Thursday, December 27, 2012

Possible Factors as to Why Romney Lost

On so many levels Mitt Romney should have won the popular vote for the presidency by at least a six point spread. Also, the Republicans should have picked up seats in the Senate and House. As noted in another posting, changes in House districts helped the Republicans retain control of the House. The election results were not encouraging for the Party.

This should have been a poor year for the Democrats. The economy was not strong. Seniors were concerned about the future of Social Security and Medicare. From a multitude of deep pocket donors giving tens of millions of dollars to the GOP PACs, the PACs were flush with cash to be used on television and radio ads, mailings, get out the vote initiatives. Combined, they could outspend the Democrats by at least 2 to 1. Also, on the campaign trail Obama was stiff and disengaged until the last five weeks. Obama’s overwhelmingly poor performance during the first debate should have sealed Obama’s defeat. So, why did not the Republicans gain seats and the presidency? Political pundits are pointing fingers and spinning their rationale, some insider pundits doing so more as a way to deflect blame from them or their allies.

With the cool passage of time with its dispassionate sifting process historians will be able to give a reasoned picture. Until then there will be a mixture of biased and balanced perspectivies. With no axe to grind, and only from my perspective as an independent, below I note factors that impacted me and several other independents I know in their decision making process:

· Voting for the Republican party is increasingly more difficult for independents. The Party's hard dogmatic uncompromising stances on an array of social and financial issues is moving them away from many independent voters. Contrary to the view that independants are right of center on social issues, poll after poll on social issues are more left of center while more right of center on the budget.  

 · The Republican campaigns, presidential and congressional races, were too focused upon the economy claiming Obama's handling of the economy was poor. That rationale lost traction as most voters recognized that Obama inherited an economy from Bush that was crashing. While was not stellar it was much better than the one he inherited. The Republican strategy did not take into account the perspective of the general public. Even more importantly, the economy improved and that unemployment fell in the year prior to the election. As the numbers improved, spinning that “we could have done better” did not gain traction as the Republican Party was saddled with the “obstructionist” baggage of hindering efforts to help improve the economy. 

· Romney has postured himself too far to the right on fiscal and social issues. In order to win the Republican nomination Romney had to posture himself well to the right and away from his earlier positions that were more moderate. Selecting Ryan as his running mate solidified his well right of center posture. Hence, efforts to be more a centrist in the general election was difficult. By pointing to earlier moderate positions made it seem like he was pandering...saying and doing whatever was needed to win the necessary votes. Thereby Romney come across as a man who lacked principals.

· The Democrats defined Romney in May and June as an elitist multimillionaire who is out of touch with the common citizens and lacks understanding of their concerns. The Republicans never adequately countered this definition process. Instead they saved their money for overwhelming the market with media buys in September and October...more is not better for after a certain saturation point people tune-out the ads (I tuned out).

· Along with the economic plank, Romney running a campaign as a referendum on Obama’s leadership did not provide adequate ground for proposing a policy-backed argument for credible change. Let's not unduly fault Romney for other primary candidates were doing the same. Romney and his primary running mates remained vague on too many policies. Policies that they fleshed out came across either as too thin and not well reasoned out or too extreme for the middle of the moderate voter. Romney in his campaign missed the opportunity to break from the past, to emphatically state that a host of Bush and Obama policies were failures, state why they failed and then give well a reasoned alternative.

· Romney’s 47 percent statement reinforced the image that Romney was a wealthy elitist disconnected from the common citizen. His statement reinforced May and June ads defining Romney as an out of touch person of wealth. The candidate’s initial response, that his point was “inelegantly stated” was not only feeble but suggested he believed what he stated to be true. As the campaign progressed voters still wondered if he understood them. In the last month of the campaign Obama played into this perspective by repeatedly stating that he stood squarely and firmly for the middle class. 

