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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

'Love, A Few Virginians'

Here's a warm and touching Christmas story from the war front:
Christmas Stockings Cheer Soldiers On The Way To War
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Dec. 26, 2005 – It was 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and it was raining at an air base in Kuwait. The "moon dust" that overlays everything in the country was now a gooey mire that stuck to everything. Contrary to popular belief, it does get cold in the Middle East, and it was wet and cold.

About 60 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division waited in a tent for a flight to Baghdad. They had been there a while, as previously scheduled flights were diverted or cancelled.

They sat or stretched out on aluminum Army cots, and slept or talked or read. Some were seasoned noncommissioned officers who had been with the division in 1991's Gulf War. Others had made the run "from the berm to Baghdad" in 2003.

But many other soldiers were just out of the advanced individual training that followed their basic training. It wasn't so long ago that they believed in Santa Claus themselves, one NCO observed, and now they were spending Christmas Eve getting ready to go to a war zone.

Finally, everyone boarded a bus to drive to the Air Force C-130 Hercules transport that would take us to Baghdad. On the way to the aircraft, the radio crackled, "Merry Christmas, everyone." It had just struck midnight.

As the bus approached the aircraft, the soldiers could see a flash of color on the open ramp. Some of the C-130's crewmembers had Santa hats on and were crouched next to a box. As the soldiers approached the aircraft from the bus, the crew hauled out Christmas stockings and passed them out.

The soldiers, who had been silent, livened up and joked a bit. "I must have been a better boy than I thought," said one soldier as he examined the stocking. "Isn't this so nice?" said a young sergeant as she opened a packet of chocolate chip cookies. "This is a bit of home."

Amid the chocolate and cookies were a couple of nontraditional stocking stuffers: foot powder, wet-naps, waterless soap and the like. Soldiers began trading the goodies back and forth, and laughter -- which had been noticeably absent -- filled the aircraft, at least until the engines started up.

Where did the stockings come from? "Don't know," said the C-130's crew chief. "They showed up at the ramp and people asked us to pass them out."

"Some guy in a sled dropped them off," said another Air Force NCO.

It may well have been Santa, but a short note in each stocking indicated the jolly elf has a branch workshop in the United States. "Happy holidays!" the note read. "Please know that there are so many people back home that appreciate your service to our country and the daily sacrifices you make while being deployed. Love, A Few Virginians."

The small, heartfelt gesture made all the difference for the soldiers. Many of them were spending their first Christmas away from their families and friends - and all of them were on their way to war.

"I wish I knew who to thank for this," said a young private. "We don't know what we're heading into, but we know that people care." (link)
A Christmas gift to our fighting men and women from Virginians who chose to remain anonymous and, therefore, be able to accept no thanks, fame, or fortune for their efforts. The essence of Christ's message at Christmas time.

Compare this wonderful story to my next post ...

Hatred From The 'Religious' Left

A contributor to the Charleston (WV) Gazette, one John Warner, felt compelled this morning (see "Left or right? Doctrine of exclusion does not reflect Christ") to lash out at "the right side of the Christian community" and, in the process, fling the most hate-filled bile I've ever read at those who consider themselves to be "born-again" Christians.

Here's a portion of his rant:
... I consider the growing political power of the right-hand side of the Christian community, the fellows who ask you, “Have you been born again, brother?” and then announce that if so you will surely want to support the war effort our “born-again” Christian president so proudly champions. And you will surely want to help Congress deliver that trillion-dollar gift to the wealthy 1 percent or 2 percent of our affluent society. And you will want to do all you can to destroy Social Security, and to reduce financial aid to our struggling university students, and take away Medicaid support for the poorest of our people. You will naturally want to take pride in the new Medicare law, written entirely for the benefit of drug companies. You will want to support the torture we impose on prisoners of war. And you will want to cheer him on as our president plunges our nation into a debt so deep that we face a “financial
holocaust,” as more than one economist describes our economic fate, borrowing from China to pay our most opulent citizens.

And yet these “born-again” Christians — whose unconscionable political and social “values” reflect nothing of the teachings of Christ and refute the biblical injunction to seek “justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” — will be the first to tell me that the Jewish community to which my daughter has bound herself will be excluded from the Kingdom in the Final Days.

