What happens when Republican Senators know too much…

In its entirety from Ezra:

 I think John Thune's explanation
of Bob Corker's occasional heterodoxies is what they call a "Kinsley

"I think he’s a guy who’s willing to get down into the
weeds," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, who is No. 4 in GOP
leadership. "Because he immerses himself in that and understands it so
well — the positions he adopts may not always be the ones that everyone
else in our conference comes to."

It is true that if you understand policy, you'll frequently come
to conclusions at odds with those of the Senate Republican Conference.


War on Drugs in Action

Reason's Radley Balko posts this incredibly disturbing drug raid in Missouri.  Police burst in in the middle of the night, shoot the family dogs, in front of a 7-year old kid.  All for a few ounces of marijuana.  Great– that's what we need the police for.

I'll leave the bulk of the commentary to Balko as he does a great job with it:

This is the blunt-end result of all the war imagery
and militaristic rhetoric politicians have been spewing for the
last 30 years—cops dressed like soldiers, barreling through the
front door middle of the night, slaughtering the family pets,
filling the house with bullets in the presence of children, then
having the audacity to charge the parents with endangering their
own kid. There
are 100-150
of these raids
every day in America, the vast, vast majority
like this one, to serve a warrant for a consensual crime.

But they did prevent Jonathan Whitworth from smoking the pot
they found in his possession. So I guess this mission was a

Just how can any rational person justify this as either 1) a smart use of limited police resources, or 2) how we want our citizens to be treated by the police (this was not some armed gang)?


The NC Senate Democratic Primary

As I'm sure I mentioned sometime before, I'm not at all a fan of the Politico, as I think far too much of what they do is the complete embodiment of all that is wrong with political journalism.  Of course, that won't keep me from getting myself in there if given the opportunity.  They solicited some comments from NC Political Scientists on yesterday's primary (here), so I thought I might as well re-purpose my comments for a blog entry (I do like them).  From the Politico:

 The winner of the North Carolina Democratic Senate primary? Incumbent
Republican Richard Burr.  Burr already had to be feeling good, though, before a vote was cast
today. Despite Burr looking very vulnerable upon Elizabeth Dole's
surprising defeat in 2008, the strong Republican trend for the 2010
midterms had already succeeded in scaring off the strongest challengers.
Instead, he faces the winner of what apparently will be a run-off
between a 1-term former State Senator, Cal Cunningham, and more
experienced, but little-known Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.
Despite pressure from national Democrats, several more prominent NC
Democrats declined to enter the race. Furthermore, instead of the
Democratic party being able to now unite behind a challenger to Burr,
there is the prospect of Marshall and Cunningham focusing their fire and
their resources on each other, instead of Burr for the next six weeks
until a run-off election. It is certainly possible that either
Cunningham or Marshall could defeat Burr, but you already had to
consider Burr a strong favorite, and tonight's results only further
strengthen his advantage.

I'll add here that this is a classic case of Gary Jacobson's strategic challenger's hypothesis (one of the things that made me decide I want to be a Political Science Professor).  Basically, one of the biggest reason incumbents win is that the best, most qualified challengers only run against them when the political environment is in their favor.  This has clearly been shaping up to be a very good GOP year, so the most qualified and most ambitious NC Democratic politicians have decided against taking on Burr in these circumstances.  Sure, Cunningham or Marshall could pull a big upset, but presuming he wins, Burr won this race whey guys like Attorney General Roy Cooper and US House Representative Brad Miller decided they would not challenge him.

[On a semi-unrelated note, I'm really enjoying seeing my many former students essentially at war with each other– though, not directly– in facebook posts from many working for Cunningham and Marshall.]

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