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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

When That Door Just Won't Open


Medicare. Medicaid. Social Security. Billions in wealth redistribution. And one-sixth of the population of Southwest Virginia still lives in poverty.

We've been working at this, folks, for seventy years - 70 years - and this is where we are. This is our reality.

Knowing that, what do we do now?

To those who bought into all this way back when, those who know we can make it perfect if just keep trying longer and spend a few billion more, we do more of the same. We do the same and lots lots more.
Let's resolve to fix health care
By Tommy Denton, The Roanoke Times


Gov. Tim Kaine didn't couch his recent budget amendments as new year's resolutions, but the provisions dedicated to improving health care in Virginia would serve as commendable resolutions that the General Assembly should enact under the current circumstances.

With 1 million Virginians -- nearly one of seven -- lacking health insurance and the rate of infant mortality -- two babies die each day -- among the worst in the nation, Kaine was right to urge dedication of greater public resources to serve those most in need of health assistance.

The problem is not merely with Medicare or its companion program for the poor, Medicaid. The problem is with the entire system, which not only has left some 45 million Americans without health insurance coverage but also compiled a record among the world's advanced industrial societies for having the most expensive system yet with regrettably poor health outcomes to show for the investment. (link)
Take a moment and analyze that paragraph:

● We have 45 million uninsured in this country ...


● ... and even without the participation of those 45 million Americans, we have the most expensive system on the planet ...


● ... and that system has produced "regrettably poor health outcomes."

Am I the only one thinking that maybe we need to go in a completely different direction, rather than advocate this "stay the course" mantra? That maybe there's a causal relationship in Denton's charges? That maybe it is all the government interference in "the system" that has made it so unwieldy and ineffective?

Keep pushing on that door, Tommy, keep trying to "fix" health care, and there'll be no health care.

Cartoon courtesy of The Far Side.

Poster Girl For Virginia's Looney Left

Rather than try to convince readers in a rational, cogent, well-reasoned way, I should just quote beanbrains like this:



Saddam's Last Words Belie His Previous Published 'Letter'
By Howling Latina

Howling Latina wept as she saw a picture of Saddam Hussein next to the rope that would soon end his life, as posted earlier this evening on the Web site of a national newspaper and thankfully taken down.

And what about all those kinds words [sic] from media pundits, including the Washington Post on the subject of Pinochet, another bloody tyrant? Why no justice for U.S. client-state tyrants?!?

Hell, there is not one single national leader today that does not have the stench of the death of thousands on their blood soaked hands.

Leaving aside the fact that Pinochet died three weeks ago [Earth to moonbat ...], making "justice" a little difficult to mete out, she expects us to believe that she cried when she was confronted with a photo (which is still readily available on the front page of every major newspaper on the planet - Earth to moonbat ...) of Saddam Hussein being hanged?

I couldn't do to this genius anything more than that which she does to herself.

I may just provide a link to Howling Latina and quit posting. She does a great job of engendering ridicule all by herself.

Hat tip to Doug Mataconis

So Much More We Need To Accomplish

The following column originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on Saturday, November 25, 2006

The job's not done
By Jerry Fuhrman

I am proud of you guys. I knew the outcome of the marriage amendment vote on Election Day was never in doubt, but I had no idea the turnout would be so high and the support for the amendment would be so overwhelming.

In the 9th Congressional district, 141,511 citizens of Southwest Virginia voted to permanently protect the much-beleaguered institution of marriage (75.2 percent of the total vote), and in the 6th, which includes the city of Roanoke, 137,902 did the same (64.3 percent).

Compare this to that bastion of liberalism in the commonwealth, the 8th district (much of Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, Falls Church), where 143,794 voted to oppose the amendment, and it is clear that we together not only drowned out the clarion call for amorality, we sent an unequivocal message to liberal newspaper opinion editors and leftist legislators around the state:

We rule.

But our work doesn't end here. There is much yet to be done. If our purpose in passing an amendment to the state constitution was to prevent rogue judges from someday reinterpreting the fundamental tenets of the document that serves as the cornerstone of all laws that govern our great state, reinterpretations that occur all too frequently in this era of activist political judges, we now need to turn to other vital areas of concern and chisel in stone in a similar way our collective will, to prevent them from making further mockery of our way of life.

We should now turn our attention to the most divisive social issue of our time: affirmative action. Whereas the concept originally called for positive steps to increase the representation of minorities and women in the areas of education, employment and business opportunities from which they had been historically excluded -- a concept with which few of us ever disagreed -- affirmative action evolved into a harsh, negative sociopolitical policing program, used as a cudgel to beat down certain groups not protected in favor of others that were.

It is today a quota system advancing the opportunities of those often less qualified over others because of their gender or the color of their skin (in some areas of the country, even their sexual orientation).

You may recall the firestorm that engulfed Blacksburg in 2003 when the Virginia Tech board of visitors decided to implement in policy form that which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought many years before -- that his "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

The board had decided to bar the consideration of race and gender in admissions, hiring and financial aid programs at Virginia's largest institution of higher learning. The decision was, by every poll ever conducted, supported by an overwhelming percentage of the populace.

Then-Gov. Mark Warner and a coalition of liberal organizations throughout the state and nation thought otherwise, denouncing Tech's actions and rejecting any notion that the university would be color- and gender-blind in its practices. The university quickly retreated.

Because the issue hasn't been on the front page of your local newspaper of late doesn't mean it isn't an issue we need to confront. Just this past Saturday, an article appeared in The Wall Street Journal about a young male who had a perfect 2400 on his SAT and a near-perfect 2390 on SAT2. Despite this, he was rejected by the University of Michigan, Stanford, MIT and three Ivy League schools.

Why? He was Asian-American, that ethnic group lowest on the affirmative action quota totem pole and the most discriminated against in the country. His case is being investigated by the Justice Department because -- get this -- a white student with lower scores was admitted to Princeton at the same time he was turned away.

Affirmative action is un-American. It goes against every ideal we hold dear. And it breeds nothing but contempt and racial hostility.

We the people have the power to put a stop to it forever by amending the state constitution.

Righting Wrongs

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble ...

George Will has a fascinating column this morning in The Washington Post that deals with the most egregious law Congress has passed - and the Supreme Court has supported - in the last thirty years, McCain-Feingold. He also zings those who benefit from its passage:

A Retreat on Rationing Free Speech?
By George F. Will


A three-judge federal court recently tugged a thread that may begin the unraveling of the fabric of murky laws and regulations that traduce the First Amendment by suppressing political speech. Divided 2 to 1, the court held -- unremarkably, you might think -- that issue advocacy ads can run during an election campaign, when they matter most.

Editorial writers at The [Washington] Post and the New York Times, ever eager to regulate political advocacy not done by newspaper editorial writers, approved, although the Times thought the fines insufficient, and although The Post, calling the current law "murky," thought the FEC should have enforced the murkiness quicker.

The Times no longer bothers to pretend that its rationale for speech regulation is fear of corruption or the appearance thereof. Rather, the Times justifies suppressing 527s on aesthetic grounds -- they are run by "hard-edged activists" and their ads are too negative. Presumably, suppressing 527s will elevate political discourse -- and, presumably, it is the government's business to enforce the elevation. (link)
It would do you well to read the whole thing.

We can only hope, now that Sandra Day O'Connor has moved on, that the Supreme Court will right this horrible, horrible wrong.

The Left Mourns The Death Of Saddam

Showing once again which side they're truly on and why, leftists in this country are upset that the Iraqi people have executed a cruel and oppressive dictator who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen:
Protest Lefties Rip 'Lynching'
By Jana Winter, The New York Post


December 31, 2006 -- While the world rejoiced at the death of Saddam Hussein, a tiny fringe of dissenters protested his hanging yesterday.

Marching in a circle in front of the Times Square military recruiting station, about a dozen hard-line lefties held up signs against the war.

"I feel something is very wrong about the lynching of Saddam Hussein," said Ann Roos, holding a sign that read: "Bush Kills for Oil."

