Cliff Mass nominates the Pacific Northwest:

• Temperatures will rise more slowly than most of the nation due to the Pacific Ocean …
• We will have plenty of precipitation, although the amount falling as snow will decline (will fall as rain instead). But we can deal with that by building more reservoir and dam capacity (and some folks on the eastern slopes of the Cascades have proposed to do exactly that).
• The Pacific Ocean will keep heat waves in check and we don’t get hurricanes.
• Sea level rise is less of a problem for us due to our substantial terrain and the general elevation rise of our shorelines. Furthermore, some of our land is actually RISING relatively to the sea level because we are still recovering from the last ice age (the heavy ice sheets pushed the land down and now it is still rebounding)
• There is no indication that our major storms…cyclone-based winds (like the Columbus Day Storm)… will increase under global warming.
• Increased precipitation may produce more flooding, but that will be limited to river valleys and can be planned for with better river management and zoning.

Chart Of The Day

Aug 1 2014 @ 9:05am

Wealth Gap

Josh Marshall highlights a depressing one:

The chart illustrates a pattern that most of us probably do not find surprising. But the sheer chasm separating single white men from Black and Hispanic single women is still shocking to see visualized so clearly. Single white men have 438 times the assets as single Black women and 365 times that of single Hispanic women. As we can see, marriage is a huge determinant of wealth – but mainly if you’re not white, and especially if you’re a woman.

Note that the chart provides data for wealth with and without vehicles (in most cases, cars). Here I’ve referenced the latter statistic. As the report notes, owning a car is an important way to access more employment opportunities among other things. But that wealth is not easily accessible in dollar terms, which is highly relevant for the following reason. Great disparities of wealth not only have a huge impact on life opportunities and the prospects for wealth accumulation. They are hugely important factor in the precariousness of economic life experienced by different demographic groups.

Kurdistan’s Petro-Politics

Aug 1 2014 @ 8:32am

The US has been pressuring governments and private companies not to buy Kurdish oil, out of fear that oil sales will make it easier for the Kurdistan Regional Government to declare independence from Iraq. But this strategy, Dov Friedman posits, is actually having the opposite of its intended effect:

The U.S.’s logic is clear. KRG oil sales provide the Kurds a financial base with which to stabilize a potential fledging independent state. If the Kurds are unable to sell oil, they will have to parlay with Baghdad to solve the budgetary dispute. However, the U.S. misjudges the Kurdsboth their likely steps after independent oil sales and their response to interference with oil revenues. Distinct Kurdish oil sales have always been more likely to bring the KRG to the Iraqi bargaining table. They seek concessions from the central government, and the threat posed by independent revenue streams may be more valuable than the ability to declare national independence.

First, Kurdistan benefits greatly from its access to the greater Iraqi market.

Read On

The STD We Snicker At

Aug 1 2014 @ 8:00am

Jon Fortenbury resents herpes’ reputation as both shameful condition and punchline:

Herpes has a unique stigma among sexually transmitted diseases. HIV/AIDS is stigmatized, but few laugh at people who have it because it’s a serious illness. HPV can lead to cancer, on occasion, and women get tested TIme Herpesregularly for it, making it no joke to most. Chlamydia, syphilis, crabs, scabies, and gonorrhea are sometimes the target of jokes, but these STDS are typically curable, so people won’t have to endure the annoyance for too long. Genital herpes, though, isn’t curable, is thought of as a disease only the promiscuous and cheating-types get, and is a popular joke topic.

Despite the fact that herpes has been around since the time of the Ancient Greeks, according to Stanford University, the widespread stigma seems to be just decades old. … [F]ilm and TV no doubt keep it alive. Leah Berkenwald pointed out in an article for Scarleteen that almost every Judd Apatow movie includes a joke about herpes. Living Sphere has a large list of films, TV shows, and books that mention genital herpes, with many of the films and TV shows poking fun at people who have it. Sometimes the jokes directly suggest people with genital herpes are whores or cheaters or they indirectly make the connection, such as the classic Hangover line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except for herpes.”

