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

Sunday, July 24, 2005


For some reason, I've not linked to RoanokeJournal.com in the Virginia's Best blogroll off to the left. Until now that is.

Take a look. It is a site that is focusing on weblogs originating from the Roanoke Valley and from Southwest Virginia generally.

It also includes a section relating to podcasting, something that is suddenly sweeping the nation and soon, the world. (I feel so inadequate all of a sudden. In the internet universe, if you stop and relax for a brief moment, the technology leaves you behind.)

Anyway, it's kinda cool. Give it a try.

You Don't Know a Rainy Day

Governor Mark Warner basks in his massive "rainy-day fund" that has grown into hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, with a warmth that comes from knowing that the state government has lots of wealth. (The Roanoke Times is gleeful as well. See yesterday's editorial, "A budget surplus that really isn't.")

I'll bet the 1,000 - one thousand - former Pillowtex employees over in Fieldale (near Martinsville) are just as ecstatic knowing that their government has $544 million and it cannot find anything to spend it on.

Here's their story appearing in the same Roanoke Times today.

Pillowtex closing: 2 years later
By Duncan Adams

The closing of Pillowtex Corp.'s plant in Fieldale resulted in a wave of anger and uncertainty in the almost 1,000 workers who found themselves without a job.

Nearly two years after Wood and about 1,000 co-workers lost their jobs at Pillowtex Corp.'s plant in Fieldale, anger and uncertainty linger among many former employees. As federal benefits begin to run out, the uncertainty increases. Even those retrained for new careers worry that any work they'll find nearby will be low-paying service sector jobs.

[Former employee Gary] Wood hopes a raise tied to his anniversary next month with Wal-Mart will boost his pay to about $7.50 an hour, about $3 less per hour than he made packing towels.

Regional and local food banks still serve many people affected by the closing. Peggy Taylor, director of the food pantry for One Accord Baptist Church in Martinsville, said the pantry served about 40 to 50 families a month before the closing and has served about 160 families a month afterward.

Last year, despair took Melvin Clark of Bassett. In early July 2004, Clark, a former maintenance supervisor at the Fieldale plant, shot and killed himself just a few weeks shy of the factory closure's first anniversary. He was 58. Survivors included his wife, Juanita Clark, a daughter and grandchildren. (link)

Gary Wood hopes to get a raise to $7.50 an hour. Melvin Clark blew his brains out. Martinsville and Danville, Virginia (along with much of Southside and Southwest Virginia) are becoming one vast wasteland.

We can all, though, take comfort in knowing that our state government has socked away $544 million - including dollars contributed by Wood and Clark. Consider: A portion of the sales tax that Melvin Clark paid when he purchased the ammunition that he used to commit suicide at that point in time when he sank to the depths of despair and gave up all hope for the future went toward Governor Warner's rainy-day fund. A massive rainy-day fund.

I have a suggestion for Warner and the folks at the Times:

You have the fund. Come on down here. I'll show you rain.

Washington Post Pulls a Roanoke Times

I savaged - rather effectively - the Roanoke Times editorial staff yesterday for fudging the news coming out of Richmond by their claiming that the state budget surplus wasn't a surplus (the money was so spent; it was set aside in a rainy-day fund, damn it!). Today it's the Washington Post that goes out of its way to torture the truth.

Here's the assertion that they intend to knock down:
Estate Tax Myths

ONE OF THE chief arguments of those seeking permanent repeal of the estate tax is that it cruelly penalizes farmers and owners of small businesses whose heirs are forced to sell off their holdings to pay the tax. (
Now a thinking person would expect to read next that it (the estate tax) does not cruelly penalize farmers and owners of small businesses whose heirs are forced to sell off their holdings to pay the tax. Thus, the myth.

Instead we read this:
A new study by the Congressional Budget Office examined estate tax returns filed by farmers and owners of small businesses in 1999 and 2000. The numbers that owed estate tax, the CBO found, were paltry, and the number without enough cash on hand to pay the bill even punier: In 2000, for example, just 1,659 farm estates had taxes due, of which 138 didn't report enough liquid assets to cover their tax liability.
Paltry perhaps. Unless you're one of those 138 poor schleps who had to sell the family farm in order to pay off the government.

But the cynicism expressed in this editorial borders on the vicious.
... the image of the grieving heir packing up his hoe as he trudges away from the family farm is just that -- a powerful image but not an accurate one.
Now that's mean.

What we have here is the Washington Post's disproving its own disproval. The editorial staff proves that it is not a myth and that the estate tax has a devastating impact on farmers and small business owners. Just too few of them to bother with.

They're Starting To Scare Me

The only terrorist bombing the London police have been able to foil before people were blown to bits turns out not to have involved a terrorist at all.

The "bobbies" pumped five rounds into the head of a Brazilian electrician.
Man shot by British cops not terrorist

LONDON -- British police hunting London bombers yesterday admitted killing a Brazilian electrician by mistake -- a blunder that dealt a blow to their efforts to track down militants they fear could strike again.

