Here’s an interesting tidbit: A bachelor’s degree from a public university costs 40 percent more in the US than in Canada, but American financial aid policies mean that poor US students wind up paying a lower net tuition than their counterparts north of the border. Christopher Flavelle wonders why, given that fact, low-income Canadians are still more likely to attend college than low-income Americans are:

[Economist Lance] Lochner offered a few possible explanations. One is price transparency: The gap between the sticker price and what you’ll actually pay to attend most US. colleges is enormous and hard to quantify, and that may be more of a disincentive to low-income families than to those for whom money is less of a concern. A more troubling explanation, and one that’s far harder to fix, is that people are less likely to come into contact with those from other income groups in the US.

“In the US, people are much more segregated in where they live,” Lochner said. “It could be, because of that, you have more segregation of knowledge.” In Canada, by contrast, “you’re more likely to go to a school where everybody hears about” the advantages of going to college, and where somebody can help you figure out what steps to take to get there. If that’s true, it means that income inequality hasn’t just increased the economic value of going to college, by increasing the earnings premium associated with a degree. It has also made going to college harder, by reducing the odds that young people from poor families will be told that a college degree is something they can attain, or should even try to attempt.

David Leonhardt emphasizes how Americans generally pay less than the sticker price for their degrees:

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Mental Health Break

Jul 31 2014 @ 4:20pm

Your favorite British commentator tries to decipher NASCAR:

Propaganda Is A Powerful Thing

Jul 31 2014 @ 3:57pm

The latest poll from Russia is proof:

A poll released by the independent Russian pollster Levada on Wednesday has found that a large number of Russians believe that Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, with 46 percent saying they think it was brought down by a Ukrainian army antiaircraft missile and 36 percent saying a Ukrainian military plane shot it down (multiple answers were allowed, meaning the percentages do not add up to a hundred and people may have chosen more than one answer). … Almost no one in Russia is buying the story that the rest of the world accepts. Just 3 percent believe pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine might have shot down the plane.

Sarah Palin, Democratic Fundraiser

Jul 31 2014 @ 3:40pm

Impeachment

All that impeachment chatter in the fever swamps is a gift to Democrats, Cillizza argues:

You can be sure that Boehner is making it abundantly clear to members of his conference not to mention the word “impeachment” in public and, if asked about it, to insist that it is absolutely not an option. But, whether they listen is another thing entirely. Some may genuinely believe that Obama has committed acts that warrant impeachment, others may see the possibility of personal political gain out of being on Team Impeachment.

Meanwhile, any and all talk of impeachment may well be the secret ingredient Democrats have been desperately searching for to energize their base in advance of the midterms. (Eighty six percent of Democrats oppose impeaching President Obama.) If Democrats can make their base voters believe that the results of this election could mean the difference between impeaching Obama and not, that’s a major win for them. And, yes, impeachment talk will further stoke passion among some within the conservative base. But, between the IRS, Benghazi and Obamacare do those voters really need a whole lot more motivation to turn out and vote against Obama?

But also more literally, a gift, as in cash money:

It’s a great rallying point for the party’s voter and fundraising base. The Democrats’ House Campaign Committee says that in a single day, in response to the supposed threat of impeachment and reality of a lawsuit against the president, it hauled in 50,000 contributions, 60 percent from women, totaling $1 million.

Perhaps that’s why left-leaning media outlets are talking it up, by Nate Silver’s count, far more than their counterparts on the right:

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The Ukrainian Military’s Losses

Jul 31 2014 @ 3:18pm

They’ve been heavy:

As Simon Saradzhyan, a Russia expert at Harvard’s Belfer Center, notes, if Ukraine continues to suffer troop casualties at its current rate, it would “surpass 1,560 per year. That would be more than what the Russian army acknowledged losing in the deadliest year of the second Chechen war.” In view of the increasing casualties on the horizon, Ukraine’s parliament has just approved a call-up of a further 50,000 reservists and men under the age of 50, just 45 days after its last mobilization. But just how long Ukraine’s cobbled-together military will be able to sustain increasing casualties is questionable at best — especially if they suddenly find themselves up against more qualified Russian soldiers.

Throughout the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian troops have watched from just over the border, implicitly threatening intervention. Since the beginning of the rebellion, Russian troops have been conducting maneuvers and setting up the logistics network that would be needed for an incursion. Things have ramped up in recent days, with Russia conducting large-scale exercises with some of its most advanced helicopters. The threat hasn’t been lost on Kiev.

Janine Davidson worries Putin is preparing t0 invade. She wants to send arms to the Ukrainian government:

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Who (Or What) To Blame For Libya?

Jul 31 2014 @ 3:03pm

Libyan Rebels Sieze Control Of Tripoli From Gaddafi Forces

Christopher Stephen paints a picture of a country where deeply entrenched corruption and factionalism have rendered good governance impossible and fueled the pseudo-civil war tearing the country apart today:

With the economy moribund, the only growth industry has been militias. In all some 168,000 members have registered at the government’s Warriors Affairs Commission, which was set up to take control of the various militia brigades—but that’s at least four times the number of militia members who actually fought in the civil war. Now they’re all getting state pay packets. “I don’t care about Islamism, but they pay me 1200 dinars [about $800] a month to guard the base twice a week,” said Hassan, a Benghazi teenager employed by the city’s Islamist Libya Shield brigade.

