Chart of the day

Excellent Poli Sci Perspective post in Wonkblog from Danny Hayes about media coverage of gun control.  Here’s the key chart:

gun control stories week

And the perspective:

The decline of media coverage after the demise of the Senate bill underscores a point that’s worth repeating about the factors that tend to drive journalists’ attention to policy debates.

The inherent newsworthiness of an event – such as the nearly unfathomable slaughter of 20 first-graders – is not enough to sustain the media’s interest. If it were, we’d still be reading front-page stories about Newtown: Nothing that has happened in Washington in the last seven months has been more horrifying, tragic, or gripping than what took place on that Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Neither can the crusade of an activist, no matter how compelling, achieve what a good dust-up on Capitol Hill can. It’s possible that Giffords’ weeklong national tour earlier this month, designed to (re)mobilize support for expanded background checks, arrested the decline of gun control coverage. But despite a photo-op of the former congresswomanfiring a pistol at a Las Vegas range – about as close as you can get to journalistic catnip – there is no evidence that it regenerated the media’s interest.

The media’s interest in policy debates generally lasts only as long as politicians are willing to spar in front of the cameras. And although Democrats have pledged to continue pursuing stricter gun laws, the prospects for meaningful legislation – and thus a meaningful battle – appear uncertain.

Gun control advocates have by no means given up. Giffords, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and a coalition of allies are continuing their efforts to overcome Republican and NRA opposition to stricter gun laws.

But in the near term, they’re unlikely to get much help from the media. Once the Senate gun control bill died in April, so did the story.

Photo of the day

I always find the running of the bulls to be fascinating.  Great photo gallery in today’s In Focus.

Do NC Republicans hate special needs kids?

A friend of mine who advocates for Special Ed kids recently pointed out this very disturbing aspect of the Senate budget proposal


As a commenter wrote on FB, “because it’s not like early intervention is proven to be effective – both in human and financial terms – or anything! I am starting to think that they just want to drive everyone out of the state.”

This is just nuts.  The CDSA is the first line of contact for parents of kids with special needs, disabilities, etc., with the services that the state of NC provides for these kids.  Especially, all-important early-intervention services.  In fact, the Raleigh CDSA is where we first learned of Alex’s rare disease.

I just checked and it looks like NC has 16 of these agencies throughout the state.  This means they are looking to close a full 25% of them.  I can only assume that one of the budget writers is from Morganton.

North Carolina Republicans, bringing you lower taxes for rich people on the backs of special needs kids since 2013.

The Zimmerman verdict

I cannot say that I’ve followed this case all that closely, but what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t at least weigh in on the verdict.  Honestly, when I read the story about it in the paper this morning and saw that a forensics expert had testified that Zimmerman’s shot had almost surely come from below (thereby fitting with Zimmerman’s account of events) combined with the fact that Zimmerman did have verifiable injuries on that night, I thought, “of course, there’s your reasonable doubt.”

Short version: Zimmerman is clearly morally culpable for killing Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman’s decision to pursue Martin while armed with a gun, against the direct advice of police, while under no direct threat whatsoever from Martin undoubtedly unleashed a series of events that led to Martin’s death.  Now, as a legal matter, this is an entirely different story.  We’ll never really know what happened between the two, but given the totality of the evidence, it seems perfectly reasonable to doubt that Zimmerman ever intended to shoot Martin except at the last moment in self defense.  Is that probable?  Heck, who knows.  But it is certainly a reasonable interpretation of events.  So, was it “reckless endangerment” or “willful disregard for human life” for Zimmerman to follow Martin in the first place?  Surely no.  Yet, somehow, it seems there ought to be some felony charge for your completely asinine actions bringing about the death of another person.  That said, at some point, Martin, presumably of his own volition entered into a violent confrontation with Zimmerman.  Once that happens, Zimmerman’s stupidity is presumably out the window from a legal standpoint.

Anyway, I haven’t read all that much commentary, but I would say that of TNC has been my favorite:

2.) I think the jury basically got it right. The only real eyewitness to the death of Trayvon Martin was the man who killed him. At no point did I think that the state proved second degree murder. I also never thought they proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he acted recklessly. They had no ability to counter his basic narrative, because there were no other eye-witnesses.
3.) The idea that Zimmerman got out of the car to check the street signs, was ambushed by 17-year old kid with no violent history who told him he “you’re going to die tonight” strikes me as very implausible.  It strikes me as much more plausible that Martin was being followed by a strange person, that the following resulted in a confrontation, that Martin was getting the best of Zimmerman in the confrontation, and Zimmerman then shot him.  But I didn’t see the confrontation. No one else really saw the confrontation. Except George Zimmerman. I’m not even clear that situation I outlined would result in conviction.
4.) I think Andrew Cohen is right–trials don’t work as strict “moral surrogates.” Everything that is immoral is not illegal–nor should it be. I want to live in a society that presumes innocence. I want to live in that society even when I feel that a person should be punished…
7.) Circling back to the first point, it’s worth remembering that what caused a national outcry was not the possibility of George Zimmerman being found innocent, but that there would be no trial at all.  This case was really unique because of what happened with the Sanford police.
Yep.  This sort of event most definitely deserves to have the key determination made at trial, not a simple administrative decision by police officers.  Also, I second that on reading Andrew Cohen.  Second favorite piece I read on the verdict.
Also, one has to be honest about the fact that if Martin were white and Zimmerman Black, you would almost surely have never heard of either of these individuals and Zimmerman would already be serving a long prison sentence for murder.  Seriously.
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