The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on November 16, 1981 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Monday, November 16, 1981
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Page 4 The Salina Journal — Monday, November 16,1961 Opinion The Salina ournal The next great gun battle Reagan's ship hit by 'friendly fire' With friends like these, who needs enemies? That's what President Reagan must be saying to himself these days. First there was Secretary of State Alexander Haig throwing a public tantrum, claiming someone in the White House was trying to do him dirty. He didn't mention a name but suspicion centered on Richard Allen, the President's national security adviser. Reagan had to call them in for a scolding. Then Haig and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger got into an argument on whether or not there was a secret plan to detonate, if necessary, a nuclear weapon to scare Russia away from an attack on a European nation. Then there was the bomb blast when published interviews with David Stockman revealed he had serious doubts and second thoughts about his and Reagan's economic programs, and that he plotted to wreck the farm assistance program. Then it was revealed that Allen had accepted $1,000 from a Japanese journalist for an interview with Nancy Reagan, had it put in his safe, then "forgot" about it. (Do you wonder if Haig's men had anything to do with that expose?) All these things happened within the space of a couple of weeks. It's enough to make a grown President cry! Of them all, the Stockman interviews were the most damaging, although there were some extenuating circumstances. Many of the interviews were conducted long ago, some even in December before the President took office, and many of them were intended only* as background information for a reporter. But, nevertheless, they have the effect of discrediting much of what the Administration has been doing in the economic field — coming as they do from the chief architect of those programs. Of course, it can be said in his defense, that the President needs aides who aren't "yes men" all the time and aren't afraid to admit they were wrong. But try telling that to President Reagan right now! And try telling the farm state congressmen that Stockman shouldn't be fired forthwith for treachery! The President's program has been severely damaged by "friendly fire." It's listing to starboard. Reagan needs to get his house in order — and quickly. He can no longer afford to be the benign, above-it-all, laid-back chairman of the board. He has to get his whip out and use it. LOS ANGELES - In the United States, majority rules — except on gun control. Since 1938, the Gallup Poll and other surveys have indicated that Americans overwhelmingly support registration or licensing of handguns. But politically nothing seems to happen to translate that majority will into law. "Nobody has been able to get around the people who want more handguns sold in the United States — the people who make them and sell them," said John Phillips, the director of the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles. "It is at least a $50-million-a-year business. So, the manufacturers and the National Rifle Association — and the manufacturers are a big financial support of the NRA — fight every attempt at gun control by going to politicians, particularly congressmen. They say, 'Look, if you go against us on this, we'll put hundreds of thousands of dollars into your district against you. We won't convince every voter, but we can get to the 2 or 3 percent who may make the difference.' "It works," Phillips said. "At least it has so far." So what do you do? Go to the people You try to get the issue directly to the people — to 100 percent of the voters. The center and several handgun control organizations are preparing an initiative for the 1982 California ballot. The initiative won't ban handguns. If it passes, it will only require their registration and freeze the number of pistols and revolvers in the nation's largest state at the current number. That number — the total of handguns in California right now — is more than four million. It is growing by 500,000 each year. Obviously somebody is making a lot of money on guns, and those somebodys are going to spend a fortune to try to defeat what will be called "The Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1982." The only other time gun control has been voted on by the people of an entire state was in 1976 in Massachu- settes. Voters there turned down a total ban on handguns by a vote of 2 to 1. I KU. ..„ WESKKfl TUt. . . MII uttoL WOP wet aw i One gun company alone, Smith & Wesson, spent $165,000 to help defeat that initiative. But, according to polls, a total ban on handguns is not and has never been supported by a majority of Americans. The California effort will be based on what has apparently always been the majoritarian position: Some control for registration. In 1938, according to Gallup, 84 percent of Americans favored a registration law for revolvers and pistols. Forty-two years later, in 1980, Gallup asked the same set of questions, and licensing laws were favored by 83 percent of people who did not own handguns and 65 percent of handgun owners. The gun manufacturers' money, however, has impressed politicians more than those numbers. The backers of the California initiative hope to raise $2 million for the campaign that will begin in January with the collection of the 344,000 valid signatures necessary By Richard Reeves Syndicated Columnist to place a proposed law on the state ballot. They hope that kind of money, which the gun manufacturers and salesmen can easily match, is available in a state where public handgun control advocates range from former Gov. Edmund (Pat) Brown to Bob Hope. An important vote Like Proposition 13 in 1978, this gun battle — which has absolutely nothing to do with rifles and shotguns — will focus national attention on California procedures for public lawmaking. It will be one