Aug 21 2014 @ 12:39pm
by Dish Staff

Lanre Akinsiku shares what it’s like:

To be black and interact with the police is a scary thing. The fear doesn’t have to come from any kind of historical antagonism, which, trust me, would be enough; it can also come from many data points of personal experience, collected over time. Almost all black men have these close-call-style stories, and we collect and mostly keep them to ourselves until one of us is killed. You know how the stories go: I was pulled over one day and the cop drew his gun as he approached my window; I was stopped on the street, handcuffed and made to sit on the sidewalk because the cop said I looked like a suspect; I had four squad cars pull up on me for jaywalking. We trade them like currency. And it almost goes without saying that these stops are de facto violent, because even when the officer doesn’t physically harm you, you can feel that you’ve been robbed of something. The thing to remember is that each of these experiences compounds the last, like interest, so that at a certain point just seeing a police officer becomes nauseating. That feeling is fear.

Relatedly, Coates recalls, “A few weeks ago I received an anxious text from my wife informing me that a group of young men were fighting outside of our apartment building”:

My wife wanted to know what she should do. She was not worried about her own safety—boys like this are primarily a threat to each other. What my wife wanted was someone who could save them young men from themselves, some power which would disperse the boys in a fashion that would not escalate things, some power. No such power exists. I told my wife to stay inside and do nothing. I did not tell her to call the police. If you have watched the events of this past week, you may have some idea why.

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by Freddie deBoer

I’ve developed something of a reputation as a socially liberal critic of today’s social liberalism. I got an email from a Dish reader who asked me to flesh out where I’m coming from.

I guess what it all comes down to, for me, is that social liberalism was once an alternative that enabled people to pursue whatever types of consensual personal behavior they wanted, and thus was a movement that increased individual freedom and happiness. It was the antidote to Jerry Fallwell telling you that you were going to hell, to Nancy Reagan saying “just say no,” to your conservative parents telling you not to be gay, to Pat Robertson saying don’t have sex, to Tipper Gore telling you that you couldn’t listen to the music you like, to don’t have sex, don’t do drugs, don’t wear those clothes, don’t walk that way, don’t have fun, don’t be yourself. So of course that movement won. It was a positive, joyful, human, freeing alternative to an exhausted, ugly, narrow vision of how human beings should behave.

It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. I now mostly associate that public face with danger, with an endless list of things that you can’t do or say or think, and with the constant threat of being called an existentially bad person if you say the wrong thing, or if someone decides to misrepresent what you said as saying the wrong thing. There are so many ways to step on a landmine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks. The hundreds of young people I teach, tutor, and engage with in my academic and professional lives teach me about the way these movements are perceived. I have strict rules about how I engage with students in class, and I never intentionally bring my own beliefs into my pedagogy, but I also don’t steer students away from political issues if they turn the conversation that way. I cannot tell you how common it is for me to talk to 19, 20, 21 year old students, who seem like good people, who discuss liberal and left-wing beliefs as positive ideas, but who shrink from identifying with liberalism and feminism instinctively. Privately, I lament that fact, but it doesn’t surprise me. Of course much of these feelings stem from conservative misrepresentations and slanders of what social liberalism is and means. But it also comes from the perception that, in the online forums where so much political discussion happens these days, the slightest misstep will result in character assassination and vicious condemnation.

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