Andrew Sullivan The DishAndrew Sullivan The Dish

  1. The Daily Wrap

    Today on the Dish, Andrew commended Ryan for rebranding the GOP with a real dedication to fiscal reform. The hard left freaked out, Douthat thought it an important gamble, Andrew kept an eye on Ryan's blindspots, Gleckman anticipated Obama's response, and the war costs added up even in the face of proposed benefit cuts for the poor and elderly. Andrew despaired at the coverage of KSM's trial, and the politics of fear Obama's decision indicates. Noah Millman reminded the US we sometimes have to be a fickle friend, Yemen beat the US (just barely) in gun ownership, and the Nationa Review came around to civil liberties. Andrew skewered Karzai for keeping US welfare alive in Afghanistan, the situation at the Ivory Coast came to a head, and Andrew Exum explored whether Muslims fully grasp freedom of religious speech.

    Contra Beinart, Andrew eagerly awaited the circus of 2012, third party candidates and all. Joyner tangled with the Republican candidates, Trump milked the birther vote, and not voting is like not doing anything about pollution. Andrew weighed love and friendship as a choice,  and demanded that we see the casualties that result from the policies we choose. Biking wasn't as yuppy as you think,  Nathan Yau jammed out to traffic patterns, and we remembered sad geniuses. Aaron Bady analyzed journalism's booty on the internet, Annalee Newitz examined why rejection hurts like physical pain, and America diversified. Will Wilkinson pondered David Foster Wallace's work ethic, Emily Bazelon bemoaned the wrong way to fight bullying, and a reader re-cartooned Andrew.

    More takes on the Beast switch here, cool ad watch here, Malkin award here, quotes for the day here, here and here, MHB here, FOTD here, VFYW here, and VFYW contest winner #44 here.


  2. An Unvarnished World


    Zeynep Tufekci believes that access to graphic content is a social necessity:

    I understand that there are awful things happening somewhere, every minute, and we cannot always be immersed in such misery and sorrow. However, I am firmly of the opinion that the massive censorship of reality and images of this reality by mainstream news organizations from their inception has been incredibly damaging. It has severed this link of common humanity between people "audiences" in one part of the world and victims in another. This censorship has effectively relegated the status of other humans to that of livestock, whose deaths we also do not encounter except in an unrecognizable format in the supermarket.

    The Dish has a long history of showing images that the MSM tries not to. That goes for the beheading of Daniel Pearl, the brutal sectaran warfare in Iraq, the devastation of the Gaza war, and the blood on the streets of Tehran. Those who want to look away can read another blog. But to my mind, forcing what can become abstract arguments to confront the human cost of war and terror is necessary. If we are to judge policies and events, it's vital we see them as they really are.

    It may be, for example, that responsiblity for the dead child above should be shared by Hamas, who used human shields, and by the IDF who remained on a mission to destroy Hamas's bases and institutions. But which ever position you take, this infant died. Now we have no draft to remind us directly of the horrors of war, the least we can do is to face the consequences - as vividly as we can.

    (Hat tip: Alexis. Photo: Palestinian relatives carry the body of baby Ala Athamna during the family funeral in Beit Hanoun town on November 9, 2006 in Gaza Strip. The Families of 18 Palestinian civilians including the children and women who were killed by Israeli tanks shelling, in the town of Beit Hanoun on November 8 buried them in the new cemetery of AL-Shohada or the Martyrs. By Abid Katib/Getty Images.)

  3. Borrowing Obama's Slogan

    Howard Gleckman asks a number of good questions about Paul Ryan's plan. His bottom line:

    Make no mistake, this plan is a dramatic—some would say radical—change in the role of the federal government.  It is curious: Republicans spent two years blistering Obama for his supposedly extreme political agenda.  Yet the president is very much a liberal incrementalist. Rhetoric aside, his health law fiddled around the edges of the same private insurance-based health system we have today.  His response to the economic crisis was little different from President George W. Bush’s.  And despite the demands of the left, the White House recipe for reducing greenhouse gases has been modest at best.

