Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

The Missouri Senate seat went from about 60/40 Republican to about 80/20 Democratic. All Senate seats matter, so that's a pretty big deal.

What didn't matter? I'm with those who consider the choices of some golf club in Georgia to be the most overcovered story of the last decade, or however long it's been in the national news. So, yeah, I can't see how it matters that something happened there this week.

So that's my kickoff. What do you have? What do you think mattered this week?

35 comments:

  1. Intrade only has McCaskill at 64% not 80% which I still think is too high in increasingly red Missouri especially once the GOP establishment comes to terms with Akin staying in and starts pouring in money again.

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    1. Im going to agree with Ron, though I dont want to put specific numbers on it. I think the Akin fiasco hurts the GOP senate candidate in Missouri, but not catastrophically so.

      I also think scenarios where McCaskill wins still tend be mostly comprised of scenarios where the Dems easily retain the Senate. So while this particular race is important, it's not all of a sudden uber-mega-important.

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    2. Yes, Akin is banking that the party can't afford to give up on the Missouri Senate seat (not an unreasonable assumption) and that they'll come back to him if he can just hold out long enough. Also, continuing to oppose him if he doesn't agree to give up will threaten a rift within the party.

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    3. The rift is already starting: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/80130.html

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    4. I still think Akin wins the seat in a squeaker. It's not his positions that got him into trouble -- they are in strict conformity with GOP orthodoxy and the party's platform for 20 years -- it was forgetting to obfuscate them well enough.

      You can buy obfuscation -- and even if the money spigot from the RNC and RSCC gets shut off, the very fact that the hierarchy is pulling $$ out will pull PAC and grassroots $$ in. I don't think Akin's earlier plans involved pulling moderates, anyways.

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    5. Even if it is within the hierarchy's capacity to destroy him financially, I don't think they'll to do it. He's the new poster child of the party's anti-abortion wing and the party doesn't want to lose them. There's no time to remake the party, even if they wanted to. They'll move increasingly toward the "He just mispoke, like Biden does" position.

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  2. Isn't there a hurricane or something heading towards Miami? Or is that next week's news?

    I think it's been slow.

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  3. I think it mattered that there wasn't much of a Ryan bounce.

    Romney's birther joke fell flat.

    And even as you so eloquently put it the other day, Jonathan, the GOP establishment tried to correct its more extreme element with its refusal to stand behind Akin and his inconvenient honesty about the GOP's Christianist agenda.

    More shootings; cop bullets hitting by-standers; the dangers of both guns and our over-zealous police response to guns revealed again.

    It seems inevitable that once again our public discussion will be guns and vaginas, not about dealing with the real problems in front of us.

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    1. zic, I know you don't like over-zealous police and Christianist agendas, but please try to focus on the real problems.

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    2. What I think is probably most relevant about the bystanders getting hit by police fire is it strongly counters the pro-gun narrative that more guns equals fewer gun deaths. The argument goes 'if some civilian in that theater/school/Congressional meet and greet/etc. had been carrying, he would have taken down the shooter and prevented more deaths'. Of course even highly trained police responding to the chaos and confusion of a public mass shooting are bound to make some errors or inflict collateral damage. Arming more civilians is just not looking good as the answer to stopping gun violence.

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    3. Civilians shoot way more felons in this country than cops do. And civilian shootings are cleaner than cop shootings, which by definition and as exampled here in NY, often come with a lot of unintended messiness.

      Generally speaking, civilians shoot bad guys where the only required followup is a meat wagon. That's one of the reasons to loosen up gun laws. In the interest of their own self defense, civilian shooters enhance others' safety.

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    4. "Civilians shoot way more felons in this country than cops do. And civilian shootings are cleaner than cop shootings . . ."

      That has to be the most bizarre assertion I've read in quite some time. By the way, there were people with guns in the crowd at the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. For some reason, it just wasn't the panacea that some folks seem to expect. One of them nearly shot the person wrestling the gunman to the ground, mistaking him for the gunman.

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    5. Scott, you have the details wrong about the Giffords case: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-01-11/news/27086997_1_hero-giffords-arizona-killer

      Can you point to any case of a concealed carrier accidentally shooting innocents? A study commissioned by the Clinton administration estimated over one million defensive gun uses per year, but mistaken casualties seem uncommon (at least I’ve never heard of one).

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    6. Yeah, it just doesn't happen very often, despite what that lefty fantasized re the Giffords shooting. Why do lefties fantasize so consistently?

      Civilian shootings are clean for the most part, and cops' are often messy. That's what the data tells us.

