Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Only Attorneys Need Apply? Democratic Party = "Lawyers' Party?"

With the selection of the Clinton/Kaine ticket, EVERY Democratic nominee for President/Vice President since 1984 has been a lawyer (attended law school), according to our review of public bios (See chart below.). [BTW, Bernie Sanders did not attend law school, according to public bios.]

During that same time period, most Republican nominees have NOT been lawyers (some exceptions: Pence this year; Romney, if you count his joint MBA/Juris degrees received before he went into finance; Quayle and Dole).

By the numbers, 100% of Democrats attended law school (of 18 nominee slots, eg President/Vice President in an election cycle & 13 people, because some "filled a slot" more than once -- Al Gore filled slots three times, for example, during two VP runs and one Presidential run.). For the Republicans, app. 22% of the slots were filled by those who attended law school & app. 31% of the people nominated (some more than once) had attended law school.
We thought to check this after considering the different "word clouds" from ‪#‎RNCinCleveland‬ (heavy on "ISIS," "military," etc) and ‪#‎DNC2016‬, where "public service/servant" has been used extensively, often referring to lawyers.
Obviously, given the different views of the two political groups on government regulation, it's not surprising that being a lawyer now appears a requirement for making the Dem national ticket (btw, last Dem non-lawyer we could find was Jimmy Carter, a Navy officer and farmer before entering politics and being elected president in 1976 and then running unsuccessfully for reelection in 1980.)

FYI, there are roughly 3X as many "top executives" as lawyers in the American workplace, according to government labor statistics, and lawyers are outnumbered by other professions such as farmers/ranchers and high school teachers.

We've got our opinions on teams of lawyers, especially those with limited experience in business or even private practice, running a country that depends on a vibrant business environment. What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.

"There is no shortage of lawyers in Washington, DC. In fact, there may be more lawyers than people:" attributed to Sandra Day O'Connor

Attended Law School                         Non-Law School Grad/Profession Before Politics
Ronald Reagan (Calif.) actor/union official/corporate spokesman– George H. W. Bush (Tex.) businessman, gov official
George H. W. Bush (Tex.) businessman Dan Quayle (Ind.)
Bob Dole (Kans.) – Jack Kemp pro athlete (N.Y.)
George W. Bush (Tex.) – Dick Cheney (Wyo.) gov official
John McCain Navy officer (Ariz.) – Sarah Palin (Alaska)broadcaster 
Mitt Romney (Mass.) – Paul Ryan (Wis.) Cong. staffer
Donald Trump businessman (N.Y.) – Mike Pence (Ind.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Major Media Try to "Make the Statue of Liberty Disappear" in Reporting on Guns -- Latest Example is Vox

Magician David Copperfield famously made the Statue of Liberty "disappear" in plain sight on national television. Now the major national media are attempting a similarly audacious trick, this time involving some critical facts about one of our most important and contentious issues: guns.

The most recent example of this vanishing act is Vox's ambitious new project on gun deaths. "More than 33,000 people are shot and killed in the U.S. each year...And that means that for all the grief and haranguing and calls to action, we’re likely missing opportunities to bring that number down:" says the "letter from the editor" set-up for the report from Vox (a leading "young-adult site," according to WSJ's James Taranto.)

What's actually missing is recognition in the set-up that the number of firearms deaths has plunged over recent years, from almost 40,000 (39,595) in 1993 to 33,636 in 2013 (Centers for Disease Control, source for the Vox report's data.).

You'd think Vox might focus on this decline (which would come as news to many readers subsisting solely on a regular diet of major media mush) and explanations for the drop, which might well provide ideas on how to keep the decline going. But that would be like David Copperfield focusing on a moving stage or hidden trap door.

Also ignored in the Vox set-up and many other major media stories is that the CDC predicted gun deaths would exceed those from motor-vehicle accidents: "by the year 2003 (the CDC wrote in early 1994), the number of firearm-related deaths will surpass the number of motor-vehicle crashes, and firearms will become the leading cause of injury-related death."


Turns out that in 2003 motor-vehicle crashes still killed far more Americans than guns (43,340 to 30,136). They still do, though by a much smaller margin:  Now that's an interesting potential story.

All of which reminds us of this graphic from AEI (which again would probably come as a shock to many Americans):


Says the AEI researcher: "In contrast to the widely embraced narrative, perpetuated by liberal politicians and the media, that gun violence in America is getting worse all the time, the data reveal that the exact opposite is true. According to data retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control, there were 7 firearm-related homicides for every 100,000 Americans in 1993 (see light blue line in chart). By 2013 (most recent year available), the gun homicide rate had fallen by nearly 50% to only 3.6 homicides per 100,000 population."

We don't have the expertise to parse the more complicated statistical issues in the gun issue, but we do know enough to be skeptical when a critical trend is routinely & suspiciously underplayed, or even omitted, by so much coverage by the major media.

And unlike Mr. Copperfield, these media outlets apparently expect us to believe their sleight-of-hand is real.