Archives For: The Dish

John Brennan’s Latest Lie, Ctd

Aug 1 2014 @ 11:40am

CIA Director John Brennan Speaks At The Council On Foreign Relations

Yesterday, Brennan admitted that the CIA snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Froomkin, like yours truly, calls for Brennan’s resignation:

Figuring out how to right the constitutional imbalance between the branches of government, as exposed by this CIA assault on Congress, is very complicated. But doing something about lying isn’t. You need to hold people accountable for it.

Sen. Mark Udall also wants Brennan gone:

Udall’s statement is noteworthy in particular because he is fighting one of the most competitive Senate races this year. The first-term senator is neck-and-neck with Rep. Cory Gardner in a campaign that may determine control of the Senate in 2015. While the Rocky Mountain State’s electorate is certainly more libertarian-leaning than the mean and Udall has long been a vocal civil libertarian, it’s still noteworthy that a candidate in a swing state is taking such a firm stance on this issue. It shows the sea change in American political attitudes around surveillance and the general conduct of the war on terror over the past decade as both parties have become more dovish and more skeptical of the intelligence community.

Benjamin Wittes, who is generally supportive of government surveillance, chews out the CIA:

Improper access to oversight committee computers? Filing a crimes report lacking factual support—apparently misleading the lawyer who filed it in the process? Improperly accessing committee staff email? And then talking to investigators about the whole business in a fashion less than truthful? It’s an ugly picture, utterly unlike the recent NSA scandals in apparently involving all sorts of violations of the rules. And it will have repercussions, as it no doubt should.

Conor thinks Brennan knows too much to get canned (which only increases the necessity of doing it):

Read On

The House’s modest emergency spending bill to address the child migrant crisis was scuttled yesterday after the GOP leadership failed to convince the Tea Party caucus to vote for it. I harrumphed about it last night. Cillizza breaks down how it happened, for anyone who can’t already guess:

The failure of the GOP leadership’s immigration solution fits a now-familiar pattern for congressional Republicans. Led by Boehner, the party’s top brass fight with President Obama on the parameters of a legislative solution to a problem in the country. In hopes of answering the “do nothing” charges leveled at them by Democrats, those same GOP leaders put a proposal on the table that offers a handful of concessions but nowhere near the number the White House is demanding. The tea party faction in the House — led by Sen. Ted Cruz (yes, you read that right) — balks, demanding that the GOP make no concessions of any sort to the president. The party leaders whip support for the bill but, ultimately, find that 20 (or so) of their conference will not be for it under any circumstances. That means Boehner either has to a) pass legislation with Democratic votes or b) pull proposals off the House floor to avoid embarrassing losses.

The issues change — tax increases, immigration, the farm bill and so on and so forth — but the underlying reality remains the same: House Republicans simply cannot be led.

Chait, too, has seen this show before:

The House is a highly autocratic chamber that traditionally passes basically anything the leadership of its majority party wants to pass. The Tea Party has changed all that, by bringing to Washington a large enough bloc of Republicans who don’t want to vote for anything that they can bring down even bills that are far too conservative to be passed into law. That’s why House Republicans have had to pull bills to lift the debt ceiling, extend tax cuts, extend farm subsidies, and reopen the government. In Boehner’s House, failure is always an option.

Read On

Best Cover Song Ever?

Aug 1 2014 @ 11:00am

The contest keeps going and going:

I hope I’m not too late for this one. My nomination is Wilson Pickett‘s cover (with Duane Allman) of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”:

Normally, I’m a Beatles purist – the idea of a cover simply offended me. Why mess with perfection? Then I heard the Pickett cover on the radio a few months ago and I’ve been totally hooked. Dare I say he “made it better” by speeding up the tempo and getting rid of the “na-na-na-na’s,” which can get tiresome. The horn section that replaces the latter section along with Allman’s guitar riffs transport the song to another dimension.

Another points out, “The Pickett/Allman cover is merely great until about the 2:40 mark, when the two of them decide to put the accelerator to the floor.” Several more submissions after the jump:

The Clash did some amazing reggae covers, especially “Police and Thieves“:

Read On

Not pediatricians, according to Russell Saunders, who admits, “I absolutely hate talking to patients about being overweight”:

Reading the results of a new study from the Centers for Disease Control (PDF), I couldn’t help but wonder if other medical providers are even more reluctant to talk about weight with their patients than I am. Using survey data collected from children ages 8-15 from 2005-2012, the study finds that roughly a third of children and adolescents misperceive their body status. Only 23 percent of overweight children knew they were heavier than was healthy, and 41 percent of obese respondents thought their weight was about right. …

Read On

Killing Them Loudly

Aug 1 2014 @ 10:03am

Joe Zadeh explores the history of sound as a weapon of war:

The incorporation of sound into warfare may sound like a modern tactic, but the first reports have their roots in history. Back in 1944, as World War II slipped through Germany’s fingertips, it was rumoured that Hitler’s chief architect Albert Speer had set up research to explore his own theories of sonic warfare, with the intention of creating tools of death. An episode of the History Channel’s Weird Weapons claimed that his device, dubbed an acoustic cannon, was intended to work by igniting a mixture of methane and oxygen in a resonant chamber, and could create a series of over 1,000 explosions per second.

Read On

Cliff Mass nominates the Pacific Northwest:

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

(Hat tip: Ted Alvarez)

Chart Of The Day

Aug 1 2014 @ 9:05am

Wealth Gap

Josh Marshall highlights a depressing one:

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

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

Kurdistan’s Petro-Politics

Aug 1 2014 @ 8:32am

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

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

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

Read On

The STD We Snicker At

Aug 1 2014 @ 8:00am

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

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

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

Update from a reader:

As your friend Dan Savage would attest, herpes is shameful only to Americans. Justine Henin, when she was the #1 tennis player on the world, was asked why she lost a match. She very matter of factly said she had a herpes outbreak. Americans attend support groups for herpes, can you imagine an American treating herpes like the flu, something you have, not something to be ashamed of?

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

The Ever-Expanding Novel

Aug 1 2014 @ 7:28am

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

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

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