At least you need a license to drive a car

Drivers licenses are state revenue generators, but they also factor in public safety. You at least have to take a test and show a minimum skill set to drive a car.

But don’t even think of licensing guns. What could go wrong?

While motor vehicle-related deaths are on the decline as the result of a successful decades-long public health-based injury prevention strategy, firearm deaths continue unabated—the direct result of the failure of policymakers to acknowledge and act on this ubiquitous and too often ignored public health problem.

Firearm-related fatalities exceeded motor vehicle fatalities in 12 states and the District of Columbia in 2010, the most recent year for which state-level data is available for both products from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That year, gun deaths (including gun suicide, homicide, and fatal unintentional shootings) outpaced motor vehicle deaths in: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

That’s from the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Most disheartening from this survey is a person in D.C. is twice as likely to be shot to death than to die in a car accident. Another reason for me to stay indoors whenever possible.

 

Pollster looks at Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race

The latest polling figures out of Kentucky:

A new Public Policy Polling survey of Kentucky finds Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes tied in a hypothetical match up at 45%. McConnell’s early positive advertising has done nothing to improve his prospects for reelection and in fact this is the actually the weakest position PPP has found him in yet. In April we found him leading Grimes by 4 points and in December he had a 7 point advantage over her.
Key findings from the survey include:
-McConnell continues to be unpopular with 44% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapprove. His numbers are even worse with independents, only 41% of whom think he’s doing a good job while 53% give him poor marks. Grimes, on the other hand, has a positive 34/24 favorability rating.
-There are strong indications within the poll results that McConnell’s record on key issues will give him trouble getting reelected. 50% of voters say they’re less likely to cast their ballots for him because of his support for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, compared to only 23% who consider that a positive. And 48% say McConnell’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage makes them less likely to vote for him, while
just 27% say more likely.

I’d like to say this is encouraging, but …

Kentuckians elected Rand Paul to the Senate. Here the map of his 2010 race.

390px-Robertson_fix_Kentucky_Senatorial_Election_Results_by_County,_2010.svgThat’s a lot of red.

Once you set the bar that low, it doesn’t take much for a Republican to clear it. All McConnell has to say is “Kenyan usurper,” and he’ll lock up 47% of the vote at the start, not matter how much people in the state hate him.

And McConnell knows how to fight dirty. That’s worth another 5 percentage points right there. This poll seems very dubious.

Interpreting the polls on government-run health care

Every few days, Republicans in Congress introduce a bill to repeal Obamacare, the nation’s health care law. They use news quotes like these to justify their action:

A majority of Americans still oppose the nation’s new health care measure, three years after it became law, according to a new survey. …

According to the poll, 43% of the public says it supports the health care law, a figure that’s mostly unchanged in CNN polling since the measure was passed in 2010 by a Congress then controlled by Democrats and signed into law by President Barack Obama. Fifty-four percent of those questioned say they oppose the law, also relatively unchanged since 2010.

That’s from a CNN story on a poll it took on the issue. But note the ellipses. I’ve intentionally edited the two paragraphs to do what the GOP does in cases like this. Distort the findings. Because the missing paragraph between the two paragraphs says:

But a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday also indicates that more than a quarter of those who oppose the law, known by many as Obamacare, say they don’t support the measure because it doesn’t go far enough.

And the paragraph that follows says:

The survey indicates that 35% oppose the health care law because it’s too liberal, with 16% saying they oppose the measure because it isn’t liberal enough.

What does this tell you?

1) 43% support the law, or support a government health care program.
2) Of the 51% against the law, 15 percentage points of that figure want even more government intervention than the current law offers.

That means 59% of those questioned want a government health care program that covers all Americans, 35% oppose such a program and the remaining 6% aren’t smart enough to have an opinion on the matter.

But what headlines to we get?

Poll: 54 percent against Obamacare

That from the usually clueless Politico. That headline makes it sound like a majority oppose government-run health care. That’s not the case.