· For four years the Republican Party was overly focused upon “defeat” Obama. Blocking and criticizing initiatives as mnay of his efforts dominated the Party. When he pushed forward ideas that originated from Republican sources over the prior two to five years left informed independents with the impression that the Party was more interested in winning power than about improving the lot of the Country. Obstruction for the sake of obstruction came across at times as the “divine right to rule” attitude.

· The Republicans increasingly appear as a party of and for the financial elite. It appears to many Independant and moderate Democrat voters that the Republicans nominated a wealthy guy who looked and talked like a rich white male who was being funded by other rich white males to advance and protect their interests.

· Romney’s initial Benghazi statements were a huge mistake. They lacked the balance expected of a presidential candidate seeking to portray himself as ready for the office. He made judgements while most of the details remained unclear. Over the subsequent days efforts by surrogates to defend and justify his comments came across poorly as they were trying to defend a mistake.

· The Republican polling matrix and number crunching processes were so seriously faulty it left their  strategy flawed and their expectations surprisingly inflated.  

· The Republican ground game was poorly developed and managed. It lacked organization which did not reflect well on a candidate who postured himself as a great business manager who would bring his honed management skills to Washington. His "well experienced and skilled manager" argument sounded shallow as the campaign progressed and people started to sense his campaign was not well managed.

· Romney did not connect well with women. This is more of an issue influenced by the Party than the candidate. His past moderate views were lost in all that he had to say and embrace on the right to win the nomination.

· Lack of appeal to minority voters. He rarely campaigned in ethnic minority territory. His 47 per cent comment played into this issue as well. As noted in an earlier blog, this is not just a candidate issue as it is a wider Party issue.

· Republican efforts in various states to curtail early voting, hamper voter registration processes, ads and robo calls designed to depress minority turn-out as well as the implementation of voter identification laws appeared to be efforts to suppress the minority vote. Such efforts left the impression that the Party was mainly focused upon being a Party of and for whites. Rather than suppress the minority votes all these efforts energized the minority community to turn out at a higher rate than expected. The minority community stood in lines for long hours to speak clearlty that their voice will not be suppressed. The Republicans in heavy minority areas suffered.

· The Party's general stance against the bail-outs of the auto industry. Romney's op ed. arguing for the government to let the big three go into bankruptcy court, made him the face of the Party's common posture. He suffered because of such a stance, particularly when for the last two years GM, Ford and Chrysler were back to financial solvency, and with the federal budgeting gaining profits earned off that support.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guns Rights, NRA, and Democracy

For what it’s worth, I’m adding my voice to the gun control debate. From when I first shot a rifle at the gun range in the basement of Mississauga’s Thomas Kennedy High School I’ve enjoyed shooting rifles. I affirm the right of hunters and recreational target shooters to own guns. I also seek to understand the Second Amendment within its original context rather than the twisted recasting that has current sway.    

After yesterday’s drivel from NRA’s Wayne Lapierre, I cannot remain silent. He has drawn me into expressing my views to my elected officials. Some gun advocates say that this is not the time to discuss such issues. When would be the time? Two months later following another shooting? Six months later? There is bound to be another shooting that would be used to justify the “now is not the time” posture. The “now is not the time” statement is commonly made after shootings. Yet I remain perplexed why many of the same people don’t refrain from speaking out and taking action doing similar when people are killed by drunk drivers, or underage drinking parties, or major accidents with loss of life occur at poorly designed intersections, or when mass transit safety is a concern following an accident, or with regard to abortion, in rare cases of voter fraud, etc. They would never accept, “now is not the time” argument on these type of issues. Many of those who advocate “respectful silence during a time of grief” after a shooting are the first to call for action and push for redress to limit its recurrence. I don’t see any reason to treat Second Amendment rights under different rules than other issues.

The NRA’s reasoning is flawed, and we would never accept such flawed reasoning on any other issue. Nonetheless, it is accepted widely and embraced because it taps into our own fears and paranoia, both national and individual. Therefore, we want to accept such reasons to justify gun ownership. If I understand LaPierre’s reasoning, it runs this way…gun ownership provides the foundation to keep America free. Furthermore, America is a dangerous country, so much so that all its citizens must be armed to protect themselves from each other; if more citizens were armed, gun crime would decrease as people would be afraid to use guns illicitly; and as gun free zones schools are particularly vulnerable because they invite people to take guns there and to use them against helpless victims.

