Andrew Gelman has a chart plotting the ideology of voters by party in every state along social and economic issues: The blue clusters in the bottom left are Democratic states, and the red clusters in the upper right Republican states. Among democrats, those in West Virginia are the most socially conservative, those in Vermont the least socially conservative. So what does this chart tell us? I think it tells us that the Democratic Party's voters are far more divided by social issues than by economics. Look at the plot of figures, centered very closely along a vertical axis.
WASHINGTON—This year's elections may exacerbate the difference between our two political parties, but not in the way most people are talking about. With incumbent Democratic Senators under threat in two more primaries on Tuesday, the conventional view is that Republicans and Democrats will emerge from this election more ideologically polarized than ever. Primaries will push Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left. That's only half true. Republicans will, indeed, end the year a more philosophically coherent right-wing party.
Twelve hours a day for several weeks now, supporters of Tim Burns, the GOP's candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's Twelfth district, have staffed a call center in a mostly-vacant office building in downtown Washington, PA. Bundles of phone cables hang from the ceiling, and the walls are decorated with navy “Tim Burns for Congress” signs and an American flag.
Joe Biden appeared at the West Virginia mining funeral the other day, and drew wild applause by taking a shot at departed coach Rich Rodriguez (around 2:20): This probably struck most outsiders as bizarre. And it was. If you don't know the backstory, let me fill you in. Rodriguez was a highly successful football coach at West Virginia University. After the 2007 season, fed up with an incompetent and uncooperative athletic director, he left to coach at a more prestigious program (the University of Michigan.) The whole state of West Virginia promptly went nuts.
Coal generates nearly 50 percent of our electricity in the United States (and more than one-fourth of the country's carbon emissions), and it's central to nearly all climate-policy discussions. But would the black stuff really be so hard to phase out, if we wanted to? Maybe not. Sheila McNulty takes note of a new report from consulting firm PFC Energy, which suggests that gas-fired power plants could, in theory, replace nearly all coal-fired capacity in the United States without much hassle.
Yesterday, I flagged an embryonic attempt by conservatives -- in this case, Chris Stirewalt of the Washington Examiner -- to defend right-wing coal mine operator Don Blankenship, one of whose mines recently exploded and killed two dozen workers. Stirewalt scoffs at the possibility that Blankenship ignored safety standards: We don’t know what caused the explosion – an electric arc, a spark from metal on metal, etc.
WASHINGTON -- There is a dispiriting and, yes, heartbreaking sameness about how we respond to mining disasters. The catastrophe at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va., has taken at least 25 lives. An entire community stands in solidarity with the families of the victims, and hopes that some miners still trapped may yet be rescued. We celebrate the stoic sturdiness of mine workers who pursue their craft with pride, bravery, and full knowledge of the risks it entails. Then we get to the questions about what might have been done to avert the disaster.
Don Blankenship, owner of the Upper Big Branch coal mine that was the site of Monday's horrific explosion, is a long-time bete noir of unions, environmentalists, and government regulation of all kinds. Therefore, it is time for conservatives to start rallying to his side. Here's Chris Stirewalt of the Washington Examiner: The day that at least 25 miners were killed in a West Virginia coal mine blast, the U.S.
Over at the Charleston Gazette, Ken Ward Jr. has been blogging extensively about the massive coal-mine explosion in West Virginia that has killed, at last count, 25 miners. This post, in particular, touches on a number of issues, including the mine operator's dismal safety record and whether the overhaul of mining-safety laws passed by Congress in 2006 were really adequate. Notable tidbit: "[O]nly one in 10 U.S. coal mines had so far met the communications and tracking requirements of the MINER Act."
The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution By Barry Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 614 pp., $35) In 1952, as the Supreme Court contemplated the set of cases that would eventually become known as Brown v. Board of Education, a law clerk named William H.