Liberal voter registration fantasies

Nice article from the Post yesterday on Obama’s proposal to form a commission to find ways to improve voting efficiency and reduce (horribly anti-democratic) long waiting times.   I found this little bit utterly depressing:

Hans von Spa­kovsky, who served in the George W. Bush administration as a Justice Department official and a member of the Federal Election Commission, and is now a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, wrote a blog post Thursday morning criticizing Obama’s move. He argued that the average wait time nationally for voters during the 2012 election was only 14 minutes and that the country already has a bipartisan election panel, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

“Obama’s commission may just be a stalking horse to implement liberals’ latest partisan ­fantasies of automatic and election day voter registration — so-called reforms that will stifle real improvements and endanger the integrity of our elections,” he wrote.

Ouch, the stupid!!  The idea that von Spakovsky (a truly execrable human being) is conservatives’ idea of an intellectual is just sad.  For starters, referring to the 14 minute “average” is so utterly pointless.  A room full of people including Bill Gates has an average net worth of millions of dollars.  But, it’s the last bit that kills me.  There should be absolutely nothing partisan about the idea of automatic and election day registration.  These are quite simply straightforward good government reforms that efficiently bring more people into the electoral process.  The idea that they should be considered some crazy liberal fantasies is absolutely nuts.  That is, unless your goal is actually to have government perform inefficiently and to exclude citizens from the democratic process.  Again, the fact that this conservative “intellectuals” feel the need to argue against things like this– and in such absurd and hyperbolic ways– is just a sad, sad statement on where our country is and the state of the Republican party.

Photo of the day

Valentine’s day theme yesterday from In Focus.  How can you not love a penguin with a Valentine’s heart?

African penguins receive valentines from biologist Crystal Crimbchin at The California Academy of Sciences African penguin exhibit in San Francisco, on February 13, 2013. The valentines will be used as nesting material. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)  

People kill themselves. With guns

One of the interesting things about gun ownership is that simply having a gun around seems to make a person significantly more likely to successfully commit suicide.  Here’s a nice chart from a Congressional Quarterly Researcher piece on gun policies:


Anyway, the NYT had a nice article on this yesterday:

The gun debate has focused on mass shootings and assault weapons since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., but far more Americans die by turning guns on themselves. Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national suicide rate has climbed by 12 percent since 2003, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.

Guns are particularly lethal. Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

The national map of suicide lights up in states with the highest gun ownership rates. Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the states with the three highest suicide rates, are also the top gun-owning states, according to the Harvard center. The state-level data are too broad to tell whether the deaths were in homes with guns, but a series of individual-level studies since the early 1990s found a direct link. Most researchers say the weight of evidence from multiple studies is that guns in the home increase the risk of suicide.  [emphasis mine]

Interesting that there seems to just be something to killing yourself with a gun, but that’s what the data clearly suggest.  I also love the “maybe it’s not really guns” response:

Still, some dispute the link, saying that it does not prove cause and effect, and that other factors, like alcoholism and drug abuse, may be driving the association. Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, contends that gun owners may have qualities that make them more susceptible to suicide. They may be more likely to see the world as a hostile place, or to blame themselves when things go wrong, a dark side of self-reliance.

Short version– gun owners are more likely to be mentally and emotionally unstable.  Great!!  Not sure that’s the argument I’d want to make.

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