Search Results For ellen jacob

Faces Of The Day

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 19 2014 @ 3:08pm


Ellen Jacob snaps shots of nannies at work around NYC:

As a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, photographer Ellen Jacob would often notice nannies pushing children around in strollers on the street. Eager to learn more about the lives of these women, Jacob spent four years photographing dozens of nannies and the children in their care for her series, “Substitutes.” “My work explores the social, racial and economic relationships that powerfully affect life and largely go unnoticed,” Jacob wrote in a statement.

(Photo by Ellen Jacob, who has an exhibit at Soho Photo Gallery, 15 White St until Feb 1. Gallery hours Wed-Sat 1-6 and by appointment. Follow her on Twitter here.)

Romney 3.0

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 12 2015 @ 10:08am

Mitt Romney Holds Florida Primary Night Event

Romney is apparently considering yet another run at the White House:

“Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run,” the former candidate told the gathering in midtown Manhattan, according to Politico. But insiders who spoke to BuzzFeed News about Romney’s evolution on the 2016 question said he only began to entertain the possibility recently, and that he still needs to weigh a number of factors — including Jeb Bush’s electability — before he decides to take the plunge.

Enten tries to understand Mitt’s logic:

In March, I wrote that this was the most split Republican presidential field in the modern era (since 1976). And that still holds today. Jeb Bush’s 23 percent support in a recent CNN survey was the highest for any non-Romney candidate over the past year. Most polls show every candidate (besides Romney) south of 20 percent.

But he keeps in mind that “general election losers that have run for their party’s nomination again have a terrible record.” Ben Jacobs cracks open the history books:

The last [general election loser] to even mount a campaign was George McGovern, the Democratic nominee in 1972, who mounted a quixotic comeback attempt in 1984. In fact, with the exception of Richard Nixon’s win in 1968, the only time a former major party nominee has since been elected to the presidency since the Civil War was when former President Grover Cleveland won his 1892 rematch for the White House against Benjamin Harrison.

Rather than signing on with Jeb in the next weeks or months, many of those money men and women will wait to see what Romney does before doing anything. So, Romney is really buying himself — and, whether intentionally or not, the rest of the potential field — some time. He’s taking the Bush pot off of boil and turning it down to simmer.

Lisa Lerer and Annie Linskey note that, while “Bush and Romney have always been cordial, they’ve never been close”

Some Romney advisers are still grumbling about Bush’s role in the 2012 campaign. Despite calls, e-mails, and private meetings with Romney before the hard-fought Florida primary, Bush endorsed Romney in March—nearly two months after the state’s contest and when the nomination was already within the former governor’s grasp. A few months later, in the midst of the general election, Bush criticized Romney’s approach to the immigration issue, saying at a Bloomberg View event that he needed to “change the tone.” “He got off message,” said Bush of Romney’s campaign in an interview last month with a Miami television station. “He got sucked into other people’s agenda.”

In private conversations, Romney has questioned Bush’s ability to beat Clinton, arguing that voters would recall her husband’s administration in a far more positive light than that of former President George W. Bush. He’s also warned that Bush, who spent his post-office years working on a range of business ventures, could be open to the same type of private equity attacks that Democrats successfully leveraged against Romney in the 2012 race.

Zeke Miller and Alex Altman aren’t sure how seriously to take Romney:

One Republican consultant suggests that posturing over a possible campaign was a way to signal that he wouldn’t cede automatically donors or staff to Bush. … This is why veteran operatives of the Romney campaigns consider the revived rumors of a 2016 campaign overblown. They have long scoffed at the notion he’d run again. They believe their former boss would be an excellent president. They say Romney agrees. At the same time, they don’t expect a campaign to materialize.

Jennifer Rubin hears much the same:

In my informal survey of about a 15 GOP insiders, some with other candidates and some unaffiliated, I did not find a single person convinced Romney was actually running. One person gave the back of the hand to the idea Romney was poised to enter the race: “I don’t think he is [serious]. I think his advisers are and they aren’t letting him kill the rumors.” Another remarked, “I think people who think Romney can still be president are living in a fantasy world. Great guy. Would have been super president. Should have won, but it’s over.” A third said, “It’s unclear if it is intended to start a ‘draft’ movement or if he wants to try and hold the field or if he wants to be in the wings in case the field implodes.” A fourth told me, “He has little to no natural constituency in the party.”

Larison rolls his eyes:

Given that success is very unlikely, and since it can only harm Romney’s reputation to embark on a third losing effort, it raises the question: what could Romney and his backers be thinking? Maybe his former staffers and advisers just want to get paid, but why would Romney want to go through the process all over again? There is every chance that he would be thoroughly humiliated along the way. That might be amusing to watch at first, but it would mostly just be sad.

Outside of a small band of loyalists, I can’t imagine who in the GOP would want to go through another failed presidential campaign.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

by Dish Staff


Roberto Ferdman deflates some of the hype surrounding Cuban cigars, which Americans will soon be able to buy more easily:

Each year, Cigar Aficionado, the leading industry magazine, publishes a list of the top 25 cigars in the world. Last year, the number one cigar was the Montecristo no. 2, which is made in Cuba. But only two of the remaining 24 also came from the country. By contrast, 11 were from the Dominican Republic, and 10 were made in Nicaragua. The magazine has yet to reveal its top pick for 2014, but among the remaining 24 the vast majority are once again from countries other than Cuba. And a similar pattern can be seen in virtually every year that the publication has issued its rankings. “The playing field has been leveled,” said David Savona, executive editor of Cigar Aficionado.

Alison Griswold suspects that the storied tobacco derives its reputation from scarcity as much as from anything else:

“It’s a forbidden fruit,” explains Eric Newman, president of Tampa, Florida-based J.C. Newman Cigar Company, a cigar manufacturer. “The biggest market in the world prohibits them from entering the marketplace.” Rather than deterring U.S. consumers, that ban may have in fact proved the biggest selling point for Cuban cigars over the last 50 years. People in the industry compare their allure to that of Coors beer before it became easily available beyond the American west. So great was the East Coast’s unrequited love for Coors in the 1970s that the quest to bring the beer from West to East was depicted in the popular 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit.

With both Coors and Cuban cigars, the question has been whether the product is ultimately worth the hype surrounding it. “Coors isn’t a bad beer, but is it the best beer in the world?” [president of Corona Cigar Company Jeff] Borysiewicz asks. “Cuban cigars are kind of the same way.”

But Dylan Matthews relays some evidence that Cubans really are superior:

So Cuba produces some excellent cigars. But do they, on average, surpass those of other countries? A 2003 paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and Finance suggests yes. The University of Virginia’s David Freccia and Wesleyan’s Joyce Jacobsen and Peter Kilby collected Cigar Aficionado quality ratings and price data for 689 different cigars, and sought to identify determinants of both high prices and high ratings. They took into account a battery of subjective factors — did the Cigar Aficionado review describe the cigar as mild? as well built? as smooth? was it nutty or cocoa-y or creamy? — as well as national origins.

They found that the single most important determinant of both prices and ratings was whether or not the cigar originated from Cuba. Being from Cuba bumped up a cigar’s rating by 4.05 points on a 100-point scale, on average; by contrast, being described as “well built” only gained a cigar 1.28 points, and being “leathery” only resulted in a 1.87 point gain.

(Photo by Alex Brown)


11.45 pm. I direct you now to Comedy Central, where the Internet has obviously been working, but don’t tell anyone. See you on the tube.

11.43 pm. It’s a wave. Nate:

The GOP could finish with as many as 55 seats. Alaska has yet to close its polls. Louisiana will go to a runoff on Dec. 6, and Republicans will be favored there — unless Democrat Mary Landrieu’s campaign benefits from the fact that control of the Senate is no longer at stake. Virginia Democrat Mark Warner still looks more likely than not to hold his seat, but the fact that his race was so close speaks to how awful a night it has been for Democrats. Jeanne Shaheen’s win in New Hampshire looks like a minor miracle now.

11.39 pm. Perfectly timed: Oregon votes for legal weed by 55 – 45 (with over 50 percent of the vote in.)

11.29 pm. It’s over:

Thom Tillis has won the race for Senate in North Carolina, clinching Republican control of the body.

Kay Hagan ran a strong campaign. She used the powerful Democratic voter-turnout machine. She successfully linked Thom Tillis to a conservative, unpopular state legislature. And in the end, Kay Hagan lost.

And the denouement: Ernst wins in Iowa.

11.24 pm. Scott wins in Florida; medical marijuana lost. Bad night for stoner Dems. Ben Jacobs’ take:

Scott, a former hospital CEO whose company was fined over $1.7 billion by the federal government over a massive Medicare fraud scheme, had eked out a victory in 2010 in a Republican wave, relying heavily on his own personal wealth. His good will with Floridians evaporated quickly with his support for strict voter ID regulation and his opposition to Medicaid expansion. Scott made matters worse when he pushed back against environmental protections to the Everglades supported by Jeb Bush; his record in office was labeled an environmental disasterby the Tampa Bay Tribune’s editorial board.

Crist, for his part, was viewed even by many supporters as an amoral professional politician, uninterested in any ideology or political party save his own personal advancement. Butterflies emerging from cocoons underwent metamorphoses far less dramatic than the political one Crist underwent in the past four years. Crist, who was once a pro-life and anti-gay marriage Republican, now claims to be a socially liberal Democrat who supported a woman’s right to choose and same-sex unions.

Stuck trying to choose between the lesser of two evils, Florida voters narrowly backed the socially distant Republican who bore a resemblance to Skeletor than warm, sociable orange-colored Democrat of convenience.

11.22 pm. This is the weirdest election night I can remember. I’m trying to concentrate and live-blog while the Colbert studio audience is going wild.

11.21 pm. Even truer:

10.53 pm. So true:

10.49 pm. Georgia looks like Perdue has it; North Carolina and Virginia remain extremely tight – but the GOP seems to have a good chance in both. We’re headed to a 52 – 54 Republican majority.

10.47 pm. Well, the Independent hope in Kansas just faltered in the final stretch. That’s actually a surprise.

10.43 pm. Chuck Todd, running the math, says the Dems won’t have a shot at winning the House until 2022. So that’s a permanent veto an anything any Democratic president might ever want to do. How is our system so fixed and our country so polarized that this has come to pass?

10.40 pm. So far, the results seem pretty blah to me. It looks like a deeply normal swing away from the president’s party. There are a few outlier results – Virginia, for example. But so far: no huge shift, no clear message, except widespread discontent.

10.38 pm. This graphic really does expose what’s going on in this country:

One political party is simply peddling mass delusion – and the media echoes it.

10.35 pm. Ezra’s take on Udall’s loss:

The Colorado race had two unique features. One was that Udall focused like a laser on the “war on women” theme. He argued, almost endlessly, that Gardner wanted to ban over-the-counter sales of birth control — a charge that Gardner denied, and countered by releasing a proposal for birth control to be sold over-the-counter (which is, for the record, an excellent idea). If Udall loses what was clearly a winnable race, it suggests that perhaps the war-on-women theme wasn’t such a good move.

The other interesting wrinkle in the Colorado race was that the state had recently moved to a vote-by-mail system. The Democrats who passed the plan thought it would help them hold the younger, more diverse voters who show up for presidential elections but tend to melt away during midterms. But it looks like it really boosted voting among senior citizens, who tend to vote Republican.

10.30 pm. Because we need some light relief:

For shame!

10.28 pm. Udall’s loss means we have one fewer Senator able to challenge the CIA on the torture program.

10.27 pm. Heh:

10.24 pm. Scott Walker’s victory is another real result, it seems to me. Not that he is, to my mind, even the slightest bit presidential. And the same goes for Kasich.

10.20 pm. Karl Rove is disappearing into his own neck. And yes, I’m watching Fox. Couldn’t take any more drums and Wolf Blitzer.

10.15 pm. An important thing to know about Tom Cotton: he’s a completely unreconstructed neocon. Tim Murphy on this Kristol protegé:

[I]t’s foreign policy where Cotton could make his biggest impact in the Senate. “Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism,” Cotton said during a September tele-town hall. “They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.” Three weeks later, he put his money where his mouth was, airing an ad featuring footage pulled straight from an ISIS propaganda film called Flames of War.

This is what you can expect more of from Cotton, an Army veteran who first rose to fame after writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times demanding that everyone who worked on a story on a top-secret terrorist tracking program be tried for treason. During his brief tenure in the House of Representatives, he was one of the few House Republicans to vocally back an intervention in Syria.

10.09 pm. I have to say I’m surprised by how well Roberts is doing. Warner looks as if he could pull it out. So far: an underwhelming night after an underwhelming campaign. And we may not even know the final result tonight.

10.07 pm. On his way to hang with yours truly, a certain Seattle resident tweets:

10.03 pm. Why I still love Ron Paul:

10.01 pm. It’s crazy tight in Florida. Ambers’ take:

10 pm. Fox just called Colorado for Cory Gardner. That’s the first real news of the night, if you don’t count Shaheen in New Hampshire. It looks as if medical marijuana has failed to make the 60 percent margin to win.