The NRA argues that government legislation should not prevent law-abiding citizens from buying whatever guns they want. I have two problems with this argument. First, it opens the door wide open to enabling criminals and the emotional unstable to buy guns too. Just as we do by locking our doors and by having keys to start our cars limit theft, having some gun purchase barriers/qualifications helps limit the opportunity and the frequency of criminals and the unstable securing guns. Second, it also overlooks that a good number of those who have used a gun in suicide, to commit homicide and even many of these mass shootings that catch our attention, were law-abiding citizens up until the moment they pulled the trigger.

What Lapierre is proposing for arming schools with armed officers is exactly what Columbine High School had when the shootings occurred there. In fact, that school had two armed police officers on duty at the moment of the shooting. The shooters knew their school had armed officers, but that knowledge did not instill any fear in them. The shootings still took place. The mall in Washington state had armed security, yet the shootings still occurred. The shooter in the Sandy Hook had guns in his home, which were owned by his mother. Instead of her guns protecting her, as the NRA argues should have been the case, they were used against her.

When the shooter of President Ronald Regan drew out his weapon, he knew there would be a multitude of Secret Service agents and local police officers with weapons ready to be used. The shooter who attempted to shoot President Ford faced the same and she knew it. Robert Kennedy had similar protection. Yet in all three cases, did all that well armed protection deter the shooters? Evidently, the armed protection was not a deterrent, which argues against LaPierre’s reasoning. Also arguing against Lapierre’s reasoning is the Fort Hood shooting, a place where thousands of people were well armed, and still unable to prevent a tragedy.

More Americans have guns in their homes than at any other time than in over a hundred years. According to LaPierre’s reasoning, gun crime should be decreasing. We should be at our lowest point. Have the number of gun crimes decreased? No, they have not; in fact, they have increased. The severity of the shootings higher than it was in the 70s and 80s when large gun clips were not available to the general public.

Switzerland and Israel are two countries with trained civilian military who, until recent years, took their military arms home. Both countries were experiencing unaccepted levels of accidental shootings, domestic homicides and suicide. After they changed their policies regarding military guns in home, the rates of such instances in all three types of gun activity dramatically decreased.

Israel discovered that when a soldier had a gun in the home and became depressed, that the gun was too available to be used in a moment of depression and heightened emotions. Removing the gun allowed time for the heightened emotions to diminish and moments of depression to work themselves out. Is gun availability in the home a factor behind law enforcement being the highest profession for suicide by gun? It’s a question that needs attention.

Part of me pities Lapierre for having such a negative feeling about the society in which he lives and works. Imagine living in such fear, believing that your society is so dangerous that you must be heavily armed at work, as you drive around your community, as you shop, as you travel, as you go out to restaurants and entertainment venues and as you live in your home. I cannot imagine living with such fear. I could not work in an office where I felt I needed to have a weapon at hand, because I did not think highly about my workmates and had a gun just in case they started shooting and I had to be willing to kill some of them. The same applies to how I view my neighbors or who will be with me tomorrow morning in church. I live and work in the neighborhood in which he works, travels and lives. The NRA headquarters is just two hundred yards from my home and I have never had a fear walking and driving in the community. But alas he has such fear. Then I remind myself that LaPierre is a paid mouthpiece, albeit a highly paid one, for the gun manufacturers and dealers who underwrite the bulk of the NRA budget and much of LaPierre’s salary. He is paid by gun manufacturers and dealers to spin a story to help protect their business and pump gun sales.