    Real change, like the direction or not, is alive and well in Washington. But it is thriving at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. I anxiously await Obama’s response.

  4. Sad Genius, Ctd

    A reader writes:

    I'm a huge Elliott Smith fan, ever since "Good Will Hunting."  One of my favorite memories is of the Oscars that year, with the contrast between the over-the-top spectacle of Celine Dion singing "My Heart Will Go On" and then just Elliott with his guitar singing "Miss Misery," both nominated for best song.  I saw Elliott not long after that at the 9:30 club in DC, and he refused to play the song, even though the crowd was screaming for it. He was clearly uncomfortable with the attention he was getting.   I remember him saying something like, "I have other songs besides Miss Misery..."

    Anyway, on to the main point of my e-mail: One of my favorite movies of all time is "The Royal Tenenbaums." 

  5. Where's The Democrats' Plan?

    James Capretta wonders:

    [W]ith a Republican plan on the table, the media will surely start to ask Democrats, “Hey, where’s your plan?” This will force them to either come clean with their tax-hike vision, or become the party that pushed the country toward a debt-induced economic crisis. Either way, with more clarity about where the parties actually stand, Republicans can win the public fight.

    Riehan makes related points and modifies Capretta's argument slightly:

    I wouldn’t put it this way. I actually don’t know if the president and his allies understand the scale of the tax increases their long-term spending priorities will require.

  6. Face Of The Day


    Friends hang a poster of Arab-Jewish actor and director Juliano Mer-Khamis outside The Almidan Theatre on April 5, 2011 in Haifa, Israel. The 52-year-old and director of the theatre was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin. By Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

    Earlier Dish coverage here.

  7. Milking The Birther Vote

    Donald Trump's nonsense is beginning to pay off. He's within striking distance of Mitt Romney in New Hampshire:

    If Trump actually run[s] 21% of New Hampshire GOP voters say they'd vote for him, compared to 27% for Romney. The key to Trump's relatively strong showing? He does well with birthers and Tea Partiers, two groups he has seemed to actively court with his public comments of late.

    Dave Weigel adds that 21% '"might actually be as far as birtherism can take a candidate." 

  8. The Surprisingly Normal Demographics Of Biking

    Eric de Place examines a new study (pdf):

    Two big things stand out here for me: 1) white people remain somewhat over-represented; but 2) bicycling appears to be trending toward racial parity. As of 2009, roughly 21 percent of all bike trips in the US were made by people of color, and it looks as though US cyclists may soon look pretty darn similar to the nation as a whole.

    He also compares income and finds that "contrary to popular convention, the biggest share of bicyclists isn't yuppies, it's low income people. In fact, the lowest-earning quarter of Americans make nearly one-third of all bike trips."

    I have a bike and no car. And cars are the primary reason we are so indebted to foreign autocracies sitting on sand and oil. But Americans, as usual, don't want to give up their cars (often more than one in a family), and don't want to pay any gas taxes. Then they complain about wars in the Middle East. Driver, heal thyself.

  9. The Growing Diversity Of America

    Edward Glaeser cheers it:

    Without this increasing diversity, America’s population would have been largely stagnant. Over the last 40 years, our country’s population has increased by 106 million people. Seventy-four percent of that increase, 78 million people, came from the growth of the minority population.

    And the GOP weeps.

  10. Love Burns

    Annalee Newitz summarizes a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

    A group of scientists used fMRI scans to study the brains of people dealing with being rejected, and compared them to the brains of people experiencing physical pain. They found that the exact same regions of the brain are involved in processing both experiences. For humans, social rejection is tantamount to literal injury.

    And this helps explain why the psychological torture of human beings - their total isolation, threats to their families, mock executions and forced nudity is no less serious than the comic book variety. Which renders the role of psychologists in the Bush torture program all the more despicable.

