Monday, December 31, 2012

Biden 2016 - or not

These days, presidential politics never take a break. The instant Barack Obama won a second term to office, Campaign 2016 kicked off. And Vice President Joe Biden has hinted pretty openly that he's considering running for president.

On the last day of the year, Vice President Biden swooped in and took control of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, and he bargained with Republicans in Congress to strike what seems to be a fairly good compromise for all sides. As President Obama's terrible swift sword, Biden shined tonight, and this will certainly be a boost to his presidential chances.

I'm not so sure that's a good thing.

Let me say this: I'm biased. I love Joe Biden. He's one of my favorite politicians, and probably the most likable politician of my generation. He's a working class guy who can connect with people, and he's the kind of guy who has the right character to be president.

And, I happen to agree with him on almost every issue.

Friday, December 28, 2012

More guns

John's recent pieces on the raging gun control debate in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre have been spot-on. I can't improve on it one iota.

I'll only add this telling joke, culled from Facebook:

How many NRA executives does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

More guns.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The discussion of limits on guns gets more convoluted every day -- guns don't kill people... people kill people with guns; and, as Tony Botello points out, they do it every day

The conversation this society has engaged about controlling the possession and use of guns, especially assault weapons, has been loud and clamorous -- but absolutely welcome.

Any conversation about this topic is a step in the right direction. Any serious conversation would be an even bigger step.

Alas, as I pointed out on Christmas Eve, having a serious conversation is difficult because the absolutists of the NRA are backed into a logical corner. They are stuck defending the indefensible  The idea that a society cannot exercise any control over the weapons its citizens brandish is impossible to rationally defend.

As a result, the argument has to pivot on a single point. The Constitution grants the right of private citizens to arm themselves. This, of course, is not an argument. It doesn't argue why armed citizens are good for society. It doesn't argue why no strictures should be placed on which weapons citizens should be allowed to arm themselves with. It doesn't account for modern firepower. It doesn't even attempt to interpret or otherwise understand the sentence. It just says, 'The constitutions guarantees this right.'

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wrong about the NRA... the response was anything but masterful. fact... well, it's Christmas Eve... time to be charitable, let's just say they've got a tough row to hoe

I was wrong.

I was wrong last week when I predicted the NRA response to the tsunami of talk about controlling the possession and use of guns would be a masterful stroke of public relations, a case study for the ages. It was, instead, the worst case of public relations in recent memory.

It was, in fact, so bad I started trying to figure out why. I offer four possibilities:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Off the map

Fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition this morning about how the tradition of maps and mapmaking (like so much in our lives) has been obliterated by digital technology. The most poignant passage:

...Each of us now stands as an individual at the center of our own map worlds. On our computers and phones, we plot a route not from A to B but from ourselves ("Allow current location") to anywhere of our choosing. Technology has enabled us to forget all about way-finding and geography. This is some change, and some loss.

The great part of each of us being in the center of our own personal map - and by extension, the center of the universe - is that it's easy to find wherever we're going. The terrible part is that it's becoming more and more difficult to find ourselves.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Mighty NRA warned us -- Friday they take off the gloves -- if you study the arts of public reations you will want to take notes -- this will be one for the ages

The National Rifle Association did warn us. We have until Friday to finish mourning the children.

“Out of respect for the families,” they cooed in a press release, “and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.”

I felt like throwing up.

I could parse this piece of sophism until the cows came home. But here's a start:

  • Notice, “respect” is for the families, not the children or their teachers. No mention of death here. No mention of the dead. No mention of children anywhere in the press release. This is not an oversight; this is by design.
  • Notice the word “common” next to “decency”? What, then, is un-common decency? Does this mean they’ve waited as long as they – The Mighty NRA – should be asked to wait?
  • And, well, what were they hoping would emerge from a “full investigation” of the facts? Involvement of the Taliban?
  • Yes, and talk about tone deaf. This dreadful sentence pronounced the exact length of time the NRA believes to be adequate for the families to mourn and pray. Could anything be more arrogant?

Monday, December 17, 2012

They gave their lives for the children

They teach Secret Service agents to protect the President with their bodies.

Nobody has to teach teachers to shield their students with their bodies. They just do. Even when they know they are about to die.