Today all those victorious militias are at war with each other. The militias from Misrata, a city 120 miles east of the capital, and Zintan, a mountain town 90 miles south west, did the hardest fighting of the revolution, surging into Tripoli together to liberate it in August 2011. Their units never left, and since then the Misratans and Zintanis have increasingly fallen out as claimants to the spoils. … In the confrontational atmosphere in congress, the political parties began funding militias that were sympathetic to them, rather than dissolving them as parliament was supposed to do. Misrata and Zintan, the two most powerful militia groupings, broke along the political divide — Misrata for the Islamists, Zintan for the nationalists.

Peter Dörrie names Khalifa Haftar, the former general with previous links to the CIA who now leads a coalition of Zintani fighters and other nationalist militias, as the primary instigator of the ongoing conflict:

Publicly, Haftar claims to fight against Islamist militias for a secular Libya, but his political ambitions are obvious.

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The View From Your Window

Jul 31 2014 @ 2:41pm

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 12 pm

John Brennan’s Latest Lie

Jul 31 2014 @ 2:21pm

The torture-defender and CIA loyalist insisted earlier this year that the CIA never deliberately hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee to undermine its vital report on war crimes under Bush and Cheney. Here’s what he said:

When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.

Really? So here are the facts on this:

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee in preparing its report on the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program. In a statement issued Thursday morning, a C.I.A. spokesman said that agency’s inspector general had concluded that C.I.A. officers had acted inappropriately by gaining access to the computers. The statement said that John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, had apologized to the two senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and that he would set up an internal accountability board to review the matter.

Brennan apologized this week to Senators. I doubt he will ever apologize to the American people.

Andrew Asks Anything: Rich Juzwiak

Jul 31 2014 @ 1:55pm

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If you ever read Gawker, you know who Rich Juzwiak is. Yesterday he came out with a new piece revealing how he’s not just taking Truvada again; he thinks almost every gay man should be on it too:

In my first piece on Truvada, I said that I thought most sexually active gay men should at least consider going on it. That was not strong enough: All sexually active gay men who are negative should go on it, at least those who are in the highly populated gray area that I find myself in—guys who either have casual condomless sex from time to time or who are “always safe” but still burdened by the fear of HIV.

If you know that you don’t need Truvada, I trust your judgment. If there’s a shred of uncertainty, just take the fucking pill.

I try to be as nonjudgmental as possible when it comes to the behavior of other gay men (though I cannot refrain from judging those who judge). We are all in different places in life; we all enjoy different things. That variety is, in fact, what makes gay culture so vibrant. The choices at the disposal of those who are privileged enough to live in areas where gay is OK and where same-sex marriage is legal—these are part what make being gay so wonderful. But if you cannot deal with taking a single pill every day, you need to get a grip and reevaluate your life. After you do that, then just take the fucking pill.

Rich and I sat down a little while ago to talk about sex and love and gay men’s lives today. The resulting podcast can be a little racy and provocative at times. Hey, it was a real conversation. We actually talk about the sexual adventurism of gay men – a subculture where no women restrain sexual desire – as an often wonderful thing, regardless of the judgment that so many, including gay men, have made about it. There may be a measure of mutual respect, friendship, democracy and brotherhood in a sexually liberated gay male world – that is perhaps unavailable to heterosexuals:


The whole conversation is up on Deep Dish now for subscribers only. Check it out. If you haven’t subscribed yet, do so here – you only need to spend $1.99 to download the whole thing. And you’ll also get access to my unfiltered conversations with Dan Savage and Hitchens, among many others.

The Shifting Israel Debate, Ctd.

Jul 31 2014 @ 1:17pm

Joe Scarborough – a former Republican member of Congress who has “always been a 100 percent supporter of Israel” – turns sharply against Netanyahu’s government:

Like Chait and many other American Jews on the left, Ezra Klein, who cares about Israel “personally, rather than abstractly”, has become more pessimistic about the Jewish state:

There’s an … argument that’s made by Israel’s supporters: that people like me, who write about our disappointment with Israeli policy, are “blaming Israel first.” But it’s not about blame. If interest in geopolitics was driven by outrage and horror Israel and Palestine would spend less time on the front page. The suffering there is immense, but the death toll is dwarfed by the slaughter in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Syria. I pay unusual attention to what Israel does because, for family and cultural reasons, I am unusually invested in Israel. Focusing on Israeli policy is a byproduct of focusing on Israel itself.

For these reasons, I used to write about Israel often. It felt, even a few years ago, that peace was a live possibility, that Israel had choices — and that some of them might even turn out well. But Israel seems to have made its choice, at least for now, and the results are painful to watch. I haven’t become less pro-Israel. But I’ve become much more pessimistic about its prospects, and more confused and occasionally horrified by its policies. My sense is that’s happened to Chait, too. I notice he writes about Israel less these days, also. My sense is it’s happened to a lot of us.

I’m sorry but I find this position pretty lame. What Ezra is suggesting is that when Israel does things you cannot really countenance, the correct response is silence or avoidance, because it just gets too personal, when you have family etc. But that’s been the whole problem with the American discourse about this for a while, what Peter Beinart called “an epidemic of not watching.” American Jewish liberals have been intimidated or censored themselves into silence, which has only made matters worse. The reason is the need to somehow credentialize yourself as “pro-Israel”, and any criticism is immediately interpreted as being “anti-Israel”. That’s essentially a loyalty test that impedes reasonable debate – and is designed to. Waldman rightly encourages everyone to step out of this credentializing and posturing:

Once you stop worrying about whether you’re pro-Israel or anti-Israel, you can judge the Israeli government’s decisions, developments within Israeli society, and other questions related to the country each on their own terms.

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