  11. Aaaarghianna, Pirate Of The Internet Seas?

    Aaron Bady explains, in detail, why "Arianna Huffington is [NYT editor] Bill Keller’s Somali Pirate." It's a fantastic post that deserves to be read in full. Money quote:

    The real problem, however, is that journalists are, by their nature, thieves of words. You can call it what you like; you can say “Possibly I am old-fashioned,” and talk about how “actual journalists are laboring at actual history, covering the fever of democracy in Arab capitals and the fever of austerity in American capitals” (Keller) or you can brag about the “148 full-time editors, writers, and reporters engaged in the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism” (Huffington), but all this “old fashioned” stuff is just a way of covering over something really basic about what “actual” journalists “traditionally” do, all the time: write down what other people say.

  12. Charlie Cook On 2012

    He finds a strange new nervousness among Republican elites - especially if the GOP forces a government shutdown or a refusal to increase the debt limit. Money quote:

    Look no further than late February’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted by Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff...  75 percent of Republicans thought government was trying to do too much while 27 percent thought government should do more. But among independents, 51 percent thought government should do more, with 47 percent saying government was trying to do too much.

  13. The Cost Of Rescuing Benghazi

    Ackerman says it "is written with an Etch-a-Sketch." Michael Donley, secretary of the Air Force, estimated "that the war has cost the Air Force about $75 million so far, with expenses running to $4 million a day." That doesn't square with other guesstimates:

  14. Where Ryan Loses Credibility

    With delusions like this:

    A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage's analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.

    That's way off any sane economist's view. The assumption, moreover, is that major income tax cuts will dramatically boost economic growth. So why then were the Clinton years - after he raised taxes - such a success, and the Reagan years when he raised taxes such a boom, and the Bush years, with huge tax cuts paid for by borrowing from the Chinese, such a disappointment?

    To put it mildly, this an ideological statement, not an empirical one.

  15. 2012: Let The Excitement Begin


    Peter Beinart yawns:

    The last two presidential elections were gather-your-grandchildren-around-the-rocking-chair material. 2004 was like Antietam ... The day after Bush’s victory, one liberal posted this note on Craigslist: “I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek [sic], please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.”

    If 2004 was Antietam, 2008—for liberals, at least—was Juneteenth. The season of our liberation, our redemption. Even many Republicans, who disliked Obama’s views, realized they were watching something jaw-dropping. It was like watching the pitcher for the team you hate pitch a perfect game.

    But 2012? Wake me when it’s over.

    And miss what could be fantastically colorful debates with the likes of Bachmann, Gingrich, Romney, Huckabee and possibly Palin? How could one possibly nod off? We are about to enter a circus.

    (Photo: sleeping attendees at Oktoberfest 2010 by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images.)

  16. The KSM Cave-In

    Alex Massie sighs:

    The whole affair reeks. It's the kind of stupid thing one would expect from a shabby, clapped-out regime unable to appreciate either justice or public relations. The United States doesn't like to think of itself in those terms but this decision, politically prudent and realistic as it may be, marks another moment when the rhetoric of American exceptionalism is revealed as just so much baloney.

    Dahlia Lithwick is equally unforgiving:

  17. The View From Your Window


    Austin, Texas, 11.36 am

    (New Dish readers - and it seems we have many - are invited to submit their own window views. The rules are pretty simple. Photos need to show the frame of the window, which should be one you regularly look out from. Send the town, state and time of the photo. For foreign views, include the country. No dogs, cats or animals are allowed. And no fricking rainbows. For a full range of the images, check out our compilation of them from dawn to dusk across the world here.)

  18. The Hard Left Responds

    I have to say there is a great deal of defensiveness out there. This reader conveys some of the feeling:

    My reaction to the new website? Meh. My reaction to your embracing Paul Ryan's prescription for "fiscal sanity"? Why not just go ahead advocate that we round up the poor and gas them to death in concentration camps?