9.29 pm. Weird stat – did it have something to do with medical marijuana on the ballot? – but here it is:

Legal weed is leading by big margins in DC, but the Florida vote is still shy of the crucial 60 percent.

9.24 pm. The Obama coalition lives, but is slightly weaker. The exit polls show that 12 percent of the vote was African American – and the Dems won 90 percent of them. Latinos split for the Democrats by 64 – 34. But white men voted Republican by a whopping 63 – 35 percent.

9.20 pm. The demographics look familiar. The under-30s almost perfectly mirror the over-65s: the young vote Democrat by 55 to 42 percent; the old vote Republican by 56 – 43 percent. But there are many more older voters than young ones.

9.09 pm. One small historical nugget from this evening: the first popularly elected black Senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott. In fact, he’s now the first African-American ever elected to the Senate in the South. Yes, he did once was campaign co-chairman for Strom Thurmond. But you can’t win ’em all.

9.05 pm. If you wonder, as I do, why Democrats never actually defend their policies or even achievements in power, and run solely on some poll-tested social issues, then your bafflement will likely only increase tonight, as mine has:

9.04 pm. And Cotton beats Pryor – not a huge surprise, but Cotton really is a darling of the neocon intellectual right. A little goofy but thoroughly uncomplicatedly orthodox on every GOP position. Yes, Harvey Mansfield still produces more Straussian politicians.

9.03 pm. So Scott Brown didn’t make it. Hard to beat this for a tweet:

9 pm. Never quite done it like this before. I’m still rehearsing some comic bits for Colbert as I blog. So bear with me for a bit – and see you on the TV at 11.30 tonight.

(Photo: A vertical LED illuminated meter located atop the spire of the Empire State Building in New York shows the preliminary results of the midterm US Senate elections on November 04, 2014. By Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.)

A Quote For Good Friday

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 18 2014 @ 2:37pm

“Just as we were all, potentially, in Adam when he fell, so we were all, potentially, in Jerusalem on that first Good Friday before there was an Easter, a Pentecost, a Christian, or a Church. It seems to me worth while asking ourselves who we should have been and what we should have been doing. None of us, I’m certain, will imagine himself as one of the Disciples, cowering in an agony of spiritual despair and physical terror. Very few of us are big wheels enough to see ourselves as Pilate, or good churchmen enough to see ourselves as a member of the Sanhedrin. In my most optimistic mood I see myself as a Hellenized Jew from Alexandria visiting an intellectual friend. We are walking along, engaged in philosophical argument. Our path takes us past the base of Golgotha. Looking up, we see an all-too-familiar sight — three crosses surrounded by a jeering crowd. Frowning with prim distaste, I say, ‘It’s disgusting the way the mob enjoy such things. Why can’t the authorities execute criminals humanely and in private by giving them hemlock to drink, as they did with Socrates?’ Then, averting my eyes from the disagreeable spectacle, I resume our fascinating discussion about the nature of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful,” – W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book.

(Hat tip: Alan Jacobs)

Francis’ Sunlight

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 30 2013 @ 1:51pm

What follows are Andrew’s various thoughts in response to Pope Francis’ recent comments regarding homosexuality. To skip to latest post in the thread (published Aug 12), click here.

Jul 29, 2013 @ 11:40am

This picture taken 21 March 2007 shows a

How can I describe my response to the following simple words:

“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card … When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

Let’s parse this as conservatively as we can. What does it mean to be part of a “gay lobby”? In the context of the curia, I think it means that a group of cardinals or Vatican officials saw their sexual orientation as what defined them as a group, and operated as a faction within the Church’s center. I find that as repellent as any other kind of lobby that places a particular human characteristic ahead of the only quality necessary for a church official: dedication to God, God’s people, and the Church. But even then, Francis is making light of the hysteria: “I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card.” Not since John XXIII has a Pope deployed humor quite as easily and effectively as this one.

But so far, so banal – if utterly different than the panicked, tightly-wound homophobia of the last Pontiff. Then the revolutionary part:

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”

The tendency to homosexuality is not the problem. This is a direct rejection of the last Pope and his predecessor. The key letter was issued in 1986 and the key, horrifying directive issued in 2005 barring all gay men from the priesthood – however they conduct themselves and regardless of their gifts and sincerity. Here’s Ratzinger’s CDF statement on homosexuality, which walked back the previous, much more inclusive, position taken in 1975.

In the discussion which followed the publication of the [1975] Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

This is the new doctrine Ratzinger introduced into Catholicism: that gay people are uniquely inclined toward an intrinsic moral evil, that there is something inherently immoral about us, that we are in a special class of sub-humans, because our loves – when expressed fully with our bodies as well as souls – are intrinsically evil. This doctrine was so contrary to the Gospels, so callous, and so grotesquely unjust – barring any gay man from entering seminaries solely because of something he cannot change – that it was, for me, one of the low points of my spiritual life in the church. Not only was the Pope attacking the souls of an entire class of human beings, he was deeming them unfit for priestly authority. Child rapists could be tolerated; sincere, celibate gay priests were intrinsically disordered unlike any other group in society. I wrote on this page at the time:

Some of the basic principles of the Catholic faith – treating each individual as equally worthy in God’s eyes, judging people by what they do, not who they are – are being violated by this policy. The astonishing work of gay priests across the centuries and across the globe is being denied and stigmatized and ignored. This is a huge stain on the church – reminiscent of its long, terrible history of anti-Semitism.

And so in a few off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis returned the Church’s leadership to the spirit and love of the Gospels. This does not mean a change in the doctrine that all non-procreative non-marital sexual expression – from masturbation to foreplay to homosexual or contracepted sex – is immoral. But what it does is explicitly end the Vatican’s demonization and marginalization of gay people made in the image of God, people who have served the Church from its very beginnings, in ways large and small.

It says a lot about the cramped, fearful, nit-picking dead-end of the last Pontiff that simply asserting human dignity should bring such joy. But it has been clear for a while now that the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Saint Francis are opening the windows of the church again – so that sunlight and transparency and simplicity can flood the previously darkened rooms of a retreating reactionary Vatican.

We have a Pope. By God, we have a Pope.

Jul 29, 2013 @ 13:59

K-Lo: The Pope Said Nothing

I was looking forward to the reaction from the theocon Catholic right to Pope Francis’ refreshingly Christian reflections on homosexual people. Kathryn-Jean Lopez does not disappoint – but it’s a pretzel she has to twist into. Here is what Lopez heard the Pope say:

If the chronology of Allen’s report reflects the conversation, Pope Francis had just finished talking about redemption, the fact that Peter himself denied Christ and would later become pope. He warned against a culture in which sins of the past are dug up on people. Should a sin – we’re talking a sin, not a crime – destroy a man, decades later? That doesn’t seem Christian, it seems clear, was the pope’s point.

Huh? There is no chronology in a press conference other than the chronology of the questions. And the idea that the Pope was merely saying that forgiveness is an essential Catholic practice when he specifically reflected on “gay people” “of good will” is a bizarre digression. Forgiveness is an essential Catholic practice in all circumstances. And, in any case, the gay individual he was citing in the previous answer was, he insisted, completely innocent of all the accusations of sin. So there was nothing to forgive! Good try, K-Lo, but, sorry, this was clearly a rebuke to the cruelty and homophobic panic of the recent past from a man who is the first Pope from a Catholic country where marriage equality is the law of the land (and who favored civil unions for gays there).

K-Lo then goes on fearlessly to reiterate Benedict’s foul and anti-Christian pronouncement that no gay men should be allowed into the priesthood … :

Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don’t want to get married anyway. For, in the end, their attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off center, and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoken.

… and claims it is completely consistent with this statement from Francis:

When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem . . . they’re our brothers.

For Benedict, gay people were “objectively disordered” whose “attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off center, and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation.” For Francis, “they’re our brothers” and “who am I to judge?”

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. But Jesus came to open eyes to love, not close them.

Jul 29, 2013 @ 3:00pm

Francis’ Sunlight: Reax


Jimmy Akin thinks the press is reading too much into the Pope’s words on homosexuality:

Disclaiming a right to “judge” others is something that goes back to Jesus. It does not mean a failure to recognize the moral character of others’ actions, however. One can form a moral appraisal that what someone else is doing is wrong (Jesus obviously does not forbid that) without having or showing malice toward them.

The statement that they should not be marginalized is similarly in keeping with the Holy See’s approach to the subject, as 1992 Vatican document On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. The statement that same-sex attraction “is not the problem,” when understood correctly, is also nothing new. “The problem,” as Pope Francis seems to here be understanding it, is going beyond merely having a sinful tendency–a temptation to which one is subject. Obviously, temptations are a problem, but if we resist temptation we do not sin. “The problem,” on this understanding, is giving into the temptation and sinning or–worse–building an ideology around the sin and trying to advocate the sin.

But this was precisely what Benedict was trying to ratchet back, by arguing in 2005 that, whatever their conduct or faith, gay men should be barred from seminaries because homosexuality itself is objectively disordered and gays’ very being is inherently against the logic of God’s creation. Benedict’s pronouncements on gays were almost a definition of marginalization: “somehow distorted, off center, and … not within the direction of creation.” Isn’t that what the ancient world said of lepers and the Jewish world say of Samaritans? Benedict’s fastidious, obsessive-compulsive need to re-make all Creation in the image of his own hermetically-sealed and completely abstract theology ended up betraying the most important message of Jesus: that the last shall be first, that everyone is invited to God’s table, and that those you call “distorted” and “off-center” are actually at the very center of a loving God’s compassion.

And this interpretation is of a piece with what he said about divorced and re-married Catholics at the same presser:

“This theme always comes up … I believe this is a time of mercy, a change of epoch. It’s a kairos moment for mercy … In terms of Communion for those who have divorced and remarried, it has to be seen within the larger pastoral context of marriage. When the council of eight cardinals meets Oct. 1-3, one of the things they’ll consider is how to move forward with the pastoral care of marriage. Also, just 15 days ago or so, I met the secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and maybe it will also focus on the pastoral care of marriage. It’s complicated.”

I think it’s bizarre to ignore a Pope when he proclaims “a change of epoch,” when he calls our time a “kairos” moment for mercy. That means a turning point, a hinge of history. Why use that language if you are merely insisting on total continuity with the past? And the issue with re-married Catholics is exactly the same as for gays: the licitness of sexual congress outside one, life-long, monogamous, non-contracepted heterosexual marriage. Kevin Clarke agrees that Francis didn’t depart from traditional church teaching but sees a welcome shift regardless:

His citation of current catechism on the treatment of gay and lesbian people was not revolutionary in any sense; what startles may be the spectacle of a pope saying anything out loud on the matter and stressing the importance of church teaching on the human dignity of gay and lesbian people.

Francis was also asked why he did not spend much time speaking about abortion or gay marriage during his trip (church teaching is already clear, he said) and about the difficulties of divorced and remarried Catholics. “I believe this is a time of mercy, a change of epoch,” the pope said.

Likewise, Francis DeBernardo of the gay-friendly New Ways Ministries thinks this language is a sign that things will get better for gay Catholics: “Even if [Francis] doesn’t drop the sin language, this is still a major step forward, and one that can pave the way for further advancements down the road.” One gay Catholic, Michael O’Loughlin, agrees:

In addition to mercy, Francis’ comments also provide hope, hope to those who live on the margins of the church. In a special way, those who live without—without money, without recognized dignity, without full embrace from institutions of power—are called to live prophetic lives. But sometimes being offered some hope from the powerful, in this case Pope Francis and the church, is needed in order to keep moving forward with the struggle. Francis’ comments, however offhand and however easily dismissed they will be by traditionalists, are worth celebrating.

Elizabeth Scalia also applauds Francis’s call to mercy and forgiveness – and tells us all to relax:

I understand some folks’ concerns that perhaps Francis is too heavy on the mercy and too light on the justice side of things — and certainly the cross itself teaches us that both must be held in balance. But this is still a pretty fresh papacy. The sense I’m getting is that Francis means to scrape some long-attached barnacles from the Barque of Peter, so we can see what the deeper hues of Justice and Mercy look like; he’s readying it to travel some rough, challenging waters…

I’ll tell the new hysterics the same thing I told the old hysterics: you’re gonna be surprised who makes it into heaven and who doesn’t, because it’s not going to line up with what you or I think is Catholicism-done-Correctly, so be sweet to everyone, mind your own soul, not theirs, and trust Jesus to sort it out.

Admitting that “I love the guy,” James Martin, a fellow Jesuit, praises Francis and claims he’s initiating real change in the Church:

Praising Francis does not mean denigrating John Paul or Benedict. Each pope brings unique gifts to the office. But Francis’s election as pope has definitely brought change to the church.

