State ideology

This, from Gallup, is pretty cool.  How liberal or conservative a state is based on a year of gallup polling and asking questions on self-identified liberal/conservative ideology.  I do think the results might be different if they went by operational ideology (i.e., issue positions) rather than just self-identification– there’s  a ton of “conservatives” who aren’t particularly conservative on the issues, but quite interesting nonetheless.  Even in the most liberal, blue states, there tends to be a slight conservative advantage, but that’s because “moderates” these days are overwhelmingly Democratic voters.

Top 10 Conservative States, Full Year 2012Top 10 Liberal States, Full Year 2012

There’s also a map at the link where you can click on any state.

NRA-land

You know how I love good satire.  This, from Alexandra Petri, is just awesome:

There is a magical land of which I am slowly becoming aware. It exists in a universe parallel to our own, but so close that we touch in points, and things that happen there are as vivid as the ones that happen here. You can access it by sticking your head deep into a wardrobe at any given NRA press conference.

Call it NRAnia…

In NRAnia … Chicago and the entire United States are one and the same, at least for the purposes of statistics.

In this land, guns do not kill people. People kill people. Guns are suspiciously present at a number of these incidents, but their friends swear that they were not involved. They just have bad timing, like Robert Lincoln at assassinations…

In this land, the status of government is somewhat unclear. Possibly George III is still on the throne, and we need to assemble a militia, post-haste, before he starts taxing tea and glass. Or possibly the Vaguely Malignant Dystopian Government is just on the verge of becoming a hideous tyranny that takes over our homes and starts quartering the heck out of some troops in them. Or possibly Hitler 2.0 has just been crowned and is trying to take back guns from their legal owners so that he can perpetrate horrible crimes against humanity. It is unclear, but it is probably one of the three. (One of the easiest ways of accessing this magical land is by Googling “gun control Hitler,” actually. Especially if you have few wardrobes in your home.)…

In this land, if criminals are unwilling to do something — forget it! If criminals are unlikely to want to submit to background checks to buy something and will try to obtain those things on the black market, there is only one solution: fewer background checks. In this land, there are no speed limits, because criminals would just ignore them. But everyone has a car.

What McCrory gets wrong

I imagine I’ll be beating this horse until it’s quite dead (and deservedly so), but I loved this HuffPo essay by the president of Macalester College.  Great stuff:

Governor McCrory’s remarks are based on the following unsubstantiated assumptions: that public education has as its sole purpose in a democracy the preparation for a job; that one can predict based upon a student’s area of study the employability and career path of that student; that one can know today where the jobs will be in 10 or 20 years; that the skills most necessary for the generation of economic success and strong civil society in the 21st century are only taught in certain fields, which can be identified in advance and therefore appropriately funded by legislators; that the current public investment in an institution like the University of North Carolina is, in its present form, a bad one. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will do.

Here is what the evidence actually suggests about these assumptions: they are, in order, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. On the plus side, they are simple, easy to communicate, and able to get a large number of people riled up…

I would be remiss in not acknowledging that there is one powerful piece of evidence to support the argument that a liberal arts education can be unhelpful in developing both judgment and job skills. Governor McCrory is himself a graduate of a liberal arts college with majors in political science and education.

What I’d really love to see is some of the remaining sane Republicans in our state– and I know they are out there– especially those with liberal arts degrees, speak out against the Governor’s ridiculous statements.  But, I suspect I’m over-estimating the number of sane Republicans, or at least one’s with any political courage.  Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

On banning assault weapons

Nice essay by gun owner and reasonable person (sad, that I have to qualify the former with the latter– actually most gun owners are quite reasonable, but the unreasonable minority is really unreasonable and really loud) Walter Kirn in TNR about gun ownership.  I especially liked his concluding section on a proposed assault weapons ban:

Will there be fewer murders with tighter gun laws—the modest laws that might actually materialize rather than the grand ones that probably won’t but will surely rev up the rhetoric and the hoarding—or only fewer or smaller massacres? Can we expect less violence altogether or merely less outrageous acts of violence? And if the answer is fewer catastrophes, fewer Auroras and Sandy Hooks, would that be a worthwhile accomplishment in itself? I think so. Horror and panic themselves are forms of violence, and diminishing them, restricting their dimensions, is itself a civilizing act…

The gun [Kirn's .38 revolver] is a stodgy old classic, Smithsonian-worthy, that evokes the Made-in-USA age and also speaks of my distance, I like to think, from the cult of maximum firepower that draws harder-boiled folks to stores and gun shows to handle Bushmasters and similar weapons with death-dealing, quasi-military designs. Such ominous firearms hold no allure for me, in part because I doubt they’d do much good against a maniac carrying one or a hypothetical goon squad equipped with their vastly superior big brothers. Ban those guns. Neuter them. I’m fine with it. I can hunt with my shotguns and my deer gun (although I’ve grown tired of hunting), and I can protect myself from miscreants with my trusty .38.

To some in the gun-owning fraternity, this view makes me a traitor. So be it; I think they’re wrong. As they have repeatedly pointed out themselves, and as even Wayne LaPierre might agree, assault rifles are functionally similar to ordinary semi-automatic rifles, differing chiefly in their sinister cosmetics, not in their underlying ballistics. This being the case, what will be lost by giving them up? Nothing but their destabilizing allure for the grandiose, image-obsessed mass killers who favor them [emphasis mine]—and whose crimes represent a far greater risk to gun rights than does the perceived hostility of certain politicians. By assenting to such a ban, the gun-owning community can demonstrate precisely the sort of reasonable public-mindedness of which some believe it to be incapable.

Exactly.  The benefit of banning assault weapons may be quite small, but since the cost is essentially zero, this seems like an obvious policy choice.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have much political future.

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