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Statistician: After Researching Gun Violence, I No Longer Believe in Gun Control 

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‘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.

[Read the full story here, at Hot Air]

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 »

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Democrats Are Losing the Culture Wars

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.

[Read the full story here, at nationaljournal.com]

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.

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“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.

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“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.

Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian Dick and Gloria Shafer, pictured with their 9-year-old son, John, run an excavation business in Elgin. They are so frightened of drug violence, especially after a triple homicide at their town, that they say they sleep with handguns close at hand. Gloria Shafer keeps her 9 mm gun under her pillow.

“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 »


Plan Your Wednesday Morning Hangover

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…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.

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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.

[Read the full story here, at Hot Air]

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 »


Nate Silver Blinded By Gods For Seeking Forbidden Knowledge Of Future

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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)

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Cuckoo Bananas Terminator Carville-Bot Goes Code Red on MSNBC Over Hillary E-mails

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 »


The Slow Death of American Entrepreneurship

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For FiveThirtyEight,  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 »