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

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Remember The Looming Crisis?

Governor Mark Warner bragged recently that his massive tax increase was necessary to get the state's books in balance. If that were the case, how does he explain this proposed spending initiative mixed in with this year's budget recommendations (as reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch)?

Among the projects in debate was more than $5 million for a tunnel sought by five senators on the budget committee. It would cover the approximately 100 yards from the Capitol to the General Assembly Building, where legislators keep their offices.

"It's not a tunnel, it's a connector," said Sen. Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico, and one of the Senate conferees. (link)
That's R-Henrico as in Republican - Henrico.

Don't forget the fact that it was a small cadre of "Republican" state senators who went along with their Democratic colleagues to raise our taxes last year. At the time, words like "crisis" and "trainwreck" were used to scare Virginians into believing that the state indeed needed more of our hard-earned income.

Many of us knew they were making it all up.

Now those same senators are proving it.

Sorry, fellas. If you've got $5 million to waste on a tunnel that will be used only by a handful of pampered, prevaricating (and portly) politicians who don't wish to get their blow-dried hair and Armani suits dampened by the rain, you've got $5 million you can easily return to the citizens.

We want it back!

... While Back Here In The Real World

While our political leaders plot to spend $5 million so that they don't get their hair wet (see above), folks back here in Southwest Virginia have to worry about human waste in their drinking water.

Life, as we know it, goes on.

Callahan Creek overloaded with pollutants
By JEFF LESTER, Senior Writer

Appalachia's Callahan Creek is tainted by bacteria from feces and pollution from agriculture, mining and urban life, according to a new report prepared for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
The 500-plus-page report outlines several basic steps to begin reducing pollution in the upper Powell River watershed, including Callahan Creek and Lee County's Straight Creek. Recommendations include:

-- Eliminate nearly 350 sewage disposal systems where households "straight pipe" raw human waste into the creeks [my emphasis];

-- Fix an estimated 183 failing septic tank systems;

-- Keep livestock away from streams;

-- Reduce mine pollution by reclaiming abandoned mine land with methods to include remining; and

-- Reduce urban pollution in part by improved street cleaning and garbage control. (
Let's review. People in Wise and Lee Counties who have human feces floating in their drinking water had a portion of their meager incomes (an amount equal to what a Brita Water Purifier would cost) confiscated by politicians in Richmond who needed the money to construct a 100 yard tunnel between their offices and the capital building so that they wouldn't have to walk in the rain. Umbrellas are just not de rigueur, you see.

Dear state senators: $5 million would buy quite a few water filtration systems for your constituents, should you have an interest. I can even provide a source for your consideration: LINK.

I'll leave it to you to do the right thing.

HOV Lane Overcrowding?

I chuckled when I read the news in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that there is a growing fear amongst "experts" that the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on the interstates around Washington DC were becoming overcrowded with hybrid vehicles; those running on a combination of gasoline and electricity.
Hybrid cars in HOV lanes crowding out car-poolers

... lately, some worry the system is coming under threat from an unlikely source: hybrid vehicles.

While officials acknowledge an ongoing problem with solo drivers who cruise illegally in the HOV lanes, they say hybrids have become too much of a good thing -- thanks to an exemption allowing motorists to travel alone in the cars, which run on a combination of gas and electricity and emit fewer harmful fumes than regular vehicles.

A traffic count in the car-pool lanes by a task force of Virginia transportation officials found the number of hybrids more than tripled from 480 last spring to 1,700 in October, accounting for 18 percent of all HOV traffic. The rapid growth of hybrids has pushed the HOV lanes beyond the recommended capacity, officials said. (link)
First, I learned long ago that statistics can be wonderfully deceptive, even while accurate. The number 1700 sounds like a huge number until you realize that, at least the way I read the sentence, there were 1700 hybrid cars passing by in a month. On the highways around Washington DC, there are 1700 vehicles passing by each minute. So I wouldn't get out the hankies quite yet.

Here's my take on this shocking news: I'm glad somebody's getting some use out of the otherwise abandoned HOV lanes.

Some genius, probably the "expert" who stood out on I-395 and counted cars for a month, decided many years ago that the way to alleviate interstate highway overcrowding was to set aside one (precious) lane for vehicles with more than one occupant, nudging people into wanting to carpool. What resulted, instead, was massive overcrowding in the non-HOV lanes and extremely light traffic in the HOV lanes.

I have often sat motionless in a traffic jam watching (mostly illegal single occupant) vehicles occasionally zip by in the HOV lane and I growl. My government is my friend. My government is doing what is best for me.

As tens of thousands of vehicles sit at idle, spewing carbon monoxide and assorted hydrcarbons into the atmosphere, while the price of crude tops $50 a barrel, I watch my gas gauge slowly work its way toward empty.

Yeah, I'll worry about too many hybrid cars using HOV lanes. At about the same point in time when I worry about frogs sprouting wings.

The Times They Are A'Changing

There seems to be news each day of dramatic changes taking place in the Muslim world. Today's good news (from the Detroit News):
Egypt's Mubarak orders election amendment
By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday ordered a revision of the country's election laws and said multiple candidates could run in the
nation's presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak hasn't faced since becoming the country's leader in 1981.

In his surprise announcement, Mubarak said the country needed "more freedom and democracy," responding to critics' calls for political reform in Egypt. The possibility of a democratic election comes shortly after the historic elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories that brought a taste of democracy to a region the United States has urged to reform.

"The election of a president will be through direct, secret balloting, giving the chance for political parties to run for the presidential elections and providing guarantees that allow more than one candidate for the people to choose among them with their own will," Mubarak said in an address broadcast live on Egyptian television. (
Elections in Iraq. A free Afghanistan. Palestinian elections. Libya voluntarily surrendering its nuclear weapons capability. Massive street demonstrations in Beirut, Lebanon demanding that Syria remove its occupying troops and for free elections. And Egypt liberalizing its election laws.

All a direct result of George W Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Yes sir. The times they are a'changin.

Execution Of The Innocent

The state of Florida is about to execute Terri Schiavo. Her crime? Being unable to tell authorities that she wants to live. And for having married a lowlife scum bag; a man who has aggressively pursued her demise in the courts for several years now. Terri Schiavo is in a semi-comatose state and is unable to communicate her wishes. Instead of trying to protect her, Terri's husband - and the state of Florida - have decided that she wants to die.

So the courts have passed down a verdict. Terri Schiavo is to be starved to death. Forthwith. Arnold Ahlert provides (in the New York Post this morning) us with an explanation of just what that will mean.

THOSE who believe that Terri Schiavo — a Florida woman who has existed in a comatose state for 15 years — should have her life terminated are entitled to their opinions. But spare us the idea that this is about "death with dignity." Here are the details of that "dignified" death.

Since Terri can breathe on her own without a respirator, the only way to ensure her demise is to remove her feeding tube. This means death by dehydration.

Dr. William Burke, a neurologist in St. Louis describes the process: "A conscious person would feel it [dehydration] just as you and I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucous membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining . . . death by dehydration takes 10 to 14 days. It is an extremely agonizing death."

Dignified? If you did that to your pet dog, you'd be locked up for animal cruelty. (
I believe this: Government has no greater responsibility than to protect the innocent from the depredations of others. That's why I oppose abortion.

But you say, "Terri Schiavo would not want to live like this." Of course she wouldn't. Nobody would. But from that truism doesn't flow the conclusion that she wants us - US - to starve her to death. Some of us - I - would choose life.

A completely innocent young woman in Florida deserved better than this. We are better than this.