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

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Elie Wiesel To Speak At Virginia Tech

The Roanoke Times brings us the following welcome news:

Wiesel will speak at Virginia Tech

Nobel Peace Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel will visit Virginia Tech in April as part of
Holocaust Awareness Week. He is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. April 13 in Burruss Hall.

Wiesel won the prize in 1986 for his book "Night," which tells about his experiences in Nazi death camps.

Born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, Wiesel was 15 when he and his family were deported by Nazis to Auschwitz. He lost two sisters in that concentration camp, and his father died in a camp in Buchenwald shortly before it was liberated.

Wiesel has written more than 40 books and has taught religion and philosophy at Boston University since 1976. He served as chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust from 1978 to 1986, and his job was planning an American memorial to the holocaust. He was also founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

After winning the Nobel Prize, he and his wife, Marion, established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. (link)

Football season is over by then and NASCAR will not have begun, so you have no excuse for not going to hear what this courageous man has to say.

Queer Beer?

I've heard of niche marketing but this goes too far:

Queer Beer launched for gays

A trio of Swiss businessmen have launched a new drink for gay people called Queer Beer.Michael Hutmacher, 32, came up with the idea with two friends and has now founded a company, Lemonhead, to market it.

He said: "My business partner, who is gay, and I were talking about how to corner the homosexual market and came up with the idea for a drink aimed specifically at gay men and women.

"It really was just a crazy idea at first, but we've now come up with a product." (
link)

I've come up with some slogans the manufacturer might wish to use. Unfortunately, I wouldn't want my children or grandchildren to ever read any one of them on these pages.

But the imagination runs wild ...

It Couldn't Happen To A More Derserving Bunch

You are about to hear a lot about racists at the IRS. It is the modern day version of "the last refuge of a scoundrel." When a black huckster (Sharpton, Jackson, Mfume, Farrakhan) or group of hucksters (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, NAACP, Democratic party) are accused of wrongdoing, they beat a path to that tried and true defense: Racism!

NAACP Resists IRS Investigation Group Calls Probe Politically Motivated
By Darryl Fears Washington Post Staff Writer

The NAACP announced yesterday that it is refusing to comply with an Internal Revenue Service investigation into its tax-exempt status that was launched last year after its chairman criticized the Bush administration in a speech.

Interim President Dennis Hayes said the probe, ordered just weeks before the presidential election, "was clearly motivated by partisan politics and intended to divert us from impartial voter registration." The NAACP and other groups registered thousands of black voters, a group that, exit polls showed, voted heavily against the president in November.

The IRS said its investigation seeks to determine whether Julian Bond violated federal
regulations that bar certain tax-exempt organizations from engaging in most forms of political activity. Bond's comments about Bush and Democratic Party leaders were made during the NAACP's annual convention last summer in Philadelphia.

"The timing of the investigation is critical here," said Angela Ciccolo, an attorney for the NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. "The remarks were made in July, and in October, when we're trying to register African American voters, we get this order. We think it's important to stand up to this type of intimidation, especially in an election year."

Ciccolo said the NAACP would not respond to an IRS summons that requested Bond's speech and specific financial information. Ciccolo declined to reveal the specifics of the IRS request.

In a letter to the IRS sent late last week, the NAACP said Bond's statements "were consistent with the organization's long-standing practice of advocating positions in the interest of minorities in the United States without regard to election cycles." (link)

It is high time the NAACP was called to account for their promotion of the Democratic party at the same time they are claiming tax-exempt status as a non-partisan civil rights group. There are many of us for years now who have argued that they can't have it both ways.

I have my doubts, but perhaps the IRS will end the charade once and for all.

The Enemy Among Us

I have avoided mention of Ted Kennedy's shameful speech at Johns Hopkins last week in which he called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq - just days before the historic elections there. I generally find him to be a despicable, amoral, and cowardly individual who is not worthy of my thoughts - or precious space in my weblog.