The essentials have not changed: each pope preaches the Gospel and proclaims the Risen Christ. But as we saw last week in Rio, Francis speaks in a different way: plainly, simply, with unadorned prose. Francis has a different style: more relaxed, less formal, more familiar. Francis’s appeal is different and, judging from the crowds, effective. The Pope does the same thing–preaches the Gospel and proclaims the Risen Christ–in a new way. Francis is a different person for a different time.

What Pope Francis did and said in Rio de Janeiro, how he did it and said it, and how the crowds reacted to what he did and said, show that things can change. And that God can change them. All this is an answer to despair. It is a reminder that nothing is impossible with God. So every time I see Francis, hear him speak or read one of his homilies I’m reminded of this great truth.

Martin emails the Dish to add:

The lesser-noticed change in the Pope’s revolutionary words during his in-flight interview was, at least according to the translation in the Italian-language “Vatican Insider,” the use of the word “gay,” which is traditionally not used by popes, bishops, or Vatican officials.

This is a sea change.

(Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

Jul 29, 2013 @ 8:29pm

This Extraordinary Pope

I’ve just watched the actual video of Pope Francis’ airplane press conference, and it’s even more remarkable than the quotes we gleaned earlier from reporters like John Allen. What’s so striking to me is not what he said, but how he said it: the gentleness, the humor, the transparency. I find myself with tears in my eyes as I watch him. I’ve lived a long time to hear a Pope speak like that – with gentleness and openness, reasserting established dogma with sudden, sweeping exceptions that aren’t quite exceptions – except they sure sound like them.

In the written text, I was disappointed, for example, by his absurd statement that Pope John Paul II had definitively shut down the question of women priests. Firstly, no Pope has the authority to shut down a debate like that, especially one that is purely managerial and pragmatic, and not a matter of doctrine. The statement is so absurd part of me wondered whether Francis wasn’t deploying a little irony  … and then I listened to him actually speak the words. And it was far sweeter than irony.

He asserts orthodoxy and then swerves dramatically to one side, his voice lilting and becoming more intense, as if to say, “Yes, I know this is what the Church teaches, and I am not challenging that. But look at the wider picture. Remember that in the Church, the honor accorded to Jesus’ mother is higher than that of any of the apostles, and that women, simply by virtue of being women, are above priests in importance to the Body of Christ.” That’s both a repetition of orthodoxy and yet also a whole-sale re-imagination of it.

Think of this Pope’s refusal to revisit the issue of women in the priesthood and then note that he washed the feet of a woman in Holy Week – the first time any Pope had washed the feet of a woman, let alone, as was the case, a Muslim woman in juvenile detention. Remember also the remarks of one of the most powerful religious figures on earth about atheists:

The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! …  ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

And this is surely part of the point. What Francis is telling us, it seems to me, is that we should stop squabbling about these esoteric doctrines – while he assents to orthodoxy almost reflexively – and simply do good to others, which is the only thing that really matters. Stop obsessing in your mind and act in the world: help someone, love someone, forgive someone, meet someone.

One of the most telling things about Jesus is that he did not elucidate a theology. It had to be inferred by Paul. Jesus merely told stories of great charm and mystery. But he also clearly transformed the lives of those he encountered by the way in which he lived and died. It was that that convinced so many that this human being wasn’t just any other human being, that the divine had somehow transformed him, and he could transform others.  I heard in the voice of Francis today the voice of Jesus confronted with the woman about to be stoned for adultery. No, he does not condone adultery. But the entire dynamic of the story is about something else: it’s about how Jesus defused an impending, brutal execution by bobbing and weaving and drawing in the sand and then speaking intimately with the woman herself with what can only be called revolutionary empathy.

“They are our brothers.” That’s the tone of Jesus. That is, for the Papacy, revolutionary empathy.

Perhaps this is a better way of seeing the difference between Francis and what came before him.

It is impossible to think of Jesus seeing the marginalized of his time, like lepers or Samaritans, and teaching them that they are “somehow distorted, off center, and … not within the direction of creation” because of something they simply are and cannot change. Jesus – as represented by the Gospels – clearly sees that kind of rigid, callous thinking as the mark of Pharisees, the sign of a religion that has forgotten love in its obsession with law, and therefore cannot be connected with the Father of all Creation which is Love. Francis, mind you, does not rebuke Benedict XVI; he pours out affection for him. But everything he is saying and doing is an obvious, implicit rejection of what came before.

What Francis is doing is not suddenly changing orthodoxy; he is instead pointing us in another direction entirely. He is following Saint Francis’ injunction: “Preach the Gospel everywhere; if necessary with words.” He is a walking instantiation of the way Jesus asked us to live: with affection and openness, charity and forgiveness; and a reluctance to seize on issues of theology instead of simply living a life of faith, which is above all a life of action in the service of others:

We all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much.

Yes, we do, Holy Father. We so sorely do.

Jul 29, 2013 @ 9:08pm

Quotes For The Day

“Pope Francis made clear that being gay is not an impediment for ordination. For him, the issue is not orientation but whether a person is a good priest. Even if a priest fails in celibacy, one can “then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget.” The pope made it clear that there is no room for homophobia either in the church or society. But if I had said what he said 24 hours before Francis, I would have been reported to the archbishop,” – Father Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter.

“I never thought I’d live to see the day when a Pope would tell me that he doesn’t judge me for being gay, but has a problem with me driving a Lexus,” – a gay priest friend of a gay priest friend.

Jul 30, 2013 @ 12:10pm

Dolan Spins Francis

Nothing the Cardinal says above is wrong exactly, but it’s classic spin from the bullshit artist who runs the New York archdiocese. The idea that Pope Benedict used the same tone toward homosexuals as Pope Francis – that there has been continuity on this – is absurd. Benedict’s move – strongly backed by Dolan – was at complete odds with Francis’ new tone. It was not to reassert the core doctrine that there is no sin in homosexuality, merely in non-procreative sex. That had definitely been the case already, and clarified in the 1975 letter that signaled the kind of openness and spirit that Francis represents. What Benedict did was deliberately to conflate the sin with the sinner eleven years later in 1986:

In the discussion which followed the publication of the [1975] Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

My italics. Not the acts – the very orientation itself is objectively disordered. Being gay was in no way, for Benedict or Dolan, even a morally neutral disposition. It was rather a form of disorder of the very heart and soul, that made gay people living refutations of God’s Creation – living crimes against nature.

This demonization of gay men was a return in Catholic teaching to medieval view of sodomites (which was chronologically linked to hatred of Jews as well, as John Boswell showed in his landmark book, Christianity, Homosexuality and Social Tolerance). Its plain meaning can be gleaned from the fact that, in an attempt to divert blame from himself for the child-rape scandal, Benedict subsequently issued an unprecedented discriminatory ruling, barring all gay men from entering the priesthood, solely because they were gay, with no distinction between their identity and their sexual acts.

Here is how he defended that anti-Christian position, as I noted yesterday:

In the end, [homosexuals’] attitude toward man and woman is somehow distorted, off center, and, in any case, is not within the direction of creation of which we have spoken.

That’s not about acts; it’s about a way of being human.

The Church does not teach that homosexuality is a choice, and so, to sustain the stigmatization of homosexuality in the face of new research and data, Benedict had to opine that gay people are intrinsically outside “the direction of creation” and our very nature is “somehow distorted.” Dolan can spin this any way he wants. But the proof of the malice was the blunt discrimination against gay priests regardless of their conduct in 2005, the absurdly brutal attacks on gay parents and gay people in the debate over civil marriage equality, and the obsessive-compulsive insistence on never hiring lay people who might conceivably be married to someone of the same gender (something never done with, say, re-married or divorced heterosexuals).

Dolan and Benedict have never, ever spoken of gay people the way Francis did. The question to be asked of Dolan is: why nit? Or is he just an apparatchik? Does Dolan still favor barring all gay seminarians solely because of their orientation? Will he stop discriminating against gay people while tolerating straight people who use contraception or are divorced or who have re-married? Does he refute the statements of the previous Pope? I wish Charlie and Gayle had been able to penetrate his bullshit. But it requires a granular theological expertise few general interest journalists have time to master.

Jul 31, 2013 @ 12:58pm

Benedict, Francis, And Gays

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Pays A State Visit To The UK - Day 2

Ross contributes to the debate today, making roughly the same argument as I have but stressing more firmly that there is no actual doctrinal change (and even, according to Ross, no change in the blanket discrimination against gay seminarians). Juan Cole is even more dismissive:

[I]t seems to me that Pope Francis is just saying what many evangelicals say– hate the sin, love the sinner, celibate gays are welcome in the congregation, etc. And he’s putting a further precondition on acceptance, that gays not band together as a pressure group. So they have to be celibate and seen but not heard, sort of like children.

But both Cole and Douthat note a very different change in tone from Benedict’s stern strictures about “objective disorders” to Francis’ expansive “They are our brothers.” So the question becomes: does this tone mean something substantive in the life of the church? Or is it just brilliant spin, decontaminating the brand while upholding its Ratzingerian substance?

Here’s what I would argue: the tone is intimately related to the substance, and the one cannot logically be changed without the other. Which is why this recent statement reveals the incoherent tension at the heart of the church’s teaching about homosexuality – a tension that at some point has to be resolved.

Here’s why. Recall Ratzinger’s central innovation in the argument in 1986:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

What Ratzinger was saying is precisely that, in the case of homosexuals, hating the sin but loving the sinner is not a Catholic option. Because in the case of homosexuals, their sin is integrally related to their very nature, which they cannot change. The part of their nature that is objectively disordered and they cannot change is, moreover, that pertaining to love and sex and family, arguably the very things that make most of us happy. So gay people truly are deformed in the most profound way possible – morally crippled and constrained by their very nature.

Why would Ratzinger have taken that huge and painful leap that is so anathema to the spirit of inclusion in the Gospels? Because in Catholic teaching, acts flow from being. It is absurd in Catholic thought to talk of something in nature that is entirely neutral and yet always leads to an intrinsic moral evil if expressed.

The Inauguration Mass For Pope FrancisTo see why, try and come up with a serious analogy within Catholic theology for the argument that homosexuality as not sinful in itself but is always sinful when expressed. I’ve been trying for twenty years.

Take the sin of envy, for example, which is part of our common human nature and is always a sin when expressed in an act. But it is not a neutral condition, as the 1975 Letter said of homosexuality; it is a sign of our fallen nature. It does not occupy some neutral ground before being expressed. It is part of original sin for all of us.

Or take alcoholism. Some people are alcoholics by nature or genetics, which is why it is hard to describe being an alcoholic as sinful, since it isn’t a choice, like homosexuality. But the choice to drink, like the choice to express love sexually for gay people, is nonetheless a sin for alcoholics. I think this is the best analogy I’ve heard in this long debate. But it falls apart on one obvious ground. Unlike sodomy, drinking itself is not sinful for everyone, according to the Church. For most people, it’s fine. Jesus himself turned water into wine to keep the wedding party going.

But sodomy is barred as sinful for all people, straights as well as gays. The Church does not say, as it does for alcoholism, that it’s fine for lazarusstraight people to have non-procreative sex, but not for gays. It says it’s a sin whether committed by a heterosexual or a homosexual. So again, the teaching on homosexuality appears unique, as if it were an argument designed to buttress a pre-existing prejudice, rather than an argument from the center of the church’s teaching.

So maybe being gay is a form of disability for Benedict. But the church’s teachings about the disabled bear no relation to its teachings about homosexuals. The former are embraced, brought to the front of the church, cared for, defended, championed, as any Christian organization must and should. The latter are silenced, pathologized and told not to be all they can be, and specifically to avoid any expression of love, passion, family or relationship with a partner or spouse, i.e. to live a life of unique isolation and suffering, simply because of who they are. Tim Padgett gets the problem:

How can the Catholic church declare homosexuals “disordered” and their lifestyle an “intrinsic moral evil,” yet expect us to applaud its “love” for gays somewhere beneath all that homophobic bigotry? My mother was born in Mississippi and has often told me of Southern whites in the mid-20th century insisting they could love a black person even if they hated the black race. No, you can’t have it both ways. So it makes no more sense to me in the early 21st century to hear Pope Francis claim to love gays while I know that when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires he called Argentina’s legalization of gay marriage a “grave anthropological regression.” Or to hear celebrity evangelical pastor Rick Warren profess admiration for gay friends but then keep saying that it “might be a sin” for them to sleep with each other.

This is indeed the nub of it. A theologian reader explains why:

What was done by the author(s) of the 1986 document (let us call them Ratzinger, who at least signed it)  was to tie a logical knot that could now work greatly in gays’ favor, if only, as you suggest, some in the press were better able to understand it, and so face down spinning Archbishops such as your own. The knot was to point out that in order for it to be the case that all gay sex is sinful (which is what many Bishops would love to be able to maintain without any logical consequences) then you have to maintain that the condition itself is objectively disordered. This, of course, many Catholic spokespersons try to run away from doing, since many of them know it is false, and not all of them are fully accomplished liars.