Another protester, Sara Flouders, called Bush a war criminal, then lashed out at the reporters her organization had invited to the event. "You're a Nazi fascist," she told one. (link)
Saddam was "lynched." "Bush kills for oil." Reporters are "Nazi fascists."

And their party is now in power.

I fear for my country.

On Media Bias

The New York Times ombudsman reveals a startling case of media blindness this morning. At issue is an abortion story that appeared in The New York Times Magazine on April 9. His findings are jaw-dropping:
Truth, Justice, Abortion and the Times Magazine
By Byron Calame, Public Editor


THE cover story on abortion in El Salvador in The New York Times Magazine on April 9 contained prominent references to an attention-grabbing fact. “A few” women, the first paragraph indicated, were serving 30-year jail terms for having had abortions. That reference included a young woman named Carmen Climaco. The article concluded with a dramatic account of how Ms. Climaco received the sentence after her pregnancy had been aborted after 18 weeks.

It turns out, however, that trial testimony convinced a court in 2002 that Ms. Climaco’s pregnancy had resulted in a full-term live birth, and that she had strangled the “recently born.”

The care taken in the reporting and editing of this example didn’t meet the magazine’s normal standards. Although Sarah H. Smith, the magazine’s editorial manager, told me that relevant court documents are “normally” reviewed, [reporter Jack] Hitt never checked the 7,600-word ruling in the Climaco case while preparing his story. And Mr. Hitt told me that no editor or fact checker ever asked him if he had checked the court document containing the panel’s decision.

One thing is clear to me, at this point, about the key example of Carmen Climaco. Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect. (link)
Earth to Times ombudsman: Neither accuracy not fairness were intended. It's the politics, stupid.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rewriting Kaine History

In the heat of the gubernatorial race last year, Tim Kaine called for a modest tax increase to solve the commonwealth's ongoing transportation crisis, at the request of a clamoring public that made its wishes known at public transportation forums held around the commonwealth in those days leading up to the election. It was a recalcitrant legislature that later denied the will of the people.

Is that how you remember recent history?

Well, apparently there are those who would have you believe such nonsense:

Best & Worst Transportation: 2006
By NRVToday


When it comes to do-nothing legislative gridlock, the Virginia Legislature wins our “Jeer of the Year” hands down for its complete failure to act responsibly in funding transportation.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine heard plenty from voters about the crisis in transportation and so he ran - and won - on a platform to improve mobility in the Commonwealth. That platform, informed by public transportation forums across the state that were standing room only, included increasing some taxes and fees to fund the necessary and long overdue transportation improvements.

So it was no surprise when he sent forward an aggressive, but reasonable transportation funding package to the General Assembly. When the Legislature ended up deadlocked over transportation funding during its regular session, it decided to postpone transportation funding for a special session. Adding insult to injury, lawmakers in the state abruptly ended a special session on transportation early after members failed to agree upon a $2.4 billion transportation plan that was on the
table. In the end, it approved another status quo budget that continues the starving of transportation in the Commonwealth, while gridlock builds and transportation infrastructure crumbles. (
link) [my emphasis]

Not even close to the truth.

The author of this jewel would have you believe that Governor Kaine held his public townhall meetings that dealt with transportation issues during his campaign. In fact, he held off the announcement of his plan until after he was elected and only held his first forum the following week. After he was elected.

During the campaign, he was utterly and intentionally ambiguous on the subject of taxes and transportation, except to say that he wouldn't consider raising taxes until a secure process of funding was in place to deal with ongoing needs. It was immediately after he was voted into office that he changed his tune and signed on to a whopping tax hike that was proposed by liberal Democrats and spineless Republican state senators.

"Virginia Governor Tim Kaine heard plenty from voters about the crisis in transportation and so he ran and won." Too slippery by half.

Oh Good. Another Trail.

For those of you who feel we just don't have enough hiking trails and bike paths in Southwest Virginia (current ratio: 1 trail for every thirteen citizens), you'll be happy to hear that a new trail has been authorized by the courts over in Saltville:
Judge puts Salt Trail on a path to fruition
Debra McCown, Washington County News


The trail will go through.

