Quote For The Day

Nov 26 2014 @ 12:12pm


“The GOP has withheld cooperation from every major element of President Obama’s agenda, beginning with the stimulus, through health-care reform, financial regulation, the environment, long-term debt reduction, and so on. That stance has worked extremely well as a political strategy. Most people pay little attention to politics and tend to hold the president responsible for outcomes. If Republicans turn every issue into an intractable partisan scrum, people get frustrated with the status quo and take out their frustration on the president’s party. It’s a formula, but it works.

The formula only fails to work if the president happens to have an easy and legal way to act on the issue in question without Congress. Obama can’t do that on infrastructure, or the grand bargain, and he couldn’t do it on health care. But he could do it on immigration. So Republicans were stuck carrying out a strategy whose endgame would normally be “bill fails, public blames Obama” that instead wound up “Obama acts unilaterally, claims credit, forces Republicans to take poisonous stance in opposition.” They had grown so accustomed to holding all the legislative leverage, they couldn’t adapt to a circumstance where they had none,” – Jon Chait, cutting through the chatter as usual.

I still don’t like the executive action here – in an area appropriate for legislation. But as politics, it seems to me more successful than I expected. What Obama has done – rightly or wrongly – is break out of the zone he’s been placed in since 2010. The absolute obstructionism of the House GOP against anything the president might want to do could have rendered him utterly side-lined in his last two, critical years. In fact, that was their smug expectation. Instead the pressure has been ju-jitsued right back on them. The failure of the GOP to respond except in a succession of splutters and outrage has revealed one core reason for gridlock: the deep divide within the GOP that is now, on a critical issue like immigration, threatening to throw their future into doubt. I don’t know where this dynamic will take us. But it sure is more interesting than watching another two years of Congressional deadlock.

Meep meep?

(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

What Is A Grand Jury For?

Nov 26 2014 @ 11:51am

Toobin blasts McCulloch for misusing the grand jury:

[T]he goal of criminal law is to be fair—to treat similarly situated people similarly—as well as to reach just results. McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment. He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else. Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach, in which the jurors are explicitly steered to the prosecutor’s preferred conclusion. Some might suggest that all cases should be treated the way McCulloch handled Wilson before the grand jury, with a full-fledged mini-trial of all the incriminating and exculpatory evidence presented at this preliminary stage. Of course, the cost of such an approach, in both time and money, would be prohibitive, and there is no guarantee that the ultimate resolutions of most cases would be any more just. In any event, reserving this kind of special treatment for white police officers charged with killing black suspects cannot be an appropriate resolution.

Noam Scheiber is on the same page:

Politically, I understand the advantage of this for McCulloch. He gets to wrap his preference for not indicting Wilson in the legitimacy of a trial-like process, whereas simply declining to indict Wilson without the support of a grand jury would have left him badly exposed. It would have triggered an enormous political backlash, rather than the relatively minor uproar we witnessed Monday night. But as a basic matter of justice, it’s outrageous. As I noted yesterday, the only way to earn the legitimacy of a trial is to actually have a trial, in which both positions are given a fair hearing.

Allahpundit asks, “What should McCulloch have done instead?”:

Read On

Your Wednesday Cry

Nov 26 2014 @ 11:24am

This little critter – with a broken back – was found on a beach in Thailand, malnourished and covered in ticks:

And you’ll never guess what happens next (as they say) …

Marijuana On Trial

Nov 26 2014 @ 10:56am

Sullum doesn’t buy the argument that drugs led to Michael Brown’s death:

One challenge for anyone pushing a pharmacological explanation of Brown’s alleged behavior: Despite speculation that he was on PCP, marijuana is the only drug that was detected in his blood. Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, the assistant county prosecutors who presented evidence to the grand jury, did what they could with pot, raising the possibility that Brown had smoked enough to experience “paranoia,” “hallucinations,” and maybe even a “psychotic episode.” They planted that idea in jurors’ heads mainly by presenting a toxicologist’s misleading testimony about the amount of THC in Brown’s blood and the possible effects of large doses.

