‘The case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence.’
Allahpundit writes: Her name is Leah Libresco, formerly of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, where she crunched the numbers in a study of all 33,000 gun homicides in the United States annually. She went in thinking that the usual liberal menu of anti-gun policies would reduce that number dramatically. She came out concluding that “the only selling point [of those policies] is that gun owners hate them.” That’s an interesting way to phrase leftist conventional wisdom in an era when the right’s tribalism draws so much scrutiny. Often in the age of Trump it really does feel as though conservatism is defined as “whatever makes liberals cry.” Libresco’s takeaway on the efficacy of mainstream gun-control policies is that they’re appealing to the people who support them mainly to the extent they make gun aficionados cry.
Her advice? Instead of focusing on feelgood policies that won’t do much of anything to reduce gun violence or on massively heavy-handed policies like confiscation, which have zero chance of passing, instead consider policies that will address the social pathologies that drive the three most common forms of gun homicides — suicide, gang violence, and domestic violence.
Many of Libresco’s arguments will be familiar to right-wingers, but it’s one thing to endorse them as a matter of ideology and another to endorse them as a matter of hard data.
I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.
When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos…
As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?
The last point is especially important. As horrendous as mass shootings are, by far the most terrible threat posed by guns is that they’re suicide machines. Read the rest of this entry »
Party leaders are moving leftward, naively assuming they can win over working-class voters with a socialist-minded message.
Josh Kraushaar writes: In the aftermath of the election, shell-shocked Democrats struggled to pinpoint a reason behind their stunning loss to Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton blamed FBI Director James Comey. Democratic operatives criticized the Clinton campaign team for taking the Rust Belt for granted. Bernie Sanders and his ascendant left-wing flank of the party blames the party’s closeness to Wall Street.
“On issues ranging from the president’s hesitance to label terrorism by its name to an unwillingness to criticize extremist elements of protest groups like Black Lives Matter to executive orders mandating transgender bathrooms, the administration offended the sensibilities of the American public.”
No one is pointing a finger at the most glaring vulnerability—the party’s cultural disconnect from much of the country. On issues ranging from the president’s hesitance to label terrorism by its name to an unwillingness to criticize extremist elements of protest groups like Black Lives Matter to executive orders mandating transgender bathrooms, the administration offended the sensibilities of the American public.
Among liberal-minded millennials, President Obama’s actions were a sign that he was charting “an arc of history that bends towards justice.” But to older, more-conservative Americans, it was a sign that the administration’s views were well outside the American mainstream.
“Among liberal-minded millennials, President Obama’s actions were a sign that he was charting ‘an arc of history that bends towards justice.’ But to older, more-conservative Americans, it was a sign that the administration’s views were well outside the American mainstream.”
Clinton tried to win over moderates by raising red flags about Trump’s foreign policy and his racially charged, misogynistic rhetoric. But she didn’t have a Sister Souljah moment to criticize the excesses of the Left—as Bill Clinton famously did during the 1992 campaign—for fear of alienating the Obama coalition. In fact, her line that “implicit [racial] bias is a problem for everyone” during the first debate was a moment that couldn’t have been more repellent to those white Rust Belt voters who deserted the Democrats this year.
“Democrats will be spending their time in the political wilderness figuring out how to rebuild a shattered party. But early indications suggest that party leaders are veering even further to the left instead of moderating their rhetoric.”
As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat presciently wrote in September: “The new cultural orthodoxy is sufficiently stifling to leave many Americans looking to the voting booth as a way to register dissent.” Opposing political correctness was one consistent theme in Trump’s very muddled campaign message.
“They’ve concluded—with the assistance of Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and polemicist Michael Moore—that they would have performed better with working-class white voters if they only articulated a more populist economic message. They’ve shown no inclination to reject Clinton’s controversial notion that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorable and irredeemable.”
Democrats will be spending their time in the political wilderness figuring out how to rebuild a shattered party. But early indications suggest that party leaders are veering even further to the left instead of moderating their rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »
…Trump leads in Florida by a minuscule 0.2 percent as I write this; in New Hampshire, it’s Clinton by 0.6 percent, and that’s helped along by the dubious 11-point lead she had in the WMUR poll of the state that was released this morning. The long and short of this is that if literally one more poll of NH were to drop showing Trump ahead by a few points, the average would shift and that state would probably also favor him very narrowly. And in that case, he’d be at … 270 electoral votes. He’s that close to being a perilously slight favorite to win the election per RCP’s polling averages. And note that RCP’s miss on Florida in 2012 involved a larger margin than either FL or NH are experiencing now. That year, Romney finished 1.5 points ahead in the Florida average and lost the state on Election Day by less than a point. Trump would be president with a more modest miss than that in New Hampshire this year.
