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

Friday, June 01, 2007

Quote Of The Day

From The Wall Street Journal:
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is due to be sentenced next week, and--just in time--Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has decided this was a leak case after all. Last week he filed a brief with the court arguing that Mr. Libby should receive a prison sentence in line with crimes that neither he nor anyone else was ever accused of committing. If the court accepts Mr. Fitzgerald's logic, the sentence meted out in this fantastic case would at least double, to a minimum of 30 months. So it goes in a case brought by an unaccountable prosecutor now requesting an unreasonable penalty based on evidence he never introduced at trial. This is America?
"Fitzgerald Doubles Down," June 1, 2007 (emphasis in the original)

Facts Would Be Nice To Go Along With The Harangue

A pair of Dublin residents, writing in this morning's Roanoke Times, opposes the private ownership of handguns. They offer as their argument one "fact" and a lot of platitudes. Let's take them on:

Shooting holes in gun proponents' arguments
Larry Gaber and Polly Archer

op/ed

Having reached our saturation point with the arguments supporting handguns for self-defense, especially those that start out with "Well, why don't we ban automobiles because they kill people," we felt it was essential to restate what should be obvious -- handguns are designed and sold solely for the purpose of killing.
Yeah, we all support our argument that handguns make for great self-defense with "well, why don't we ban automobiles." After we've gotten good and liquored up maybe.

That last, for the record, is the only sentence in this rambling bit of bluster that is represented as a fact - that "handguns are designed and sold solely for the purpose of killing." Do these two think their letter is being read only in the editorial board room? Do they have any idea how many thousands of citizens are laughing at that statement of "fact" at this very moment?

This appears just days after I highlighted on this very site a three-generation Fuhrman family spring weekend outing in which we took several handguns to the Back 40 and shot up paper targets. For fun and relaxation. We didn't kill anyone, nor did we intend to.

And this will come as news to the Dublin pair, Larry and Polly, but there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who participate, on one level or another, in competitive handgun shooting sports, where human beings are not generally considered to be a legitimate target.

And look up the word plinking. It was created to describe those millions of Americans who enjoy shooting, often with a handgun, "non-traditional targets such as tin cans, glass bottles, and balloons filled with water."

And then there are the many thousands of hunters in this country whose weapon of choice is a handgun. Try it rabbit hunting. It's a hoot. And in the brush, a .44 is great for boar.

But yes, Larry and Polly, a handgun is designed to kill people too. That's why millions of Americans own one or more. A handgun makes for wonderful personal protection. And will remain so for generations to come. At least as long as there are bad people out there.

Polly and Larry don't stop with the ludicrous. They quickly move on to the ... well, specious:
Another argument, the deterrence factor, is equally specious -- for every crime that is supposedly deterred because an outlaw" will think twice if he knows/thinks his intended victim may be armed, how many innocent spouses, children, friends or strangers are killed because a handgun is available in the heat of the moment or seen as a toy or used in a case of mistaken identity or mistaken intent or simply by accidental discharge?
Guys, if you are going to call the argument specious, you might want to back up the charge, instead of asking a question that is supposed to elicit an emotional response.

But since you asked, here are some facts.

First, from John Lott: "18 national surveys by academics as well as national polling organizations show that there are 2 million defensive gun uses each year." 2,000,000.

As to the number of "innocent spouses, children, friends or strangers ... killed because a handgun, etc.":

- Accidents per year involving children aged 0 to 14 (all firearms, not just handguns)? 138.

- Suicides by firearm, per year (not just handguns ...)? 18.000.

- Murders by firearm, per year (all firearms)? 14,000.

Combined, that's 32,138. Or 1.6% compared to the positive uses of guns as personal protection.

1.6%.

You asked.

In addition:

- Percent of all Emergency Room visits that involve firearms (again, not just handguns) accidents? 0.2%

- Percent of defensive gun uses in which no shot is fired...92% (source)

Larry and Polly end with this:

Finally, the old NRA mantra "if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" is hauled out yet again. The most commonly stolen items in burglaries are guns. The outlaws are aware of the absurd number of guns in private residences just waiting to be taken.
I'm inclined to demand proof. A fact perchance. But this is silly beyond reason. That "most commonly stolen items in burglaries are guns" is nothing more than sophistry and isn't worth addressing.

