What Can We Do To North Korea?

Dec 19 2014 @ 1:58pm
by Dish Staff

Given how little trade most of the world does with North Korea, further economic sanctions aren’t really an option:

Trade North Korea

Peter Singer, mercifully, rules out war:

We didn’t go to war with North Korea when they murdered American soldiers ​in the 1970s with axes. We didn’t go to war with ​North Korea when they fired missiles over our allies. We didn’t go to war with ​North Korea when one of their ships torpedoed an alliance partner and killed some of their sailors. You’re going to tell me we’re now going to go to war because a Sony exec described Angelina Jolie as a diva? It’s not happening.

As Will noted, Chait recommends that the government make Sony whole. Ambinder disagrees:

I wondered online if Sony could argue somehow that it is too big to fail — that if the attack is tied to a country, then perhaps the company can be indemnified from lawsuits arising from its own alleged neglect. The answer is no.

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The End Of Serial, Part Three

Dec 19 2014 @ 1:42pm
by Michelle Dean

Without Rabia Chaudry, a civil rights attorney in Maryland, there would have been no Serial. Chaudry is the family friend of Adnan Syed’s who approached Koenig about doing the story in the first place. She is personally convinced Syed is innocent, and had hoped Koenig would come to advocate for his release the way she had. At TIME yesterday, she recorded her disappointment with the way it played out instead:

A few weeks ago Koenig visited me do a follow-up interview. None of that interview made it into the remaining episodes, but at that time, and on the mic, she told me that after a year of investigating, she had failed to find a smoking gun. She found nothing that either condemned Adnan for certain, and nothing that exonerated him for certain.

It was not a punch to the gut, necessarily, but a quiet closing of a chapter that I had held open for 15 years. In the midst of the enormous coverage of the case and show, of hearty congratulations for staying on it, of lots of movement by the different teams of lawyers now working to help Adnan, I felt like a failure.

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by Dish Staff

Previous input from the in-tray here. Another reader gives a shoutout to Francis: “For the pope to be a broker for the deal makes the whole story even more interesting.” Another looks at the opening of Cuba with realist eyes:

There is no hypocrisy in maintaining normal relations with China, Saudi Arabia, and other violators of human rights while denying that status to Cuba. Saudi Arabia has lots of oil and a strategic position in the world producing world. It is a relationship of economic convenience, and both sides understand that. China offers huge trade opportunities, and in the beginning of our relationship, a counter to the Soviet Union. You have diplomatic relations with states when it is necessary and prudent.

Cuba offers nothing to the USA or its citizens other than another tourist destination, cigar, and rum. There are practically no consequences to US citizens for not normalizing relations other than opening up yet another Caribbean tourist destination, and providing access to cigars, and rum. Just because Cuba has not liberalized its society doesn’t make our foreign policy a “failure” any more than other nations who have diplomatic relations with Cuba “failed” to effect an opening.

I’m not opposed to ending the travel ban, but we should have gotten a lot more out of Cuba for normalizing relations. At a minimum, Obama should have required Castro to lift all restrictions for Cubans to have Internet access.

Update from a reader:

Normalizing relations doesn’t give us anything in terms of security? Really? Here’s a simple thought experiment: is it better to have friendly relations with neighbors or antagonistic relations with neighbors?

Another relates to Will’s criticism:

Just amazes me how the left romanticizes Cuba, even as it attempts skepticism. I just got off the phone with a friend from Cuba. Her family is sending a blood pressure machine to a relative in Cuba because none are to be found.

Another provides some family history:

Nothing steams me up more than one of the comments from your reader:

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Is Obama Due For A Comeback?

Dec 19 2014 @ 12:58pm
by Dish Staff

Earlier this week, Beinart made the case that Obama is bouncing back:

This year’s dominant storyline was about Obama and the midterm elections. Most key Senate races took place in red and purple states where Democratic candidates distanced themselves from Obama, thus magnifying the media’s perception that he was a political pariah.

Next year, however, the story won’t be 2014 but 2016. And the Democratic story, in all likelihood, will be Hillary Clinton’s march toward her party’s nomination. While Obama was certainly unpopular this fall in states like Kentucky, he remains quite popular among the liberal activists who play an outsized role in Democratic primaries. In fact, Obama retains a connection to many them that Hillary Clinton has never enjoyed. The closer she comes to the nomination, the more nostalgic some of those grassroots liberals will become about Obama. And this new context—Obama versus Hillary among Democratic activists—rather than Obama versus Alison Lundergan Grimes among Kentucky midterm voters—will cast him in a more favorable light.

That may be true, but Waldman isn’t expecting Obama to win the approval of many Republicans:

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“Stephen Colbert” Signs Off

Dec 19 2014 @ 12:40pm
by Dish Staff

A reader writes:

I didn’t know before I saw the episode last night that Andrew was going to be in the star-studded finale of the Colbert Report. When I saw him there, it felt like a friend had made it into the inner circle. I was more excited to see him than any of the other guests, like he was “one of us”. Just sending this because I wonder if other Dishheads felt the same way.

In his review of the series finale, James Poniewozik calls Colbert “America’s greatest, most genuine phony”:

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Making It About Gender

Dec 19 2014 @ 12:18pm
by Michelle Dean

The news about humanity is never very good when it comes from Reddit, is it? Today’s contribution comes via an editorial at WIRED. Its authors, Elena Glassman, Neha Narula and Jean Yang, are scientists at MIT. They described the gendered horror show that was their Reddit AMA:

Within an hour, the thread had rocketed to the Reddit front page, with hundreds of thousands of pageviews and more than 4,700 comments. But to our surprise, the most common questions were about why our gender was relevant at all. Some people wondered why we did not simply present ourselves as “computer scientists.” Others questioned if calling attention to gender perpetuated sexism. Yet others felt that we were taking advantage of the fact that we were women to get more attention for our AMA.