I think it is a sad commentary that an organization is advocating that every school become an armed camp. In a time when schools are cutting teaching positions due to budgetary constraints, it is being argued, implicitly, that more teaching positions should be eliminated so armed police officers can patrol school hallways and guard school doors. I do not want my children, or future grandchildren, stepping off school buses and having to walk past guards carrying military grade rifles; I don’t want students to be compelled to pass through metal detectors as they enter their school, nor do I want them to see their teachers standing before them with guns on their hips. What a horrible message to send to them day after day, year after year. What a horrible message to send about a free democratic society, that they are no safer in the community than children in conflict torn countries.

As an aside, the NRA boasts about its membership numbers, which have, sadly, increased since the Newtown massacre. I look at such boasting with askance. If you own a gun and wish to go to a gun range, you are likely going to have to join the NRA as a condition of using the range. Like the closed union shops with union membership required to work at the plant, NRA membership is required to practice with your gun at gun ranges, and though the majority of NRA members hold that registration, background checks and clip limits are reasonable protections, the NRA uses their dues to advance views that many of their members do not support. Yet, while conservatives decree the unions for having closed shops, no one word of protest is heard about the NRA requirement to use a gun range…a most interesting inconsistency that suggests that when it comes to the gun industry in America, it is allowed operate by a different set of laws.

To hold that the gun is the foundation is our democracy is a most unfortunate commentary on the nature and fragility of American democracy. History continues to teach us that armed, biased local militias and thugs stifle democracy, not enhance it. Further, does this not imply that countries that have gun control laws are not true democracies? The Canadians, Japanese, British, French, Germans, Swiss, Italians, Austrians, Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Fins, Australians, all vigorous democracies with gun control, would disagree with such a position. The ballot and free speech, not guns, are the true foundations of democracy. American democracy is well and strong, it is no so fragile that it needs a gun to protect it!

I favor reasonable registration of all firearms, background checks, limits on the type of guns and clip sizes available to civilians, and mandatory firearms safety certifications. Would such laws eliminate all gun violence? No, and to think otherwise would be delusional. Do car registrations, required annual safety inspections and safety standards, driver licenses and licensing standards eliminate all accidents? No, but accidents rate would be much higher with poorly trained (or untrained) drivers. And vehicle safety standards help remove unsafe cars from the road, thereby make driving our roads a much safer experience for all. The same things apply for gun use and regulation.

At the top I noted that I enjoyed target shooting. It is a sport I would like to enjoy again, but, unfortunately, to do so functionally requires that I be a member of the NRA. THAT I will not do, for I repudiate that organization’s irresponsible policies, as well as its warped views of my neighbors, workmates, and society in general. Unlike Wayne LaPierre, I choose to respect rather than fear my fellow humans.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Research Project Underway

I’ve decided to research the measure the facts behind various statements that I’ve heard again and again uttered by politicians. I’m curious to determine if these statements are true or not. Some of these statements are:

a) That the majority of American voters are right of center. I’ve also heard some on the political left state that the majority of American voters are left of center.

b) That China holds the majority of the public debt of the United States.

c) That the majority of Americans are against abortion in every situation.

d) That the majority of American voters are against equal rights for same-sex couples and are against gay marriage.

e) That the violent crime is worse today than it has ever been.

f) That Democrats are reckless spendthrifts who waste taxpayer money, create deficits while Republican administrations have been fiscally responsible and have more often had balanced the budgets than Democrat Presidents.

g) Roughly 47% of Americans pay no taxes while benefiting from entitlement programs for which the rest of America supports.

h) Social Security is about to go broke and drastic cuts are necessary to keep it in the black. 

i) Earmarks contribute significantly to the deficit.

j) Voter fraud is not a major problem and that recent efforts to scrutinize voter registrations is unnecessary.
The above list is not all inclusive. I'm curious to discover what happens. I will post some of my discoveries.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

America's Religious Changes Impacting Elections

It is evident that the ethic profile of the United States is changing, but so is America’s religious profile.  In the 1950s church attendance across all denominations was strong, with three out of four Americans attending church services at least three times a year. In this same decade over 85% of Americans considered themselves to be “religious”. In the mid 60’s dramatic shift that lasted for a little over two decades commenced with the growth in the conservative Baptist and evangelical churches as people left mainline churches for conservative congregations.  