But there is a point that needs to be made once again, one that this pair of dreamers makes - if in a backhanded way. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

A recent tragic event backs that up, along with two unarguable facts: On the Virginia Tech campus, a complete ban on the possession of handguns exists. One day in April, only one man on that campus - an outlaw by anyone's definition - had possession of one. In fact, two. His name was Cho Seung-Hui.

Run from those two facts if you will. Appeal to the gods for mercy if you choose. But you'll never avoid those two facts.

Guns were outlawed.
Only an outlaw had guns.


Is It Any Wonder?

Like many American cities, downtown Roanoke has been in decline for decades. For a number of reasons. One big one, as I mentioned yesterday, has to do with parking. The lack thereof, the expense thereof, and the inconvenience thereof. Most importantly, the parking problem cultivated in our urban areas provides a huge advantage to retailers in the suburbs, where free, convenient parking is available in abundance.

As one might expect, the Roanoke Times editorialists this morning, despite seeing that the city is crumbling around them, says "Shucks, fellas, she ain't dead yet. Let's twist the knife some more."
Two dollars isn't too much to ask
editorial

Surely Roanokers aren't so cheap that $2 -- the price the city intends to charge for evening and Saturday parking -- would keep them from coming downtown. The fee really is insignificant pocket change for most diners, shoppers, and arts and tavern patrons. But it is a huge psychological barrier, one that downtown businesses worry will curtail traffic.

An informal poll by those businesses' organization, Downtown Roanoke Inc., discovered in just the first five hours of asking on Wednesday that 93.5 percent of the respondents were "absolutely opposed" to the new fee. Count us among the 6.5 percent who aren't. (link)
In an explanation that defies logic, the Times argues for downtown parking to become even more expensive, in part because the parking garages that the city built and that people have to pay to use (grab hold of something stationary) need to be financed and maintained.

... this is the reason the mayor and council cite, someone has to pay to maintain the current parking facilities and the $7.2 million debt service on a new garage between Campbell and Salem avenues.

The garage will serve residents moving into new condos under construction downtown. The more people calling downtown home the better for the health of the market and surrounding businesses.
Rube Goldberg would get a kick out of this. The city provides parking space to condo buyers. And it charges you shoppers for the effort. You shoppers, an ever-declining Roanoke city tax base. You who will now be charged dearly for that which you got for free up until now and which will still be free in the suburbs. Where you prefer to shop anyway. So that people will want to live downtown. Where the number and variety of shopping opportunities are in precipitate decline.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

From The Ashes

God love John Boehner. His heart is in the right place. Too bad his (apparent) drinking problem has clouded his ability to think and comprehend. The Republican House Majority Leader thinks the only thing that keeps his party out of power is its brand recognition.

Memo to Boehner:

Enron has a better brand. But your problem isn't the brand. It's where you stand.

The sad news:

Boehner Leads Effort to Polish GOP 'Brand'
By Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post Staff Writer


Their president's approval ratings are at historic lows. The war in Iraq is grinding down their political prospects, and their party is showing deep divisions on issues such as education and immigration.

But to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Republicans' path to power rests on brand recognition. Boehner has convened a group of allies and confidantes to work on GOP "branding," an exercise designed to restore an identity to a party that many voters no longer see as holding a core set of principles.

"We're trying to look into our conscience and define ourselves, and as we define ourselves, decide how we can best ... (link)

This is so pathetic. This reminds me of Kmart's strategic maneuver to change its brand by altering the marquee on the front of its stores from Kmart to Big Kmart - just before it filed for bankruptcy.

It is disturbing that these guys no longer know who they are. Worse yet, they have completely forgotten who they represent.

Can the Republicans in Washington be more out of touch?

Our Laws Are a Joke ...

... and so are those who write them.

From Charles Krauthammer, writing in this morning's Washington Post ("Get in Line, Einstein"):
...[A] staggeringly stupid idea is reason alone to vote against the immigration bill. Beyond stupidity, the bill offers farce. My favorite episode is the back-taxes caper. John McCain has been going around telling everyone that in order to be legalized, illegal immigrants will, among other things, have to pay back taxes. Such are the stern requirements on the "path to citizenship."

