Hope your team is better than mine.
Archives for December 2012
I was born two years before Unsafe at Any Speed was published. The first car I rode in had no seatbelts and a metal dash. The next car had seatbelts, and a padded dash, but nobody wore the seatbelts, because back then nobody did, besides which they were inconvenient to use. The next car had three-point shoulder and lap belts for the driver and front-seat passenger. Then there were three-point belts for the back seat, and airbags. Today every car we own has three-point belts for everyone, front and side curtain airbags, and we knew the crash ratings when we bought them.
That’s less than 50 years to go from basically nothing to what we have today. The auto industry fought it tooth and nail in the 60’s, but in the end they were forced by regulation to do something that turned out to be for their own long-term benefit, and now it’s inconceivable that “safety” isn’t one of the prime features of a new car.
Last night one of my friend’s daughters, a girl I’ve known since she was 3 years old, had a head-on collision when a kid driving on slippery roads spun out and entered her lane. Her car is an absolute mess – it’s totaled and the front end is basically obliterated. She and her front seat passenger, all wearing seatbelts, of course, walked away from the crash. Her only injury with a little bump on the head from where the airbag deployed. The boy driving the other car also walked away.
If this had been 1962, or probably 1972, she’d either be in the hospital or the morgue. Because of government regulation and good engineering, the only aftermath in 2012 is mark that can be covered with makeup. The reason she’s alive is Democrats and Republicans (even in the Reagan Administration) compromising to continually increase safety regulations on cars.
I wonder how many “how things have changed stories” won’t be told forty years from now because we have a Republican Congress that is on track to be the least productive in recorded history?
DAVID GREGORY: You said that Republicans have a hard time saying yes. Particularly to you.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah.
DAVID GREGORY: What is it about you, Mr. President, that you think is so hard to say yes to?
You fill in the blanks on that one.
DAVID GREGORY: Is this your Lincoln moment?
One starfish at a time, Mr. Vice-President:
Biden Is Back for a 2nd Run at Gun Limits
… A president intent on pressing Congress to restrict access to high-powered guns could hardly find a more seasoned figure to take charge of the effort. Mr. Biden, who owns two shotguns, brings decades of experience and plenty of scar tissue from past battles with the National Rifle Association to frame recommendations that Mr. Obama wants ready by next month.
“He’s basically been doing this for a little over 30 years,” said former Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, a longtime Biden adviser who was appointed to fill out his term. “I really do believe there isn’t anybody in America who has a better chance of getting this done by Jan. 15 than he does, not just because of his background in guns but because he’s not politically intimidated by the N.R.A., to put it mildly.” …
What Mr. Biden knows is that gun control is not only a fiercely emotional topic for many Americans but also a tricky area for legislation. The assault weapons ban he helped pass in 1994 was written narrowly enough that it allowed plenty of guns to still be sold. Moreover, a 10-year expiration clause was added as a compromise. Democrats went on to lose control of Congress that fall, a defeat that many attributed to the gun law, leaving the party skittish ever since.
This time, Mr. Biden wants to tighten the strictures, but to succeed he needs to get legislation through a Republican-controlled House. And even if he and Mr. Obama can persuade Congress to ban the sale of new semiautomatic rifles, more than three million AR-15 rifles are already in private hands, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation…
Mr. Biden was at the White House when the Newtown massacre occurred. With the shootings coming just days before the 40th anniversary of the car accident that killed his first wife and baby daughter, an aide said, “all he could think about was those parents getting the same devastating phone call” that he once did…
Mr. Kaufman acknowledged that actually banning guns was difficult. As soon as one gun is outlawed, another pops up. But he argued that symbolism itself was important. “You send a message,” he said, “when you don’t do anything.”
What’s on the agenda for the ongoing slow countdown towards the start of another calendar year?
I oppose the Citizens United decision and would like to see it reversed. But…if it can’t be, this is a good way for liberals to take advantage of dark money:
In the waning days of Montana’s hotly contested Senate race, a small outfit called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, tried something drastic.
It didn’t buy ads supporting the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester. Instead, it put up radio and TV commercials that urged voters to choose the third-party candidate, libertarian Dan Cox, describing Cox as the “real conservative” or the “true conservative.”
Where did the group’s money come from? Nobody knows.
Let me explain: the Republican party is fractured in a way that the Democratic party is not. We’ve seen third-party teahadists cannibalize legitimate Republican candidates in Congressional races. Ron Paul functions as an almost third-party force that has no analog within the Democratic party. Many, perhaps most, Republican elected officials live in fear of anti-RINO purges. Simply put, many Republicans are vulnerable to insane third party challenges in a way that Democrats are not. Running ads about the “true conservative in the race”, all funded by untraceable money, is an idea with a lot of potential.
There’s been some really interesting arguments about guns in America in the Atlantic recently. James Fallows has repeatedly discussed “Gun Safety, Not Gun Control“:
.. I will henceforth and only talk about “gun safety” as a goal for America, as opposed to “gun control.” I have no abstract interest in “controlling” someone else’s ability to own a gun. I have a very powerful, direct, and legitimate interest in the consequences of others’ gun ownership — namely that we change America’s outlier status as site of most of the world’s mass shootings. No reasonable gun-owner can disagree with steps to make gun use safer and more responsible. This also shifts the discussion to the realm of the incremental, the feasible, and the effective…
… only to discover, via a reader who’s an epidemiologist, that “a restricted understanding of “Gun safety” is likely to be very vigorously defended” (by the the comitted gun fetishists, as Fallows does not say).
Marketeer Marc Parrish argues that “Big Data Can Solve America’s Gun Problem“. Given the (highly profitable) rightwing paranoia about government confiscation, I’m not sure Parrish’s enthusiasm is necessarily helpful, but if you want a counter-argument against “too many guns already, can’t be counted, might’s well not try”, he’s your guy.
But the argument that really impressed me — and not just becasue he articulates my own feelings — comes from the invaluable Ta-Nehesi Coates, “On Living Armed:
… It is not enough to have a gun, anymore than it’s enough to have a baby. It’s a responsibility. I would have to orient myself to that fact. I’d have to be trained and I would have to, with some regularity, keep up my shooting skills. I would have to think about the weight I carried on my hip and think about how people might respond to me should they happen to notice. I would have to think about the cops and how I would interact with them, should we come into contact. I’d have to think about my own anger issues and remember that I can never be an position where I have a rage black-out. What I am saying is, if I were gun-owner, I would feel it to be really important that I be a responsible gun-owner, just like, when our kids were born, we both felt the need to be responsible parents. The difference is I like “living” as a parent. I accept the responsibility and rewards of parenting. I don’t really want the responsibilities and rewards of gun-ownership. I guess I’d rather work on my swimming. And I think, given the concentration of guns in a smaller and smaller number of hands, there’s some evidence that society agrees…
My football team is sucking in their Bowl game and my desktop pc just blew up. Cuz I have two grand just lying around to buy another.
Might go on the bottle early.