One of the complaints about the Republican Convention that will surely be repeated when the Democrats gather in Charlotte is that newly uttered proposals sound great but lack sufficient detail to be evaluated seriously. Who is going to do precisely what to Medicare? How much of what government services are going to be cut?
I've thought before that if I had a few billion dollars to give away, one of the things I'd do would be to bend the political world to my will, much like Charles and David Koch do. Not only would you get the satisfaction of helping to produce positive change, you could, if you were clever enough, destroy politicians who irritate you. A Republican state legislature somewhere tries to force women to endure some novel kind of slut shaming? Hey, Mr. State Rep who spent $82,000 on his last campaign, how're you going to feel when I drop a million dollars of attack ads on you? Bwah hah hah.
Thinking the Twentieth Century lets us listen in on conversations between distinguished colleagues, the intellectual historian Tony Judt and the Eastern Europeanist Timothy Snyder. It conveys the sort of conversation that two scholars may have when they share the same knowledge, references, and opinions.
Is it rational (and under what conditions) to vote for a third-party candidate?
Since we are paying attention to some degree to what people say about their voting habits, I wonder what sense to make of the typical argument against voting for a third party. Namely: If I vote for a third-party, then I am voting against the two-party candidate that better represents my political views. If that candidate loses, then I will be responsible, since I would have voted for that person had I not voted for a third-party candidate.
Are people making a reasonable argument here or are they making an error?
The White House released its strategy for countering violent extremism today, and while the use of that particular phrase may provoke howls of "political correctness" from conservatives, the strategy identifies "al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents represent the preeminent terrorist threat to our country." The strategy also emphasizes the importance of local actors in resisting and identifying extremism, and contains an implicit rebuke to Republicans singling out the Muslim community as being full of potential subversives:
Alex Pareene makes an important point about alleged Oslo shooter Anders Breivik identifying as a Christian:
He's a sick perversion of Christianity, sure. But if he "doesn't count" as a Christian solely because no one this evil should "count" as a Christian (which is [Bill] O'Reilly's other argument -- "no one believing in Jesus commits mass murder," he said) then no terrorist should "count" as a representative of his faith.
Spencer Ackerman makes an observation that can't be repeated enough:
So I asked Karen Greenberg, director of NYU's Center on Law and Security to help me out here. According to Karen, if you count dismissals by either the judge or the government, the conviction rate in terrorism cases is 87 percent. If you don't, the rate is 95 percent.
That's compared to a 91 percent conviction rate (.pdf) for all criminal cases.
J.M. Bergernotes that when terrorist plotters team up, they usually fail, but the social nature of Islamic extremism makes lone wolves hard to come by:
Every single homegrown plot against the U.S. since September 11 that involved more than one person has failed, most often because law enforcement caught wind of it. Nevertheless, homegrown jihadists keep talking about their plans, and keep getting caught.
Following up on Marc Thiessen's bogus claim that the Obama administration's policy with terrorism suspects is now "catch and release," this is a chart I made of Gitmo detainees released or transferred based on the numbers from McClatchy:
The latest Gitmo "controversy" is Majority Leader Mitch McConnellcalling for a couple of Iraqi terrorism suspects arrested in his state of Kentucky to be transferred to Gitmo and tried by military commission.
“A few years ago, we set up military commissions for the specific purpose of trying foreign terrorists,” Mr. McConnell said. “The perfect place for these terrorists is at Guantánamo, to be interrogated. And, if subsequently a trial is deemed appropriate for these foreign terrorists, there are courtrooms down there for the military commission trials. There is really no reason to be mainstreaming these foreign terrorists into a regular U.S. court.”
New Hampshire Sen. Judd Greggwarns of the dangers of government by community organizer:
Class warfare as leadership is a hard sell. It seems that this fact has not yet found resonance in the Obama White House. In a historical context, there have been governments formed on the basis of class warfare. Their success rate as a form of governance, however, is highly suspect. It is simply difficult to build prosperity based on envy.
In case you've been too busy painting your tribute Will & Kate figurines to notice, this morning the White House released the famous "long form" version of Barack Obama's birth certificate. Briefly: When you ask Hawaii for your birth certificate, they generate and send to you a legally valid, official document with a seal and everything, but the original remains on file. Birthers have claimed that the version available since the 2008 Obama campaign put it on their website is a forgery, and Obama is hiding the long-form one, because either it doesn't exist or it shows he was born in Kenya or perhaps on Klendathu.
With Christian ethics in the news -- by way of the "Is there a hell?" debate among conservative evangelicals -- it's worth highlighting this interesting survey result from the Public Religion Research Institute: