Archives For: Updates

Our Two Party Family System

Dec 17 2014 @ 12:38pm
by Dish Staff

Former US President George H.W. Bush(2nd

Karen Tumulty tweeted yesterday that, “with exception of 2012, you’d have to be 38 or older to have lived thru an election with no Bush or Clinton running for prez.” Aaron Blake discovers that it’s even worse than that:

[G]oing back a full half-century – i.e. to 1964 – there have been only three elections (midterm or presidential) in which a Bush or a Clinton hasn’t been on the ballot somewhere for something.

Stretching back to George H.W. Bush’s first bid for U.S. Senate in 1964 (he lost), that’s 23 out of 26 elections. The only exceptions are 1972, 2010 and 2012. That most recent two-election drought was broken when George P. Bush – Jeb Bush’s son – ran for Texas land commissioner this year (he won).

Greenwald believes that a Clinton-Bush match-up would illustrate “the virtually complete merger between political and economic power, of the fundamentally oligarchical framework that drives American political life”:

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by Michelle Dean

A reader compares the Sony hacking to this year’s sexting hacks:

I was a Sony Pictures employee up until two months ago. I worked as a television producer on the Sony lot for the previous two years. On a daily basis, I passed by Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton and the others whose private emails have now been leaked (contrary to Michelle Dean’s disdain that they’re just “big fancy business people,” they’re actually very cool, approachable people), and I have been warned that my private information has very likely been leaked as well – as have any present and former Sony Pictures employees going as far back as 1995. (!)

Let’s first remember what this hack is about: Private documents and emails were illegally stolen and leaked to the public, with more leaks threatened, in order to blackmail Sony out of releasing a film – they have specifically demanded that Sony not release “The Interview.” Put another way, foreign hackers are blackmailing Americans out of exercising their First Amendment rights. And now the media outlets that continue to print the salacious details revealed in these stolen documents are complicit in that blackmail scheme, having given the leaked information the damaging attention that the hackers wanted. The media crossed the line when the reporting shifted from the story of the hack itself and the criminal investigation, to printing every salacious email they could find.

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by Dish Staff

Monday morning (Sunday night in the US), a man wielding a gun and a black flag similar to that used by ISIS walked into the Lindt Chocolat Café in the Australian city’s central business district and proceeded to hold the customers and staff hostage for 16 hours before police stormed the shop around 2 am Tuesday, ending the standoff. According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s ongoing live coverage, the gunman and at least one other person are dead, with several others injured.

The gunman, an Iranian immigrant and self-styled “cleric” by the name of Man Haron Monis, tried to portray himself as an agent of ISIS but came off as more of a delusional, attention-seeking psychopath (though to be fair, those often go hand in hand):

Monis, also known as Sheik Haron, was convicted of sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers who died serving in Afghanistan. He is out on bail as an alleged accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, as well as a string of 40 indecent and sexual-assault charges in connection to his time as a self-proclaimed spiritual leader. Monis used a YouTube account to post a series of three videos of hostages reciting his demands, which included the delivery of the black flag of ISIS. He asked “to please broadcast on all media that this is an attack on Australia by the Islamic State,” and to speak to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The demands would be met with the release of more hostages, according to the videos. YouTube has since removed the videos from the account.

Juan Cole wishes the press would stop playing into the hands of such criminals by hyping them as terrorists, implicitly tarring innocent Muslims in the process:

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That Other Rape Crisis

Dec 15 2014 @ 9:39am
by Dish Staff

Rape on college campuses is undoubtedly a real and serious problem, but as Michael Brendan Dougherty reminds us, it pales in comparison to rape in prisons, where victims get no publicity, no sympathy, and no justice. Hell, we even joke about it, even in children’s cartoons (as seen above):

In prison, men may become the victim of repeated gang rapes. Prisoners can be locked into cells with the men who prey on them. Some live under the constant threat of sexual assault for decades. Their efforts to report their rape are ignored or even punished, both by prison personnel and an inmate culture that destroys “snitches.” The threat of rape is so pervasive it causes some inmates to “consent” to sex with certain prisoners or officers as a way of avoiding rape by others.

Acceptance of prison rape is a stinking corruption. No conception of justice can include plunging criminals into an anarchic world of sexual terror. And obviously it thwarts any possibility of a rehabilitative justice that aims to restore criminals to lawful society. Inmates are not improved or better integrated into society through physical and psychological torture. Prison rape also vitiates any sense of retributive justice, since rape is not a proper punishment for a crime. Allowing prison rape is just a vindictive horror, and when accepted under the name of punishment makes criminals the victims of justice.

