Quick hits (part II)

1) Richard Hasen on how the balance of the Supreme Court may well be the most important outcome of the next presidential election.

2) Drum on what Ben Carson really means when he says “political correctness.”

3) If we listen to Huckabee (and lots of Republicans on guns), e.g., we might also not try to do anything about Iran either.

4) Oh damn did I love this Vox interview with Brookigs scholar Jeremy Shapiro on Putin and Syria:

It’s a little bit depressing that on both sides we’ve gotten into this kind of machismo foreign policy, where we think that whoever appears strongest and most macho is winning. As if that has any meaning in international relations. This is not a pissing contest. Boldness rarely has benefits in international relations, particularly for status quo states like the United States. Caution is a good thing, and boldness is rarely rewarded…

The truth is that everybody’s critical of the Obama policy in Syria, and nobody has a better alternative. I’ve never fucking heard one. And if you heard something that even resembles a good idea on Syria in the Republican debate I would eat my head.

There is a lot of pressure in US politics, particularly under a presidential campaign, to “do something,” to look tough. And one of the advantages of being a powerful country is that you can do stupid things for a long time and it won’t affect you that dramatically.

So we have a history in this country of doing things that aren’t good for us, but we don’t suffer on the scale that some countries experience. So the Vietnam War, we survived it pretty well — the Iraq War, ditto. We have the possibility of doing that again [in Syria]. It won’t be the fall of the American empire if we do, but how many times can you make these kinds of mistakes?

5) Not surprisingly common beliefs held by anti-immigration folks have little connection to reality.

6) The latest study does not link breast feeding with a child’s IQ (quite importantly, this controls for mother’s socio-economic status).

7) Big Steve on the lameness of all the pro-gun arguments.

8) Great Onion headline: “Man Can’t Believe Obama Would Use Tragedy To Push Anti-Tragedy Agenda.”

9) On a related note, another sad retread (from a 2014 mass shooting) that’s really good, “There is no catastrophe so ghastly that America will reform its gun laws.”

10) David Brooks with some hard truths on our mass incarceration problem (i.e., it’s not just letting out non-violent drug offenders, etc.).

11) Seattle schools have responded to the racially-biased use of school suspensions by dramatically cutting school suspension.  Good for them.

12) John Cassidy on the Republican response to the shooting:

The Republican Party has long exercised a veto on any meaningful addition to the gun laws. And among its current crop of Presidential candidates, there is no sign of anybody breaking ranks. Reaction to the shooting ranged from nonexistent to predictably depressing. As far as I could see, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, the third- and fourth-place candidates in the polls, didn’t say anything on Thursday about what had happened in Oregon. In a message on Twitter, Jeb Bush called the massacre a “senseless tragedy.” Donald Trump, in an interview with the Washington Post, referred to it as a “terrible tragedy.” He also said, “It sounds like another mental-health problem. So many of these people, they’re coming out of the woodwork.” Ben Carson, the former neurosurgeon, took a similar line. “Obviously, there are those who are going to be calling for gun control,” he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” “Obviously, that’s not the issue. The issue is the mentality of these people.”

As if only America has people with violent mental illness.  No, only America has them routinely shoot up strangers.

13) North Carolina’s Republicans again taking the position that local government is better.  Unless local government wants to pass liberal laws, of

14) I so love how smart crows are.  Here’s a fascinating new study that shows that have (wisely) learned to fear death in their fellow crows.

15) Very nice piece from Seth Masket arguing that it is far too early to suggest that party elites no longer control nominations as The Party Decides crowd has been arguing.

Basically, it’s still really early. At this point in the 2012 election cycle, Rick Perry was the poll leader. It was Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani at this point in the ’08 cycle. Wesley Clark was heading to an easy Democratic nomination at this point in ’04. Oh, and Teddy Kennedy was beating Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination at this point in the 1980 cycle. It’s actually pretty rare for the poll-leader a year out from the election to get the nomination. So just by that metric alone, a Donald Trump nomination would be highly unusual.

16) You might have seen mention of the New Yorker article back in July about the massive earthquake and tsunami overdue to strike the Pacific Northwest.  Finally got around to reading it.  Fascinating!  And scary.  And a really well-written article.  Somebody needs to turn this into a post-apocalyptic (as it will be for that region) novel.

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