But I read this article in Tech Central Station and thought it deserves a mention:

As the eyes of the world were turning to Iraq in anticipation of the country's first free elections in decades, powerful politicians at the highest levels of the United States government began to urge a precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The most prominent of these politicians was Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who called for the creation and implementation of a specific timeline to bring American troops home. Stating that American troops had become "part of the problem" in Iraq, and comparing the conflict in Iraq to -- wait for it! -- Vietnam, Senator Kennedy called for 12,000 American troops to leave the country "at once" (this is, of course, in sharp contrast to the traditional Democratic talking point stating that the Bush Administration needs to send more troops to Iraq), a complete withdrawal of the American military presence "as early as possible in 2006," and the enactment of administrative measures that would "dramatically reduce the size of the American Embassy" in Iraq (this is in sharp contrast to the traditional Democratic talking point stating that the Bush Administration has not given and does not give diplomacy and soft power enough of a chance before resorting to hard power and military force).

It would be nice to think that this pettiness and short-sightedness could simply be waved away and ignored. Unfortunately, it cannot. Powerful members of the U.S. Congress are loudly insisting on a course of action that would have disastrous consequences for both Iraq and for American credibility. There must be a serious and concentrated effort to push back against Senator Kennedy's ill-considered proposals. This entails pointing out over and over the degree to which the elections in Iraq represent a hugely positive step in the reconstruction of the country, and the degree to which American security interests are invested in the successful rebirth of Iraq. We
can, after all, still lose the peace in Iraq. And if irresponsible rhetoric such as that proffered by Senator Kennedy is translated into national policy, we will. (
link)

Recklessly irresponsible, if you ask me.

Long Lines At The Polls


In Cleveland, the Democrats whined that long lines at polling centers meant black voter disenfranchisement. In Iraq it is a celebration of freedom.

This firsthand account from an Iraqi living in Baghdad was emailed to me by a cherished reader:
In Baghdad the contribution has been much beyond the expectations. Today I talked to two families living in two different places in Baghdad. I was surprised to hear how motivated people in Baghdad were! This is the first time since the fall of Saddam that I could feel the stand of the silent majority. I never believed that innocent people can challenge the terrorists. In one center in Baghdad a suicide bombers exploded himself at around 7:30 am while people were just arriving to vote. The incid ent resulted
in the killing of few innocents. The person I talked to who lives in that neighborhood stated that the attendance to the attacked center later in the day was unbelievable! The second family I talked to, also in Baghdad, had a similar story.
We are winning the war, one human being at a time.
Click on image to enlarge.
Photo courtesy of Time magazine. Posted by Hello

Let Me Be Brief

This article in the Washington Times supports my idea that too many federal judges appointed by Jimmy Carter are stupid.

Rights of Gitmo prisoners upheld
By Jerry Seper THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A federal judge in Washington ruled yesterday that some suspected terrorists detained as "enemy combatants" at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have constitutionally guaranteed rights to challenge their confinement in U.S. courts. U.S. District Senior Judge Joyce Hens Green said there was "no question" the rights asserted by 54 Guantanamo detainees in a case pending in her court were among "the most fundamental rights recognized by the U.S. Constitution," and that they had the
right to due process. (
link)
Well, there is one question, judge. It has to do with your competency.

This is what I learned in civics class in the sixth grade: the Constitution grants specific authorities to the government of the United States and provides boundaries where state law takes precedence. It also guarantees certain rights to American citizens. A-m-e-r-i-c-a-n citizens.

Foreign nationals may have rights. But none of them are guaranteed by our Constitution. None.

My guess is the good judge was asleep in civics class back in 1906.

A Lesson For Southwest Virginia

Listen up, Congressman Boucher. Someone might wake Governor Warner up as well. You both are going to learn something, whether you like it or not.

Lesson for today: Why Southwest Virginia is losing jobs and how to stop it.