Problem is, McCain then discovered that back taxes were not in the bill. The Department of Homeland Security had
argued that collecting on money paid under the table -- usually in cash, often with no receipts -- is pretty much impossible. Indeed, the cost of calculating and collecting the money would probably exceed the proceeds.

Now, nonpayment of taxes is not the kind of thing you want to defend when trying to sell immigration reform to citizens who do pay their taxes -- back and otherwise. So last week John McCain proposed an amendment to restore the back-taxes provision. A somewhat sheepish Senate approved this sop -- unanimously.

But the campaign for legalization does not stop at stupidity and farce. It adds mendacity as well. (link)
It's beyond parody. This is tragedy.

Running Into a Buzz Saw

Well, the Democrats are happy. And the Mexicans are happy. And everyone in Washington is wildly giddy about the president's immigration amnesty bill that will legalize the status of 12 million lawbreakers in this country and encourage tens of millions more who are lining up at our borders to take advantage of the government's largesse. But, in his calculation, Mr. Bush left someone out of the equation. And that mistake is blowing up in his face:
RNC fires phone solicitors
The Washington Times


The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times.


Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times.

The national committee yesterday confirmed the firings that took place more than a week ago, but denied that the move was motivated by declining donor response to phone solicitations. (link)
I've always been highly dubious of the argument put forth - mostly by Washington reporters - that Karl Rove was some kind of political guru par excellence. I used to hear the same thing said about Bill Clinton; that he too was a masterful politician.

Well, old Bill, the political genius, managed to lose, while he was in office, majorities in both the House and the Senate to the Republicans, and through his childish shenanigans - or was it political genius? - managed to become only the second president in history to be impeached. Brilliant strategy that.

Rove can - so far - claim for Bush only two out of the three. We'll see where his genius takes the impeachment talk.

Anyway, the Republican Party, because of its arrogant detachment from its hard-core conservative base, is floundering. Some say imploding. Solely because of the immigration debate.

They were warned. Repeatedly. And the warnings went unheeded. Now donations to the party have ceased and they're forced to fire staff right and left.

Political strategists. Such fools.

Hat tip to Isophorone

While Our Wishes Are Completely Ignored ...

... Mexicans have the president's ear. And they're none too happy about Bush's amnesty bill. It is much too harsh on those millions of their countrymen who live here illegally and it makes it too difficult for others to come here in the future.

Someone shoot me:
What Mexico Wants
By Jorge G. CastaƱeda, writing in the New York Times


No nation is as involved in United States immigration as Mexico, and no government’s cooperation will be as necessary as Mexico’s if immigration reform is to succeed.

Fortunately, most of the reform proposals represent a very good deal for Mexico ...

There are three Mexican objections to the bill as it stands.

First, it has unduly harsh enforcement provisions at the border and the workplace, which will undoubtedly generate abuses and mistreatment. (link)
That's Jorge's first objection. Enforcement provisions are harsh. Like anyone in Washington is serious about actually enforcing the border enforcement provisions.

After that, I didn't even want to know what this guy's second and third objections were. They probably had something to do with reparation payments for whipping Mexico in the war of 1847, and renaming our nation's capital after Pancho Villa.

And it wouldn't surprise me if ...

Why Does This Seem Offensive?

The New York Times this morning has another puff piece on Barack Obama. But this one I don't believe.

We're told the man who may some day have his finger on the nuclear button is good at playing basketball.

What?

One Place Where Obama Goes Elbow to Elbow
By Jodi Kantor, The New York Times


Last Christmas, Senator Barack Obama flew to Hawaii to contemplate a presidential bid in the peace of his childhood home. But there, on a humid playground near Waikiki Beach, he found himself being roughed up by some of his best friends. It was the third and final game of the group’s annual three-on-three basketball showdown, and with the score nearly tied, things were getting dirty.

Mr. Obama, like everyone else on the court, was laughing. (link)


Someone at the Times decided this kind of story would bolster Obama's battered image within the black community, no doubt. Why else print it? For that reason, it's almost shameful.

Can we get past the (distasteful) stereotypes here and move on to the more important business at hand? Like the terrorist armageddon that is looming?

The man can dribble and shoot a mean jump shot. Fine. But what are his hip-hop capablilities? Can he score us some dope? Does he know who his daddy is?

Can this be any more offensive and less important?