  19. Malkin Award Nominee

    "I very simply said that Iran is going to take over Iraq, and if that’s going to happen, we should just stay there and take the oil. They want the oil, and why should we? We de-neutered Iraq, Iran is going to walk in, take it over, take over the second largest oil fields in the world. That’s going to happen. That would mean that all of those soldiers that have died and been wounded and everything else would have died in vain– and I don’t want that to happen. I want their parents and their families to be proud," - Donald Trump.

    I can't wait for the GOP primary debates, can you?

    (For new readers from the Beast, a glossary of various awards the Dish gives out annually can be read here. Many of our tips come from readers, so fire away!)

  20. In Defense Of Blasphemy


    Andrew Exum has an moving post on Terry Jones and the Middle Eastern response to his Koran burning. How many Muslims understand free speech?

    In my many travels through the Islamic world, there is both widespread admiration for the freedom of political speech we enjoy here in the United States as well as incomprehension regarding the freedom of religious speech we enjoy. It’s all well and good to be able to denounce the president, but why on Earth do we Americans allow people to speak ill of Jesus Christ, or the Virgin Mary, or Muhammad?

  21. The Dreadful Uncertainties Of A Fair Trial

    Every now and again, you read a banal sentence in the newspaper that, after a moment's thought, takes one's breath away. Check out this NYT sentence on the prosecution by military commission of Khaled Sheikh Muhammed:

    Mr. Ghailani's case ended up stiffening resistance to civilian trials because a jury acquitted him on more than 280 charges. Although he was still convicted on one count and sentenced to life in prison, critics pointed to the result as a sign that civilian trials were too uncertain.

  22. The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #44


    For new Dish readers who just discovered us through the Beast, every week we hold a contest to see who can guess the location of a reader-submitted window view. We post a new one every Saturday at noon - see here for the latest example and an explanation of the rules. On Tuesday we post the results and the winner gets a free The View From Your Window book, a curated compilation we published through Blurb, a print-on-demand company. Regarding the above photo, a reader writes:

    My first thought was: This one is impossible. With more examination, however, details start to emerge ... ice, bare deciduous trees, a barrier island, some industry, a distant shore, and the view is from some open-air rustic (stone?) lookout with a railing at a high vantage point.  So my second thought was: it should be fairly easy to find this with a little searching for high-latitude barrier islands on bodies of water about 10 to 15 miles across. Alas, after spending a long time searching northern and southern maps, I have to return to my first thought:  This one is impossible!

    Still, a guess: Somewhere on the St. Lawrence River, perhaps near Trois Pistoles, Canada?

    Another writes:

    My first thought was, "That looks like the far north end of Northernmost Northlandia." Since I actually have no idea where it is, I googled "Northernmost Town in the World," and the answer was Hammerfest, Norway. That's my story and I'm sticking to it - like a warm tongue to a frozen lamp post in Hammerfest.


    I've tried to guess before (ALWAYS wrong) but this is the first time I'm sending in an actual entry. My guess is Pickering, Ontario. This looks like freshwater to me, and the ice is familiar from my documentation of ice on Lake Michigan (I take and post a picture of Lake Michigan nearly everyday, in all seasons). The "silo" in the front looks vaguely like the Pickering nuclear power plant (but not really). I'm going to Toronto tomorrow, so I will look for something like this from the air above one of the three Great Lakes I'll be flying over and resend with a more accurate guess!


    I just returned to the US after spending three years in Tromso, Norway, so that's my guess.  Located about 200 miles above the Arctic Circle, Tromso is a beautiful, modern city of nearly 70,000 inhabitants with more than 90 different nations represented.  It boasts over 100 pubs and restaurants and was Norway choice for the 2018 Winter Olympics.


    Damn you people!