of the year's most important elections, because both sides will inevitably see it as the time and place where Americans decide whether they want to continue to live (and die) with shots in the night and blood in the streets. The initiative will propose heavy penalties - things like an automatic six months in Jail for carrying an unregistered loaded pistol - but the idea is not to eliminate handguns. Any law allowing four million of the things is hardly a ban. : The idea, quite simply, is to demonstrate to elected officials that the majority of Californians — of all Americans — are sick and tired of living in a country where 40 times as many people are killed each year by handguns as are killed by guns in Canada, Great Britain, West Germany, Israel, Switzerland and Sweden combined. Letters to the Editor AAillicent Fenwick looks to the Senate Columnists appreciated DEAR SIR: Thank you for the very wise and timely columns written by John McCormally. We also enjoy Mary McGrory, and the local writer, Kay Berenson. Although we often disagree with him, James J. Kilpatrick is a joy to read because of his use of the English language. The Salina Journal is a good paper, well made up and very nicely printed. - THELMA E. WRIGHT, 804 W. Republic. Thanks to Salina DEAR SALINA: Thank you from the heart for a memorable visit to your wonderful community. The three days that I spent in Salina in residency with the Salina Arts Commission were three of the most professionally fullfilling days of my career. I so much appreciated the opportunities to visit your Junior High and High Schools. Sharing my music with the young audience in Salina was a joy! I wish that I had been able to spend more time with more students. My visit to St. John's Military School was also really memorable. I don't often get to play for such interesting and interested students as the young men I had the pleasure to meet at St. John's. Most of all I want to thank Martha Rhea, Saralyn Hardy and members of the Salina Arts Commission staff whose wonderful organization and hard work put together the most successful residency of my career. I really hope that the citizens of Salina realize what a first rate arts commission Salina has. A national model could be created from your example! Last, but by no means least a big thank you to the Salina audience whose warm reception of my performance left me on top of the world. Every artist should play in Salina at least once in a lifetime. Best wishes for a great year! — NEILL ARCHER ROAN, Omaha, Nebr., classical guitarist. Letters Wanted The Journal welcomes letters to the editor but does not promise to print them. The briefer they are the better chance they have. All are subject to condensation and editing. Writer's name must be signed with full address for publication. Letters become the property of The Journal. WASHINGTON - Rep. Millicent Fenwick, R-N.J., is, she says, "waiting for a sign." Almost anything would do to push her into a race for the Senate, for the seat on which Harrison Williams is precariously perched. "I went to my doctor," she says, "thinking he could put an end to all this. But he says I can do anything I want for the next 20 years — which was no help at all." Ms. Fenwick is 71 years old and she wears a pacemaker. By ordinary standards, a heart patient in her golden years would not seem the ideal candidate for a grueling statewide contest in a crowded field. But she is not ordinary, and neither is her state. New Jersey, its boosters protest, has no more political scandals than any other state, but they concede that it seems that way. Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan says that merely to be from his home state is an indictable offense. Currently each party is, or should be, hanging its head. The Democrats have the case of Sen. Williams who was convicted of taking bribes in the Abscam case, and who is V B y Mary McGrory fighting expulsion from the Senate. The Republicans have just been caught at outrageous electoral skullduggery, reminiscent of Richard Nixon's dirtiest tricks. Armed representatives of the National Ballot Security Task Force, wearing black armbands and carrying huge "warning" signs, went into central city wards with high black registration for the announced purpose of "protecting challenged voters" — some of whom they succeeded in scaring away from the polls. Republican National Committee Chairman Richard Richard! went on the offensive about the offeme. Without the "ballot security" forces, he said, "The Democrats would have stolen the election." Ms. Fenwick's reaction to the episode in no way reflected the official Fundamentalism wins on computer...but LONDON — A computer struck a blow for religious fundamentalism in a study of the Book of Genesis reported here by the Guardian newspaper the other day. But skepticism dies hard. Vexing questions have been posed by the kind of people who write letters to newspapers. The upshot, as the reader will have already imagined, is that the computer has a credibility problem. The original study was conducted in Israel by a team that included a Biblical scholar, a statistician and a mathematician. They sought to resolve by high-tech methods a bitter dispute as to whether Genesis was written by many hands, as moat modern scholars claim, or, as the fundamentalists assert, by a single person, namely Moses- The 20,000 Hebrew words of Genesis were fed into a computer, then tested against M different criteria on the is- iue of the one and the many. Among the criteria were use of the definite article u»e of the conjunction "and," length of word* and richness of vocab- utary. The result was an overwhelming win for Moaei. Aceordiiig to one of the By Joseph Kraft Syndicated Columnist team of scholars, it is 82 percent probable that Genesis was the work of a single author. Not convinced The Reverend Roger Tomes of 262 Withington Road, Manchester, was not satisfied. He describes himself, in a letter to the Guardian, as one who "regularly" tries to "convince students that