But what this means is that if, as appears to be the case, being gay is not an objective disorder then according to the logic proper to Catholic faith, which recognizes that acts flow from being, it is also not the case that all gay sex is sinful. Ratzinger was logically correct that the absolute prohibition against loving same-sex acts cannot be maintained if it is accepted that the inclination is “neutral or positive” to use the language rejected by the 1975 document you refer to.

What the 1986 document bequeathed to us (apart from a huge amount of pain, anguish, and despair) was not only a mistaken characterization, but a logical recognition that if the characterization is mistaken, then so is the absolute prohibition. This is the double bind that most Bishops dance around, and are allowed to dance around by a press that imagines “Church teaching” in this area to be a special category, the rules of a private club, and not a matter which depends quite simply on what is true about the human beings in question.

I hope and pray that Papa Bergoglio knows where he’s taking this. Which means I hope and pray that he, unlike so many of his colleagues, is not stuck in the double-bind, and thus will be able to unbind us all into living the truth, which is what Popes are for.

I hope so too. The Catholic faith is one designed to be examined by reason. Yet reason reveals that its core teaching on homosexuality requires it to describe an entire class of people as inherent moral deviants, regardless of what they do or say or how they live their lives. That final assertion is simply incompatible with reason and with Christianity. At some point, it will collapse. And with it, the entire edifice of the tortured teachings on sex that the Catholic hierarchy is so desperate to maintain.

I doubt Pope Francis is doing this consciously or as a means to bring the Church to its senses on this question. But his expression of Christian love and charity toward gay people is a direct rebuke of the doctrines he says he still supports. And at some point, what cannot be logically sustained will fall.

(Photos: Pope Benedict XVI, Franciscans arriving for the inaugural mass for Pope Francis, and the Jacob Epstein’s statue of Lazarus in New College, Oxford. By Getty Images.)

Jul 31, 2013 @ 6:38pm

Quote For The Day II

Pope Francis Attends Celebration Of The Lord's Passion in the Vatican Basilica

“Ask for the grace of shame; the shame that comes from the constant dialogue of mercy with Him; the shame that makes us blush before Jesus Christ; the shame that puts us in tune with the heart of Christ who is made sin for me; the shame that harmonizes our heart in tears and accompanies us in the daily following of “my Lord”.

And this always brings us, as individuals and as a Company, to humility, to living this great virtue. Humility that makes us understand, each day, that it is not for us to build the Kingdom of God, but it is always the grace of God working within us; humility that pushes us to put our whole being not at the service of ourselves and our own ideas, but at the service of Christ and of the Church, like clay pots, fragile, inadequate, insufficient, but having within them an immense treasure that we carry and that we communicate,” – Pope Francis at a mass today to celebrate the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.

(Photo: Pope Francis prays on the floor as he presides over a Papal Mass with the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion inside St Peter’s Basilica on March 29, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. By Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.)

Aug 1, 2013 @ 11:47am

Quote For The Day

“The conservative backlash against the pope (who could have imagined it!) has become quite the ugly spectacle, while the attempts to spin him into what he obviously is not (the First Things post about the 5 myths was a notable example) are pathetic,” – a commenter on the far-right Catholic blog written by Father John Zuhlsdorf.

The site is an excellent way to read the broader dismay among conservative dissenters with Pope Francis’ initiatives and statements since taking office. The AP has a decent story on it here. Santorum is insisting that nothing substantive has changed, but I must say I have never heard him speak on this issue with the respect, gentleness and humility of Francis.

My own argument that the shift in tone actually reveals a deep, substantive contradiction at the heart of the Church’s teaching on this subject is here.

Aug 8, 2013 @ 2:10pm

A Bishop’s Resignation

Happens a lot these days – usually because of the child-rape conspiracy or financial shenanigans. But this time, it happened just after Pope Francis said conciliatory and Christian things about gay people. The resignation? From one of the most virulently homophobic bishops on the planet, Bishop Simon Bakot of Yaoundé, former president of the National Bishops’ Conference of Cameroon. The resignation was announced by the Vatican:

Bishop Bakot did not resign for reason of age as Catholic bishops are required to do when they reach 75; he is only 66. Nor is he known to have been in ill health or under scrutiny for financial reasons or his own sexual misconduct. The sole reason he is famous is for his staunch opposition to gays. He lumps them with pedophiles and practitioners of bestiality and calls them an affront to God’s creation. He threatens to ‘out’ clergy he opposed by revealing their sexual orientation. He has even been a vocal public supporter of Cameroon’s national day of hatred of gays. The fact that his resignation was accepted the day after Francis’s now famous utterance casts new light on the Vatican’s stance toward gays.

Bakot has described marriage equality as “a serious crime against humanity. We need to stand up to combat it with all our energy.” Once in the vanguard of the Catholic hierarchy’s shift toward the far right, he now seems somewhat stranded.

Know hope.

Aug 12, 2013 @ 1:31pm

Francis’ Sunlight, Ctd

Pope Francis Attends Celebration Of The Lord's Passion in the Vatican Basilica

There was a real debate about how to interpret the Pope’s recent conciliatory tone toward gay people. Many, like me, saw the tone as substance, seeing no massive overhaul in doctrine, but a revolution in emphasis that necessitates an eventual change in doctrine. By choosing to emphasize the humanity and dignity of gay people seeking God in good faith – “Who am I to judge?” – this Pope was shifting gears away from the counter-revolution of John Paul II and Benedict XVI against the liberation of modernity. Others insisted there had been no change at all – and that the idea of one was a deliberate or misinformed misreading of the Pope’s comments by the secular press.

Well, we could go back and analyze every sentence of the impromptu press conference – as some have done with surprising results:

He did not say that “homosexuals should not be marginalized.” He said “these persons should not be discriminated against, but welcomed (accolte).” He is citing the words of the Catechism here.

And he did not regurgitate other language from the Catechism about gays’ “objective disorder” or “just” and “unjust” discrimination against them. He ignores the former language and expunges the latter. In fact, the more you examine the presser, the more radical its implications seem.

But now we have more confirmation that this was not a gaffe but a strategy. Well, confirmation might be a bit strong – but one of the American cardinals tapped for Francis’s new, reformist group of eight cardinals is Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley. He has clearly been in touch with the new pontiff and just gave a speech which confirms the theocons’ worst nightmare. It was at the annual Knights of Columbus convention in San Antonio. K-Lo was there and didn’t see anything but the attendants’ desire to evangelize in the developing world and roll back Obamacare, marriage equality, alleged religious repression, and abortion rights. In fact, her opening paragraph is about the Catholic importance of denying gay couples civil equality. Funny that, isn’t it?

But O’Malley’s speech was an eye-opener to anyone who hasn’t decided to be blind for a while. The context is worth revisiting. It comes after the American hierarchy has insisted that the issues of contraception, marriage equality and abortion are central to religious freedom and to the Catholic faith. American nuns have also been subjected to an inquisition because they were insufficiently vocal about these issues and preferred service to the poor and needy. The inquisition is not over, but its guiding philosophy appears to have been up-ended:

“Some people think that the Holy Father should talk more about abortion,” O’Malley told approximately 2,000 attendees, according to a copy of the remarks posted online. “I think he speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church’s teaching on abortion,” he continued. “We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world.”

In this picture, it is hard not to see Francis’ challenge to the theocons as a version of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees of his day. It’s a return toward humility and service, and away from the authoritarian control and doctrinal obedience mandated by Ratzinger and Wojtila. It’s a recognition that if Christianity’s global reputation is framed as hostile to gays, women and the marginalized, its doctrinal arguments will never succeed, because the only basis for any Christian argument is love. If Christians are seen as haters or discriminators or wielders of government power to enforce their doctrines, they will not only betray their core, but also fail at reaching the people of modernity.

Yes, the arrival of this new Pope increasingly appears as a watershed in the life of the Church. And not a moment too soon.

(Photo: Getty Images)

The Weekly Wrap

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 8 2013 @ 10:30pm

Bill Clinton Campaigns For A Second Term As President

Friday on the Dish, Andrew accepted Bill Clinton’s DOMA stance without absolving him of past actions, gawked at the contortions to which Catholics would go to oppose gay rights, and remained hopeful at the chance of a Grand Bargain. He looked into the online media abyss with Michael Wolf and gave us a “talking-heads-up” for Sunday. In politics, we cautiously cheered the recent jobs report, contemporary constitutions excluded the right to bear arms, and Alan Abramovitz made an argument for the Voting Rights Act that didn’t rely on race. Internationally, hawks loved Rand Paul’s contrariness even as they disagreed with him, Sam Roggeveen contributed to the growing Iraq War retrospective, Marc Lynch dreaded the effects of Iran’s declining popularity, and the Harlem Shake meme took on a revolutionary tone.

In assorted news and views, Arthur Nelson worried about a Boomer-initiated housing bubble and Ryan Healey stripped down the effects of ending Canada’s pole-dancing visa, and Freidersdorf called out Breitbart and O’Keefe. Virginia Hughes felt ill at the idea that lobbying would trump science in allocating money to disease research while Google doled out prescription advice and Dr. Rob Lamberts experimented with his own subscription model in health care. Kevin Charles Redmon cultivated the argument for farmed Rhino horns to thwart extinction, fracking hogged scarce water resources in the West, and

Heading into the weekend, Grandpa pwned and was happier for it and Don Ward pointed out how badly our shoes need shining. George Packer updated his notion of the bare necessities, Colin McSwiggen blamed his tools, and Jill Filipovic exercised her individuality by keeping her surname. Cat Rohr helped ex-cons climb the corporate ladder and readers leaned into the discussion on Sheryl Sandberg’s new book. David Haglund noted a definition that has been around literally forever, Alice Jones fretted over the dissolving fourth wall, and Rich Juzwiak opted for the most generic hookup music possible. We previewed a brutally honest teen-party movie in the MHB, piloted a drone in the FOTD, and peeked through the blinds at Buenos Aires in the VFYW.


Rest of the week below the jump.

Thursday on the Dish, Andrew applauded Rand Paul’s righteous filibuster while we rounded up other reactions to the 13-hour dose of awesome, and recognized the decline of christianist influence thought in their inability to engage in secular debate. He dubbed Clinton’s DOMA announcement a “BFD” and stood in awe at the progress of gay rights during his lifetime,

In the political realm, Ponnuru looked forward to 2016 debates featuring Rand Paul, Chait found the paragon of truthiness, and we welcomed the blossoming of more conservative sanity. Readers shared their own stories from the lead-up to the Iraq War, Republicans sought “permission” to support marriage equality, and Evan Soltas declared the sequester overhyped. Overseas, the US weighed the odds in Syria, we eagerly awaited a peaceful outcome for the Kenyan election, and bookies pontificated about the next pontiff.

In miscellaneous coverage, a reader blurred the line between work and play for reporters, NPR considered all things about the Dish model, Hairpin offered Amazon alternatives, and freelancers measured payment against pageviews. Drum cast about for an explanation of the public’s climate ennui, soccer kept the lights on, stoners reclaimed 3-D printers for peaceful purposes, and a Yellow Lab chilled with some herbal help. Andrea Swensson passed on SXSW, Douthat ignored the Hathaway haters, and Peter Orszag challenged colleges to close to dropout gap.

Eslewhere, readers threw in their thoughts on san men, city-dwellers were sad (but there’s an app for that), and Harold Pollack calculated that substance abuse treatment for the mentally ill was definitely worth it. As Donnie Collins navigated the health insurance market, Gwynn Guilford solved to China’s bachelor problem, and Lauren Drain proposed that sex might be straining WBC’s ties, We compiled rude awakenings in the MHB, our hair stood on end at the adorableness of the next generation of orangutan in the FOTD,  snow fell on Old Dominion in our VFYW.

Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew recalled the emotional influence of 9/11 in the lead up to the Iraq War, watched Rumsfeld’s war crimes pile up, and insisted that the government to release the Torture Memos to bring evidence to the debate surrounding torture. He lauded Israel’s airing of debate, hit Republicans for their hypocrisy on weapons expenditures and their suicidal spite on the sequester while agreeing with PM Carpenter on the shifting GOP, and declared the empirical and civil debates over marriage equality dead. In media coverage, Andrew waved as the Daily Caller left reality behind, walked us through the reasoning behind The Dish’s use of Amazon’s Affiliate program, and a reader took NBC to task for its “sponsored content”.

In politics, we gathered reactions to Chavez’s death, including some of Hitch’s words from beyond the grave, Latin America countries diverged in their agreement with the US, and Jeb Bush erred on Evangelical Latinos. Noah Millman joined the discussion on the Iraq war and Congress started to come around on DOMA. Meanwhile, Charles Hurt’s voodoo rant garnered him a Hewitt nomination, we wrestled with visualizing inequality,  and Obama’s Energy nominee walked the tightrope on fracking.

