Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Fence

The Border Fence between the United States and Mexico is coming along. In reading this latest report in CNN, I wondered about a couple things, not for the first time. Wouldn't it be more in the spirit of cooperation and brotherhood to knock down walls. The Berlin wall coming down was the greatest symbol of this. Constructing barriers in Palestine or on the Mexican border seems we're heading in the wrong direction.

Or is it a simple case of what Mark Twain said, "Good fences make good neighbors."

The other thing I wondered about is the cost. Is it really possible that a fence, even a really good one, can cost so many millions? Then I had that forehead slapping moment when I read who's in charge of this thing.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a House committee last month that the government was "on track" to hit that mark, though it had built only 182 miles of pedestrian fence and 153 miles of vehicle barriers as of July 11.

At a cost of about $16 million a mile, the fence will be far more expensive than fences the U.S. government is building elsewhere along the nation's 1,952-mile border with Mexico. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the average cost along the entire border is $2 million to $3 million a mile.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Texas Teachers to be Armed

CNN reports on the developments in Texas to combat school shootings. The problem as they see it is this:

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in a story published Friday on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Web site.

The solution as they see it is this:

Trustees approved the policy change last year, and it takes effect when classes begin this month. For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, must be authorized to carry by the district, must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

This is one of the common arguments about the benefits of arming the "good guys" so they can protect us from the criminals. David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District, who is quoted above, seems to think the only way to deal with this problem is to resort to a combat mentality. The problem with that is we're not talking about the terrorists; we're not talking about an armed jihad. Isn't the typical school shooter a disturbed teenage boy who carries a few weapons to school and shoots up the place? Doesn't he get those weapons from the family arsenal? Wouldn't a law like this only exacerbate the situation? Shouldn't we address the real problem?

Part of the problem is that we have too many disturbed teenage boys. Increased awareness and mental health policies are what's needed. The rest of the problem is there are too many guns. I wrote about this before, which generated very interesting comments. Far from being dissuaded, I'm back to the original premise. There are too many guns and too easy access to them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Arkansas Shooter

The New York Times reports on the tragic fatal shooting of the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, Bill Gwatney, at its headquarters in Little Rock.

The police also recovered a computer, 14 firearms described by the police as hunting weapons, and two sets of keys with the emblems of the car dealerships owned by Mr. Gwatney’s family. Mr. Johnson, 50, died in a shootout with the police after the killing.

To me it seems like Mr. Timothy D. Johnson is one of the ones I've written about before who should not own guns, let alone 14 of them. Is that normal anyway, for a hunter? It seems excessive to me.

My sympathies are with all the victims: Bill Gwatney and his family, of course, Timothy Johnson, victim of his own mental illness and the Little Rock police response, and the policemen who killed him in a shootout. That must be difficult to live with, especially if their response was excessive. I remember once years ago, a policeman went berserk, took some hostages and started shooting up the neighborhood. His colleagues shot him a couple times in the legs and took him to the hospital to get the treatment he so obviously needed. Ever since then, I wonder about these so-called shootouts with the police.

Big Foot?

After a couple days around the internet, the story has reached the mainstream. CNN reports on it today.

The carcass of the furry half-man, half-ape is 7 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs more than 500 pounds, they say. However, the two are not disclosing the exact location of their discovery in order to protect the remaining creatures.

The N.Y. Times has the story too.

Indeed, Mr. Dyer said he and his partner, Matthew Whitton, saw three more of the beasts nearby as they dragged the body of said creature out of the woods. Moreover, Mr. Dyer says he has video clips and photographs to prove it.

I'm usually open to these things, but I don't find these two stories very credible.

What do you think?


The CNN report today makes it sound more and more like a hoax. No surprise there really.


The CNN report today makes it clear: HOAX. But we knew that, didn't we?