Weekend Links

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Taken from the roof of our school/office in Dali, Yunnan Province.

I’ve been back from vacation a week and a half and am only now re-establishing my routine. I’m teaching all weekend so longer posts will have to wait. In the meantime here are some links that show what I’ve been thinking and reading about recently.

  • Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo wrote a series of posts about the shooting in Oregon that are tough, but important. Here he is on why not naming shooters is a dodge that abets gun rights absolutists, on the public opinion shifts that have helped turn the Republican Party into the political arm of the NRA, on the different and often reprehensible ways that gun rights absolutists excuse mass shootings, and finally, on how the debate surrounding guns is restricted to proposals tinkering on the margins of policy when many of us would like to see a debate over sweeping changes that could drastically reduce the number of firearms held privately in the US.
  • Josh Marshall again on how crazy it is that it took Kevin McCarthy’s comments about the ‘Benghazi Committee’ and the subsequent crashing and burning of his campaign for Speaker of the House for mainstream journalists to start discussing what a sham the whole investigation has been for years.
  • Maybe Charlie Pierce is right that no American president could have avoided going into Afghanistan in 2001. Unfortunately, he’s almost certainly right that, 14 years later, we don’t seem close to leaving.
  • There aren’t many things that drive me crazier than hearing someone say some version of “Yeah, but at least George Bush kept us safe.” His administration’s negligence in the lead up to the attacks on September 11, 2001 is well-documented and irrefutable. Then, even if you grant Bush and his administration what Charlie Pierce derisively calls The Great Mulligan, and agree that we shouldn’t count the 2,977 victims of 9-11, in what sane world do we call more than 2,000 dead and 20,000 wounded in Afghanistan and more than 4,000 dead and 30,000 wounded in Iraq keeping us safe? I guess if you buy the we-have-to-fight-them-over-there-so-they-don’t-kill-us-here nonsense, and you grant The Great Mulligan, and you don’t believe staffing important government agencies with incompetents makes you at least partially responsible for avoidable deaths during natural disasters, then yeah, sure, Bush kept us safe.
  • Relatedly, Duncan Black at Eschaton has a pithy take on how difficult it is to explain the madness of those key Bush years from 2001 to 2006.
  • Like Matthew Yglesias at Vox, the 2000 election was a huge influence on how I think about politics. There are disturbing parallels in the way Bush dishonestly sold his budget ideas in 2000 to how his brother JEB! is doing so today. Jeb Bush may not even make it to the general election, but the larger point is that the media’s focus on personality, trivia, and pseudo-scandal instead of policy in 2000 certainly hurt Gore if not cost him the election, and the mainstream media seems poised to repeat the same mistakes this time around.
  • I started to write about the leadership crisis in the House here but that needs to be a longer post. I plan to write my own version, but here are the basics from Martin Longman, a writer I really like. Here and here.

Enjoy the weekend!

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