In assorted coverage, Till Roenneberg pushed for high schoolers to be able to sleep in, ADHD sufferers paid a price later in life, and Sheryl Sandberg’s views on women in the workplace stoked controversy among feminists. We rummaged through reader responses on recycling, Roger Goodell presaged an on-field death for the NFL, Kevin Ashton followed Coke across borders,  and Rob Horning climbed a mountain of paperwork in pursuit of fairness.

Russell Brand gave up drugs in favor of reality, Mark Oppenheimer turned the blame on TV watchers and a reader encouraged us to suspend our disbelief when reading the gospels. Bill Gates brutalized the book Why Nations Fail, the NYT shuttered its Green blog, and negativity dominated Twitter. Frank Underwood invaded the Conclave in the MHB, NYC showed us a dreary, drizzly day in the VFYW, and we turned our gaze on police violence in India in the FOTD.

Tuesday on the Dish, Andrew meditated on the origins of modern conservative thought, saw spectres of the past in Israel’s segregated bus lines, and questioned the recent announcement of a baby “cured” of HIV. In home news, he wrapped up the first 30 days of the new Dish model.

In political coverage, Ta-Nehisi regretted his perceived powerlessness in the march to the Iraq war, while Dreher’s emotions swayed him in favor of it. Peter Person ascribed the slowdown in healthcare costs to the ACA, Adam Gopnik probed the limits of the market, and Jeb jumped back from his published stance on immigration. Seth Masket deliberated over politician perceptions, the GOP gave little ground in their latest budget, while Ponnuru made room in the party for Chris Christie. Scarborough pwned Krugman and the Daily Caller channeled Family Guy in its Ashley Judd coverage. Abroad, the Tories tussled with a perception problem and Syria schools felt the effects of the extended conflict.

In assorted coverage, Seattle weighed a tax on bikes, the cost of flying fell without our noticing, and Vince Beiser pushed back against the idea of “peak oil”. Readers continued the thread on doctor salaries while surgeons honed their skills on their smartphones, Lori Rotenberk went to DIY University, and Judith Glaser tried to wean us off of arguing. Dylan Bergeson dug through archaeological findings in the West Bank, chimpanzees savored their first taste of freedom, and luck loomed large in Hong Kong. Ruth Clark praised Jell-O’s ability to preserve and Evgeny Morozov protested Big Data-influenced punk.

Meanwhile, journalists sold their services to Malaysia, Marie Chaix found inspiration in pain, Madhavankutty Pillai chronicled the troubles of bringing great novels to the big screen, and Twain posed topless. We resorted to the tiebreaker for our Kagoshima VFYW contest and awoke to a Cancun sunrise in the VFYW, Spidey’s romance got the BLR treatment in the MHB, and Misao Okawa celebrated the big 1-1-5 in the FOTD.


Monday on the Dish, Andrew continued his look back at his arguments for the Iraq War, pitted Cardinal O’Brien against himself and wondered if the Curia would recognize their hypocrisy. He saw apples and oranges in the South Park-Arrested Development debate, provided the latest numbers on the new Dish model, and debated marriage equality in a battle of beards. In the final installment of the “After Dark” series, Sully and Hitch contested the existence of any factual basis for the gospels.

In political news and views, Jacob Heilbrunn sounded an alarm over epistemic closure on the right, legislators’ perceptions of their constituencies skewed conservative, and TNC examined the wave of public opinion that Obama rode to power. We muddled through the data on gun violence in America, Cass Sunstein worried about coercive paternalism, the Golden State flipped on marriage equality in under 30 years, and McKibben called for colleges to green their portfolios. The sequester showed no signs of going anywhere soon, but Israel escaped its effects as Tom Doran sought a way forward in the increasingly segregated West Bank. Readers clarified the charges against Bradley Manning while the government focused on low-level leakers, the military continued to struggle with sexual assaults, and Tony Blair was unrepentant 10 years after the Iraq invasion.

In assorted coverage, Austin Considine broke down the research on BPA, MIT scientists visualized the invisible, Google Glass threatened to take away our last shred of privacy, and Ross Andersen predicted a Skynet devoid of empathy. We tracked drug prices from cultivation to distribution, Scott James waded through a same-sex couple’s tax return, and the working poor sought redemption by collecting recyclables. Don McCullin struggled to find value in his war photography, Marin Cogan’s sources failed to recognize the line between work and play, readers pointed us to other examples of “sponsored content” around the web, and we eulogized Emerson’s Atlantic.

Elsewhere, Jessica Love lamented Gladwell’s effect on social science, and Linda Besner uncovered bullies of all ages. Charles Ornstein faced a real-life situation he’d only written about before, Colm Tóibín perused Proust’s notebooks, and “nuns” shut down an Irish bar. We took a gander at the Gateway to the West in the VFYW, London spring came early in the FOTD, and babies battled it out (break-dance style) in the MHB.

The First Day Of Spring At Kew Gardens

(By Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.)

Last weekend on the Dish, Andrew saw signs of hope that the Right might be inching away from theoconservatism and revisited his own misguided commentary on Iraq from a decade ago. We also provided our usual eclectic mix of religious, books, and cultural coverage. In matters of faith, doubt, and philosophy, Noah Millman unpacked the problem with natural law arguments, George Saunders described his Roman Catholic childhood, and David Runciman reminded us of Hobbes’s audacious religious writing. Bryan Appleyard critiqued A.C. Grayling’s treatment of religion, Sarah Ngu explained how evil is parasitic on the good, and Hans Küng hoped for a modern pope. David Foster Wallace reached the other side of boredom, Charles Bukowski waited for the words to come, and Mahzarin Banaji considered how to overcome our hidden prejudices.

In literary and arts coverage, Ramona Ausubel relished the messiness of first drafts, Sam Sacks detailed why writers became suspicious of the visual arts, and Rose Tremain revealed how a smell inspired her to be a writer. Brad Leithauser celebrated concise writing, Justin Nobel explored the last years of Jack Kerouac, Ellen Handler Spitz asked how Maurice Sendak’s sexuality might illuminate his books, and Ron Rosenbaum reviewed Bernard Bailyn’s harrowing new book on how barbarous America was in the 17th century. Jeff Lin remembered Ang Lee’s lean years, Hannah Goldfield pondered what Amour taught her about her own grandparents, and Sophie Pinkham pointed to a fascinating new exhibit about the Cold War and homosexuality. Read Saturday’s poem here and Sunday’s here.

Fittingly for the weekend, sex and drugs were in the mix. Ferris Jabr visited a penis museum in Iceland, Jason G. Goldman highlighted the kinks of the animal kingdom, Ann Friedman continued the elusive search for a hetero Grindr, and Brett Aho mused on the connection between drug use and intelligence. In assorted news and views, Isabel V. Sawhill argued that we need more immigrants more than we need more babies, Lindsay Abrams continued the discussion on rising healthcare costs, and Khalil A. Cassimally reported on the prospect of “drone journalism.” Audrey Carlsen found that civilization was bad for your teeth, Lisa Hix caught up with collectors of African-Americans dolls, and an amazing story of adoption and marriage provided your Sunday cry. MHBs here and here, FOTDs here and here, VFYWs here and here, and the latest window contest here.

– D.A. & M.S.

The Dish On Comments

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 12 2013 @ 3:54pm

This thread compiles the various discussions of commenting policy the Dish has had over the years.

Tue Apr 10, 2007 – 05:00PM

The Bloggers’ Code of Conduct

Here’s a very helpful fisking of the whole concept. Couldn’t agree more. Some have argued that I’m a hypocrite on this because I don’t have a comments section for each post. The reason in the past is that I didn’t have time to moderate it and I was afraid that it would fill up soon with some of the more charming material I receive by emails. Increasingly, though, I realize that not monitoring a comments section at all may be the only way not to censor it. Which has made me consider adding one. The major drawback from my point of view is that readers may be less inclined to write me their own emails, which are often the highlight of a day’s blogging. In a sense, by airing a few emails and selecting them personally and responding to them at times I already have a very tightly managed high-quality comments section. But, strictly speaking, you could do that as well as adding comments for those who see fit. I’m of two minds on this. But if I do decide to add comments, I don’t think heavy monitoring is in the cards.

Wed Apr 11, 2007 – 06:19PM

Just a report back. The emails have been coming in around 10 to 1 against allowing comments. I’ll take it all under advisement.

Thu Apr 12, 2007 – 07:11PM

Another view:

Considering that most of your respondents are surely like me, having no idea if you even read our emails, and knowing well how seldom you publish them (unless they help you make a point one way or another), I think it highly improbable that your readers vote 10-1 against comments. Comments can be moderated, you know.  And while there are many posted comments that are ignorant, uninformed, and occasionally vulgar, it is preferable, especially in ‘the blogosphere’, to have the opportuity to make a cogent and lucid point rather than dealing with an imperious blogger such as yourself.  My usual response to a ‘no comments’ blog – especially a high profile and successful one – is, What are you afraid of?  Your no comments policy is the act of a control freak, not someone willing to engage in the sometimes messy and often fractious marketplace of ideas. And, of course, I will never know if you read this one, either.

You do now.

Sun Apr 15, 2007 – 05:33PM

Here’s an email from a regular emailer – the kind you’d read every day many times a day if we had open comments sections. He’s responding to this post which noted a remarkable 30-point Democratic advantage among those under 30. Here is his response:

Below is what the “30 point lead” link connected to.

Democrats lead by five percentage points among men, by fourteen points among women. Nancy Pelosi’s party holds a staggering 30-percentage point lead among voters under 30. Separate surveys have shown that a declining number of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans.

So voters under thirty are neither men nor women. Okay, what are they? What is their sex?  Are they human, never mind American citizens?

“Nancy Pelosi’s party holds a staggering…”

Wow, when did Nancy Pelosi form her own party? I am going out on a limb here, but since I didn’t hear about that, and I pay closer attention to what happens in politics then the average person, and with young people, especially under thirty, being notorious for ignoring politics, this is meaningless because only the hard core political junkies would even know about Pelosi forming her own party, the sample is too small AND the reporter is obviously an anti-American Socialist.

The other thing Andrew, with AIDS and all, I am still very surprised you fell for it, because the obvious. Who, what sane person, is even thinking about politics, never mind identity, in late March and early April after an election and twenty months before the next one?

The GOP is in great shape, isn’t it? I have no idea why voters under thirty are abandoning it in droves.

Mon Mar 03, 2008 – 12:00PM


From time to time, the question of comments on the Dish comes up. I’ve never had them and when I’ve raised the issue, the emails have run strongly against adding them. On a personal level, I like finding the sharpest comments, editing and posting them myself; and my in-tray is among the most informed on the web. I should add that I’d keep doing this with or without comments and I sure hope you wouldn’t stop emailing me directly.

Still: many readers want comments, and now I have the Atlantic infrastructure to manage them, it’s a good time to revisit the question. Most other blogs have them; they give readers a place to write and vent and discuss. No one has to read them. The experience of reading the Dish would not be affected if you don’t like comments by a little extra spinach at the end of posts. I’d keep doing what I’ve always done – which is read your emails and post the best – but readers would also be able to comment spontaneously, without my filter. Some have criticized this blog for not having them, as if I’m scared or something. My only worry is personal, anti-gay or anti-HIV diatribes. But they’re out there anyway, I suppose, and tend to indict the emailer rather than yours truly. So what the hell?

So it occurred to me to leave it to you. It’s a simple poll question; I’ll post it every day this week, and close off voting at noon on Friday. You can vote any number of times, so those who care strongly about this – pro and con – can have their passions reflected. This blog has become as much about you as me over the years, and on a question like this, it seems appropriate to engage in a little direct democracy. Maybe I’ll regret it – but it’s your call. Let me know, if you care enough either way.


Mon Mar 03, 2008 – 05:27PM

A reader writes:

No. You don’t need them. See your own honest and chastened posts on bandwidth-saturation and obsessive-compulsive tendencies in blogging and blog consumption.

Comment threads can be revelatory (cf. the essential avalanche of scathing and incredulous responses to Sean Wilentz’s bizarre reverse-racism essay at The New Republic’s website). But more often they are blathering and toxic sumps. I like the lean, mean linear simplicity and lone-d.j. voice of The Daily Dish. Don’t open up rabbit holes along the excellent trail of breadcrumbs you’re already giving us.

“Lone DJ.” That metaphor has occurred to me recently, as blogging continues to evolve as a medium and as a profession. It is a little like DJing: you wrote your own tunes, but you’re always sampling others, and mixing it all up with the techno potentialities of the new media. Yep: DJing is a pretty good way to look at it. Oh, and don’t forget to vote. Latest results available here.

Tue Mar 04, 2008 – 12:02PM

The vote and the e-mails have overwhelmingly been against adding comments (check out the final tally here). Here’s the majority consensus:

Please do not add a comment section. I already spend way too much time reading your blog.  Some of my favorite posts begin with “a reader writes.”  Most comment sections are clogged with drivel, invective, or redundancy. I cherish your editorial control over what we get to read from other readers. The problem with the blogosphere is precisely this lack of editorial overview, whether in regard to fact checking, or relevancy.

Editorial control? On the internet? Actually, that has become an attraction almost, hasn’t it? In an auto-pilot, populist web, old-fashioned editors are almost chic at this point. I don’t want to be like the Washington State Republicans, but there doesn’t seem much point in keeping the polls open any longer. We’ve had 12,000 votes so far, and the proportion – 60 – 40 against – has barely budged in 24 hours. You decided: to silence yourselves. More feedback after the jump.

Another against comments:

When I first started reading your blog, I was curious as to why there were no comments. As I kept reading, I noticed that I was calmer than when reading blogs with comments. Here is my theory for why that is:

Upon reading a comment that I disagree with, my first thought is often something like “Who ever wrote that is a freakin’ idiot.” However, you are a known non-idiot and things you write that I disagree with are given time for reflection.

So, no comments.

A known non-idiot? There are a few bloggers out there who would take issue with that. A reader in favor of comments argues:

It has always bothered me that you didn’t have comments on your blog and one of the reasons I can’t understand about the issue is this: if you enable comments people who don’t want to read them don’t have to and those that do want them will be able to read/participate ( in other words everyone will be happy).  If you don’t enable them, the people who don’t want to read them will be happy, but the people who want them won’t.  Enabling comments is a rare way in which you can make everyone happy without making anyone unhappy.  Despite being a fan of you and the daily dish, there are issues I disagree with or points in articles that I disagree with and it would be great for us, your readers, to interact with each other in a comments section.  The comments will certainly take on a life of their own and I would argue that a goodly portion of it wouldn’t necessarily interest you, but every day there would be a gem of a point in the comments section that would shine a new facet on some topic or another (for you…and for us) and without that gem, you might miss an important pov on something.

A reader’s counterargument to this argument:

Readers of your blog could opt to not read the comments section, but in truth we would rarely opt not to read them — on your blog or any other blog. Blog comments have the power to hammerlock one’s attention. I think, humans being highway rubberneckers,  we’d be impotent to resist looking over the rantings and counter-rantings that would make their way into your Comments Section. Not only would comments be an incredible drain on one’s time (especially if we check your blog several times a day from work), but it also exposes readers to the nasty underbelly of blogging. I like your blog because it is a civil outpost on the internet — not one stained by cursing, profane speech, or perhaps more importantly one person posting and posting and posting.

Another reader in favor:

Can you not just have people register and ban their account or IP from commenting if they break certain clear ground rules (anti-HIV, excessively and unnecessarily personal, etc.)  I think readers would get behind this, and it would be relatively easy to enforce.  I think people should be able to make personal comments if it entails calling you an “idiot” or “emotional” or whatever, but there is obviously some content which has no place on a civil website (e.g. HIV/faggot/barebacking comments which I’ve read elsewhere).  So I’m for comments, with conditions.  And if they prove impossible even with conditions, then you can always take them down. I think comments would only encourage debate and input;  I know I myself often do not email because I don’t want to take the time if I feel you are unlikely to read it (I have no way of knowing) and are even more unlikely to post it.  We’re busy people, your readers, and we don’t like to blow half an hour on an email that for all we know disappears into cyberspace.

Fri Oct 24, 2008 – 10:18AM

The Comments Issue

There are a lot of new Dish readers right now and I am getting more and more emails like this one:

Why is there not a comments option on your entries? Wait, scratch that, I have seen comments sections before and know how they can get. But maybe some policing or something? Dammit man, your readers are intelligent and deserve to talk with each other!

I’ve debated this on and off for years, but gave the readers the choice earlier this year. They voted overwhelmingly to keep the Dish comment-free. Maybe I’ll have another poll in a few months. My general views about blogging and reader interaction are in my new essay, “Why I Blog.” I find reading your emails, and editing them and posting them is a more civilized way of airing debate.

Sat Jan 24, 2009 – 02:18PM

Readers Write

A reader asks:

For the curious and relatively new among your readers (like me), could you tell us how many emails you get each day from readers, how many you read, how you select the ones you read, how you select the ones you respond to and/or publish?  Do you like getting emails? Are you glad we write you about what we’re thinking, even if you can’t respond?  Is it helpful, or just burdensome?  Is there something that readers like me, who yearn for more conversation at the Dish, can do to make our emailed thoughts helpful, and not burdensome?

The volume varies with the season. At the height of the campaign, we may have been getting over a thousand emails a day. It’s lighter on weekends. My current in-tray shows, LOL, 94,000 emails. That’s cumulative since the latest culling. It’s roughly 500 a day by my count. It is physically impossible to read them all, but I check them several times a day, respond to as many as I can and have learned over almost nine years how to scan them for helpful links or tips or arguments. Some email addresses I know by heart and also know they will contain wisdom or amusement. Others I just open at random like Christmas presents. Patrick then goes through as many as he can as well so we catch as much quality as we can.

I love the emails. It’s wondrous to me how much time and effort people put into them when they know they will get no recognition – but that anonymity also brings out more honesty and passion. People write because they feel strongly about something and that comes across. It takes work – but when people say we have no comments section it isn’t entirely true. We have a highly edited comments section and one that we try hard to keep cogent and critical of our own work.

And then there are times when I’m sick like the last few days when the emails of fun and cheer and encouragment really make my day. None of this is burdensome. I feel immensely lucky to have found a readership this smart and knowledgeable and wise. It’s like our own private Wikipedia back here. So keep ‘em coming – photos, quips, quotes and brutal take-downs.

Mon Feb 09, 2009 – 04:51PM

What Can Blogging Do?

Alan Jacobs on blogging’s limits:

A blog-with-comments is a piss-poor place to debate matters like the existence of God. It’s not even a good place to debate whether Obama’s stimulus bill is likely to be successful. Blogs just don’t do complexity and nuance – which, I think, is why they’re so popular. As everyone knows, the less complex and nuanced the positions on a blog are, the more comments it gets. This is an Iron-Clad Law of the Internet. Blog posts are just too short to deal with the Big Issues, and too likely to be fired off in short order, with minimal reflection and no pre-post feedback from wiser and cooler heads. Andrew Sullivan may think this is a good thing, but I’m not inclined to agree. And of course comments are usually even worse than posts in these respects. Some wonderful conversations happen in blog comment threads, but they happen in spite of the architecture, not because of it. The architecture is fighting thoughtfulness with all its might.

But that’s why this blog tries to air debate by reading and editing the smartest reader contributions and trying to moderate them a little to provoke and advance or clarify the conversation. No one’s going to resolve these questions today any more than at any previous point in human history. But I worry about these questions being relegated to professional theologians or free-for-all comments section spats. A little dorm room conversation in one’s later years is worth doing – and blogs, if they’re edited and curated well, can help.

Thu May 07, 2009 – 06:57PM

The Buddhists Write In

A reader writes:

Yet another comment about the theology of Buddhism from someone who’s “read a few books.”  I promise I will quit spamming you with takes on Buddhism, but this one is really uninformed, and demands a last response:

“The second and most disturbing flaw, in my opinion, is that Buddhism essentially blames victims for their circumstances (karma).”

This is a common and understandable misreading of the law of karma.  But it’s a huge misreading.

For Buddhists, as long as we’re trapped in cyclic existence (the wheel of reincarnation, known as samsara), we suffer.  The particular nature of our suffering differs, but there’s not better or worse suffering.  Everyone who’s trapped in samsara suffers.  For people who misunderstand the point, they look at a starving child and compare her to a wealthy American and draw a conclusion about who is being “punished” by karma.  For the Buddhist, both are suffering.  One of the central ways Buddhists engender compassion is to recognize this and try to see that all beings are trying to get past their own suffering.  Your reader has the point exactly backward.

Again, your readers may eschew Buddhism for any reason they wish without provoking a peep from me.  But presenting their reasons as legitimate representations of what we believe and practice isn’t doing the discussion any favors.

Another reader adds:

I’m growing increasingly anxious as you roll out this new thread on Buddhism because so few of your critics are actual Buddhists.  This isn’t a problem when discussing the behavior of Buddhists or the influence of Buddhism on the world, or any number of external comments about the religion.  But to refer to non-Buddhists as the source of information about the theology is troubling.

If you’re going to discuss the theology, it needs to be from the perspective of the religion, not according to beliefs assigned from without.  (As a former student of religion and a Buddhist, this is a matter of scholarly integrity as well as a personal issue to me.)  In the most recent comment, the reader writes: “I’m tempted to think that these strenuously- and minutely-argued responses are the product of an understandable, if unfortunate, insecurity about the truth or worth of the foundations of the beliefs people choose to build their lives around, but in the end that’s not really for me to say.”

What about those of us who object to your original posts as being theologically inaccurate?  This isn’t insecurity, it’s a desire to have the theology presented as Buddhist doctrine, not a post-facto non-Buddhist critique of it.

To repeat my critique of the original post: Buddhists do not teach detachment to ordinary life.  The teaching is to use the practices of Buddhism to slowly wean yourself from the attachment to causes of suffering.  For Buddhists, this means our attachment to those unwholesome activities that cause us to suffer.  “Ordinary life,” that is, the direct experience of the present moment, is actually the state Buddhists wish to live.  The practice of Buddhism involves meditations to cultivate joy, compassion, kindness, and equanimity–surely some of the building blocks to happiness.  There is nothing detached about serious practitioners.

It’s worth noting an additional blindness non-Buddhists, particularly those raised in Christian countries, have about their own understanding of religion. Christianity is a belief-based religion.  To Christians, asking someone what they believe is tantamount to inquiring about the religion.  But Buddhism is practice-based.  In Buddhism, wisdom does not arise from belief, but from meditation, where insight is actually non-cognitive.  To a Buddhist, belief is often the obstacle, not the source of release.

Please consider posting comments from Buddhists–even those supportive of the initial critique.  Their views will be more meaningful.

One more:

I have been a loyal reader and follower of your blog for quite a few years now (I was an impulsive reader of The Daily Dish), but I believe that time is coming to an end.

The ridiculousness of how this whole discussion about Buddhism on your website has been moderated by you and your team has become very insulting and hurtful. I feel that in this particular situation your site is done a disservice by not having an actual comments section where readers can freely read comments and share with others. Instead your site picks and chooses those responses that you deem fit to print, and thereby exercises total control of the conversation. The tone that you have chosen, evident from the reader responses you have posted, has come across as completely insensitive and downright disrespectful towards the Buddhist tradition and those who identify with it. Post after post of criticism and opinion, but very little knowledge or direct experience.

I enjoy a good challenging debate, but when the content is moderated and filtered through someone’s agenda, that’s not really a debate. It’s a message.

In the past you have had discussions framed around general religious belief versus atheism. These conversations have been intriguing and challenging, and always with a general feeling of even-handedness. But I have never seen you blatantly smear one religion specifically and for no apparent reason. To my knowledge there was nothing newsworthy about your post “Up From Buddhism.” It wasn’t even timely.

Mon May 31, 2010 – 08:44AM

Dishness, Explained

A reader writes:

This is why I love your blog.  You start by relating an anecdote about an angry Sarah Palin, and by the end of the discussion, you have me buying Robert Frost collections on Amazon.  The input from readers around the world with incredible knowledge and perspective give every subject such complexity and richness.  And the curated emails are 1000% better than any strand of repetitive, anonymous comments.

Please stick with this format forever!

We will. It’s simple really. Instead of a computer algorithm and message boards, we have emails and we read them and edit them and try to make it all connect together. This has evolved as the Dish has grown and matured. And with each improvisation, we find new challenges. One thing we hope to do soon is to find a place on the page where you can easily read entire threads from beginning to end. We’re very close to adding new staffers to help us do this.

What it really means is that this is your blog as much as ours. From Window Views to personal tales and theological and spiritual discussion, the content on this blog is now increasingly generated by you and filtered through the pre-frontal cortex of me and the sous-chefs.

Wed Oct 20, 2010 – 01:40PM

Email Of The Day

A reader writes:

Blogs that don’t allow comments can’t end entries with Discuss.

Touché. But all that means is that we will scour the in-tray for the most penetrating rebuttals and comments and print them. A little patience, s’il vous plait.

Wed Aug 03, 2011 – 01:37PM

Home News

As we mentioned last week, the Dish is getting Twittery (a special thanks to Brian Ries and Chelsie Gosk for their help). A few years ago, the Twitter account @dailydish was launched by an unknown fan of the blog, and its automated feed has churned out thousands of posts since. Last week we asked Twitter to close that account because of copyright and branding concerns (i.e. we are no longer at the Atlantic and have since dropped “Daily” from our name), but we have now replaced @dailydish with a sleeker auto-feed: @dishfeed. So click on this link if you’d like to keep up with every Dish post via Twitter. We have also created a curated feed called @sullydish, which contains only the Dish posts that have extended arguments from yours truly. Think of it as a more expansive version of the Recent Keepers feature. You can follow that feed here. We’ve also created an official Dish page on Facebook.