  23. Unable To Pull The Lever?

    James Joyner is unsure of his vote:

    Having voted Republican in every presidential race since I was first eligible (1984), there’s a non-zero chance that I’ll find myself unable to support the nominee this year. And that’s despite very intense disagreements with President Obama on core policy issues.  If they lose me, they’ll find themselves on the other side of a Mondale or Dukakis level landslide. And likely conclude that their problem was being insufficiently true to their core principles.

    Which is why it may get far worse before it gets better. Can you imagine Mike Huckabee's foreign policy? Or Sarah Palin's diplomacy?

  24. Path To Prosperity Reax

    Tyler Cowen:

    Let’s say it’s 2027 and I’ve just turned 65.  I fill out a Medicare application on-line and opt for a plan with superior heart coverage (my father died of a heart attack), not too much knee coverage and physical therapy (my job doesn’t require heavy lifting), no cancer heroics (my mother turned them down and I wish to follow her example), and lots of long-term disability. Is that so terrible an approach?  Is it obviously worse than having the Medicare Advisory Board make all of those choices for me?

    Rationing yourself is much more tolerable than having government rationing it for you. Matt Yglesias:

    [I]n terms of the “welfare” aspect of Medicaid by far the largest set of poor people it covers are poor children .... Poor kids tend to struggle with a lot of problems and are in many ways disadvantaged in the competitive economy by the time they’re out of diapers. It seems to me that investing in their basic health care is a no brainer way of leveling the playing field somewhat and ensuring that the country is making the most of our human resources.

    Matt fails to say what he would do instead. It seems to me that any criticism of Ryan should explain a realistic alternative to what he has proposed. Just hammering him on cuts is not enough, given the debt that hangs over the future generations. If Matt, like Chait, wants simply to raise taxes, he should say so.

    J.D. Hamel:

    Of all the things I can’t stand about politics, the tendency to emotionalize a difficult topic is probably the worst.  Budget cuts hurt—just ask our friends in the United Kingdom.  But budget cuts are coming, because our entire welfare system depends on a false premise: a rapidly growing population.  It’s a pretty simple concept: the taxes from young workers support the benefits of elderly dependents, so the system works fine so long as the young significantly outnumber the old.  Our system is stressed because the number of retirees is growing at a faster pace than the number of workers. 

    Ezra Klein:

    Paul Ryan is unveiling the Republican’s 2012 budget proposal. Credit where it’s due: He didn’t dodge. His budget privatizes and voucherizes Medicare, dismantles Medicaid and turns it into a system of block grants, reforms the tax code, sets caps on federal spending, and much more. Like many such plans, it says more about how much government can spend than about how it will get spending down to that level while still providing the promised services, but it is, nevertheless, a dramatic proposal that will define the budget debate for the rest of the year. It’s also completely, almost gleefully, unacceptable to Democrats

  25. Quote For The Day III

    "For the western world, the 'Arab spring' threatens to be a classic case of good news and bad news. The good news is that this is the Arab 1989. The bad news is that we are the Soviet Union," - Gideon Rachman.

  26. Where Obama Feared To Tread


    The president's walking away from the deficit commission he set up was, to my mind, one of those moments when his caution was not about the substance of the issue but the politics. He knows we need to cut entitlements and defense or face fiscal collapse. And yet he has allowed Paul Ryan to move into the vacuum Obama created on the most important domestic issue of the day.

    Ryan's proposal, whatever you think of it, is serious. His proposal for Medicare looks to me like an extension of the Romney/Obama healthcare exchanges. His proposal for Medicaid - block grants to the states - will inevitably cut down on sky-rocketing healthcare spending. His tax reform is straight out of Bowles-Simpson.

    Alas, his op-ed is needlessly partisan in its initial lashing out at Obama. That's not the way to start a real dialogue, which is what we desperately need.

    But the good news is that we finally have a political party being honest about what it takes to avoid falling off a fiscal cliff. It means sacrifice. And my objection to the Ryan plan really comes down to the injustice of imposing major sacrifices for the poor and elderly, while exempting the wealthy from any sacrifice at all.

