August 22, 2014

Guns, guns, guns.

So, I'm a Canadian. I don't have the Constitutional right to bear arms like you in America. It's never really bothered me, because I haven't felt the need to have one. But I do understand and appreciate the notion behind the second amendment, and apparently better than many liberals in the United States.  And regardless of whether or not I wanted to have one, I would be extremely dubious about people trying to roll back a Constitutionally guaranteed right.

The right to bear arms is meant in the context of the framers as yet another check on government power. Yes, in the 1700's they needed guns to hunt. They needed guns for a well-regulated militia. But the entire framework of the Constitution surrounds the notion of checks on government abuse of power. Government cannot be for the people if it comes before the people. I like that. I've never heard it before. I think I'll tweet it. Anyway, the entire document is designed to protect liberty. An oppressive government cannot be fought with wishes, but an armed population would certainly make a government think twice about repealing freedoms.

But liberals will argue that we now have the internet, people can think for themselves (unless they march lockstep with other liberals) and can tweet out the latest government abuse of power (like say in the Ferguson situation). Right. I'm going to allow my freedom to rest on the ironclad foundation of Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter. Maybe I'm wrong but I'd rather have something a little sturdier backing up my concern about the NSA.

Even if I grant that the liberals are right about social media being a powerful tool (and in many ways it is), I still have a problem with their logic. Riots like the one in Ferguson will not stop because the lack of availability of weapons. On a large scale or a personal scale, if someone wants to do harm or rob a grocery store, not having a gun isn't going to stop them. They can just google how to fashion a weapon out of chemicals.

If guns were to disappear from the face of the earth today, someone would still be murdered by some other means tomorrow. There's chemistry, there's knives, there's clubs, and rocks and bricks and poison and a million other ways for people to hurt and kill other people. You can't ban everything.

Lumberjacks are going to need those axes and chainsaws. Those things could be weapons.

It's not rocket science. If you can't stop every violent problem by restricting guns, then maybe guns are not the root of every problem. Maybe it's part of human nature. Maybe you need to start thinking about banning our DNA. Good luck with that.

Friday Musical Interlude - Pop goes Taylor Swift

Okay, this is catchy.  Not brilliant or innovative, but pretty good.The video is kind of early-days-MTV in style, but the song is unexpectedly better than I had imagined.  It got 20 million hits in the first 3 days and a bit, so she must be doing something right.



August 21, 2014

Thursday Hillary Bash - Not Inevitable. But yeah, inevitable.

How I'd love to believe this to be true, but color me skeptical.
Hillary Clinton is no longer the inevitable next President of the United States, a summertime development that is not unexpected yet still surprises...

...After all, Hillary’s problems aren’t only that Democratic knives are becoming unsheathed. Republicans also sense that, with a mainstream nominee, they might actually win in 2016.

What a difference six months has made. Back then, polls showed Clinton handily beating potential Republican rivals....

...Clinton’s numbers have dropped by 10 or more points, while her three potential opponents have all edged upwards.
Going over the litany of recent mis-steps by Clinton (which oddly included distancing herself from Obama on Iraq), doesn't sum it up for Boston Globe columnist Tom Keane. In his opinion, there's something more to it than just her mis-steps.
More important, I think, is the simple fact that Clinton is back in the public eye again. Many are remembering why they didn’t like her in 2008, when for a time she also seemed like the inevitable nominee. She’s not warm and fuzzy or exciting. She’s of an older generation when many hunger for someone new. She’s part of the Democratic establishment, only reluctantly embracing the economic-inequality issues that so fire up the party’s left wing.
She's not inevitable anymore because her mis-steps and/or reminders have invited potential rivals for the Democratic nominee to challenge her. That makes sense. Republicans too, may not feel so reluctant to run, strengthening the GOP field for 2016 by providing more options for primary voters.

Clinton was never inevitable; 2008 proved that. But you don't need to be inevitable to win. Inevitable has it's own downside anyway. What you do need, is to be better positioned that your competitors. Clinton has that in spades:
Clinton still has the edge on name recognition, access to money, and the makings of a powerful national organization. Even if a number of primary challengers emerge, chances are still good that she’ll end up as the nominee in 2016.
That's about as close to inevitable as you can get. As Keane's article indicates, the only thing that can stop Hillary, is Hillary. The good news is she's done it before and she looks to be almost poised to do it again.

Hey Republicans, get this wrong and you will keep losing

I have been arguing for years that one very important place where Republicans keep getting their hats handed to them by Democrats is in the realm of advanced analytics and data modeling. Modeling has been used to do everything from effectively predicting successful wine vintages without even tasting the product, to predicting which consumers will respond to which marketing offers, to diagnosing disease, to helping Obama maximize his 2012 presidential campaign spending by working the get out the vote effort in key swing districts far more effectively than Mitt Romney did with his campaign.

Advanced analytics represents the future of just about everything. Have you heard the Big Data buzzwords floating around your corporate office? Big data is a marketing term describing basically analytics. I know. I've been working in analytics for over 15 years. There is true power in what mathematics can do. It's been shown in physics, in computer science and other sciences - mathematics is power.

One of the big problems with the GOP, is they are still, two elections of Obama later, slow to grasp this power. They are still working behind the curve. Yes, outreach is important. Yes crafting a message that connects with voters is vital. But without the power of advanced analytics, the GOP is going to keep losing in the key battlegrounds because they don't even know where those battlegrounds are.

I'm not alone in my thinking on this, thankfully. But are the GOP listening at all?

August 20, 2014

Wednesday Warren Warning - What's she on about now?

Elizabeth Warren would clearly make a meddlesome president.  Where Obama sticks his nose into local matters like Ferguson and having a beer summit instead of looking at national and international matters that he's supposed to be focused, expect Warren to follow.

She's stuck her nose into a local(ish) labor dispute.
BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday criticized Market Basket executives saying they needed to realize the impact the company stalemate has had on workers and communities.

“They have shown a real disregard for frankly all that those employees have built up for years and years,” Warren told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “Until they have the idea that they are part of the community and trying to build something of value going forward, it’s pretty tough to get this one back on track.”
Yes, it has economic impact, but her giving advice to a company in regard to a labor dispute is like Ronald Reagan trying to advise the teamsters how to organize. I take that back - nothing about Warren is anything like Reagan.

Once again she sticks with the "You didn't build that theme". How insulting. Warren, you certainly didn't build it so just shut up and let the two sides work out their differences. You don't think Market Basket wants to preserve their relationship with the community???? Stop trying to dictate things and trying to scold a business that has done far more than you ever have.
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