That said, there’s a question mark on this map. Observers of Nevada’s early voting like Jon Ralston swear that Dems have piled up enough ballots there to put the state all but out of reach for Trump, notwithstanding his lead in the polls. If that’s true then flipping NH on the map above doesn’t win it for him after all.
We end up with Clinton winning 274/264. And it’s not obvious which remaining blue state Trump could flip to tilt the election back to him. He’s already won Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and New Hampshire in this scenario. He’s close-ish in Michigan and Colorado, but they’re not as much of a coin flip as FL and NC are. Unless Ralston’s wrong about Nevada, even one of the rosiest maps for Trump still requires him to pull off one more major upset somewhere.
And this assumes, naturally, that you take RCP’s polling average as definitive rather than another site’s. Each election modeler chooses to include and exclude certain polls for their own reasons. Some, like FiveThirtyEight, choose to weight polls according to how accurate the pollster’s been in the past so that some polls count more than others. FiveThirtyEight currently has Clinton ahead by more than three points in New Hampshire’s polling average, making that state more durable for her; that being so, Trump is stuck at 266 even with Florida and Nevada in his column. The Upshot also has Clinton by three in New Hampshire and gives Clinton a better than 80 percent chance of winning the election. Read the rest of this entry »
NEW YORK—Enraged by his public pronouncements regarding that which is yet to be, the almighty gods on high are said to have blinded political statistician Nate Silver this week as punishment for seeking forbidden knowledge of the future. “Any mere mortal who dares trespass into the realm of the Fates by making grand prophecies or electoral projections shall suffer swift and holy wrath,” said Sophioxis, a representative for the all-knowing deities, who added that Silver’s blinding should serve as a warning to all who might venture to aggregate various polling data, weight it by historical accuracy and methodological rigor, and seek visions into the veiled worlds beyond the present over which the gods hold sole dominion…(read more)
At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon Democratic strategist and longtime Clinton surrogate James Carville took no prisoners during a testy exchange with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell over Hillary’s private e-mails, lashing out repeatedly at the press and accusing Mitchell of taking “cockamamie . . . right-wing talking points.”
“The Times gets something from some right-wing talking points, they print the story, they gotta walk the story back. And everybody, the chin-scratchers go ‘Oh my God, the story’s not right but it says something larger about the Clintons.’ This is never gonna end. We’ve lived with this for 20 years. We’ll live with it the rest of the campaign. It’s all. About. Nothing. That’s my view of the whole thing.”
“Good morning!” Mitchell began. “Well, first of all, isn’t it time for Hillary Clinton to speak out? If you were advising her, should she address these issues?”
And Carville was off. “It was legal, it wasn’t against regulations, Colin Powell and Jeb Bush did the same thing, but ‘Oh my God!’ Do you remember Whitewater, do you remember Foulgate, do you remember Travelgate, do you remember Pardongate, do you remember Benghazi? All of this is just the same cockamamie stuff that we go through.”
“If I were a member of the press, and I realized right-wing talking points helped get us into a war, I would probably rethink the way I get my information.”
“The Times gets something from some right-wing talking points, they print the story, they gotta walk the story back,” he continued. “And everybody, the chin-scratchers go ‘Oh my God, the story’s not right but it says something larger about the Clintons.’ This is never gonna end. We’ve lived with this for 20 year. We’ll live with it the rest of the campaign. It’s all. About. Nothing. That’s my view of the whole thing.”
Carville went on to compare the Times use of “right-wing talking points” to the media’s use of Bush administration intelligence suggesting Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — causing Mitchell to try, in vain, to steer the Democratic strategist back on track. Read the rest of this entry »
For FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman writes: Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire before age 30 and investors are fretting over the prospect of an another tech bubble, but according to the data, U.S. entrepreneurship is on the decline.
“Business dynamism is inherently disruptive, but it is also critical to long-run economic growth.”
Americans started 27 percent fewer businesses in 2011 than they did five years earlier, according to data from the Census Bureau. As a share of all companies, startups have been declining for more than 30 years.
It isn’t clear what’s causing that decline, which accelerated during the recession but long predates it. The aging of the baby boom generation may be part of the explanation, since people are more likely to start businesses when they are younger. The U.S. economy is also increasingly dominated by large corporations, suggesting deeper structural changes working against small companies. People have pointed to other explanations, from increasing licensure requirements in many industries to high corporate tax rates to a broader decline in innovation and productivity growth.
Whatever the reason, the decline has economists worried. New businesses are akey driver of job growth, responsible for more than 15 percent of new job creation despite accounting for just 2 percent of total employment. And they play a vital role in promoting innovation and productivity gains across the economy. In a recent report from the Brookings Institution, Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan wrote that the decline in entrepreneurship “points to a U.S. economy that has steadily become less dynamic over time.” Read the rest of this entry »