Genesis could not have been written by one person." He ran the exact same tests on two passages of Genesis generally considered to have been written by different authors. The tests of the definite article, of the length of words, and of the use of the conjunction "and" showed a,high degree of common authorship. But Rev. Tomes ascribes that result not to single authorship but to the character of the Hebrew language. "There are," he wrote, "some similarities in the more formal kinds of language behavior." But one test, richness of vocabulary, goes beyond the structure of the language to the character of the author. There, wide divergencies cropped up. One passage of 469 words used only 98 different bits of vocabulary. The second passage contained 112 different bits in a total of 287 words. Quite a difference, and Tomes could not resist a little crowing. "The case for single authorship," he wrote, "has a formidable obstacle to overcome here." Then he moved in for the kill. He raised once again all the problems that would go forever unresolved if it was finally concluded that Genesis was indeed the product of a single person. "For example, why is the story of creation told twice? Why are plants and animals created before mankind in the one passage, but after mankind in the other? Why, later, is the flood said to have lasted both 40 days, and over a year?" I don't know the answer to those questions. But neither, I'm pretty sure, does the computer. I'm pretty sure because — as they say in the newspaper trade — I did some reporting on the subject. I saw Eric Silver, the author of the original Guardian article, here in London. I mentioned the letter from the Rev. Tomes. Computer not all-knowing Mr. Silver, it developed, had harbored doubts about the computer all along. In preparing his story there had emerged a telling point which he had not included. The research team had also done an analysis on Immanuel Kant. The same testa which disclosed that Genesis was 82 percent likely to have been composed by a single author were applied to the works of Kant. The probability that the works of Kant were written by a single person was, the analysis disclosed, only 7 percent. In other words, just as there are some things in modern life beyond the reach of Genesis, so there are other matters to which computers are poor guides. But alas, just as there is religious fundamentalism, so there is computer fundamentalism. Rep. Millicent Fenwick line: "That was a damn fool thing to do," she fumed. It's that predilection for speaking her mind that makes her special in her party — and also in the House, where the is the undisputed grande dame. That and a couple of other things: Her elegant appearance — she was once a Vogue model and is still a clotheshorse — her corncob pipe, her real pearls, her outspokenness (she called her colleagues "pickpockets" for accepting a back-door pay raise) and her great wealth — she is worth $5 million. In her five years in the House, she effortlessly became what the others in the pack long to be, a celebrity. She has been on "60 Minutes." She is a character in "Doonesbury," where she is known as "Lacey Davenport," a genteel, charming aristocrat, who is stricken over political corruption, environmental abuse and human rights violations. Many have forgiven her her fame and her wealth, among them Democrats who envy her independence from the grubby political considerations they have to make. Rep. Barbara Mikulski, the small, combative liberal Democrat from blue- collar Baltimore, who disagrees with her on many matters, unhesitatingly pronounces Fenwick "gutsy and honest." Rep. Michael Barnes (D-Md.) says, "I hate to say it because she's in the wrong party, but I think she would be a dynamite candidate." Some call her a "fraud" — because 'she yearns over the poor and votes for Reagan's harsh economics — and a "fake" — because she inveighs against congressional pay raises when she obviously doesn't need the money. And she speaks too much, too soon for some of her collegues. Andy Jfaguire, a for- mer Democratic congressman who Is getting into the race, says she would not wear well because of her "flakl- ness." She's in the lead Polls taken in the governor's race picked up the fact that she leads Jeffrey Bell, a conservative Republican who has already announced his candidacy, by 20 points in statewide approval ratings. The White House insists that the president, although Bell once worked for him and is closer ideologically, would be neutral — just as he will be in California, where his daughter is running. Fenwick agrees with Reagan on spending cuts, but differs on foreign policy and social issues and isn't so sure about White House good will. Independent efforts to make her human rights director at State or ambassador to Italy — Italian is one of the three foreign languages she speaks fluently — came to naught. While she is waiting for the sign, Ms. Fenwick agonizes, ironically, over money. A vociferous defender of campaign reform, she has vowed never to accept PAC funds, because, she says, "How is the public to know if a congressman votes the PAC way because he believes it or because he was bought?" She could use her own money but it will take at least $700,000 for the primary, and she frets over her obligations to her 11 grandchildren. She admits to ambition. "Yes, it's there," she said the other day. "I think it would be rather grand to be in the Senate." New Jersey could use a little image- burnishing right now. If they want a high-minded, pipe-smoking, opinionated lady with beautiful cheekbones and unlimited candor to do the job, it's obvious she wants to apply. Where fo write Sen. Robert Dole 4213 Senate Office Building ' Washington, D.C. 20510 * it * Rep. Pat Roberts 1428 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 * it it Sen. Nancy Kassebaum 304 Russell Senate Building Washington D.C. 20510 . 1 Meditations Are you unsatisfied with the world's offerings? You are hungering for Jesus.

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