      So then, we need more armed civilians. That implies more and cleaner shootings, and enhanced safety for the rest of us.

      At least, that's what the data tells us. Not that a fantasizing lefty is concerned with data, mind you.

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    7. Couves, I've been wrong before, but here's another version of the same story.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2011/01/friendly_firearms.html

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    8. Also, Couves, I've been pondering your question about the absence of mistaken casualties. I can't think of any mistaken casualties in cases comparable to the Giffords episode (really the only sort of cases I would probably hear about), but neither can I think of any cases where a hero gunman saved the day. Perhaps, like Zamudio, they just opt not to shoot in the confusion. In that case, widespread access to guns might not be as dangerous as I imagine, but neither is it the solution that others see.

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    9. You don't know that, and you have no data to back up your position. You have a prejudice, and that's all.

      We have many hundreds of thousands of incidents, year after year, where an armed citizenry defends itself and foils the criminal element. That's what we call "data". You may have heard of it.

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    10. Scott,

      After reading the Giffords story you linked to, I'm even more impressed by Zamudio. This untrained concealed carrier acted responsibly in every way -- he didn’t even remove his gun from the holster. The situation may have easily become even more deadly, but that’s a risk even with trained police responding. I also note that he wasn’t actually on the scene, but at a nearby store. He put himself at great personal risk by running into an active shooting situation in which he had no idea what was going on. I wonder how likely it is that the typical concealed carrier would have taken the same risks. Police do it, but not entirely by choice.

      The primary point of concealed carry is to allow the individual to exercise the inherent right of defending one's life. Sometimes armed citizens will help stop violence aimed at others, but concealed carry is not a great solution to the problem of a crazed gunman… but then nothing really is.

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    11. That's right, there was this guy in the news recently, George Zimmerman, who shot and killed a black kid over an ice tea. Fantastic example of the brilliance of having armed morons wandering the streets with guns.

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    12. Couves, I think you've indirectly conceded my point.

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    13. Anonymous, you might want to look at the reality of defensive gun use before jumping to conclusions based on a single headline: http://www.tscm.com/165476.pdf

      Scott, I agree that concealed carry isn't a "panacea" for the prevention of mass shootings, but what is? For that matter, what public policy is a panacea for any social problem?

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  4. I knew things were bad, but not like this...

    DEA Raids 4 times as many medical marijuana dispensaries as under Bush in half the time:

    http://youtu.be/x39bmr892hw

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    1. Didn't check the link, and not really disputing what the current administration is doing, but: aren't there a whole lot more medical marijuana dispensaries in 2009-2012 than there were in 2001-2009?

      Again, no dispute on the policy.

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    2. I don't know and I'm not sure why that would matter. Obama and Holder promised to end Federal intervention into California’s medical marijuana regime. Not only has that not happened, but they've greatly increased the resources devoted to the fight against medical marijuana in the state.

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    3. Couvers is right. And Obama and holder haven't done so because Congress hasn't done anything to legalize pot. Vote Democrat '12

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    4. Anonymous, thanks for the support, but I have to disagree with you. Watch the video I posted -- Obama promised to stop the medical marijuana raids. Soon after his appointment, Holder confirmed that he would implement this policy change. It obviously hasn’t happened. Here’s a more thorough look at the topic: http://reason.com/archives/2012/05/11/3-reasons-obama-should-end-the-medical-m/singlepage

      If our Democratic administration won't even stop medical marijuana prosecutions (Obama could even go one step further and re-schedule marijuana) what makes you think Congressional Democrats will actually vote to legalize it?

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  5. I think there was some good stats about the housing market, and that should mater both for the country and the election. I'd also encourage plain bloggers to go see the Will Farrel movie "The Campaign". Its classic out of control/offensive Will Farrel humor that goes into silly gogo campaign finance reform fantasy at time, BUT it still is a great movie about politics if only for a few great moments. Farrell's character is a conservative North Carolina Democratic member of Congress who preps with his campaign manger before his re-election kick off by practicing his lines:
    Will Farell: "Jesus. America. Freedom."
    campaign manger: "Good, do you know what that means?"
    WF: "I have no idea. How does my hair look?"
    CM: "Strong."
    WF: "Good."
    He also has a stump speech about how our men and women in uniform are "The Backbone of America" at a military base that becomes farmers are the "The Backbone of America" at a rural event and eventually devolves into Filipino tilta-whirl operators being "The Backbone of America" at a amusement park.

    Which sounds like stump speeches to me.

