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Thursday, May 21, 2015

BPS (Boring Political Stuff) Alert (sorry)

These are all so good and so spot-on, I'm just going to combine these all into one post since there is so much good stuff here:

From George Will (!): Proponents of capital punishment are losing the debate. "Nebraska is not a nest of liberals. Yet on Wednesday its 49-member unicameral legislature passed a bill abolishing the death penalty 32 to 15. ... First, the power to inflict death cloaks government with a majesty and pretense of infallibility discordant with conservatism. Second, when capital punishment is inflicted, it cannot later be corrected because of new evidence, so a capital punishment regime must be administered with extraordinary competence. It is, however, a government program. Since 1973, more than 140 people sentenced to death have been acquitted of their crimes (sometimes by DNA evidence), had the charges against them dismissed by prosecutors or have been pardoned based on evidence of innocence." The Washington Post.

From The Atlantic: Policymakers knew at the time that Iraq wasn't a threat and the invasion would be risky. "No one ever again—not a news person nor a civilian, not an American nor one from anyplace else—should waste another second asking, 'Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?' ... Leaders don’t make decisions on the basis of 'what we know now' retrospectively. They have to weigh evidence based on 'what we knew then,' in real time. ... The 'knowing what we know' question presumes that the Bush Administration and the U.S. public were in the role of impartial jurors, or good-faith strategic decision-makers, who while carefully weighing the evidence were (unfortunately) pushed toward a decision to invade, because the best-available information at the time indicated that there was an imminent WMD threat. That view is entirely false."

In Bloomberg today: A report concluded years ago that the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence officers' conclusions. "That report, from June 2008, found that President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and others used information from the intelligence community in public statements about Iraq but routinely glossed over uncertainties, some of which were significant. ... Administration officials’ statements about the link had no basis in analysts’ conclusions, while officials' repeated insinuations that Iraq would give terrorists WMDs to attack the U.S. actually 'were contradicted by the available intelligence.' The report also addressed the administration’s rosy predictions about postwar Iraq. ... Before the war, the intelligence community actually believed that '[e]stablishing a stable democratic government in postwar Iraq would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent challenge.' "

"After more than a decade bearing the political burden of Iraq, Republicans are making a dogged effort to shed it by arguing that the Islamic State’s gruesome ascent is a symptom of Obama’s foreign policy, rather than a byproduct of the 2003 invasion they once championed. ... The rapid move to shift responsibility is at the core of the GOP’s plan to define 2016 as a foreign-policy election. Anxious about demographic trends and the leftward drift of the electorate on social issues, many Republicans hope to seize on global unrest and offer voters a steady hand."
-- "At the least, it is an attempt to have Iraq seen as a shared failure, begun by a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress but inherited and fumbled by Democrats." (Washington Post)

In Vox today: Hillary Rodham Clinton has a plan to help small bankers. "Being for small business in American politics is like having a favorable attitude toward Mom or apple pie. But campaigning in Iowa this week, Hillary Clinton's thus-far policy-light campaign rolled out the germ of a small-business idea that has big implications: the federal government should help smaller businesses by showing more favorable treatment to small banks. ... The specific claim that the health of the community banking sector is critical for small businesses is a piece of longstanding conventional wisdom within the small business community, a point of pride for community bankers, and backed up by a fair amount of expert analysis. It is not, however, a point of universal agreement. ... Of course, a separate question is whether a financial model that disproportionately benefits smaller companies is good for the country overall."

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