Quick hits (part II)

1) Been meaning to give this great Op-Ed on why NC needs a professional, full-time legislature it’s own post.  I keep failing:

The main argument for a full-time legislature is that House and Senate members need more time to fully deliberate public policy issues. Tax reform has been considered for over 30 years, but a complete modernization of the system has not occurred, in part because legislators lack the time to take on this complex system. Other issues, such as mental health reform, don’t get done because these policy issues are difficult to do in the midst of regular legislative business and the desire to keep sessions short…

Another reason for investing in a full-time legislature is to make it possible that a wider range of citizens serve in the House and Senate. The current legislative salary of just under $14,000 per year, plus monthly expenses while in session, makes it virtually impossible for most North Carolinians to consider running for these offices. Most teachers, service sector employees or those without a second income stream cannot serve in the legislature that is supposed to represent its citizens.

 2) Utah is now keeping tabs on what SWAT warrants are actually used for.  No surprise: they are used to serve drug warrants were there is almost never any reason to believe there is a genuine threat.

3) Yes, Buzzfeed does sometimes do more than silly lists.  Nice piece on the futility of relying on torture to gather intelligence.

4) Interesting piece on how the fact that computers driving cars follow the rules too closely ends up creating problems.

5) I’m so glad an NC-based political scientist decided to tackle this.  Yes, having her photo in every single damn elevator in the state is a real (and surely unfair) political advantage to Cherie K. Berry.

6) Nice post from Drum on how we are getting good increases in education test scores for younger kids, but somehow not for High School.  We really need to figure out why.

7) Sex offenders who have served their time are not the most sympathetic group, but we really ought to deal with them based on actual empirical knowledge and science, not pseudo-statistics of mysterious provenance.

8) Don’t know that I’ve ever posted something from Red State before, but just get this:

Sharanda Jones is currently serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole at Carswell Federal Prison in Texas. Life without the possibility of parole is the second-harshest sentence our justice system can mete out, short only of the death penalty, and that not by much. What, you might ask yourself, did Sharanda Jones do to merit this sentence?

She was convicted of a single, non-violent drug offense involving crack cocaine. This conviction stemmed from her first ever arrest, and she was not even caught with crack in her possession.

9) A special-ed teacher on what he wishes people understood about special-ed kids.  This one is near and dear to my heart.

10) We should not be shaming young girls for their bodies and we should have a little more faith in boys that they can learn if a girl nearby has a spaghetti strap dress.

11) There’s nothing at all linking #blacklivesmatter with the shooting of the cop in Texas.  Unless you are Fox News, that is.

12) Really interesting and different take on Kim Davis.  Our defense of rights really depends upon who’s rights we’re talking about.

13) Jamelle Bouie on why Democrats should be angry with HRC about the email:

But on that score, Democrats are right to be angry. As one of the most scrutinized people in American politics, Clinton had a duty to her party to tread carefully and avoid obvious mistakes. The private server is an obvious mistake, and if nothing else, it will feed the bottomless media appetite for Clinton scandals, even when they don’t bear fruit. And although you could make the case that this is unavoidable—that she can’t escape the “Clinton rules,” so why bother—it’s also fair for Democrats to want more prudence from their likely nominee.

14) Donald Trump is not about a backlash to political correctness.

15) Can Bill Gates and his billions make a difference in gun control?  I doubt it, but sure would be nice.

16) Nice Friedman column on how our “friend” Saudi Arabia is more of a threat than Iran.

But the fact remains that Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabi puritanical Islam has been one of the worst things to happen to Muslim and Arab pluralism — pluralism of religious thought, gender and education — in the last century.

Iran’s nuclear ambition is a real threat; it needs to be corralled. But don’t buy into the nonsense that it’s the only source of instability in this region.

17) What happens to a state department for environment and natural resources when you put environment-hating Republicans in charge?  Just see NC for the answer.

18) The Republican establishment made a huge mess of things by giving so much money to Jeb before it was at all clear he could be a decent candidate.

19) Milbank on how Clinton’s accusers are running out of ammo. Not that it will stop them from trying.

20) Buzzfeed list of things you’ll remember if you went to college in the 90’s.  This 1994 grad says its a pretty good list.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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