Faces Of The Day

Oct 30 2014 @ 6:45pm


Protesters pose with a police shield outside the parliament in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as cars and documents burn outside on October 30, 2014. Hundreds of angry demonstrators stormed parliament before setting it on fire in protest at plans to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule. Police had fired tear gas on protesters to try to prevent them from moving in on the National Assembly building ahead of a vote on the controversial legislation, but about 1,500 people managed to break through the security cordon and were ransacking parliament. By Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images.

Change Doesn’t Need A Trigger

Oct 30 2014 @ 6:14pm

A reader writes:

Thanks for the interesting post ["The Complexion Of The Gun Rights Movement"]. It seems to me that in the the success of the civil rights movement owesSupreme Court Hears Arguments On California's Prop 8 And Defense Of Marriage Act almost nothing to the possession of firearms and almost everything to passive resistance and non-violence. Gun rights advocates take it as a fundamental premise that the right to bear arms is somehow essential to protecting our other liberties, but it’s hard to think of a single instance since the Revolutionary War when that has been the case. Personal safety may be protected by firearms. But rights?

If you think of any fundamental right that any American enjoys (including the right to bear arms), that right exists and is protected not because someone shot someone (or threatened to shoot someone), but because someone sued someone, and it is a wonder to me that libertarians and conservatives are not more aware of this. If you go for your gun, you have already lost. If you call a lawyer, you just might change the world.

(Photo of Edie Windsor by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Paul Howard monitors the progress drug companies and government agencies are making:

If Uncle Sam doesn’t shell out the money to help develop and then buy an Ebola vaccine, no one else will. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the only other major investor in countermeasures for early-stage research, wrapped promising drugs such as ZMAPP in red tape, and seemed more interested in publishing academic papers than in actually helping companies develop products. Not surprisingly, the government is not an effective pharmaceutical company.

Still, nothing focuses the mind of government bureaucrats like a global health crisis unfolding in real time on cable-news networks. The government and private companies are now fast-tracking vaccine-development programs. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health is collaborating on developing Ebola vaccines with GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics. GSK hopes to get data from early-stage safety testing soon. If the vaccine passes, GSK intends to run a large trial with health-care workers in Ebola-affected countries by early 2015, if not sooner.

Dr. Jesse Goodman, the former chief scientist of the FDA, discusses the inherent challenges in developing a vaccine:

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According to a remarkable new survey:

The survey, by Ipsos Mori, found Labour is currently polling at just 23 per cent in Scotland which, if replicated in May, would see the party lose all but four of the 41 MPs it currently has north of the border. Such a result would make it next to impossible for Labour to win an overall majority in Westminster and form a Government after the next election.

Massie calls this “the most astonishing survey of Scottish political opinion in living memory”:

There will be two stories in Scotland next May.

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There was a little kerfuffle yesterday as Goldblog reported on an Obama bigwig calling Bibi a “chickenshit.” My favorite bit of the column was this nugget:

“The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel, economically, militarily and politically,” Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me. (UPDATE: Foxman just e-mailed me this statement: “The quote is accurate, but the context is wrong. I was referring to what troubles this administration about Israel, not what troubles leaders in the American Jewish community.”)

Heh. But the more troubling aspect of the column is this idea that any obvious clash of views or interests between the US and Israel is some kind of “crisis”. It certainly isn’t a crisis for Obama or the US. Paul Pillar makes a good point (seconded by Larison):

Sweep aside the politically-driven fiction about two countries that supposedly have everything in common and nothing in conflict and instead deal with reality, and the concept of crisis does not arise at all.

Nor does it really matter if Netanyahu “writes off” Obama in his last two years.

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Mental Health Break

Oct 30 2014 @ 4:20pm

An epic series of tubes:

If The Democrats Hold The Senate

Oct 30 2014 @ 3:57pm

Ramesh imagines the GOP reaction:

Many conservatives … would argue that the party establishment had led them to ruin. The establishment largely got its way in the 2012 presidential primaries, and then got its way again in running an agenda-less general-election campaign. This time, Exhibit A for these conservatives would be the North Carolina Senate race, where the establishment candidate — Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House — has persistently run a little behind his Democratic opponent. (Actually, that might be Exhibit B if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell manages to lose in Kentucky.)

Conversely, a lot Republican officeholders might conclude that the Democratic attacks on them as uninterested in compromise and hostile to women had succeeded, and that they should accordingly move leftward.

Should the Democrats pull off an upset, Nate Cohn will look “to the challenges of modern polling as a big reason for the surprise”:

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Beard Of The Week

Oct 30 2014 @ 3:38pm

Midterm edition:


A reader nominates it:

This guy is running for Florida State Senate as an independent in central Florida. His name is Devin Norton, and you can find other pictures and information on his Facebook.

A reader comments on this post:

The excerpt from Elizabeth Nolan Brown quotes “increasing progressive activism around the idea that drunk people can’t give consent.” I’m troubled by this. The fact is, people can (and do) give consent while intoxicated. Intoxication does not render one a zombie or possessed by a demon. In fact, many would argue that one’s words and actions while intoxicated reveal more of your true self than when sober (think of the guy who goes off on a racist tirade while drunk, but would never be caught saying those things out loud when sober).

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QE, We Hardly Knew Thee

Oct 30 2014 @ 3:00pm


Yesterday, the Federal Reserve announced that it was halting the bond-buying program known as “quantitative easing”, the third round of which had begun in September 2012. While the Fed won’t divest itself of the more than $4 trillion in bonds it has accumulated, and has no immediate plans to raise interest rates, it won’t buy any more. Matt O’Brien fears that the Fed is sending the wrong signals as the economy remains lethargic:

The fact that it’s ending QE3 despite still-low inflation and still-high, though declining, unemployment, signals that the Fed is eager to return to normalcy. So does changing its statement from saying there’s a “significant underutilization of labor resources” to it “gradually diminishing.” The Fed, in short, looks much more hawkish. And that’s not good, because, as Chicago Fed President Charles Evans explains, the “biggest risk” to the economy right now is that the Fed raises rates too soon.

QE isn’t magic — far from it — but it is, as Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren told me, “quite effective.” Especially at convincing markets that the Fed won’t raise rates for awhile, which is all it should be saying right now. Because the only thing worse than having to do QE is having to do QE again. The Fed, in other words, should do everything it can to make sure the economy lifts off from its zero interest rate trap before it pulls anything back. Otherwise, we might find ourselves back in the same place a few years from now.

Justin Wolfers stresses that this isn’t really “the end” of QE, since the assets the Fed holds will continue to have a stimulative effect:

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