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Horror in Aurora

July 20, 2012 1 comment

A family mourns their missing son outside the movie theater in Aurora (AP Photo- Barry Gutierrez)

Another mindless, irrational, senseless mass shooting in America.  And in a darkened movie theater no less- the place so many gather to be both social and alone in the dark.

We know 71 people were wounded and 12 of them have died.  There are so many questions.  Salon.com’s Mary Elizabeth Williams wonders if movie-going will ever be the same again. 

Movie theaters and the act of group entertainment are going to be heightened experiences now, fraught with the pain of history. We’re going to feel different when the lights go down.

And then there’s the gratuitous violence in the “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Batman movie whose midnight debut in a Denver suburb became the target for 24-year-old James Holmes.  We do love our violence, don’t we?  I’m no innocent here.  I’ve enjoyed my share of pretty gory, violent movies in my lifetime.  But juxtaposed against actual violence and mayhem, I wonder how many of us will be able to stomach the fictionalized violence in this movie and others like it.

My guess is that, for right now, it will be awkward.  But this will fade away, won’t it?  Like the Gabby Giffords shooting eventually did.  Like even Colombine eventually did.

So much of this will follow a predictable course.  New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Sarah and Jim Brady will be the only ones who dare bring up the topic of the public’s access to automatic weaponry.  Three of Holmes’ weapons were automatic, two pistols and a rifle.  No word yet how he got his hands on them.  But then again, a criminal check would have served no purpose.  It appears James Holmes had no criminal record whatsoever aside from an innocent speeding ticket.

Some will argue it’s too bad others in the theater were not also armed so as to kill the gunman at the inception of his attack.  Who knows?  Maybe the answer is to arm us all.

And I suppose we are to breathe a sigh of relief when we hear from authorities that there is no “nexus to terrorism.”  It is ironic that we spend so much time, energy and money fighting terrorism as a foreign threat.  If you think about it, James Holmes allegedly committed the ultimate act of terrorism- if you define it as an act of violence aimed at intimidating society. 

The same could be said for Timothy McVie (Oklahoma City bombing), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Colombine) and Jared Lee Loughner (Gabby Giffords).   A public building, a high school, a civic event where people had gone to meet their Congresswoman- and now, a crowded theater.   It’s our homegrown terrorists who worry me most of all.  Thanks to them, we’re pretty much out of places where we can feel safe.

Mitt Just Can’t Close the Deal

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Notice how every time Mitt Romney starts looking inevitable, something seems to happen that delays the coronation? Last night, it was Rick Santorum that happened. And what a strategic blunder by the Romney campaign.

None of these elections Tuesday were supposed to matter. No real delegates at stake, mostly beauty contests/caucuses. There was hardly any pre-election polling. Most of the media didn’t even bother to travel to Tuesday’s election states. The Romney folks didn’t even try, short of offering up some last minute criticisms about Santorum being a fan of ear marks, making him out to be some sort of secret free spender or something.

Note to Romney campaign team: if you’re not going to actively compete why even enter the race? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to say, “Well, what do you expect? He wasn’t on the ballot.”

The rest of the month is pretty sparse by way of primaries or caucuses. Rick Santorum now gets a few weeks of limelight and the Romney folks get a few weeks of doubt. Doubt created by coming in a distant 3rd in Minnesota, a state he had no problem with against John McCain four years ago. Doubt created by the prospect, having lost Iowa and Missouri, of a Republican Party that nominates a candidate with little appeal in the heartland. And he lost Colorado too- a huge, key swing state.

And Newt Gingrich is still around and likely to do pretty well in a lot of southern states. He’ll get his share of votes too on Super Tuesday next month. Let’s not forget Ron Paul who actually beat Romney last night in Minnesota.

On paper, Mitt Romney and his Super Pacs and organization look unbeatable. But how long will it take? How much more negative carpet bombing can the party endure as the candidates keep sniping at each other and continue to write Obama’s campaign ads for him?

The Romney strategy so far seems to be going nuclear on whoever else starts tip-toeing close to him. Five million bucks against Newt in Iowa. Nine million bucks against Newt in Florida. No doubt, the anti-Santorum attack ads are being produced as we speak.

Ninety percent of it so far has been negative advertising that does a good job eviscerating your opponent but also drives up your own negatives. And to avoid blunders, Romney has now stopped doing town hall meetings and, my guess is, very few media interviews in the days ahead; not exactly a formula for connecting with the voters.

Romney may well win a battle of attrition. Republicans will end up gathering around him, united in their virulent opposition to the Obama presidency. But he may also end up a wounded nominee going up against a well-funded incumbent with the backdrop of a suddenly improving economy- and that’s a daunting task.