Digby explains it best:

It is not a majority position against a national health care plan or “big gummint” or any other of the typical beltway signifiers of a “center right nation.” It turns out that only 35% of the country has that attitude. The majority either support the plan or want more. I doubt that most people every understand that from the way the polls are presented.

And perhaps more significantly, it’s highly doubtful that the 16% who think the plan isn’t liberal enough would join with the Republicans to deny medicaid funding or refuse to create the exchanges or any of the other tactics that are being used to make implementation impossible. Those liberals are all for medicaid funding and undoubtedly would oppose any repeal of the significant advances in the plan short of a public consensus to switch to a single payer plan.

So, it would be nice if the media were clear on this. This is obviously a center-left country when it comes to health care reform and it’s only the third of the population that hates everything the government does who is unhappy.

The latest anti-Obama frenzy

These faux scandals the right wing keeps frothing about are getting tiresome:

Under gray skies and intermittent drizzle, President Obama boarded Marine One at 9:30 a.m. EDT in an open press event.

A few White House regulars were atwitter (and on Twitter) when the President walked directly up the steps of Marine One without saluting the Marine on duty. He soon came out of the helicopter, walked down the steps, shook hands with the Marine and engaged in a brief conversation.

And, of course, a right wing rag like the Weekly Standard starts the ball rolling on these “matters of national importance” and the so-called liberal media immediately follows with a total misunderstanding of reality.

This is from CNN:

President Obama seemingly preoccupied forgot one piece of protocol as he boarded Marine One on his way to Annapolis Friday.

Obama walked past the Marine at the bottom of the helicopter’s stairs and didn’t give the traditional salute.

Realizing his mistake upon entering Marine One the president pivoted in the doorway, jogged back down, shook hands and spoke briefly with the Marine, before boarding the helicopter for a second time.

And this is from Politico:

President Barack Obama skipped a presidential tradition Friday, by not saluting the Marine standing guard outside of Marine One….

It’s not the first time Obama’s Marine salutation made news. In February 2009, Obama shook hands with the Marine outside of Marine One, when normally presidents just salute and board the helicopter.

The reporters of these stories are idiots. There is no tradition. There is no protocol. No More Mister Nice Blog did a little research and came up with this 2007 observation by Garry Wills:

We are reminded, for instance, of the expanded commander in chief status every time a modern president gets off the White House helicopter and returns the salute of marines.

That is an innovation that was begun by Ronald Reagan. Dwight Eisenhower, a real general, knew that the salute is for the uniform, and as president he was not wearing one. An exchange of salutes was out of order.

And a Reuters report in 2008 had an extended explanation:

Longstanding tradition requires members of the military to salute the president. The practice of presidents returning that salute is more recent — Ronald Reagan started it in 1981.

Reagan’s decision raised eyebrows at the time. Dwight Eisenhower, a former five-star general, did not return military salutes while president. Nor had other presidents.

John Kline, then Reagan’s military aide and now a Minnesota congressman, advised him that it went against military protocol for presidents to return salutes.

Kline said in a 2004 op-ed piece in The Hill that Reagan ultimately took up the issue with Gen. Robert Barrow, then commandant of the Marine Corps.

Barrow told Reagan that as commander in chief of the armed forces, he was entitled to offer a salute — or any sign of respect he wished — to anyone he wished, Kline wrote, adding he was glad for the change.

Every president since Reagan has followed that practice, even those with no military experience. President Bill Clinton’s saluting skills were roundly criticized after he took office, but the consensus was he eventually got better.

The debate over saluting has persisted, with some arguing against it for protocol reasons, others saying it represents an increasing militarization of the civilian presidency.

“The gesture is of course quite wrong: Such a salute has always required the wearing of a uniform,” author and historian John Lukacs wrote in The New York Times in 2003.

“But there is more to this than a decline in military manners,” he added. “There is something puerile in the Reagan (and now Bush) salute. It is the joyful gesture of someone who likes playing soldier. It also represents an exaggeration of the president’s military role.”

Why don’t these “beacons of truth” spend time on matters that … I don’t know … MATTER?