Go to this link and “Like” the page if you’re interested in keeping up with content we post there. (Here is the RSS feed if you prefer that method.) We plan to use our Facebook page primarily as a way to stoke discussion of Dish posts and give readers a way to talk to each other directly. Think of it as an off-blog comments section. (For readers unfamiliar with our case against comments, read here.)

Like everything at the Dish, we are starting simple and adjusting as we go along. Feedback from readers is always welcome.

Tue Dec 20, 2011 – 01:55PM

Dish Readers: Who Are You? Ctd

Dish Readers: Who Are You?

The reaction to our reader-driven survey has been overwhelming – responses are steadily approaching the one million mark. Even if you’ve already participated, there are likely new questions from readers waiting for you above, so check it out. For those of you seeing the survey for the first time, we explain it here. A reader writes:

I think the reason you’re getting so many responses is that your software (Urtak?) is the best I’ve ever seen. I get one or two surveys per week from companies I do business with and ignore nearly all of them, because I’m tired of being asked ridiculously complicated questions about what is important to me (always with way more dynamic range than is necessary, like from 1 to 10 when probably “not at all”, “a little”, or “a lot” would be enough). The yes/no format is refreshing.

Urtak’s engaging and easy-to-use interface is why we are allowing the number of questions to reach 50 and beyond. Such a large number of questions on a typical survey would be overwhelming to answer all at once, especially multiple choice. More on Urtak’s approach to polling here. There are more reasons it works for us:

Comment boards are a terrible place. Anonymous users tear apart authors and each other. … Urtak, one of the 12 summer TechStars NYC startups, thinks it has a solution. Instead of comments, Urtak wants users to leave and answer questions. Founder Marc Lizoain says he’s seen user engagement with comment boards increase 70% when publishers use Urtak. … “Rather than having 10 or 20 comments on an article, we’re seeing hundreds of people answer questions,” says Lizoain.  “Questions help direct online discussions.”

More from Lizoain here. I’ve been absorbing the data and was surprised in a few ways. More later. But three quarters of a million individual responses to questions? It’s the best Christmas present a blogger could ask for. And we’ll be thinking of using Urtak some more in the future.

Fri Mar 16, 2012 – 11:11AM

The Trouble With Comments

Dan O’Connor blasts what blog comment sections have become:

It is time, I think, for us to accept that disabling or deleting idiot comments is no more anti-democratic or elitist than refusing to engage with a person harrassing you on the street. Just because everyone is allowed to have their say, it does not follow that the bilge they say is worth listening to. I love the internet. I love social media. And the only way we will save them from themselves is by accepting that, more often than not, comments are rubbish.

Gawker is implementing a new comment system to deal with the problem. Recent Dish on a wildly successful comment section here. We’re sticking with posting the best and most informative of your emails. For the Dish, reader input plays a key role in airing debates and discovering facts from readers with deep knowledge of the subjects at hand. There is a way, in other words, to create a web space where readers add and don’t detract from the experience.

It’s called editing.

Sat May 05, 2012 – 09:45AM

The Feedback Firehose

Julian Sanchez notes that any “commenter on politics or public affairs whose audience reaches a certain size gets a level of feedback – via email, Twitter, blog posts and comments – that would have been unthinkable for any but the few most prominent public intellectuals a generation ago.” Er, yes. You should check out our in-tray. His worry about this development:

If the type and volume of criticism we find online were experienced in person, we’d probably think we were witnessing some kind of EST/Maoist reeducation session designed to break down the psyche so it could be rebuilt from scratch. The only way not to find this overwhelming and demoralized over any protracted period of time is to adopt a reflexive attitude that these are not real people whose opinions matter in any way. Which, indeed, seems to be a pretty widespread attitude. Scan the comments at one of the more partisan political blogs and you get a clear sense that the other side consists not so much of people with different ideas, but an inscrutable alien species. I think it’s self-evident that this is an unhealthy development in a democracy, but it may be a coping strategy that our media ecosystem is forcing on us – at least until we find a better one.

I have a better one. Scrap comments sections, and add serious editors to filter the smartest emails both in favor of the blogger’s view and against. Yes, you need to develop the thickest of skins. But a thick skin isn’t the same as epistemic closure. Or it doesn’t need to be.

Wed Jan 02, 2013 – 02:10PM

Dish Independence: Your Questions

A reader asks:

Congratulations on the move forward! I’ve already registered for a Dish membership ($25), but I’ve got one question: will RSS feeds work with the meter and the new site? That’s my primary method of delivery for all online reading, and it will be difficult to keep up reading yall without it.

Fear not – our RSS feed won’t be affected by the meter. Another:

Congratulations on the new adventure, we will definitely join the team! However, I could not figure out whether a subscription can be purchased for a couple with multiple machines or whether we need a separate account for each individual.  Any info on that?

You will be able to use your username/password for multiple devices, given that many Dishheads read the blog at work and at home, as well as mobile devices. Another reader:

Please consider allowing comments in the paid site. There will be far fewer “trolls” in that environment.

No plans for a comments section, but we will put it up for a vote again in due course. In the past, readers have overwhelmingly preferred our curated reader emails rather than often raucous comments sections.

One final point which may have gotten lost. There is no paywall. No one coming to the Dish home-page will ever be stopped. All links to individual posts will be outside the meter and as free after we launch as they are now. We have no intention of cutting ourselves off from the blogosphere we love and need. And vice-versa. The only meter arrives at the “Read On” posts, whose full text you have to be a member to read.

And, by the way, we are currently overwhelmed by the massive response. We’ll report back as soon as we can firm up the precise numbers. But the level of support so far is pretty staggering. We can’t thank you enough. Stay tuned …

Wed Jan 02, 2013 – 04:09PM

A reader quotes a previous one:

“Please consider allowing comments in the paid site.” NO! NEVER! PLEASE! In general, I HATE comment sections; they so often turn into cesspools, despite everyone’s good intentions.  But your “curated comment section” is one of the best things about your blog. I’ve already signed up for the paid site, but if I get wind that there will be an open comment section, I’ll probably try to get my money back.

Another reader reminds us that “if people want comments, they can go to the Dish Facebook page and comment there till their heart’s content – and I don’t have to see it.” Another:

Delighted to see you striking out on your own.  I think it’s high time.  I pay for the NYT, the FT, and the Economist, and I think your move is another signal of the quality differentiating itself.  I wouldn’t pay for just any newspaper, and I wouldn’t pay for just any blog.  But you’ve set yourself apart.

That begs a separate question, though.  If we give enough, would you all consider setting aside the resources to build dedicated apps/web apps for your subscribers?  I’d love to have a clean, specially designed iPhone/iPad interface, and with the web apps the NYT and FT are now using, you wouldn’t need to go through Apple (and for that matter, you could probably do a pretty easy port to Android).

Apps – or at least a customized mobile version for the home-page – are definitely forthcoming, once we get our footing with the new Dish. Another reader:

Have you ever thought of a limited merchandise offering? I can’t be the only one who’d love to have an official DishHead teeshirt or ball cap. It would be fun to recognize each other at the local coffee shop.

Merchandise is very much on our radar. Back in December 2010 we launched some limited edition t-shirts (the ones featured in our staff photo). We are holding off on any subsequent merch until we have stabilized with the new transition, but stay tuned. Another reader dissents:

If you are going to start off on your own, start off right. Don’t go for that $19.99 crap; be honest and direct and ask for $20.00.

I have just finished law school and have to last until I can take the bar in February. My only income is some money from my Dad; I have to make my savings last. I don’t even pay for the local Sacramento Bee, but I sent in my twenty and wish you the best.

We are immensely grateful. Join him in subscribing to an independent, ad-free Dish here.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 – 01:25PM

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A reader writes:

Just got paid. Picked up an LP, my bi-weekly 1/8 of dank, my weekend ales, and I proudly sent $20 for my Dish subscription. I’m gonna’ be a happy man.

P.S. please, please, please, for the love of Marklar, don’t add a comments section.

Wed Feb 06, 2013 – 11:31AM

The “Old” vs. “New” Media Debate

Jay Rosen does his best at mediating it. First, the things that “disaffected newsroom ‘traditionalists’” get right:

You cannot cut your way to the future. The term content is a barbarism that bit by bit devalues what journalists do. Pure aggregation is parasitic on original reporting. Untended, online comment sections have become sewers, protectorates for the deranged, depraved and deluded. That we have fewer eyes on power, fewer journalists at the capital or city hall watching what goes on, almost guarantees that there will be more corruption. Bloggers and citizen journalists cannot fill the gap.

I agree, unless we can find an economic model that can build up blogs’ staffs so they can begin to hire reporters. Then we may be onto something. That’s one of our long term goals here at the Dish – but we can only get there if you become a member and help. The subscribe button – hint, hint – is at the top right hand corner of the page. But the “traditionalists” get a lot of things wrong, too:

Listening to demand is smart journalism, so is giving people what they have no way to demand because they don’t know about it yet. If you are good at one, the other goes better. Do what you do best and link to the rest isn’t a slogan, it’s your only hope for comprehensive coverage. … In the aggregate, the users know more than you do about most things. They are in many more places than you can be. They also help distribute your stuff. Therefore talking with them is basic to your job.

The latter seems under-valued to me – and partly because of comments sections’ signal to noise ratio. Hence our decision to spend a great deal of time and attention on our email in-tray, and to integrate your knowledge of the world into the Dish’s content.

Thu Feb 07, 2013 – 03:59PM

Dissent Of The Day

A reader quotes another:

“So this is dorky, but I got a weird rush of pride and community upon signing into the Dish on my devices and seeing that light blue Subscriber block appear atop the screen.” This is one reason I will never join. It is sad that this person or any person thinks that reading the Dish makes her a part of a community. I could never be a member of anything where people were so sad. It might be different if you took comments, but how can someone passively and anonymously eating the meal you serve (made up mostly of other people’s work, by the way) make one a member of a community? But you do promote that idea, don’t you?

I have liked this site less and less since you went to memberships. I feel about as negative towards you as I did back in the early Bush years where you were promoting the idea of a new pro-war party of young patriots called the “Eagles.” Putting up all those positive reviews and the dollar totals like this is some kind of cheesy telethon. I can’t tell how cynical you are about your marketing tactics. I would respect you more if you were cynical, but I’m afraid you actually believe that you are providing some kind of community and are something more valuable than just a daily best of the web on a two-week delay with an overlay of Oprah-level spirituality.

We’ve been airing reader reactions, positive and negative, because we are a community. Why else would so many people send us links or write emails like yours or send in their window views or vote for awards and so on if they were not part of a community? Why would they care? And when a million or so people have visited a site every month for years, it is not unreasonable to assume that many are the same people. I call that a community. And you are welcome to be a part of it, harsh criticism and all. Yes, letting our readers know how this experiment is going may be seen as marketing. But it’s also called transparency, and we promised it.

Another reader spells out why we don’t have a comments section and why readers have repeatedly voted one down:

I subscribed last week in prep for this week’s launch. Very happy with all aspects of the site so far. I almost sent a support email for the embedded links (they were not opening in new tab in the first day), but guessed correctly thatothers would make that suggestion – love it.

photo (16)I love this community, which is why I subscribed. I have NEVER subscribed to anything on the Internet (except anti-virus software). One of the biggest reasons that this is the first site I visit and why I subscribed is for the lack of a comments section. As Jay Rosen so eloquently put it (and I would not have seen this quote if not for the Dish): “Untended, online comment sections have become sewers, protectorates for the deranged, depraved and deluded.”

I am thrilled to make a small contribution to your staff, which does the hard work of finding the best comments (possibly the best part of Dish) and the best thinking across the net! I have done IT contracting and I am more than happy to pay for your team’s efforts each day. I wish more people understood that actual, hard work is how sites get built, software gets built and the net would collapse without it. We should all be willing to pay for that hard work!

Another sent the above image earlier this week and wrote:

This was taken on January 7 in my hospital room after a successful 5-hour surgery that day.  I’m doing great and this pictures show’s how lucky I am to have people who love me and access to the best medical care and generous health insurance to cover most of the 70K in bills from surgery/one night stay, pathology etc.  So I’m really happy to be able to support the Dish!  It’s my favorite “coffee break.”

Update from a reader:

I’m tempted to subscribe, but the lack of a comment section holds me back. The ability to comment in real time in a public forum was one of the things that drew me to online news and commentary and away from the printed newspaper years ago.

I’m perplexed by your readership’s hostility to a comment section. I haven’t run across a website yet that requires anyone to read comments, but every now and again I feel the need to add my two cents. If some of your readers don’t like comments, let them skip over them. Are comment sections a cesspool? Sure, sometimes. And sometimes they’re perceptive, and sometimes they’re more entertaining than the article they’re attached to. And sometimes the allow me, the reader, to point out a glaring error or omission in a public forum in real time.

Want my 20 bucks? Allow me to add my two cents from time to time.

Two cents for 20 bucks is a great exchange rate.