In August 2012 the Washington Post reported the number of Americans claiming to be “religious” had decreased from around 73% in 2005 to around 60%. That same article noted that atheists make up about 5% of the American public, up from around the 1% level of the late 80s.  

As noted in a past post, the evangelical church is in decline, a decline that will become starkly evident over the coming decade. Many evangelicals argue the decline is a result of a lack of religious fervor and conviction in their churches and society as a whole. They argue that the church and nation is decline because prayer has been taken out of the schools, gay marriage and rampant disregard for biblical teachings.

While lack of broad fervor may be a factor in the decline of the evangelical church, it is a minor factor. The two primary causes for the decline are entangled somewhat. First, the group that flooded into the evangelic churches between 1965 and 1985 as a reaction to social changes occurring in that era are aging rapidly. Their children and grandchildren are not attending evangelical churches at the same rate. While not the only cause, significant declines in attendance, particularly amongst those below the age of 30 follow on the heels of periods of strident political activity within the evangelical church.

My intent here is not to judge one way or the other the appropriateness of such action on a particular issue or set of issues. My intent is to note that there is a correlation between the evangelical church’s manifest fervor on particular issues and the younger generation remaining within or being attracted to the evangelical teachings. What is evident is that there was a cost to the evangelical churches the more they became politically engaged on a host of social, cultural and financial issues. It increasingly appears that their political activity has left those who came into adulthood since the early 1990s feeling that the evangelical church has no answers for them. While some of the younger generation are returning to mainline churches, for a more balanced approach, more often than not the younger generation are not looking to any organized faith for sucker and guidance.

Hence, the evangelical finds itself with an aging membership. In many congregations the largest age block are those over the age of 60. Attendance is slowly declining, and will become more rapid as their largest block of members start to enter nursing homes and pass away.     

This shift was evidenced in this past election, an election which on so many levels Romney should have won by a spread of at least 7. With this economy, if the values and the demographics of the late 80s and early 90s were in place Romney would have won easily. Then the evangelical church, the heart of the Republican base, was strong and the younger generation was still somewhat religiously connected.

November’s exit polls showed that those who claim to have faith of some manner but with no specific religious affiliation, called “nones” in the data, made up 12 percent of the electorate in 2012. This is up by 3 points from 2000 and double the 1980 level. Further, the number of people who say that they do not attend church or house of worship stood at 17 percent. The Republican base is shrinking.


That this level the “nones” make up a voting block as large as the Hispanic. These “none” broke for the Democrats by over 40%. If one adds into the mix the atheists, the voting block becomes more significant. The block will only grow.  America is becoming more pluralistic. Hopefully the Republicans can make the adjustment.  

Saturday, December 08, 2012

My 2012 Bowl Season Picks

I'm once again going on the record with my Bowl Picks for 2012.  What are your picks?
As the bowl season progresses I will update in bold the winner. Will I be better than 60% as in past years?

Dec 15 – Gildan New Mexico Bowl                           Arizona (W) over Nevada – Arizona is a class above Nevada

Dec 15 – Famous Idaho Potato Bowl                        Utah (W) over Toledo – Toledo’s porous defense will not be able to stop Utah’s aggressive offense.  

Dec 20 – San Diego Co Credit Union Poinsettia     BYU (W) over San Diego State – this is a toss-up

Dec 21 – Beef ‘O’ Brad’s Bowl                                   Ball State over Central Florida (W) – Many tend to see CF as the victor but I’ll go with Ball State’s spunky style as a surprise win in my mix. 

Dec 22 – R and L Carriers New Orleans                     La Lafayette (W) over East Carolina – the La Lafayette QB will have to have a strong game.

Dec 22 – Maaco Bowl Las Vegas                                 Washington over Boise State (W) – Boise State does well in bowl games, but they are not as strong as in past years. Washington’s defense will be the key. If Washington defense must not surrender more than 18 or Boise will win. 