(Image from Time’s Aug. 2, 1982 issue)

The Ever-Expanding Novel

Aug 1 2014 @ 7:28am

Jeremy Anderberg notes that the average “popular and prize-winning novel” has consistently passed the 400-page mark for the past 40 years, while the average turn-of-the-century read was nearly half that length. He speculates:

I think it’s largely the changing nature of consumers. Hardcover books are often expensive, regardless of length. As a consumer, I almost instinctively buy paper books that are meatier, because I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. It’s also never been easier to lug around huge books with us at all times in our digital devices, so why not make ‘em longer. A publisher a hundred years ago might have scoffed at the cost of printing a long book, but now with e-books, the cost of publishing a 1,000-page book vs. a 150-page book is virtually the same (obviously it’s still different with print versions…).

Our lifestyle may also play a part. This is completely just conjecture, so bear with me. We, as a people, are far more sedentary than we were a hundred years ago. Does our tendency to sit on the couch for more and more hours a day play a part in how we consume media? Absolutely. Look at the phenomenon of Netflix binge watching. Could the same effect take place with books? We are into bingeing our media, and the bigger the binge the better, so we eat our hearts out with giant books that can completely remove us from reality and how sedentary we really are. If books were shorter, our escapes from reality wouldn’t last so long.

The Best Of The Dish Today

Jul 31 2014 @ 9:15pm

The articles Lisa Goldman refers to above are as follows: “Beautiful Dream of Israel Has Become A Nightmare” by Gabor Mate; Liberal Zionism After Gaza, and The Liberal Zionists, by Jonathan Freedland; and Zionism And Its Discontents, by Roger Cohen. Here’s another decent human being and a friend, the legendary newsman, Jon Snow:

We can all heave a sigh of relief that a humanitarian cease-fire appears to be imminent.

On another matter related to the welfare of stranded children, I’m trying to get something straight. For the last couple of months, the right-wing noise machine has described the surge of refugee children at the border as a crisis of Biblical proportions. They have also excoriated all of president Obama’s executive actions on immigration. So now, after dismissing Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to deal with the refugee children, they cannot pass a bill to authorize even $659 million to take care of the crisis. And what do they urge president Obama to do instead? To take executive action to handle it! I swear I am not making this up. In Boehner’s words:

There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.

So, yes, the president is once again damned if he does use his executive powers and damned if he doesn’t. And the Republican Congress has shown that it can pass nothing – even in the midst of what it has described as an epic crisis – because it is so divided within itself. The idea that these shambolic excuses for legislators should actually be rewarded with more seats this fall tells you something is deeply awry with the political system. This is a party fit for cable news and not for government.

Today, I engaged my friend Sam Harris on Israel, Hamas and Jihadism; noted new shifts in the Israel debate – not in Israel’s favor; had a frank and frisky conversation with Rich Juzwiak about sex, gay men and the Truvada future; and marveled once again at the seriously unsafe sex life of the octopus.

The most popular post of the day was Why Sam Harris Won’t Criticize Israel; followed by Deep Dish’s Andrew Asks Anything: Rich Juzwiak.

Many 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. 23 more readers became subscribers today to make our running total 29,843 – so close to 30,000 we can smell it. You can help us get there by subscribing instantly 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 new customer writes:

I have been a reader for longer than I can remember and an early subscriber, but I have never written in before. I enjoy reading the debate without ever feeling a need to jump in and add my views. However, with the excitement of buying a polo, I couldn’t help myself. We are meant to be on a strict budget at the moment, due to building work at home and holidays, but the suggestion that the next batch of shirts may not be such good quality has forced my hand – quite happily I should add. I look forward to being able to proudly wear my polo around Seattle and being able to identify myself to those in the know.

Keep up the good work please. The blog is great and goes from strength to strength.

See you in the morning.

CIA Director John Brennan Speaks At The Council On Foreign Relations

I offer you a simple set of facts: under the Bush administration, the CIA set up a program that indisputably contained torture techniques; in due course, the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the program in order to get some clarity as to its intent, its techniques, its authorization and its results; as the Committee was doing its work, the CIA hacked its computers in order to craft its own defense and suss out what the Committee had discovered. When Senator Feinstein publicly accused the CIA of this grotesque interference in its affairs, and assault on the constitutional separation of powers, the CIA chief, John Brennan said:

As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s—that’s just beyond the—you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.