Police expressed regret ... (link)
I'll bet the police weren't as regretful as that poor fella who thought he was heading off to work but instead found himself splattered all over the sidewalk.

I somehow don't feel safer ...

Rise of the Christian Left

We have news being reported today that a movement is afoot of liberal Christians banding together to challenge the Christian Right.

They met recently in a phone booth in Columbia, Maryland.

Or could have.

Christian group vows to counter religious right

COLUMBIA, Md. -- Some Marylanders who describe themselves as progressive Christians are organizing to counter conservative religious groups that they say are dominating political debates about moral and religious issues.

"We've allowed the Christian right to commandeer and exclusively appropriate the term Christian for themselves," said Paul Verduin, a Silver Spring resident who has helped start Maryland Christians for Justice and Peace. "We refuse to be marginalized by some of their right-wing and extreme positions."

The 20 persons who gathered recently at an Episcopal church in Columbia to talk about the future of the new group came from a variety of religious backgrounds, including the Church of Christ and Lutheran, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches. (link)

Episcopalians. Methodists. Catholics. Lutherans (probably Evangelican Lutherans; they're the crazy old aunt in the attic of the denomination). Church of Christ-ees... er, Church of Christ-ers..

All of 20 attendees.

Why, you can feel the groundswell.

The problem these poor wretches have is the same as afflicts their various and sundry churches: what is it exactly that they stand for?

Yeah. Yeah. They're for love and against hate. They're for togetherness and against bigotry. They're for Bruce Springsteen and against Toby Keith.

But would you give up your bowling night to go downtown to attend a meeting of aging hippies to talk about such idiocy?

It should be painfully clear to these maturated reprobates that the reason attendance at their gathering was so sparse was the same as the reason for their church pews being empty on Sunday. When it comes down to it, they stand for nothing. Their belief system doesn't allow for anything that won't fit on a bumper sticker.

A few years ago we called it "new age." Now we view these old people meeting in abandoned church basements and calling for a jihad against Jerry Falwell as being just left of pathetic.

Let's all join in:

Down with the Ten Commandments! Up with Whatever!
Down with doctrinaire Christianity! Up with Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood!
Down with hate! Up with Fixodent!

Hatred Causes Blindness

"Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated."
George Bernard Shaw

Frank Rich writes a column for the New York Times. His efforts can best be summed up - in their entirety - in these words: I hate Bush. Every article he writes he links to the President. The sun coming up only in the east is a Bush conspiracy relating to the 2000 (s)election. The subway not running on time is a Bush/Rove scheme to punish New Yorkers for their having voted for Kerry. Cameran Diaz has a pimple on her butt? You guessed it.

The Times banished him to their Arts and Leisure section for a time and even in that department devoted to night life, the arts, Central Park and Broadway, he somehow managed to write only about ... George Bush.

Frank Rich must be a miserable human being.

Today he is at it again. A vacancy on the Supreme Court and the President's obligation to replace Sandra Day O'Connor is a lowdown George Bush scheme to deflect attention away from the CIA non-leak non-scandal and from the fact that there were no WMD found in Iraq.

As a friend used to say: "If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'."
Eight Days in July

PRESIDENT BUSH'S new Supreme Court nominee was a historic first after all: the first to be announced on TV dead center in prime time, smack in the cross hairs of "I Want to Be a Hilton." It was also one of the hastiest court announcements in memory [my emphasis; it actually was one of the most drawn out in memory], abruptly sprung a week ahead of the White House's original timetable. The agenda of this rushed showmanship - to change the subject in Washington - could not have been more naked. But the president would have had to nominate Bill Clinton to change this subject.

When a conspiracy is unraveling, and it's every liar and his lawyer for themselves, the story takes on a momentum of its own. When the conspiracy is, at its heart, about the White House's twisting of the intelligence used to sell the American people a war - and its desperate efforts to cover up that flimflam once the W.M.D. cupboard proved bare and the war went south [my emphasis; here you have it] - the story will not end until the war really is in its "last throes." (link)
Part of the reason the New York Times is in sharp decline is because it is awash in tedious reporters and columnists who fixate on the Vietnam War (I should mention the fact that Maureen Dowd does not fit this mold. The reasons for her having a job with the paper are a complete mystery). Iraq is a quagmire like Vietnam. Afghanistan was going to be a quagmire like Vietnam (until it wasn't). Kuwait could very well have become a quagmire. Bosnia, Grenada, Somalia, the riots in South Central ...

Now, it seems, "the newspaper of record" is going to warehouse its share of "the world is the way it is because of George Bush" malcontents. A perpetual Michael Moore movie in print.

I think it wise for both the New York Times and for Frank Rich's reputation that he be convinced to going back to rating hamburgers in local restaurants. He was at least creative then. Although I suppose those greasy burgers could be Bush's fault too.