Dec 24 – Sheraton Hawaii Bowl                                  SMU (W) over Fresno State

Dec 26 – Little Caesars Bowl                                        Central Michigan (W) over Western Kentucky – the game is in their backyard

Dec 27 – Military Bowl                                                  San Jose State (W) over BGU

Dec 27 – Belk Bowl                                                        Cincinnati (W) over Duke – Duke’s storybook season will not carry them over Cincinnati

Dec 27 – Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl         UCLA over Baylor (W) – UCLA will be out to correct their let down in losing to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship.

Dec 28 – AdvoCare Bowl                                               UL-Monro over Ohio (W) 

Dec 28 – Russell Athletic Bowl                                    Rutgers over VA Tech (W) – I hope that this is a growing up game for VA Tech but I’m not confident that will take place.

Dec 28 – Meineke Car Care Bowl                              Texas Tech  (W) over Minnesota – Minnesota should not be in this game. Minnesota is only in this bowl because Ohio State and Penn State are not bowl eligible.

Dec 29 – Bell Helicopter Armed Forces                   Air Force over Rice (W) – Rice has overachieved this year and Air Force will be out to finish their year on a positive note rather than carry the baggage of losing four of its last five games.

Dec 29 – New Era Pinstripe                                          Syracuse (W) vs West Virginia– WV offense has been inconsistent, and its defense underperforms. WV defense will have its hands full. The Syracuse defense will be challenged but I'm giving the nod to Syracuse in a high scoring game.

Dec 29 – Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl                               Arizona St (W) over Navy – Arizona State is the stronger team. While Navy’s planning and discipline will serve them well, to win Navy's defense and offense will have to play far better than they did in the Army-Navy game. Navy does not have the power to win.

Dec 29 – Valero Alamo Bowl                                        Oregon State over Texas (W) – Texas has QB consistency issues, something that does not miraculously change in a bowl game. Oregon's running game will be a key factor. Oregon by 3.

Dec 29 – Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl                             Michigan State (W) over TCU – While TCU has been more consistent than Michigan State and they have a more diverse offense, I'm going with Michigan State as one of the few Big Ten wins.

Dec 31 – Franklin Am. Mortgage Music City             Vanderbilt (W) over NC State - Here we will see that SEC teams are much stronger than AC teams.

Dec 31 – Hyundia Sun Bowl                                          USC over Georgia Tech (W) – USC is too deep. GT’s offense will gain little traction and their defense will not be able to stop USC. Also GT has a history of underperforming in bowls. I can see USC winning by 17.

Dec 31 – AutoZone Liberty Bowl                                  Tulsa (W) over Iowa State – Iowa State will lose the rematch of their earlier game as Tulsa has matured over the season. I will still pull for Iowa State.

Dec 31 – Chick-Fil-A Bowl                                              LSU over Clemson (W) – LSU’s offensive depth and D Line will overmatch Clemson’s defense.

Jan 1 – Taxslayer Gator Bowl                                       Northwestern (W) over Mississippi State - This could be one of the few Big Ten games if it is close. Mississippi State while bigger I’ll give the nod to the pesky Northwestern.

Jan 1 – Heart of Dallas Bowl                                         Oklahoma State (W) over Purdue – With Ohio State and Penn State not eligible, this is one of those games where a Big Ten team is matched up against a far superior team. As Purdue is overmatched at nearly every position, OSU should win this by 14 or more.

Jan 1 – Capital One Bowl                                               Georgia (W) over Nebraska – Georgia is too strong and their pass game will challenge Nebraska’s secondary.

Jan 1 – Outback Bowl                                                     South Carolina (W) over Michigan – Michigan’s consistency this season was questionable. Steve Spurrier will have his team well prepped with a great game plan.   

Jan 1 – Rose Bowl                                                            Wisconsin over Stanford (W) – If the Wisconsin team from the Big Ten Championship shows up, they will win over Wisconsin. Wisconsin will be want to have a different result from their prior two trips to Pasadena.

