Linky Friday #4

(A) I can’t have one of these things without at least a couple of links on school shootings. I thought this article explained my discomfort at using high-profile shootings like Sandy Hook as a basis for gun control. [Pacific Standard]

(B) Conor Friedersdort argues that we already had the conversation about guns and the pro-gun side won. I’ve found the notion that we haven’t had the discussion to be bizarre. It’s not a request for a first discussion, but rather a do-over. Recent events could lead to a different result, though. If they don’t here, I am pretty sure they never will. [The Atlantic]

(C) Americans support solving the budget crisis but oppose almost every option to do so. [McClatchy]

(D) The Washington Post takes the Democrats to task for losing their balance on entitlement reform, leaning much more heavily on tax increases than actual budget cuts. I believe the administration to be pretty strongly pressing their advantage and in less a compromising position. But here’s the thing: polls have suggested over and over again that Republicans will get the blame anyway. This may not seem fair, but this is what happens when the GOP loses all credibility on an issue. They dug this hole and gave Obama the advantage to press. [WaPo]

(E) BBC asks if you can be British without speaking English? This question and context of the question seems bizarre to a lot of Americans, and the fact that it does is one of our greatest strengths. As is the fact that their kids and grandkids will learn English. [BBC]

(F) The UN may be baffled, but good for President Obama and his European counterparts for walking out on efforts to turn the Internet over to the UN and ITU. [TechCrunch]

(G) A look at modern language invention and evolution. [New Yorker]

(H) Bobby Jindal’s support for making birth control OTC is actually pretty brilliant. A solid pro-freedom stance that doesn’t define freedom in terms of access rather than in terms of demanding that others provide for it. [Politico]

(I) And the marriage rate plummets. Almost forty percent of Americans view marriage as obsolete. I may disagree with conservatives on gay marriage, but it’s stuff like this that are why I am sympathetic to them on the subject of marriage more broadly. [Pew]

(J) Looking at Obama’s decision to kill Osama bin Laden. [The Atlantic]

(K) Government spending tends to increase with term limits. This is considered odd, but it took less than a few years of term limits in local government in Colosse to figure out why: Term limits breed ambition for higher office. If it’s up-or-out, you have to make a name for yourself, which is expensive. [Marginal Revolution]

(L) I have to agree with Matthew Yglesias that Obama’s assurances of sparing recreational users is pretty meaningless. First, we’ve heard this before. Second, it I always worry about selective prosecution in cases like this. [Slate]

(M) Might marijuana be a winning issue for the GOP? I dunno. It’s hard to get from here to there. Copyright law, on the other hand, is a shorter trek with little downside. Not that they care. [TNR] [EconomistsView]

(N) Oil wealth has changed the dynamics in Scandinavia. Swedes that used to look down on Norwegians (Who knew this? I did not know this.) are now having to emigrate for jobs. There are certain parallels to the United States. [Slate]

(O) What we can learn from school choice in Sweden. As with so many other things, even though this corresponds with my political preferences, I think there are limits to what a large, heterogeneous country can learn from a relatively small homogenous one. [Forbes]

(P) How does your local school district rank against the rest of the world’s? My old district does reasonably well, in the 60-something percentile in both math and reading. Which is kind of scary, for our country and the world. [The Atlantic]

(Q) Michael McLaughlin claims, but doesn’t really back up, the notion that anti-meth ads featuring the ravaged faces of drug use, are ineffective. I express skepticism because this is precisely the sort of thing that would have worked on me when I was younger. It strikes at a crucial element of my younger identity: vanity. [HuffPo]

(R) Family values failure [Marginal Revolution]: Fewer children in the United States grow up with both biological parents than in any other affluent country for which data are available. Ashley McGuire thinks the GOP needs to woo women voters due to a War on Married Women. The problem is that a lot of solutions to these outlined problems are not necessarily conservative ones [Weekly Standard].

(S) Two-state solution? Try 8-State Solution. It sounds like an intriguing idea. [Jerusalem Post]

(T) Maybe we’re not Bowling Alone. [Boston Review]

Added, From Burt:

(U) The Fifty Worst Opinion Pieces of 2012. Including many popular linkmagnets like McMegan, Sully, and the Doc’s personal favorite, James Franco.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. Norwegian-Swedish rivalry (N) goes back a long way, pre-dating the time the two nations were once unified. Norway had been in a political union with Denmark since the sixteenth century but Denmark did poorly in a war with Sweden and ceded Norway to Sweden in 1814. The Norwegians were never particularly happy with this since they thought of themselves as the equals of the Danes and the heirs to the Kalmar Union, rather than as a deal point in some peace treaty or a prize to be fought over by monarchs who identified Norway as distinct from themselves. There’s a big mountain range making overland travel between the populous coastal areas of the two countries awkward. For ninety years there was tension and sporadic skirmishing in the back woods, and nationalism started to boil up in the 1890’s. In 1905, rather than risk skirmishing and bad feelings boiling over into a civil war, Sweden ceded Norway’s independence. This got confirmed in a plebiscite, one of the most one-sided votes I’m aware of anywhere at any point in history under circumstances suggesting actual free elections. The ill feelings lasted after the terms of separation were negotiated, but I’d thought that these days, they were mostly consigned to the football pitch and regional rivalries on roughly the same level as Texans and New Yorkers teasing one another over beers.