    This is because of Ryan's and the GOP's intransigent, doctrinaire refusal to bring taxes back to their Clinton-era or Reagan-era levels, even as they have given themselves a great opportunity to raise revenues as painlessly as possible.

  27. The Beast Switch: Your Take, Ctd

    Earlier feedback here. A reader writes:

    I am a longtime reader, and you have probably heard this from others as well ... the new site is slow.  Painfully slow. Can you get them to speed things up?

    We spent yesterday compiling a list of tweaks based on your emails and our use of the live-site. Please be patient; we're working on it. Another writes:

  28. Is Love A Choice? Ctd

    A reader writes:

    Ever since I read your essay on friendship years ago, which also is when I first really thought about friendship, I have struggled to agree with you and others that friendship is related to freedom, at least in the way you seem to be arguing that it is. Certainly,  when juxtaposed with eros, philia appears less compulsive, less instrumental -- in the Damiane._Jesus_Christ_and_St._John_the_Apostle. context of heterosexuality, the relationship between romantic love and the peopling of the earth allows us to see how friendship is less useful or necessary, in the narrow sense of those terms.

    I get that comparison, and understand how the superfluousness of friendship, from a kind of biological perspective, could redound to connecting it to "choice" or "freedom." Friendship does not directly participate in perpetuation of the species in the way romantic love does.

    But I really can't say I've chosen my friends.

    There is a way in which I am mysteriously drawn to my closest friends. I don't think this is sublimated eros, either. It is true that I could list reasons why I am friends with certain people: shared intellectual preoccupations, a love for certain activities, similar religious devotion, or compatible tastes in music, literature, or art. But friends are always more than the sum of their parts, more than a checklist of similarities, interests, and activities. And isn't that "more" what ultimately draws us to them? Something about their being is intriguing or comforting or seems to elicit some kind of response from us. I could imagine stumbling upon someone who liked the same food, books, and films as I do, while also leaving me cold. I could even imagine wanting to be friends with someone, but having it never really materialize.

  29. Quote For The Day II

    "The culture of major league baseball is a jumbo platter of deep-fried masculinity: it’s like a y-chromosome throwing a bachelor party for a penis with a beard," - Sam Anderson, examining the legend of Derek Jeter.

  30. Cool Ad Watch


    Copyranter registers a rare "like":

    Being a man of a certain age (fucking old), one of my favorite childhood memories is sending my Hot Wheels hot rods down that orange track ramp into the loopty loop and watching them crash. That wonderful memory came crashing back when I found the above installation, via Bogota, Colombia. Cool.

  31. Our Welfare King In Afghanistan

    Hitchens slams President Hamid Karzai for fanning the flames:

    Unlike some provincial mullahs, Karzai also knows perfectly well that the U.S. government is constitutionally prohibited from policing religious speech among its citizens. Yet, when faced with the doings of the aforementioned moronic cleric from Gainesville, he went out of his way to intensify mob feeling. This caps a long period where his behavior has come to seem like a conscious collusion with warlordism, organized crime, and even with elements of the Taliban. Already under constant pressure to make consistent comments about Syria and Libya, the Obama administration might want to express itself more directly about a man for whose fast-decomposing regime we are shedding our best blood. 

    And that is why, of course, the counter-insurgency will fail. The government we are defending is unworthy of the Afghan people, and any force attached to it will eventually be discredited. We may decimate the mid-level ranks of the Taliban, but as long as they have a refuge in Pakistan, they can wait us out. That's why I feel it's close to Vietnam to send soldiers to fight for a foreign regime that stinks to high heaven, and stirs up passions that ultimately leads to more casualties.

    At some point this has got to end and we will have to withdraw. But the deeper we get, and the longer we stay, the harder it is to leave. As I said before warfare can become welfare. And Karzai is the biggest welfare king of them all.