In 1943, a Nazi physician by the name of Josef Mengele was assigned to the death camp at Auschwitz, Poland. His task was to stand at the train station and send the disembarking Jews to the left or to the right. He was nicknamed Todesengel, or Death Angel, by inmates at the camp. I wonder: All of you “born-again” Christians who believe in that shibboleth as the ticket to heaven — will you send my daughter to the left or to the right?
His words speak of born-again Christians being akin to nazi death camp physicians. And the Charleston Gazette provides this mean-spirited man a prominent forum in its paper.

To make matters worse, this small-minded, hate-consumed person is professor emeritus at West Virginia Wesleyan College up in Buchkannon. Knowing nothing about the school but being curious as to how a man the Ku Klux Klan would be proud to take in as one of its own could be a professor there, I felt obliged to learn something more about this institution of higher learning.

The school, as it turns out, has a website (here). When I began to search the site, the first thing I noticed in its mission statement (here) was that WVWC is "closely related to the United Methodist Church." This all then started to become clear. You may recall, it is The United Methodist Church that has driven two and a half million of its members away in the last thirty years, a loss of one quarter of its original membership. (link)

Read the contemptible - and quite honestly - shocking words of professor emeritus John Warner. Does anyone now wonder why?

On The Dangers Of Environmentalism

There is a fascinating article in The Wall Street Journal this morning by Jim Petersen, entitled "Death of a Sawmill," in which he lays out the damage being done to the logging industry - in this case in the Northwest - by environmentalists and their army of lawyers. Here are a few quotes from the piece:
EUREKA, Mont. -- My friend Jim Hurst auctioned his sawmill in August.

Jim's decision to pack it in after 25 years of beating his head on the wall made big news here in northwest Montana but, alas, not a peep from this newspaper or the New York Times.

Jim faced an insurmountable problem: He couldn't buy enough logs to keep his mill running. This despite the fact that 10 times as many trees as Jim's mill needed die annually on the nearby Kootenai National Forest.

They might as well have been standing on the moon, given the senseless environmental litigation that has engulfed the West's federal forests.

The never-reported truth is that the family-owned sawmills that survived the decade-long collapse of the federal timber sale program no longer have much interest in doing business with a government they no longer trust. Most now get their timber from lands they've purchased in recent years, other private lands, tribal forests or state lands. Some even import logs from other countries, including Canada, New Zealand and Chile. (link)
We have only ourselves to blame for allowing the environmentalists to destroy an industry that had become the frontline guardians of our forestlands. It's a crying shame.

Quote of the Day

Fifteen years ago, not long after the release of "Playing God in Yellowstone," his seminal work on environmentalism's philosophical underpinnings, I asked philosopher and environmentalist Alston Chase what he thought about this situation [see "Death of a Sawmill" post above]. I leave you to ponder his answer: "Environmentalism increasingly reflects urban perspectives. As people move to cities, they become infatuated with fantasies about land untouched by humans. This demographic shift is revealed through ongoing debates about endangered species, grazing, water rights, private property, mining and logging. And it is partly a healthy trend. But this urbanization of environmental values also signals the loss of a rural way of life and the disappearance of hands-on experience with nature. So the irony: As popular concern for preservation increases, public understanding about how to achieve it declines."

Jim Petersen, "Death of a Sawmill," The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2005 (link)

Useful Idiots Indeed

In reading James Taranto's excellent analysis of the state of today's Democratic Party and its destructive positions relating to the war on terror and the party's vehement opposition to it, a thought came to me. Maybe the idiots are actually playing a useful role in our foreign affairs.

In his "Best of the Web Today" piece in The Wall Street Journal yesterday (link here to receive free email subscription), Taranto lays out marvelously well the problem the Dems have created for themselves:

"Some centrist Democrats say attacks by their party leaders on the Bush administration's eavesdropping on suspected terrorist conversations will further weaken the party's credibility on national security," reports Donald Lambro of the Washington Times ...

It's worth pondering just what it is that the Democrats are arguing here. They claim not that President Bush isn't doing enough to keep America safe from terrorism, but that he's doing too much. The implication is that the threat of terrorism within America is not all that serious and never was -- that 9/11, horrific though it was, was a one-off.

... it strikes us that the Democrats' current approach to terrorism is a dangerously complacent one. The 9/11 attacks plainly were not a one-off; even before Sept. 11, 2001, the World Trade Center had been hit in 1993, and Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called blind sheik, had gone to prison in a plot to blow up New York City bridges and tunnels.
Having read that, I began to wonder if the Democrats aren't in fact performing for the USA a valuable service.