    • And, from what I’ve heard, there are still residual bad feelings between Norway and Denmark, which were occupied during WWII, and Sweden, which was happy to trade with and otherwise enable Nazi Germany.

  2. H: This ignores

    1. Women who for idiosyncratic reasons will have bad reactions to the most common forms or oral contraception.
    2. Women for whom the only safe forms of oral contraception are unusually expensive.
    3. Women who need oral contraceptives for medical reasons other than contraception.

    I think it’s safe to say that making a medical decision for political reasons is always a bad idea, and this is no exception.

    By the way, Governor Jindal, if you don’t want people to think Republicans are against birth control, not calling women who use it sluts and whores or refusing to criticize those who do would be a start.

    • This brings us back to the prime question of whose responsibility it is to pay for contraception. Being out front on allowing birth control to be OTC, though, at least mitigates the situation somewhat. Especially after the Fluke fiasco and having opposed Plan-B OTC.

      • If BC is safe OTC then it is great idea. The frame of “having other people pay for it” is less then wonderful. Whose responsibility is it to pay for chemo, or casts for broken legs or insulin? We pay for medical care through what we call health insurance. Contraception is health care. Making BC some odd type of other thing that doesn’t relate to the health of the mom leads back to Fluke and Rush and the seeming furor of some on the right of women controlling there lady parts.

        • This argument would be stronger if it were merely the case that birth control would be treated like other medications. Instead, birth control was put into a special category where there is no copay at all.

          That being said, I don’t think “having other people pay for it” is a bad framing with most else of what we would consider health care. Whether insurance had to pay for my wife’s pregnancy, for instance, and how much of it they had to pay for it.

          Honestly, from a conservative perspective, there is no way to avoid the “controlling women’s lady parts” accusation if you are not completely on board with the liberal view of reproductive rights. The question is how much weight people give it. The GOP has done everything in its power to cause doubt of its motives. This is a good step in the opposite direction.

          • Maybe, probobly, i’m blissfully forgetting all the gruesome details of the Fluke-a-rama but didn’t the “no copay” come after the Rush had hit the fan. At first BC was just being treated like every other med, then the Catholic Hosp objected, then “slut” and after a bunch of other stuff was thrown out, then “no copay” came out. It seemed more like a reaction to all the other crap…not a good idea…but that wasn’t the deal at first.

            Every working HC model in the world, to my knowledge, pools costs and risks. I guess that can be framed as someone else paying for it, but i don’t see how goes anywhere given many things are done collectively.

          • That’s not how I remember it, but I don’t have time to go track it down one way or the other.

            I get what you’re saying about pools, costs, and risks, but which options and procedures are covered within the pool and which ones aren’t, are what make the difference between “You have to pay for it yourself” or “You don’t have to.”

          • The GOP has done everything in its power to cause doubt of its motives.

            I’d say “erase any doubts”.

          • Honestly, from a conservative perspective, there is no way to avoid the “bigotry” accusation if you are not completely on board with the liberal view of same-sex marriage rights.

            I know it’s not fashionable to point this out, but sometimes one side is right and the other side thinks an entire class of human beings don’t count.

          • See, just swap out opposition to anything and put it in the bigotry category.

            “You know, you people who want to regulate handguns are like the people who opposed interracial marriage.”

            “You people who don’t like the authorized killing list are like the people who opposed integrating the schools.”

            “The people who are calling for a balance of tax increases and budget cuts are like the British in the Oregon Boundary Dispute.”

          • Clearly a compromise that would have converted slavery to an indenture would have been superior to both.

          • Thee was proposed legislation to ensure that slaves couldn’t be sold to violent felons, but it didn’t apply to private sales.

          • I know it’s not fashionable to point this out, but sometimes one side is right and the other side thinks an entire class of human beings don’t count.

            That can be completely right and doesn’t change the tactical truth behind my statement. If the goal is not to be accused of bad things, then it’s not an attainable goal (in this case). So the goal has to be not to let the charges stick (whether the charges are true or not).