Read On

Making Up For Lost Time

Nov 26 2014 @ 10:24am

Nina MacLaughlin explains what happened when, as an adult, she started wearing makeup:

I was experimenting at age 30 the way I never had as a kid. In middle school, all my pals had bright, colored Caboodles full of makeup, like tackle boxes for black-cherry lip gloss, cotton balls, and squares of eye shadow in various shades of blue. I was never into it — not disdainful, just unmoved, the lot of it lost against more pressing concerns: crushes on boys, playing soccer. Plus, I had no one to model the behavior after. My mother wore no makeup. There were no lipsticks to smear, age 6, standing on a stool in the bathroom mirror. No eye shadow to smudge above the lids. My mother looked forward to going gray; to dye your hair, she believed, signaled a lack of confidence, a cowardly rejection of nature. … The message she conveyed to me from an early age was that beauty needed no adornment. I absorbed it, deeply, without knowing I had.

In some ways it’s a positive message to send to a girl: You don’t need this stuff to be attractive. And I’m relieved not to suffer the stress and time-consumption of having to manage my face with products every time I walk out the door. But a subtle strain of judgment exists at its base: If you need to use makeup, then you are not naturally beautiful. Red lips, blushed cheeks, lined eyes — they run the risk of making a woman look clownish, whorish, or — worst of all — like she was trying too hard.

Stacia L. Brown, seen above, recalls undergoing a similar change of heart around the same age:

New motherhood was exhausting, but I didn’t expect it to age me. I come from deep brown women, a grandmother routinely mistaken for 10 or more years younger than her age and a mother more often assumed to be my sister than my parent.

Read On

Beard Of The Week

Nov 26 2014 @ 9:44am

A reader writes:

The recent discussions on The Dish on Gamergate, Dr. Matt Taylor’s shirt, and the the vaguely generalized anxiety over the decline of male culture, has been exhilarating, exasperating, unnamed (19)and maddening! I can honestly say it’s the single issue where I feel a viscerally negative reaction to parts of your stated opinion. But, as a bright blue dot in the midst of the deep red state of Texas, I’ve long ago had to learn to look past a few points of disagreement for the sake of a friendship. And we are still friends, aren’t we? I hope so.

This debate, along with your long-standing interest in the beard as a quintessential symbol of masculinity and your commitment to highlighting contemporary portrait photography, has actually had a significant impact on my work as a visual artist. I’m a photographer who works using the technologically obsolete, hand-made process known as Wet Collodion, or Tintype, first invented in 1851. This is the process that was used by the British photographer Roger Fenton, whose work during the Crimean War was likely influential in the popularization of the long beard for British men in the mid-19th century, as you mention in this post.

My colleague Bryan Wing and I are the team Project Barbatype.

Read On

Speaking at an international women’s justice summit on Monday, Turkey’s president violated a cardinal rule of public speaking, telling a room full of women’s rights activists that gender equality is unnatural:

Certain work, Erdogan said, goes against women’s “delicate nature,” and “their characters, habits, and physiques are different” from men’s. “Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood,” he said. He then went on to blast feminists, accusing them of not understanding their role in society. “Some people can understand this, while others can’t,” he said. “You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

Erdogan tried using the Quran to advance his point, saying, “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers,” which ended up just turning into an awkward reflection on the role of his mother in his own family. “I would kiss my mother’s feet because they smelled of paradise,” he said. “She would glance coyly and cry sometimes.”

Alev Scott puts her finger on why this speech was so frightening:

Erdoğan is neither a lone madman in a padded cell, nor a Victorian uncle caught in a time warp.