The interactions in the AMA itself showed that gender does still matter. Many of the comments and questions illustrated how women are often treated in male-dominated STEM fields. Commenters interacted with us in a way they would not have interacted with men, asking us about our bra sizes, how often we “copy male classmates’ answers,” and even demanding we show our contributions “or GTFO [Get The **** Out]”. One redditor helpfully called out the double standard, saying, “Don’t worry guys – when the male dog groomer did his AMA (where he specifically identified as male), there were also dozens of comments asking why his sex mattered. Oh no, wait, there weren’t.”

“Oh, it’s just Reddit,” you might be saying to yourself. As a seasoned 4chan conspiracy theorist myself –at this point I think “4chan prank” whenever some weird story begins to break, at first even wondering if the whole Sony leak could be a 4chan hoax, if they could have made up the whole document stash – I understand the impulse to brush this sort of thing off as trolling. It is that, and undoubtedly some of these comments come from the sort of pure unmitigated jerkery commonly found in the underbelly of the internet.

But it’s also something else. Because their comments aren’t all that far from ones I have heard myself, said with utter sincerity. Men don’t respond very well, still, to the notion that gender might be relevant. They might be a little meaner about it in anonymous spaces online, but you can see the problem everywhere.

One of the slim, ephemeral benefits of being publicly identifiable as a feminist is that I don’t tend to be in male-dominated or even male-only spaces very often. There is one giant exception to that. Years ago, I spent some time in a journalism school. An admissions fluke had me in a class that was overwhelmingly male. There was one other woman, but she dropped out early.

I knew I was in for it when in a very early class, one of the other students starting waxing philosophic about fact-checking and John D’Agata. And towards the end of this digression, he referred to the magazine The Believer. And then he referred to its editor as “Ben Marcus’s wife.” Full stop.

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A Legal Threat To Legalization

Dec 19 2014 @ 12:03pm
by Dish Staff

Marijuana Colorado

Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado for legalizing marijuana:

Two of Colorado’s neighboring states, arguing that the legalization of marijuana for Coloradans is causing crime problems across state borders, asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to allow them to file a lawsuit directly before the Justices. If the suit goes forward, Nebraska and Oklahoma’s filing said, the Court should rule that the commercial part of the Colorado scheme is unconstitutional and could no longer be enforced.

Josh Harkinson explains the states’ grievances:

Evidence has been mounting that Colorado can’t contain all of its weed. In June, USA Today highlighted the flow of its marijuana into small towns across Nebraska. Since 2011, the paper reported, felony drug arrests in Chappell, Nebraska, a town just seven miles north of the Colorado border, have jumped 400 percent.

Colorado has vowed to defend its laws:

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The View From Your Window

Dec 19 2014 @ 11:55am

VFYW candidate - Lake Zurich, IL, 7-51 AM

Lake Zurich, Illinois, 7.51 am

Howard Roark And The Hacker’s Veto

Dec 19 2014 @ 11:35am
by Will Wilkinson

The hacking of Sony and the studio’s subsequent decision to halt the release of The Interview is incredibly weird and it’s left me pretty well stumped. First of all, I’m not 100% positive North Korea is the culprit. I’m not aware of dispositive evidence (maybe the government has it) and it’s more than a little surprising that the North Koreans could do anything so competently. I guess they could pay somebody to do it. In any event, the idea that the North Korean dictator gets to decide what Americans are allowed to watch is outrageous. What leaves me baffled and vexed is what to do about it.

Jonathan Chait wants to the feds to step in and backstop the studios:

The federal government should take financial responsibility. Either Washington should guarantee Sony’s financial liability in the event of an attack, or it should directly reimburse the studio’s projected losses so it can release the movie online for free. The latter solution has the attractive benefit of ensuring a far wider audience for the film than it would otherwise have attracted.

I don’t think this is a bad idea at all, but it’s not clear to me that it gets us far toward solving the problem of the hacker’s veto. What if the Guardians of Peace threaten to blow up Amazon or Netflix server farms, or Comcast HQ, and once again the studio, or the distributors, with perfectly understandable myopic capitalist prudence, capitulate? I mean, when several theaters resolved to show Team America: World Police in the place of The Interview, Paramount said “Nope, shut it down” – a move, in the words of Peter Suderman, that “can really only be described as next-level cowardly bullshit.”

It would seem to me that, in the end, the only real answer is spine. It’s hard not to agree with George Clooney:

Read On

by Dish Staff

Obama Pardons

Maya Rhodan passes along news of Obama’s “Christmas clemency”:

Obama granted 12 pardons to people convicted of various crimes from 1964 to 1997: possession of an unregistered distillery, counterfeiting, and conspiracy to transport a stolen car. Obama also commuted the sentences of eight federal prisoners serving lengthy sentences for drug crimes. None claim to be innocent, but they argued that they’ve served their time. In many cases, the crimes would not have received the same punishment if they were committed today. …

Matt Ford highlights Obama’s reluctance to exercise his pardoning power:

Presidential pardons have declined since World War II, excluding cases of mass amnesty like Jimmy Carter and the Vietnam draft-dodgers, but Obama’s sparing use still stands out: Until Wednesday, one in seven of his pardons had beenissued for Thanksgiving turkeys.

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