            For my part, though, I do not believe that allowing some employers to decline coverage of some things does not constitute thinking “an entire class of human beings don’t count.” I do think that you run into much more treacherous territory when you actively deny access by needlessly putting something behind a counter or actively preventing things from being sold. Depending on what the thing and something are.

            (On gay marriage, I think some of the opposition constitutes an active disregard. Other opposition is rooted in other misguided beliefs. Both are wrong, but different kinds of wrong.)

  3. K: Office holders are term-limited; lobbyists are not. This results in a power and experience imbalance with obvious result.

    • At least at the state level, the same argument applies to the permanent legislative staffs for things like budgets. During the three years I worked as part of the staff for Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee, it was not uncommon for the senior staff people to know why certain decisions had been made only a few years in the past, while none of the elected members of the General Assembly, and certainly no one on the Committee, had any first-hand knowledge of those decisions. New members of the Committee were, I think, somewhat stunned by the degree to which they had to depend on the staff to handle critical details of the budget.

    • Office holders are term-limited; lobbyists are not. This results in a power and experience imbalance with obvious result.

      A point which was made very clear to me by a professional lobbyist in California, right about the time term limits came into effect; term limits that were sold to the public as a way of curbing lobbyist power.

      • Tell me about it. The lottery was sold as providing additional funding for the schools. Guess what happened to the other sources of funding the minute it passed.

  4. F: The Internet has always been a sore point for the ITU (and particularly for its standardization arm). They had developed their own very different standards for data network protocols, and were unpleasantly surprised when those lost out to Ethernet and TCP/IP. I worked for a large US telecom doing technology forecasting while it was going down, and was unpopular for correctly predicting the winners.

    • There’s a very funny book I read, decades ago now, contrasting the deep architecture of OSI with the purely ad hoc nature of TCP/IP, and explaining why that makes TCP about 100 times more practical. I wish I could recall its name.

      What, by the way, was ITU’s alternative to Ethernet?

      • The OSI model was dead from a practical perspective as soon as its advocates had to admit that, to actually implement maintenance and trouble-shooting, there had to be a separate stack where levels could be skipped or new pseudo-levels created. The IP world’s “everything is an IP packet” network philosophy made so many things more straightforward.

        At the time, ATM over a variety of point-to-point physical media was the ITU’s alternative. Multiple factors put it at a serious disadvantage: (1) a true broadcast mode for start-up services like DHCP is enormously valuable in terms of O&A dollars; (2) the bulk of the bytes moved over a LAN may be part of a connection, but the majority of the transactions that occur are single-datagram connectionless exchanges which the connection-oriented ATM doesn’t handle well; and (3) fairly soon Ethernet’s popularity and vendor competition made Ethernet interface boards much cheaper than the ATM alternative.

        IIRC, it was 1993 when I wrote a long internal white paper for the giant telecom where I was working explaining in detail why they should bet their long-term future on IP rather than ATM and ISDN (the whole research project included what was, for the time, some nice prototype software I wrote for demonstrating real-time audio, video, and other shared media over IP). Darned legal department never would approve it for external publication.

  5. I talked to a guy who ran a smoke shop the other day (I was waiting for my gyro order and the smoke shop was next door) and I asked him about recreational and he said that he talked to local and state lawyers and none of them will offer definitive answers on anything. He said that he would *LOVE* to sell marijuana but no one will tell him if he is allowed to.

    He’s not even getting “no” answers. He’s just getting “we can’t answer that” and “we don’t know” answers.

    So he will just continue to sell tobacco until he sees what happens when someone else starts selling recreational.

    • Personally, I wouldn’t even consider selling marijuana under my own name, in a public place. as part of a business that’s valuable for other reasons, without strong assurance that I’m not going to be arrested on a federal trafficking charge, together with all my assets being confiscated as drug-related income. Since no lawyer can guarantee that wouldn’t happen, they’d be irresponsible to say anything else.

      • He said that he didn’t even know about selling his business to someone else because he had no idea what his business was worth.

        He’s got a lemon problem for his own business.

    • The answer is obvious, if unpleasant.

      If you sell pot, the state’s likely going to leave you alone as long as you pay your taxes. Some cops might hassle you a bit, so keep your licenses in order and comply with the building code and stuff like that. But even if they do pinch you, you’re probably going to come out okay in a state court what with the legalization law and everything, as long as nothing else gets discovered during the pinch.