Jan 1 – Discover Orange Bowl                                     Florida State (W) over Northern Illinois – Northern Illinois will put up a spirited valiant effort but by the second half FS’s strength will overwhelms them.

Jan 2 – Allstate Sugar Bowl                                           Florida over Louisville (W) – Florida’s high quality defense will stagger Louisville’s O Line and QB

 Jan 3 – Tostitos Fiesta Bowl                                         Oregon (W) over Kansas State – Oregon’s speed will be the deciding factor for an upset.

Jan 4 – ATT Cotton Bowl                                         Texas AM (W) over Oklahoma – Texas AandM has a BSC quality team, a team that with a few breaks could have put them in the top five in the polls whereas Oklahoma is not a top ten team.

Jan 5 – BBVA Compass Bowl                                        Ole Miss (W) over Pittsburg – Pittsburg will have issues handling Ole Miss’ speed.

Jan 6 – Bowl                                         Kent State over Arkansas State (W) – I see this as an upset.                

Jan 7 – BSC Championship Bowl                                 Alabama (W) -  though I will be pulling for Notre Dame, Bama has more balance and depth, and should win by at least 10.           

I ended up 23 and 12 this year.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Bob Costas Attacked For Being Balanced

The recent murder-suicide committed by Jovan Belcher, a NFL football player, has drawn a light upon American gun laws, or the lack thereof. Calling his Sunday night’s commentary an unjustified “rant” Bob Costas has come under voracious attacks for speaking to the matter and for reading on air part of published commentary by Fox Sports commentator Jason Whitlock. Rather than ignore the issue that was upon everyone’s mind Costas rightly addressed it.

Let’s be clear, Costas edited out Whitlock’s statements calling for gun control laws, a fact his detractors conveniently overlook to their detriment. After speaking to the mindless cliché that this type of tragedy puts life in perspective, Costas reminded his audience that we live in a society where these ugly events will occur again and again and again. Regardless of where one stands on gun-control policy, other than making us feel uncomfortable what is wrong with being reminded about that reality. With the exception of countries in the midst of civil wars and societal disintegration, we live in a society where more people die from guns on a per capita basis than most other countries.  

Costas then finished with Whitlock’s all true statement of fact that again and again handguns are used far too often in the moment of heated domestic and interpersonal disputes to escalate arguments and as a means to settle matters. Instead of addressing matters in a non-violent manner the consequences of such escalation have most unfortunate consequences for the participants, their family and society at large.

Costas’ critics would rather ignore the issue, act as if the murder-suicide of a NFL player never occurred. Interestingly, when Costas spoke out about the Sandusky matter many of those same critics supported him for speaking to the matter in a forthright balanced manner. Now they call the same approach as unwarranted and a rant. That Costas is attacked for again being balanced on this issue is a sad commentary upon the nature of civil discourse on the ownership, registration, storage and training with regard to handguns.

His critics were quick to point out that guns do not kill, people kill. His assailants also excitedly argue that only criminals use guns to commit crimes, not law abiding citizens. They then rave on that civil authorities should be focused upon going after criminals rather than law abiding citizens. That obfuscating argument is a most interesting framing of the issue. The argument reminds me of a large church with thousands of members which proudly proclaims they have never had any of their members divorce. What goes unsaid is that the church conveniently expels married couples from their membership the moment they start divorce procedures. Hence, as the couple is no longer members when they are divorced, the church can maintain its proud claim. Let us not forget there are many law abiding citizens who only become a criminal the moment they pull the gun’s trigger.

Guns do not commit acts of good or evil. They are inanimate objects with no moral quality or the exercise of the same. They are a means to an end. While Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron hit all those home runs, their carefully chosen bats made those home runs possible. I doubt they would have hit more than half their home runs if instead of using the heavy weight bats they used the light weight ones pitchers tend to use.

It is a shame that Bob Costas speaking in a balanced manner is attacked as if he had called to the legalization of crack. It’s a sad commentary for a nation that prides itself on the value of civil discourse.