Read On

Chuck Schumer is second-guessing the Dems’ decision to prioritize the ACA:

In his harshest assessment of the Obama presidency to date, Schumer argued that the White House and congressional Democrats erred by focusing on the Affordable Care Act throughout most of 2009 and early 2010 rather than following the passage of the economic stimulus with other targeted economic legislation that would directly help more people. He said voters had given the party a mandate in 2008 to stop the financial crisis and reverse the economic damage done to the middle class, and while he supported the substance of Obamacare, it was a political loser because it offered its most tangible benefit—access to coverage for the uninsured—to just 5 percent of the voting public.

Beutler disputes Schumer’s version of history:

The health care reform process didn’t begin in earnest until after the Recovery Act had already passed, at which point Congress’ willingness and ability to pass another big deficit-financed stimulus bill had been maxed out. Maybe Schumer has other ideas in mindlabor rights? Housing policy? A different entitlement?but he’s never laid out what the achievable alternative was, and how the middle-class and Democratic Party would’ve been better off as a result.

Read On

Being A Cop Has Never Been Safer

Nov 26 2014 @ 7:36am

Shackford reflects on the revelation that last year was an all-time low for killings of police and a 20-year high for killings by police:

It’s an important reminder when Cleveland police kill a 12-year-old boy carrying a toy gun. It’s an important reminder when we see stories that police have killed more people in Utah over the past five years than any other form of violence outside of domestic conflict. Police have killed more people in Utah since 2010 than gangs or drug dealers. Obviously, it’s a positive that fewer officers are being killed in the line of duty, just as it’s a positive that crime trends are heading down. We should be worried, though, if police internalize the idea that this increase in their own shootings is what is keeping them safe in the field and not the general drop in crime.

Nick Wing adds that “Bureau of Labor Statistics list of the 10 most-dangerous professions doesn’t include law enforcement officer”:

Read On

The Best Of The Dish Today

Nov 25 2014 @ 9:15pm

Seal Pup Season Continues At Donna Nook Reserve

So it looks as if we’re going to have a showdown between the citizens of the District of Columbia who have just voted by an overwhelming margin to legalize possession of weed and a congressman from Maryland, Andy Harris:

Rep. Andy Harris said he “absolutely” intends to launch a push to dismantle the new law when Congress returns with an empowered GOP majority in the 114th Congress. The Maryland Republican, who led the GOP’s charge this year against a separate D.C. law decriminalizing the drug, said the newer legalization statute poses an even greater health risk for young people in the nation’s capital. “It’s obviously even worse for D.C.’s teenagers and young adults than the decriminalization,” Harris said Thursday.

Really? and what evidence does he have for that? What’s staggering to me is that he doesn’t feel the need even to advance the evidence. We can vote 65 – 27 percent and for some reason, we need to be “educated” by this person from another state entirely. If he tries this, he should explain why he opposes the principle of democratic self-government. It’s really that simple.

Today, we were all over Ferguson. My take is here; yours is here and here. John McWhorter’s sanity is here. Some other topics: the racial discrimination against Asian-Americans at Harvard; the teetering talks with Iran; and the ism police now targeting art critics for the usual sins. Liberalism is under siege from the left again. Plus: a mental health break for pyromaniacs. My favorite post of the day? This window view from Alcatraz.

The most popular post of the day was Yes, Obama Is A Phony On Torture; followed by What To Make Of Ferguson?

Many of today’s posts were updated with your emails – read them all here. You can always leave your unfiltered comments at our Facebook page and @sullydish. 22 more readers became subscribers today. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here. Dish t-shirts are for sale here and our new mugs here.

On a personal “Who’s Honoring Me Now?” note, I was given the Editorial Intelligence Award in London today for my Sunday Times column on America. It was an impressive list of winners to be counted among. I’m sorry I was unable to make the ceremony.

See you in the morning.

(Photo: A Grey Seal pup lies in the grass at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s Donna Nook nature reserve on November 24, 2014 in Grimsby, England. Seal pup numbers have increased on last year with over 800 pups born at the reserve so far. The Donna Nook reserve is the UK’s premier destination to see Grey Seals and thousands of visitors from across the country come to see the wildlife spectacle every year. By Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.)