At the time I wrote: “Either Brennan or Feinstein isn’t telling the truth. ” We now know it was Brennan who wasn’t telling the truth, as the CIA itself has now acknowledged in its own internal report that it did exactly that – something “beyond the scope of reason”. Indeed it is beyond the scope of reason. It was also beyond the scope of reason that the CIA would import the torture and brain-washing techniques of Communist China in order to glean intelligence from captured enemy combatants. And yet they did that as well. But the attempt to obstruct justice by hacking into the Senate’s computers adds something else to the original crime. Let’s recall what DiFi said back in March:

Here’s her conclusion:

I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the speech and debate clause. It may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function. … The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as Executive Order 120003, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.

This is not a minor matter – it is a hugely important matter in terms of the constitution and the rule of law. We’re talking here about crimes and deception. How are we supposed to believe another word that comes out of Brennan’s mouth? And how desperate must the CIA have been to cover up its crimes that it took this extraordinary step of spying on the Senate that oversees it?

I submit that either Brennan knew nothing of what was going on and had no grip on his own agency; or he knew full well and was brazenly lying in public. In either case, under his watch, the CIA tried to subvert a critical Congressional report on its own criminal history.

I’m with David Corn:

Brennan owes the nation an explanation for his own actions. Why did he put out a false cover story? Was he bamboozled by his own squad? Was he trying to stonewall?

The CIA conducts much of its business in secrecy; and most of Congress’ vetting of the CIA likewise occurs out of public view. Effective oversight requires trust and cooperation between the two—and there must be that trust and cooperation for the public to have confidence that the oversight system works. But there also has to be public trust in those who lead the CIA. Brennan’s initial public statements about this scandal severely undermine his credibility. He owes the public a full accounting. If he remains in the job, President Barack Obama will owe the public an explanation for why he retained an intelligence chief who misled the public about CIA misconduct.

(Photo: Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan takes questions from the audience after addressing the Council on Foreign Relations in in Washington, DC on March 11, 2014. Brennan denied accusations by U.S. senators who claim the CIA conducted unauthorized searches of computers used by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staff members in an effort to learn how the committee gained access to the agency’s own 2009 internal review of its detention and interrogation program, undermining Congress oversight of the spy agency. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

Native Tongue Tied

Jul 31 2014 @ 8:09pm

Olga Khazan reflects on her struggle to recall her first language 25 years after emigrating:

I haven’t spoken Russian with any regularity since I was in my early teens, when, tired of middle-school ostracism, I decided to become as Americanized as possible. Many psychologists think that we forget languages, and other things, because of “disuse” – the memories that we don’t try to recall very frequently become more deeply buried over time. Which explains why, even though you once aced your French midterm, you can no longer remember how to declare that you would like to go parasailing with Jean-Claude this weekend.

Other studies have shown that forgetting a native language might be an adaptive strategy that helps us learn a second one. In a 2007 study, “native English speakers who had completed at least one year of college-level Spanish were asked to repeatedly name objects in Spanish. The more the students were asked to repeat the Spanish words, the more difficulty they had generating the corresponding English labels for the objects.” That is to say, the better I became at English, the more my brain suppressed the Russian inside me.

Homeless Outlaws

Jul 31 2014 @ 7:43pm

Sleeping In Cars

Sleeping in your car is no longer legal in many cities:

Over the last three years, American cities have responded to growing populations of homeless families by criminalizing their lives on the street, argues a recent report from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a Washington, D.C.-based legal advocacy group. Surveying 187 cities across the U.S., the group found an increase of citywide bans aimed at preventing homeless people from living in public view. …

The ban on sleeping in your car or truck is a downright trend with the number of laws criminalizing the action exploding by 119 percent since 2011 – a growth rate higher than any other anti-homeless law. Sleeping in your car is illegal even in progressive cities such as Minneapolis. In Palo Alto, where rent is two and half times the national average and there are only 15 shelter beds to accommodate a homeless population estimated at 150 people, the city has made sleeping in “one’s own private vehicle a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail,” the report’s authors wrote.

Recent Dish here on efforts of urban designers to prevent sleeping in public.

Face Of The Day

Jul 31 2014 @ 7:15pm

Wacken Heavy Metal Festival 2014

Fans attend the Buelent Ceylan performance at the 2014 Wacken Open Air heavy metal music festival in Wacken, Germany on July 31, 2014. Wacken is a village in northern Germany with a population of 1,800 that has hosted the annual four-day festival, which attracts 75,000 heavy metal fans from around the world, since 1990. By Sean Gallup/Getty Images.