Quick Hits

I’m traveling until Saturday, so posting (in case you haven’t noticed) was and will continue to be light. So, quick hits:

  • The Virginia Tech killings are obviously horrific and a national tragedy. But the debate over the implications of the events for gun policy is both opportunistic and irrelevant. There really aren’t any gun regulations that could have prevented this; ballistics databases don’t deter the suicidal, a handgun ban would have led to Cho Seung-Hui to use a rifle instead, and an outright gun ban would have lead him to either purchase a gun illegally or use another method. As Atrios says, “if people want to kill people and don’t care if they get killed or caught they’re going to kill people.” The obvious solution, then, is not to focus on the method of killing used but on the source of Cho’s desire to kill, which seems to clearly lie in his deep-seeded (and previously noted) depression. The only thing to be learned here is that we need more pervasive mental health treatment in this country; this has been clear for a while now, but these tragic events really bring the point home.
  • On a much lighter note, I whole-heartedly endorse Matt Yglesias’s calculus-based tax plan. As Mark Schmitt has noted, taxation should be based on the ability to pay, which increases logarithmically. Thus, integral-based taxation would correlate most closely to one’s ability to pay. Plus, it would encourage both more extensive math education and wider-spread computer usage, which are big pluses.
  • Usually, Mitt Romney flip-flops on something substantive. But now, he’s managed to flip-flop on rhetoric. Whereas in 1998, he agreed with Hillary Clinton that “it takes a village,” today he says it doesn’t, and that “it takes a family” instead. My God – if you’re going to blatantly contradict yourself, at least do it on something mildly substantive.
  • This list of celebrity donations organized by candidate is pretty interesting. Obama gets the most A-list support (and has President Palmer’s backing, which is cool), while Chris Dodd (???) cleans up among older figures (Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin).
  • Today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban is a big step back for substantive due process and for women’s rights. Kudos to Obama for condemning it, despite the ban being quite popular.
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