People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, December 08, 2006

'... the right of the people to keep and bear arms ...'

It will come as a shock to all you Constitutional scholars out there to know that wherever the phrase, " the right of the people ..." is used in the Bill of Rights, it actually means "the militia," the militia being our standing army back when the document was written.

So say lawyers representing the city of Washington DC.:
Right to bear arms applies to militias only, city tells court
By Matt Apuzzo, The Washington Times

In a case that could shape firearms laws nationwide, attorneys for the District argued yesterday that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

The city defended as constitutional its long-standing ban on handguns, a law that some gun opponents have advocated elsewhere. Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.

At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms" applies to all people or only to "a well regulated militia." The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights, but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue. (
According to these attorneys then, "the people" are the militia.

Which means: "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" means our military has the right ...

... and "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated" means the militia ...

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people" ...

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people" ...

I especially like that last one. All powers not delegated to the government(s) are handed over to the military. Is that what these attorneys really want to argue?

The world's gone mad. That's the only explanation.

On That Iraq Study Group Finding

As the details emerge of the Iraq Study Group's plan for (winning?) the war, perhaps the most startling - and outrageous - suggestion offered up calls for Israel - Israel - to cede land to Syria and sovereignty to the Palestinians. To end the war in Iraq.

I thought it had to be a bad joke. But no. Though bad, it ain't a joke:
Israeli prime minister rejects link to Iraq
By Joshua Mitnick, The Washington Times

TEL AVIV -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday rejected a U.S. advisory group's conclusion that resolving Israel's conflict with the Palestinians would help stabilize the war between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq.

"The attempt to create a linkage between the Iraqi issue and the Mideast issue -- we have a different view," Mr. Olmert told reporters a day after the U.S. Iraq Study Group released a report with 79 recommendations to help pacify Iraq.

The report ... proposed new negotiations with Syria over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in a 1967 war, and negotiations over the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel during the 1948 war that created the Jewish state. (link)
Al Qaeda terrorists are killing American soldiers.

Sunni and Baathist insurgents are killing American soldiers.

Syria is providing the weaponry that is killing American soldiers.

Iran is providing the car bombs that are killing American soldiers.

And the members of the Iraq Study Group blame Israel.

For the love of God.

You're Paying For Your Fun

Could this ...
By David Seifman, The New York Post

December 8, 2006 -- It's not quite time to hit the panic button, but the city's growing mountain of debt - $6,801 for every man, woman and child - needs to be "carefully monitored," Comptroller William Thompson warned yesterday.

New York and its various entities owe $55 billion. Debt service reached 12.3 percent in fiscal 2006 and is expected to hit 16.6 percent by 2010. Thompson said no other city in a large survey came close. (link)
... have something to do with this:
By David Seifman, New York Post City Hall Bureau Chief

December 8, 2006 -- Stepping up his crackdown on illegal guns, Mayor Bloomberg fired a second round yesterday at out-of-state dealers who he claims are responsible for a disproportionate share of the illegal weapons flooding the streets of New York.

With Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo at his side, the mayor announced new Brooklyn federal court lawsuits against a dozen dealers in Georgia, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Fifteen other gun shops in the same five states had been sued by the city in May. (link)
You think it's a swell idea for your mayor to be filing costly harrassing lawsuits? You think it's a swell idea for your city's debt to be a staggering $55 billion? Swell.

Dems Take Charge. Economy Now Great.

The New York Times just a few weeks ago was lamenting the diminution of wages in this country as prices at the retail level and inflation took their toll on household incomes. Now, miraculously, all that has changed. Happy days are here again:
Long a Laggard, Wages Start to Outpace Prices
By Jeremy W. Peters and David Leonhardt, The New York Times

After four years in which pay failed to keep pace with price increases, wages for most American workers have begun rising significantly faster than inflation.

With energy prices now sharply lower than a few months ago and the improving job market forcing employers to offer higher raises, the buying power of American workers is now rising at the fastest rate since the economic boom of the late 1990s. (link)
Interestingly, I looked for an attaboy in the article for President Bush's economic policies but failed to find one. Puzzling.

But the good times once again roll. Let's celebrate. Odd though how it suddenly turned around ... on November 8.