Sadly, some Senators are looking to defang the Prison Rape Elimination Act:

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Sean Trende weighs in on the question:

There are no permanent majorities in politics. An unpopular Republican president would move the needle. A Democratic fundraising base that chose not to go nuclear on a Democratic candidate who opposed Obamacare or the stimulus would have done it. A more culturally “red” Democratic nominee would help.

The voters who elected Phil Bredesen governor of Tennessee by 40 points are largely still around, as are the people who elected Mike Beebe governor of Arkansas by 30 points in 2010 and 14 points in 2006. The same goes for the folks who sent Landrieu and Hagan back to the Senate in 2008, or Blanche Lincoln in 2004. The people who elected a swath of moderate-to-conservative Democrats in 2006 and 2008 are still there.

The party just has to try to appeal to them, or at least give more latitude to its candidates to appeal to them, as Rahm Emanuel did in 2006.

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The UVA Story Unravels, Ctd

Dec 11 2014 @ 1:58pm

Mollie Hemingway reacts to the revelations we noted earlier today:

Yes, the latest shocking revelations about Sabrina Rubin Erdely and Rolling Stone’s journalism are stunning. They really, really messed up. Even more than we previously realized. They should receive every bit of oppobrium coming their way.

Margaret Hartmann takes stock of everything we know about the unraveling mess so far. Robby Soave keeps his focus on the real offenders – Rolling Stone, not Jackie:

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Team Torture

Dec 11 2014 @ 10:37am

Noah Millman believes that our reasons for torturing weren’t based on torture’s effectiveness:

Willingness to torture became, first within elite government and opinion-making circles, then in the culture generally, and finally as a partisan GOP talking point, a litmus test of seriousness with respect to the fight against terrorism. That – proving one’s seriousness in the fight – was its primary purpose from the beginning, in my view.

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Katherine Bigelow, Propaganda Tool

Dec 10 2014 @ 8:25pm

A reader writes:

Please take a minute if you haven’t already to watch the segment on the Daily Show last night where Jon Stewart asks Zero Dark Thirty director Katherine Bigelow about the Senate report on torture (she was scheduled to be on the show to promote her new documentary on the ivory trade and terrorism – the timing was a coincidence as far as I know). When asked for her reaction to the revelation of the CIA’s lies and misrepresentations (particularly about whether the information gleaned from torture was of any use) her two word answer was: “It’s complicated.”

That’s it.

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Silence Audible

Dec 10 2014 @ 12:23pm

Senators Gather To Caucus Over Hagel Nomination

Hillary Clinton – surprise! – has said not a word about the torture report since yesterday. She’s on record supporting publication of the report and against prosecuting anyone for war crimes, but hasn’t uttered a peep since the damning evidence was laid out for all to see:

In her memoir about her time helming State, “Hard Choices,” Clinton adds: “There was no denying that our country’s approach to human rights had gotten somewhat out of balance” after the Bush administration. She also praised Obama’s order “prohibiting the use of torture or official cruelty,” using the term the Bush administration refused to use for the harsh interrogation tactics.

Then there is Rand Paul, famous libertarian. We have just read a report that shows that the US government tortured 26 innocent people – about as deep an attack on human liberty as can be conceived. And, so far, he has nothing to say. These individuals are almost as cowardly as our sad, defensive, equivocating excuse for a president at a moment when we need clarity and courage.

Update: Rand Paul did comment today, caught by a reporter:

As he strolled to his Senate office, Paul declined to characterize the report as an attack on Bush like so many of his colleagues.

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In the wake of the Swedish government collapsing last week, Leonid Bershidsky reflects on the role played by anti-immigration sentiment:

Contributing to the crisis was the government’s decision to grant immediate residency to refugees from the Syrian conflict. Last year, Sweden took in a record 86,700 immigrants, the biggest number for a European Union country relative to its population, according to a recently released report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In part thanks to the EU’s free movement policy, in part because of the political establishment’s liberal values, European countries take in large numbers of immigrants. The U.S. only allowed in the equivalent of 0.3 percent of its population last year, compared with 0.9 percent for Sweden, 0.8 percent for Austria and 0.5 percent each for Germany, the U.K. and Spain. In absolute numbers, Germany, the U.K., France and Sweden together took in more immigrants than the U.S., though their combined population is 30 percent smaller.

Kaj Leers sizes up the situation:

A social problem is brewing in Sweden. The country has thus far been very welcoming to refugees from wartorn countries such as Syria. Former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt roused Swedes when he bluntly stated that Sweden should accept more asylum seekers, regardless of popular opinion. The Scandinavian country, however, seems stuck in the 1990s.

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