Let me begin the lesson with an article that appeared in this morning's New York Post. It relates to our plight in that it focuses on the reasons why New York State is losing jobs to neighboring states.
WHY NEW YORK LOSES JOBS
By BRIAN McMAHON


SUPPOSE you ran a local business that, mulling an expansion, real ized it could save $1 million a year just on workers' compensation costs by putting the new plant in any state not named New York. It's a real, and recent example. The outcome was predictable: The company created a one-million-square-foot facility — and the jobs that go with it — in a nearby state that had enacted cost-cutting workers-comp reforms.

A new study commissioned by the New York State Economic Development Council confirms that such outcomes — New York losing to states with lower costs — are now all too common. (link)
New York loses jobs to New Jersey. We lose jobs - and lots of them - to Shanghai. And Sri Lanka. Indonesia. Textiles jobs. Furniture manufacturing jobs.

Too often we want to blame the low wages paid to workers over there. But in the big picture, wages are a (significant but) relatively small part of the overall costs of production. There are many, many other costs that America's corporations endure in order to manufacture goods here. And the most crippling are government-induced. One is workers compensation, as illustrated glaringly above. But there is a myriad of taxes and fees - as well as a whole host of costly government regulations - that burden companies here and ultimately - in too many instances - force them to pack it in and move overseas.

We tax inventories. we tax equipment and machinery. We tax sales of goods and services. We tax utility useage (think about that; they pay for electricity and pay a tax to use it). We tax telephone useage (ditto). We tax their property. We tax accounts receivable. We tax capital gains. We tax unemployment (FUTA). We have an income tax on corporate profits. On and on and on. Between the federal government and the state, we are taxing our manufacturers here in Southwest Virginia into ... the Phillipines.

You can put a stop to it, Mr. Boucher. With the help of your good buddy in Richmond. You've gotten pretty adept at obtaining unemployment compensation and retraining funds for our laid off workers. Now you need to devote as much energy to saving our employers.

Cut the costs of doing business!

And before you bring up the wage issue again, let me remind you of something. We pay a textile plant worker in Galax $10 an hour (if that). An employer can take that job to Honduras and pay a person there one twentieth of that. But what does it say about the wage issue being the albatross that we seem to think it is when you take into account the fact that our cotton growers and logging companies in Virginia and the Carolinas package their raw materials, put them on a truck, freight them to the coast, have a longshoreman making $55 an hour load them on a ship, transport them to - in this example - Honduras, have them unloaded, trucked to that spanking new plant, have them processed into a finished product, package it, ship it back to the port, put it back on a boat, send it back to our port, have the same longshoreman - still earning $55 an hour - unload it, and forward it to a warehouse up the road in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

That $10 an hour person in Galax becomes really competitive. If that were the only issue we would not be losing factories here.

Recommendations, again from the same article:

* Reduce employers' costs: New York's opportunities to recruit and retain businesses are constrained by costs of business taxes, workers' comp, health care, and electricity. Policy changes can reduce them, and these changes directly improve New York's business climate.

* Preserve development efforts: New York must maintain and improve key development programs, such as Empire Zones and Industrial Development Agencies. Aggressive incentives have helped counter-balance higher costs of doing business here. Without a clear and certain future, however, the value of these programs will fall sharply.

* Market high-tech strengths: State investments have helped create technology assets, but New York spends nothing to tell this story to the world. The survey showed that the state's high-tech strengths beyond New York City are underestimated — even though the state has invested some $2 billion in technology centers and incentives for high-profile, high-tech projects. New York needs a marketing program to promote its technology advantages to business leaders worldwide and to venture-capital sources closer to home.

* Step up retention efforts. New York must take seriously a company's musings about seeking greener pastures. In the states considered most "business-friendly," state and local development entities regularly visit valued companies to discuss the company's hopes and requirements for growth. New York should emulate that.

Replace the words, "New York" with "Southwest Virginia." The recommendations apply.

Congressman: Either affect change or continue giving the unemployment office a workout. Or, better yet, get the hell out of the way and let others work on preserving our childrens' heritage.

It is up to you.