      But the Feds are not going to leave you alone. Maybe they leave you alone this year, maybe next year too, maybe even for the whole rest of the Obama Administration. Until marijuana is declassified from Schedule I by Congress, each and every molecule of marijuana you sell is a Federal crime. And sooner or later, there’s going to be a DEA agent, a U.S. Attorney, an Attorney General, or a President who wants to make a name for himself (or herself) with a particular constituency and you’re going to be his (or her) target. Because no matter how legal the state of Colorado says your product is, you’re never going to be popular with your neighbors and someone, somewhere, is going to dislike you selling marijuana and be able to bend the ear of Federal law enforcement. They don’t give a damn what the state of Colorado says.

      Sooner or later, that day is coming. And you can’t count on that day not being tomorrow. Sorry, dude, but the reality is you sell at your own risk.

      The guy is right to let someone else be the test case for selling recreational.

  6. D) The WaPo loves balance and the perfect Broder middle ground. Why should tax increases and benefit cuts balance? It seems more odd to me that the best levels of both of those things would add up to the same amount. There is no reason the optimum levels should be equal. Obviously the reason to keep the numbers is the same is to look good and claim how bipartisan things are.

    • I didn’t get the impression that they were necessarily looking for 1:1 perfect balance, but something a little more balanced than what is presently being proposed.

      • Are they counting previous budget cuts? I doubt it. O has cut about a trillion it think already. Balance may be a nice thing, but on its own it doesn’t address the merits of any plan.

        • No, it doesn’t tell you about the merits. The best solution may be the Republican all-cuts side or a liberal almost-all-taxes side. But Obama got a lot of goodwill by offering a more balanced approach. Now, after the election, he appears to have moved the goalposts. He may be right to do so, but it’s pretty noteworthy. And because they have lost all credibility on the issue, there really isn’t much of anything the GOP can do about it.

    • This perplexes me. Back in 2000 we had an essentially balanced budget (yeah, there were some special considerations that would probably have stopped, but the trends were clear). The budget was unbalanced by massive tax cuts, very large defense spending increases, and more modest increases in social spending (eg, Medicare Part D). None of the bad things that the Right tells us will happen if we were to return to that situation — the rich “going Galt” or fleeing the country and collapsing the economy thereby — were happening then. None of the important good things that the right told us would happen when they unbalanced the budget — incredible job growth, quick-and-easy wars followed by Middle East democracy (and other pony-ish things) — came to pass. Why shouldn’t we balance the budget by undoing the things that unbalanced it? Which implies tax increases and defense carrying most of the load.

    • If there’s one lesson that I wish everyone would learn, it’s that the Washington Post is an utterly soulless enterprise dedicated to the notion that the CW is always and everywhere correct. Their editorial board is easily the worst of any newspaper anywhere in the world.

  7. R – This would actually be a pretty great (and dare I say) feminist issue for the GOP to pursue. And, if I may cynically add, one that they can go after right after they draft their pro-pot and pro-affirmative action planks.

    (Also, I think part of the unspoken political calculation – that Dems would launch some kind of an anti-married-women campaign, rather than loudly agreeing with them – to be wildly off the mark.)

  8. Jumping off of Burt’s addition, this seems like as good a place as any to float this idea:

    Right after the election, there was the inevitable bemoaning about how famous pundits who blow it are never held accountable, and I got this idea. What if we picked a small number of very popular and well-read pundits and tracked their results in 2013? WE could do a once a month post on how the major predictions they made on those items everyone was making predictions about, and then next December we could award Best and Worst, and give stats on how clever they really were.

    Does this sound interesting to anyone else but me?

  9. B; We never finished the conversation about guns, because the Supreme Court took it out of the realm of politics and legislation. That’s why it’s still festering.

    • I would argue that the gun control argument had lost prior to the rulings. The AWB hqd lapsed, CCW was becoming the law of the land, and so on. The Democratic Party had lost its nerve.

      • Well yeah the gun control argument has been lost which, as i’ve noted, clearly explains why a certain subset of gun owners becomes even more hysterically paranoid. Since they have an organization, the NRA, just for them, they get tons of attention and power.

        Is it too early to make a prediction that there will be no new gun regs, no matter how popular they are even with gun owners, nor will there be more funding for treatment of mentally ill folks. Absolutely nothing will change.

        • it could go either way with this one. We were in agreement until recently events that gun owners fears were pretty baseless. on mental health, nothing might actually be better than what the government would actually most likely do (put the weird is away.).

          • There is no serious pressure or evidence why there should be a change to commit more mentally ill folk. The mentally ill do have a bit of lobbying power. However building public hospitals to house seriously mentally ill people is one way to get conservatives on board with providing health care for those who can’t afford it.

            There isn’t any evidence that the Lanza kid would have benefited or needed commitment. Well before he became an excitable boy.

          • whether or not legislation would have had any effect on the incident that inspired it is incidental. If something does get passed, I can almost guarantee that it will include things irrelevent to Newtown.

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