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Richard Haas argues that the best thing America can do on the world stage at this moment, is to step back into the wings.

The United States is currently enjoying an unprecedented respite in the foreign policy arena — a temporary relief from the normal rigors of history that allows us to take stock at home and abroad.

It may seem outlandish to claim that we’re in the midst of a lull, given that America faces a civil war in Syria, an Iran that seems to be seeking nuclear weapons, an irresponsible North Korea that already possesses them, continuing threats from terrorists, a rising China and rapid climate change.

Yet the United States enjoys a respite all the same. ...

Today, there are threats, but they tend to be regional, years away or limited in scale. None rises to the level of being global, immediate and existential. The United States faces no great-power rival. And this is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

Haas proposes taking advantage of this lull (the end of history, part II) to "get our own house in order," an umbrella he uses to include both some good ideas and some fiscal nonsense. Even if you do none of those things, there's a lot to be said for simply looking at the world as something other than a military problem.

Grab a coffee and come on in. Let's see what else is up this morning.

Ross Douthat complains that Obama is spending his second term on unpopular issues that people don't care about. Little things like climate change, gun control, and immigration. You know what's nice about a second term, Ross? You don't have to worry about a third.  Oh, and Ross manages to toss in some absolute bullshit about climate change. Always a nice touch.

The New York Times looks at the the Republican's principled stand for budget cuts... on all the programs they didn't like in the first place.

The most shameful achievement of the House Republican majority has been the elimination of $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending through 2022, which has already held back the economy from substantial growth and done real damage to people and communities that depend on government dollars. The widespread pain caused by this year’s sequester is the best-known aspect of these cuts, but caps that will continue to limit virtually every program for nine more years will also be extremely harmful.

Republicans, though, still aren't satisfied, and are continuing their campaign to radically reshape Washington’s relationship to the country. The 2014 spending bills now emerging from the House Appropriations Committee are worse than in any previous year and would make some programs and departments unrecognizable.

If you guessed more money for guns, less money for food, trains, and enforcing regulations, you win. Oh, and take half a billion from renewable energy, then turn around and reward oil and gas companies (you know, the most profitable firms to ever exist on Earth in this or any other age) with that same half a billion. In other words, it's all exactly what you'd expect.

Verylyn Klinkenborg examines what happens when a traditional liberal education in the humanities is no longer valued in society.

The teaching of the humanities has fallen on hard times. So says a new report on the state of the humanities by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and so says the experience of nearly everyone who teaches at a college or university. Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents, from the burden of debt they incur, from society at large — to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.

In other words, there is a new and narrowing vocational emphasis in the way students and their parents think about what to study in college. As the American Academy report notes, this is the consequence of a number of things, including an overall decline in the experience of literacy, the kind of thing you absorbed, for instance, if your parents read aloud to you as a child. The result is that the number of students graduating in the humanities has fallen sharply. At Pomona College (my alma mater) this spring, 16 students graduated with an English major out of a student body of 1,560, a terribly small number.

This is your humanities loving Read It All choice of the morning.

Dana Milbank looks at John Boehner's position between the crazy and the crazier.

Boehner’s House Republicans dealt him the latest in a series of humiliations. Sixty-two Republicans defied him and voted against the farm bill, defeating a major piece of legislation Boehner had made a test of his leadership by pushing for it publicly and voting for it personally — something speakers only do on the most important bills.

The dispute this time was over food stamps and agricultural subsidies, but the pattern was the same: House leaders lost Democratic support by tilting the bill to satisfy the Republican base, but a group of conservative purists remained upset that the legislation didn't go far enough. ...

In all instances, Boehner faces a choice: his job or his legacy. He can enact landmark compromises but lose his job in a conservative coup. Or he can keep his job but get nothing much done.

Hey, they can always vote to repeal Obamacare. Again. I'm sure that will please the GOP troops.

Chris Cillizza turns the Farm Bill into a Two GOP Leaders for One Failure sale, naming Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy for the winner of the worst week.

Democratic defections shouldn’t have been a problem. Remember that Republicans control a comfortable 234 House seats. (By comparison, the GOP controlled 230 seats after the 1994 tidal wave election.) Clearly, the farm bill loss was an unforced error. Especially since the Republicans voting against it included five committee chairmen — people who are the definition of the party establishment — and among them was Rep. Ed Royce, who hails from McCarthy’s home state.
Looks like that whip was more of a wet noodle.

I wanted it noted that I did not take the bait and include zombie-themed articles from either the New York Times or the Washington Post. I call that admirable restraint. And being pretty damned tired of zombies.

Adam Winkler thinks the Supreme Court decision on DOMA might not go as expected.

Despite the conservative tilt of the Roberts Supreme Court, gay rights supporters expect the justices to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act this month. Their hopes are pinned on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court's usual swing vote, who has written two important pro-gay-rights opinions in the past and voiced skepticism of the law during the court's hearing in March. If he joins the court's four liberals, DOMA is history.

Kennedy, however, could surprise the court watchers. His record on gay rights is hardly uniform. In 2000, for example, he voted to allow the Boy Scouts to exclude gay scoutmasters. And even his pro-gay-rights rulings, which are undoubtedly significant milestones for expanding liberty for the LGBT community, have been written in such a way as to reduce their scope and impact.

Science Daily asks: is it time for salad?
"Vegetables and fruits don't die the moment they are harvested," said Rice biologist Janet Braam, the lead researcher on a new study this week in Current Biology. "They respond to their environment for days, and we found we could use light to coax them to make more cancer-fighting antioxidants at certain times of day." Braam is professor and chair of Rice's Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
Not only can the veggies you eat contain different levels of chemicals depending on the time of day you eat them, you're eating them alive.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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