Thursday, October 29, 2015

MSNBC Commentators Play Disgracefully Poor Host to Republican Debate.

       “How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?”  Heck, no, that doesn't sell.
  I can not emphasize how pathetic MSNBC commentors were in hosting the supposed Republican Debate yesterday. This is not just complaining by the Republican National Committee.   Instead of finding out the candidates' positions on issues, they commentators sought ratings points with deliberately dumbed down and nearly meaningless  questions. 
         American voters, I believe, wanted to hear questions about the economy, the unwillingness to tax the rich, the war in Syria, balancing the budget, alterative medical care.   But no!
     The debate started by asking candidates simply "what's your greatest weakness?"  

    John Harwood didn't ask questions, so much as editorialize to Donald Trump:   "Mr. Trump, you've done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it.  Send 11 million people out of the country. Cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit. And make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?"

     Perhaps this is a comic book version of a debate.  Each Presidential cycle, it seems, brings more ridiculousness and humiliation to televised debates, especially as the networks are seeking advertising revenue rather than a quality debate.

       This is far different from the debates from 1960, in which Kennedy and Nixon debated their differences in political philosophy openly and honestly in response to questions, in a format roughly consistent with that used by scholarly debating societies.   There wasn't really much concern about advertising revenues, although the major networks were interested in televising the debates.  

Kennedy and Nixon debated in 1960 in a manner that was more Presidential and informative to voters, rather than the wild format that the media now uses to generate sound bites and "gotchas."  This business of cross-examining each candidate with rapid fire accusations is ridiculous.  

The debate transcript is found here: Debate Transcript, Washington Post .  Amazingly, "Syria" is not mentioned a single time.   "Global warming" was mentioned once.   It was a pathetic performance, and more than one candidate complained about the poor quality of the questions.

They're right.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Would Gun Control Make our Schools Safer?

Would gun control provide additional protection against armed madmen?   Like most Americans, I'm in the middle on this issue, willing to consider it if it makes sense.  So I'm writing this blog mainly to set down in writing my own priorities and thoughts and what I struggle with.  It's not that I have any brilliant solutions or insights but as voters we all have a responsiblity to think about these serious issues, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.  I hope this blog may be helpful to one or two others, but if I'm off base I humbly ask your forgiveness. 

I am friends with the Chief of Police in a local college town in southwest Ohio, which is very conservative and church oriented.  In this town if the police are seen on school grounds, people get worried and call up to complain.  So the police try to stay away from the schools as much as possible.

Another community a few miles away is close to an Air Force base.  In that community, the police have a presence, and if there is a field trip or something, there is an armed policeman assigned to accompany each bus. They visit the school to talk about the importance of staying away from drugs and stuff.   Plus when the PTA mommies show up they wear tee shirts with school colors, and they also sometimes have a visible holster.

Both approaches have a certain appeal. I'm more  comfortable with the second approach, but I wouldn't want to force the first community to have armed persons at the school facilities if they are not wanted.    I'm comfortable with the idea of having local school authorities controlling the guns, not comfortable with having just anyone who wants to visit the school and bring guns.  

Truthfully I am scared of communities that want to shoo away the police and local authorities,while at the same time others are making it easy for crazy people to own and carry as many weapons as they want.  Let the good guys have some guns too.  

I'm not a Constitutional lawyer, but to me it seems that the Federal Government is prevented by the Second Ammendment from controlling guns.  However, the ability to have a state militia strongly implies that the States do have the right to take care of their own business.  And you can argue about it, but the Second Ammendment isn't getting changed.  That's a waste of time.   

But as a practical matter, it is more efficient to regulate the good guys and prevent them from having guns, while it is much more difficult to regulate bad guys having them.  I think the good guys will obey your gun control law even if they disagree with it, while the bad guys will not obey.  I don't see how you are really going to deny them access. 

On the other hand, some of my friends think that it is better to reduce the police force and simply encourage the rest of the population to carry guns around, figuring that that will help common sense prevail.  Presidential candidate Rick Santorum ludicrously suggested that "gun crimes were not very prevalent back then [in the Wild West days]. Why? Because people carry guns.”   Well, the fact of the matter is that that didn't work in Dodge City.  Overall death rates were low because the population was low.  But deaths per capita were high.   Self policing by gun nuts may be well intentioned, but it is a pathological dream. (Link to Washington Post Santorum article)

No, make it easy for the authorities to protect our kids.  I'd like my kids to continue to be visited by police in a classroom setting and learn to develop a trusting relationship.   I'm open to ideas smaking it difficult for crazy people to operate, but I don't know of many practical proposals for the latter. And I don't think anyone has enough political capital to really overturn the Second Amendment, that's just something to rile up the populace.