The Weekly Wrap

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 8 2013 @ 11:30pm

Friday on the Dish, Andrew diagnosed the GOP with ongoing Dubya-denial, and urged Republicans to get over it for the sake of the party. Meanwhile, Chait chided the silent centrists in the GOP, Karl Rove reminded the foundering party of the “Buckley rule,” and we gave Chris Christie a pass on his weight. Elsewhere, we walked up to the brink of the sequester, Howard Gleckman bemoaned the state of tax reform, and Marin Cogan divulged an unexpected challenge for congressional reporters. Dexter Filkins reported the brute facts of our brutal drone war, Asher Kohn mapped out the ideal drone-proof town, and we scolded both liberals and conservative media on drone coverage in general.

Gwen Ifill remembered Rosa Parks on the woman’s 100th birthday while Jelani Cobb studied the social and racial significance of the late Essie Mae Washington-Williams, lovechild of Strom Thurmond. Also, Julia Ioffe informed us about the crackdown on homosexuals in Russia, Micah Cohen found some encouraging signs on Americans’ attitude toward immigration, and a hospital in Philadelphia got real with local kids about gun violence. Madeleine Schwartz calculated the expense of the government’s matrimonial campaign, and Razib Khan set the record straight on mystery-paternity.

In assorted coverage, we kept readers updated on the east coast’s blizzard, which led us straight to an intentional Poseur Alert here. We smurfed a new, unsavory definition of “smurf,” McArdle pointed out that the US beat the UK to the future, and a former cabbie answered the question you always wondered after stepping inside the taxi. A.N. Devers deconstructed the literary allusions buried in the NFL Ravens, Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers commemorated the life of Elizabeth Bishop, and Luke Runyon reported on young readers enjoying the literal fruits of their learning in Colorado.

Antonio Casilli dished out some advice to the Vatican on its Twitter account, Tom Stafford rewrote your to-do list, and Angela Evancie pushed back against young poets’ achievement anxiety. Also, we compared the church coffer to the diner tip jar and Joshua Holland stuck up for the misunderstood dog breed.

Newtown resident Ross McDonald presented the letters flooding into his town hall as we caught sight of a Syrian woman and her battered child during the Face of the Day. Finally, we peered into the backyard in Essex Junction, Vermont for the VFYW and had to applaud the insane surfers in the MHB.


The rest of the week after the jump:

Thursday on the Dish, Andrew shamed the president for betraying his promise of a transparent, constitutional fight against al-Qaeda, and searched for a smarter approach worthy of our country. He voiced hope that Americans will once again overcome their fear of fresh immigration and observed the realization of equality in Britain’s parliament and the country at large. Elsewhere, Andrew repeated his call for a Catholic burial for King Richard and answered some barbed reader feedback dismissing the Dishhead society.

In political coverage, we clarified the necessity of the BDS debate while acknowledging the group’s extreme goals, witnessed a growing wariness of Christianism in America, and said goodbye to Dick Morris as Fox News fraudster par-excellence. Seth Baum worried that we could exacerbate global warming by trying to stop it while Carrie La Seur provided­ a new take on climate change regulations from the inner West.

Waldman ranked Election 2012 as a standard year for turnout as Alan Abramowitz took the country’s temperature for the 2014 midterms. We also imagined a world without the USPS, at least on Saturdays.  Mujib Mashal explained the Taliban’s new Freudian recruiting tactics as we brainstormed some names for Tim Geithner’s publisher, and a member of the repulsive Westboro Baptist Church left her family cult and earned an Yglesias award.

In assorted coverage, we nibbled on some snacks from NASA’s cafeteria, explored the possibility of universal robo-labor, and remembered that we live by the sun and (probably) will die by the sun. While Timothy Taylor predicted the end of the era of junk email, Michael Chabon sought the key to self-expression and we closed our ears for a spoiler on spoilers. As we bundled up for the east coast’s imminent snowfall, we served a scoop of solid blues for the MHB, caught a glimpse of desperate rage in the Face of the Day, and surveyed La Ventana, Mexico during the VFYW.


Wednesday on the Dish, Andrew pondered how much longer America will trail her fellow democracies in delivering marriage equality and insisted that only fairness and equality will solve the Boy Scouts’ problems. He kept watch on the anti-prohibition bills in Congress, logged another day of self-sabotage for the right-wing media-industrial complex, and fired back at critics of the supposed oppressive regimes of Pret A Manger and TGI Friday’s. Elsewhere, Andrew mused on the life and legend of Shakespeare’s nastiest hero and England’s most infamous monarch, talked Catholics and conscience in today’s episode of Hitch & Sully, and explored the potential of television to blend further with independent projects found online.

In home news, he placed the Dish in the sweet spot between old and new media, updated readers on the first week of our independence, and continued to broadcast reader feedback on matters from the layout to potential merchandise.

On the political beat, Bouie disputed the openness of Silicon Valley, Brooklyn College’s chair of polisci gave his take on the BDS uproar, and Shafer brainstormed who might’ve slipped the DOJ white paper to the press. We discovered how far the government traveled to outsource torture, Nate Rawlings tallied up the bill for shipping our military gear back from Afghanistan, and Evan Osnos tracked the miscarriage of justice for China’s battered women.

While Catherine Rampell tried to pinpoint what kind of worker could take a hit from increased immigration, Michael Clemens argued that any reform hinges on making immigrants easier to hire in the first place, and Laura Entis nudged at the boundaries of the 8-hour work day. Meanwhile, Yglesias proposed a congestion charge for the metropolis, , Ambers assessed Hillary as quietly poised to pounce, and libertarians in Idaho tried to assign their state some dreary reading.

In assorted coverage, Jon Brodkin debunked the rumors of the coming universal Wifi-paradise while we learned how to send a text built to self-destruct, and wondered if e-cigs will lead to e-joints. America’s young readers discovered the fruits of curiosity as we found out what it’s like to proofread a genius. Aaron Carroll reexamined what makes healthy weight loss, Eric Zorn spotted the unique pitch of the ad-free Dish, and Reid Mitenbuler reported the life of Frederic Tudor, who kept the world chill as modernity took hold. Watched the sun set in Bigfork, Minnesota for the VFYW measured climate change on the skating rink and spun a hardcore record for the MHB.

Tuesday on the Dish, Andrew challenged the president on his weak rhetoric on tax reform, sounded off on the DOJ white paper justifying extra-judicial killing, and took a closer look at what made ACT UP more than agitprop. He fumed at the Church’s ongoing sabotage of justice, vowed to stay diligent about the GOP’s schemes to skewer representative government, and sampled Washington’s reactions to the ACA’s new conciliation on contraception. Elsewhere, Andrew marked the passage of marriage equality in Britain’s House of Commons on contraception, spoke up in defense of America’s smiley service, despite Tim Noah’s objections, endorsed the e-cig counterculture.

Finally, Andrew, introduced readers to Patrick and Chris, the tireless stewards of the Dish, and took on readers’ praise and critique of the new, independent site before unveiling the transcript of an unreleased podcast with his old friend Christopher Hitchens.

In political coverage, Yglesias tried to steer us between overregulation and underregulation, Paul Campos warned of the oncoming higher-ed bubble, and Waldman honed in on the crucial steps toward gun control. Larison anticipated the GOP’s inadequate stand against Hagel’s confirmation while Mick Mulvaney struck a blow for fiscal sanity within the GOP. Corey Robin applauded the admin of Brooklyn College for hosting a BDS event, James Surowiescki spotted serious revenue in lifting the ban on sports gambling, and Fox News let Dick Morris back into the wild.

In assorted news and views, we wondered whether Netflix’s original series will incite a revolution in home entertainment, Andrew Leonard pointed out the company’s ever-expanding view into your personal tastes, and Ryan McGee requested smaller TV portions in general. Ann Friedman outlined her taxonomy of trolls, Maia Szalavitz spotted a drug for when you’ve had too much drugs, and Steve Benen caught the bright side of the Superbowl blackout.

Travis Waldron joined the mounting case against the football industry, Alyssa Rosenberg asked Alex Gibney what the Catholic Church’s crimes reveal about insulated institutions in general, and Michael Signorelli spotlighted St. Francis’s interaction with and toleration of Islam. We felt the breeze in Tucson, Arizona, watched a hitchhiker’s guide to heroism, and gawked as Gangham style leapt from the page in the MHB. Later, we dropped by a heavily-bearded Viking jamboree in the Face of the Day and followed the breadcrumbs to Sinzig, Germany in today’s VFYW contest (whose spinoff game you can now enjoy any time).

Monday on the Dish, Andrew introduced everyone to the new, ad-free site and its fresh features, and also peered into other mediums where independent voices are pushing the envelope. He contemplated the degeneration of the Catholic Church, from the guardian of innocents to protector of criminals. Elsewhere, Andrew exposed McCain’s false dichotomy between civil liberty and border security, and cut to the core meaning of his exchange with Hagel last week during the latter’s hectic hearing. After breathing a sigh of relief over Obama’s decision to veto intervention in Syria, he also explored the distinction between love and sexual desire in the case of Manti Te’o and rejoiced at the latest breakthrough for gluten-free sweets.

In political news, Michael Moynihan interviewed the filmmaker behind HBO’s Mea Maxima Culpa, Michael Lewis prepared the wrecking ball for banks that are too big to fail, and Ackerman totaled up the handful of Muslim terrorist acts in the country since 9/11. Kevin Harnett explained the generosity-factor of wealthy black families in America while Lisa Wade reported the growing androgyny of generation X and Y. We rounded up more thoughts on Ed Koch’s handling of NYC’s AIDS crisis and studied whether redistricting really changes politician’s attitudes.

On the foreign affairs beat, Stephen Walt delivered some home truth about U.S. foreign policy, we weighed the costs and benefits of the conscript army and Greenwald raised alarm over academic freedom when the subject is Israel-Palestine. Also, Richard J. Evans recalled Mussolini’s little-known ban on caffeine and Ahmadinejad shot the moon.

In assorted coverage, Kevin Stevens singled out Duke Ellington as a the jazz master par excellence, Eliza Strickland laid out one man’s plan to integrate the senses online, and Rebecca Solnit saw parallels good and bad between San Francisco’s tech boom and the Gold Rush. We checked in with the health risks of Big Football, Jennifer Hollands measured the medical value of venom, Donald Hutcherson added up the prison premium and Jacob Sullum handed back Eli Lake his e-cigarettes. Meanwhile, Mark Dery took a deeper look at the tentacled-titan of the ocean as Randall Monroe scanned our solar system for the perfect avian experience.

Finally, we gazed across Los Angeles, California in the VFYW, inspected a row of Venezuelan soldiers during the Face of the Day, and dropped a serious beat in the MHB.


The Daily Wrap

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2013 @ 10:30pm

Today on the Dish, Andrew introduced everyone to the new, ad-free site and its fresh features, and also peered into other mediums where independent voices are pushing the envelope. He contemplated the degeneration of the Catholic Church, from the guardian of innocents to protector of criminals. Elsewhere, Andrew exposed McCain’s false dichotomy between civil liberty and border security, and cut to the core meaning of his exchange with Hagel last week during the latter’s hectic hearing. After breathing a sigh of relief over Obama’s decision to veto intervention in Syria, he also explored the distinction between love and sexual desire in the case of Manti Te’o and rejoiced at the latest breakthrough for gluten-free sweets.

In political news, Michael Moynihan interviewed the filmmaker behind HBO’s Mea Maxima Culpa, Michael Lewis prepared the wrecking ball for banks that are too big to fail, and Ackerman totaled up the handful of Muslim terrorist acts in the country since 9/11. Kevin Harnett explained the generosity-factor of wealthy black families in America while Lisa Wade reported the growing androgyny of generation X and Y. We rounded up more thoughts on Ed Koch’s handling of NYC’s AIDS crisis and studied whether redistricting really changes politician’s attitudes.

On the foreign affairs beat, Stephen Walt delivered some home truth about U.S. foreign policy, we weighed the costs and benefits of the conscript army and Greenwald raised alarm over academic freedom when the subject is Israel-Palestine. Also, Richard J. Evans recalled Mussolini’s little-known ban on caffeine and Ahmadinejad shot the moon.

In assorted coverage, Kevin Stevens singled out Duke Ellington as a the jazz master par excellence, Eliza Strickland laid out one man’s plan to integrate the senses online, and Rebecca Solnit saw parallels good and bad between San Francisco’s tech boom and the Gold Rush. We checked in with the health risks of Big Football, Jennifer Hollands measured the medical value of venom, Donald Hutcherson added up the prison premium and Jacob Sullum handed back Eli Lake his e-cigarettes. Meanwhile, Mark Dery took a deeper look at the tentacled-titan of the ocean as Randall Monroe scanned our solar system for the perfect avian experience.

Finally, we gazed across Los Angeles, California in the VFYW, inspected a row of Venezuelan soldiers during the Face of the Day, and dropped a serious beat in the MHB.