    Anyway, if you enjoyed Talladaga Nights you should go see it.

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  6. I think the Augusta thing matters. One of the big mistakes that freedom-lovers make in our multicultural tableau is arguing that short of criminal damage, people should be able to do what they want, such as excluding blacks or Jews or women or whomever from the cathedral of golf.

    The problem with that view is: 90% of life is showing up, and every person, every demographic wants the opportunity to 'show up' at public, secular places conferring high status. Restrict such access and self-motivated restrictees are going to respond with something the freedom-lover hates, such as laws and bureaucracy and the like.

    If one doesn't like a particular demographic and wishes to exclude them from their Saturday night bridge game, that may be unsavory but is entirely supportable in a freedom-loving, multi-culti society. Keeping groups out of a public cathedral like Augusta is the equivalent of libertarian types putting a "kick me" sign on their backs; in America, the other guy always obliges.

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  7. Defensive Gun Use

    Over the past decade, a number of researchers have conducted studies to measure the prevalence of defensive gun use in the population. However, disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection have resulted in estimated prevalence rates that differ by a factor of 20 or more. These differences in the estimated prevalence rates indicate either that each survey is measuring something different or that some or most of them are in error. Accurate measurement on the extent of defensive gun use is the first step for beginning serious dialogue on the efficacy of defensive gun use at preventing injury and crime.

    Firearms and Violence (National Academy of Sciences, 2004).

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    1. So in other words, you still are not presenting ANY data to support your position. Gotcha.

      And yammering that the other guy's data may be suspect, while presenting NOTHING, furthers the impotency of your argument.

      An armed citizenry defends itself against the criminal element many hundreds of thousands of times each and every year.

      Your response to that is NYAH NYAH I CAN'T HEAR YOU. Sorry, that won't cut it. You're making the statement that we'll be safer with fewer guns, and that's your aim, to bring that about. You're presenting NOTHING to support that position. Nothing. You make an assertion, without a shred of data to support it. That's an epic fail.

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    2. Anonymous, you appear to read things and yet nothing seems to seep in. What the National Academy of Sciences is saying is that there is no data. Perhaps you have confused NRA talking points for data, I don't know. (I am now undertaking a superhuman effort to abide by JB's rules of etiquette. I think I'll just sign off.)

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    3. And I appreciate it!

      (The staying polite, not the signing off...).

      I certainly don't want to set myself up as the arbiter of arguments around here, but when one person pulls up a study and the other one says -- ha, you have no evidence, I'll just repeat my unsourced assertion...well, I know who I tend to believe in such discussions.

      (Not that the person who pulls up one study is always right, not at all; the study may not be definitive, or it might not really apply to the discussion, or the person who cites it might even be misinterpreting it. But surely it beats assertions without evidence).

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    4. Scott, what you posted doesn’t say that there’s no data. It says that either the studies measure different things or that some or most of them are wrong. The most conservative estimate I can find is 108,0000 defensive gun uses per year. The Clinton DoJ study found this to be much too low and estimates almost 1.5 million -- there are other estimates much higher than that.

      Also keep in mind that only a trivial number of people with concealed carry permits will ever use a firearm in a crime. For this WE DO have hard data from Florida, which has had its conceal carry law for longer than any other state (since 1987):

      * From the outset of the Florida right-to-carry law through July 31, 2010, Florida has revoked 5,674 or 0.3% of all issued permits. Of these:
      • 522 permits were revoked for crimes committed prior to licensure
      • 4,955 permits were revoked for crimes committed after licensure, of which 168 involved the usage of a firearm
      http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

      To be honest, I believe that self defense is an inherent human right and that the right to bear arms is a individual Constitutional right -- statistics don’t convince me of this, but they may help others to better appreciate it.

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    5. Couves, fair enough, there is a great deal of contradictory data, lacking a common basis, some unknown portion of which is probably valid. I recognize your belief even if I don't share it in the same way.

      JB, thanks.

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  8. Guy, you might have made a "superhuman effort" to provide some data to support your bald assertions. You didn't. And now you're just whining.

    You've provided absolutely nothing to support your position. Nothing. A vacuity. Zero. Nil.

    An armed citizenry uses firearms to defend itself many hundreds of thousands of times each and every year. I'm making that assertion, and I can point you to any dozens of links to support it, but hopefully you're able to to do that on your own, if you're interested in data, which apparently you're not.

    If you want to do anything more than make handwaving assertions, you have to make an argument, and provide data to back it up. You haven't. Sorry. That's an epic fail.

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