As we all know, bin Ladin, Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi are itching to bring the war back to the streets and high-rises of New York City (I wanted to use the words "dying to" but it seems only their followers are "dying to" kill Americans). We also know that all these badasses pay close attention to what's said about them in our too-sympathetic press. What they've been hearing and reading in recent weeks is a cacophony of fear and alarm emanating from a clearly terrorized Democratic Party leadership; a group that is sending a clear and unmistakeable message to those who are plotting to kill us all. That message is:

President Bush is a madman and will stop at nothing to destroy you. He will trample our sacred Constitution. He will invalidate the Bill of Rights in his relentless effort to root out Islamists who plot to commit terrorist acts within our borders. He will imprison without justification and without due process anyone who seems suspicious of being a terrorist. He is willing to kill every human being currently residing in the USA - and will ask God to sort us out - just so that no 9/11's ever happen again on his watch.

Shoot, I'm scared of ol' George just writing that.

To say nothing of Mr. Bush's no-longer-secret plan to set up torture centers around the planet!

It's telling that we haven't had a major terrorist attack within our borders since September, 2001. The Democratic Party, in its relentless effort to demonize President Bush, has frightened the bejeebers out of the Islamist terrorists.

Keep up the good work, fellas. You have become useful - and indispensable - idiots indeed.

On Drinking Habits

Alton Foley reveals his penchant - or I should say his former penchant in the days when he actually had a life (see this post to read about his grueling work schedule) - for drinking to excess "down at the bar" when he was traveling and staying in hotel rooms around the country long ago.

Interestingly enough, I can remember only once, in all the evenings I found myself consuming great quantities of adult beverages, and the number of occasions would run into the hundreds, that I went to a bar by myself. I was (bored) in a hotel in Detroit and decided to walk across the parking lot to a tavern I had frequented in years prior with the intention of sipping some suds and then going back to the room and going to bed. As it turned out, I ran into a good friend and stayed and drank for hours - closing the place as I recall.

With possibly that one exception, I never went drinking alone. I was the classic social drinker. I would always meet some friends at the bar or take some friends to the bar or entertain some clients at the bar but never went alone. I could down voluminous quantities of alcohol in succeeding nights in a row and then go for weeks without touching a drop. It was admittedly a strange lifestyle.

And I wasn't an alcoholic. I drank because I enjoyed it and I quit because I quit enjoying it. I drifted away from all that for a number of reasons - none of which had to do with health or psyche. I mostly just lost connection with those bums with whom I partied a lot. And Paula would tell you I grew up - finally.

I now consume maybe 2% of the alcohol I once did, and most of that comprises wine. The bourbon business, as you probably know, has been in sharp decline in the last decade. "Experts" attribute that decline to a shift in drinking patterns to beer and lighter fare. I know the truth. Except for the occasional trip down memory lane, I gave up the stuff. For better or worse. And Kentucky has suffered ever since.

Anyway, all this makes for some interesting reminisences - for me if not for you all.

*** By the way, I as a responsible adult with a readership that may include young impressionable teenagers, wish to make clear the fact that I oppose the consumption of alcohol in any form - especially by young impressionable teenagers - and renounce my wicked past. My mother occasionally reads this weblog.

A Look Into The Future

And to think - these guys are doing this without a government plan or guidance from the political class:
Chip Industry Sets a Plan for Life After Silicon
By
JOHN MARKOFF, The New York Times

Nanotechnology is officially on the road map.

A handful of futuristic chip-making technologies at the atomic scale have been added to an industry planning effort that charts the future of the semiconductor manufacturing industry every two years.

The transition to a post-silicon era is forecast in a report called the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, to be issued Saturday. The report, which is produced cooperatively by semiconductor industry associations from Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States, is used by the semiconductor industry as a planning tool to determine how best to spend research and development money for new technology.

The shift away from conventional silicon transistors has become an important part of the industry's thinking, though the use of nanotechnology is not expected to replace current chip-making processes for another decade. (link)

This is amazing stuff.

To the people of Southwest Virginia I say this: Don't expect government programs to solve the problems that plague this area. If I may be allowed to butcher a famous quote from a Kevin Kostner movie: "If you create conditions such that great minds and investment dollars can achieve maximum profit potential and return on investment, and maintain market dominance for the forseeable future and beyond, they will come." The "they" being employers. Jobs. A future.