On Grammar

I'm reluctant to go up against the venerable New York Times when it comes to word usage but is this a good sentence?
Off to College on Their Own, Shadowed by Mental Illness
By Lynette Clemetson, The New York Times

The transition from high school to college, from adolescence to legal adulthood, can be tricky for any teenager, but for the increasing number of young people who arrive on campus with diagnoses of serious mental disorders — and for their parents — the passage can be particularly fraught. (link)
It's that word "fraught" dangling at the end. It seems to be ... dangling. I want it to be connected with something. "Fraught with moments of fear." "Fraught with danger." Fraught with something. Anything.

Or maybe I'm just fraught. You decide.

The Downside To Tourism

The movement that has swept up most of Southwest Virginia's politicians (led by head cheerleader, Congressman Rick Boucher), to push millions of precious tax dollars into the tourism agenda, the result of which has brought us an impressive network of hiking trails and bike paths from Giles to Wise and beyond (and a less impressive handful of tourists), is generally one of benign intentions (which is why Boucher has chosen to wrap his arms around it). Nobody can be accused of polluting the streams around here or of causing global warming by supporting the tourism plan. The little animals out in nature aren't harmed by it. And nobody can claim discrimination in its application.

Advocates can even make wild claims of the effort's fantastic success, knowing full well that the results obtained from such an initiative can't accurately be measured - or even inaccurately measured.

But the opportunity occasionally arises that allows for the citizens of Southwest Virginia to step back and take an empirical look at an agenda as nebulous as "tourism" and make a judgement for themselves.

I cite two separate articles that appeared in the last few days in two separate newspapers. First there was this:

Furniture makers protest rate plan
Executives said Appalachian Power's proposed increase would mean lost jobs.
Ray Reed, The Roanoke Times

Appalachian Power Co.'s 25 percent rate increase could send some of Virginia's few remaining furniture-making jobs elsewhere, manufacturing executives told the State Corporation Commission on Wednesday.

Doug Bassett, vice president of sales for Vaughan-Bassett Furniture in Galax, said his company has survived the onslaught from cheap-labor imported furniture in the U.S. market.

But Appalachian's rate increase would add $330,000 a year to operating costs in 2007 and "it's easy to move our production to where costs are lower," Bassett said.

Keith Sanders, executive vice president of Bassett Furniture Co. in Bassett, who said his company has laid off 1,400 and has 450 remaining jobs. A rate increase approaching 30 percent, he said, "will cost Virginia more manufacturing jobs." (
The cost of electricity is going up. Therefore the cost of doing business will be going up. And jobs in Southwest Virginia will be affected by it negatively. More men and women are going to be thrown out of work.

So what does this have to do with tourism?

Concern voiced about hydropower plan
The Dickenson Star

Clintwood - The county board of supervisors pledges not to support a proposed hydropower plant on John Flannagan Dam and Reservoir unless the potential negative impacts on tourism are taken into consideration.

The board is drafting a statement to send to the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency explaining its conditional lack of support for the project.

Supervisors are not entirely opposed to the proposed project if it can be completed without inhibiting the tourism they say has great potential and is on a steady rise. (
link requires paid subscription)
Dickenson County is blocking the construction of a power plant because it might inhibit "the tourism they say has great potential and is on a steady rise" that nobody on the county board of supervisors could quantify if their lives depended upon it.

But what can be quantified are unemployment numbers, population trends, per capita income, median household income, and poverty rates (find the stats
here). And Dickenson County has the distinction on too many occasions of leading the state in percent of jobless claims to population and lagging woefully behind the state in all the other categories.

Knowing this, what is the biggest concern of the board of supervisors in Dickenson County? Skyrocketing utility costs to area businesses? The jobs that will be lost because of those rising rates?

No. The county is willing to accelerate the job losses by blocking the opportunity to increase power capacity which would have, in turn, driven down electricity costs, and might have actually created jobs. To protect the "tourism industry."

At some point, someone is going to demand numbers. If there is a burgeoning tourism industry in Dickenson County, Virginia, someone ought to be held to account and to prove it. And not by citing some state agency that is in the business of cooking up numbers that show, by census data, demographic analysis, and statistical calculation (obtained
on a heath near Forres) the area to be awash in RV's, mountain bikes, and lice-infested hikers. But the numbers are never forthcoming.

Our furniture companies are in fact laying off employees. And power companies are in fact raising their rates. And we bask in fact in the success stories that come to us - seemingly each day - of an ever growing tourism industry - somewhere.

Somewhere. Over the rainbow ... bluebirds fly ...