16 February 2016


-Supreme Court.  While I completely understand why Republicans think Obama shouldn't nominate a SC justice (and I firmly believe that there would have been as much yelling on the Democrats' side if, say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had unexpectedly died in mid-February in 2008), Obama should nominate someone.  It's over 11 months till the next president takes office and I think we need a Supreme Court with 9 justices again as soon as possible. I think it's unreasonable to arbitrarily lop off the last year of a president's Supreme Court justice appointing duties.

Of course, it's pretty much certain that no matter who Obama nominates, she won't even get a hearing, much less Senate approval, so in a way it's a moot point, but I don't think that we're near enough the end of Obama's term to say that he ought not nominate someone.  

Also, I am not at all comfortable with the idea of politicizing the SC in the way it will be (unless the vacancy is filled quickly, which it won't, although I'd love to be wrong).  We vote for a president, not for specific people who would be nominated to the Supreme Court and this will get very close to allowing people to vote for the next SC justice.  It's always been more theoretical before.

-On how we talk about terrorism.  There was an NPR story this morning that talked about how we connect the recent attacks in Paris in San Bernadino, and that they really probably shouldn't be so connected.  I've been thinking about this a lot, including before we knew whether San Bernadino was a terrorist attack.  It was precisely that uncertainty that made San Bernadino so different from Paris in my mind because part of the point of a terrorist attack is to use violence or the threat of violence to further your political goals.  The San Bernadino attackers didn't even make it clear that they had a political agenda, much less claiming support from ISIS which it turns out they didn't have.  An ISIS-inspired attack is very different from an ISIS planned and supported attack.

Lumping these two incidents together make San Bernadino sound much more concerning than it actually is.  Instead of treating it like a workplace incident, which it barely wasn't, we're treating it like Paris, which it wasn't even remotely similar to.  ISIS doesn't care about the San Bernadino attack, it didn't make videos about it, it didn't plan it.  It's not their thing and it doesn't mean that we should be fearful in the US about ISIS because even though San Bernadino shows that people can be inspired by ISIS to do awful things, there is no evidence that ISIS has actually managed to plan and carry out anything remotely like Paris in the US.  (It makes more sense to me to argue that we should be worrying more about mass shootings not inspired by wackos in the Middle East, but by wackos in the US since the latter has done more damage in the US than the former.)

-The debate on Saturday.  John Kasich was right that it was nuts, but I also appreciated Jeb Bush saying that Trump was wrong about a variety of things.  Sometimes it works to just ignore the crazy, but sometimes it's terribly important to say that the crazy is wrong.  This is one of those times.

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