That’s what Saltville officials say will happen after a circuit court judge ruled earlier this month that the town owns the railroad bed through the Clinchburg community.

Some adjoining property owners challenged the town’s claim of ownership and its plans for a 13-mile trail from Saltville to Glade Spring on the old railroad bed, similar to the Virginia Creeper Trail.

In recent years, the idea of a hiking and biking trail similar to the Virginia Creeper Trail has caught on, and work already has begun on the Salt Trail.

"I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve accomplished at this point, just having the downtown area cleared and cleaned up," [John] Summitt said. (link)
That last quote is rather telling. The downtown area has been cleared. As has much of Southwest Virginia as more and more citizens have moved out to find gainful employment.

Downtown Saltville cleared to make room for another trail. Consider me excited.

Another Trail?

To quote Loretta Castorini's elderly grandfather in the movie Moonstruck, "I'm so confused."

Is Saltville in the process of constructing two hiking/walking trails?

It seems so. In addition to the "Salt Trail" mentioned above, there's going to be a "bird trail" that will meander through the area:
New bird trail under construction
By Dan Kegley, Staff, Smyth County News


Saltville officials broke ground for construction of a long-awaited bird trail through the well fields last week. According to Mayor Jeff Campbell, Christine Helton of Saltville wrote a grant application for trail funding in 1998, and the contractor bid on the project in June.

The 3,000-foot path has trail heads at the Food Country parking lot and on Blake Avenue near the town shop and passes through some of the richest birding habitat in the Saltville Valley adjacent to the salt ponds. (link)
Shrewd move, guys. If, as Congressman Rick Boucher believes, a hiking trail or a bike path will bring economic prosperity to a local community, just think what two such paths/trails will bring.

The mind boggles.

Where's The Rest Of The Story?

Sometimes reporters can be so aggravating. Check out this (partial) story at TriCities.com:

Wise County judge suspended
News Channel 11 Staff Reports


The Wise County courthouse in Virginia is without a juvenile and domestic relations court judge.

Judge Mickey Shull was suspended for inappropriate behavior.

A complaint filed against Shull alleges he acted inappropriately with a female witness in the courtroom last week.

We know Virginia state police delivered the papers, and he's not allowed to return to work, pending a hearing. (link)


So what was the "inappropriate act" that got Shull suspended? Did her tell a joke? Did he fondle her? Did he ask about her sordid past? Comment on a zit on her chin? Call her names?

We'll never know because the reporter didn't get the job done.

Good grief.

Quote Of The Day

On journalists, war, and their heroic place in it:
Should the Press Cut and Run?

Journalists are quite proud of their own profession's sacrifices, as evidenced by ... by this report from the
Canadian Press:

"The deteriorating situation in Iraq coupled with the targeted killings of reporters in several countries made 2006 the deadliest year on record for journalists, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression report.

At least 82 journalists lost their lives as a direct result of their work--up from about 60 the previous year--with war zones proving the most dangerous locales, the group reports.

'A lot of those journalists were killed in war zones, particularly Iraq, where 39 journalists, at least, lost their lives this year,' said Julie Payne, manager of the Toronto-based group."

We don't ever remember a journalist saying that war reporting just isn't worth the risk--that the networks, wire services and newspapers should cut and run from Iraq or any other war zone.

Do journalists think theirs is a more noble calling than the liberation of a country?
James Taranto, Best of the Web Today, December 29, 2006

There'll Be No Rat Hole Where He's Going

It's a good day:
Dictator Who Ruled Iraq With Violence Is Hanged for Crimes Against Humanity
By Marc Santora, James Glanz, and Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times


Baghdad, Saturday, Dec. 30 — Saddam Hussein, the dictator who led Iraq through three decades of brutality, war and bombast before American forces chased him from his capital city and captured him in a filthy pit near his hometown, was hanged just before dawn Saturday during the morning call to prayer.

The final stages for Mr. Hussein, 69, came with terrible swiftness after he lost the appeal, five days ago, of his death sentence for the killings of 148 men and boys in the northern town of Dujail in 1982. He had received the sentence less than two months before from a special court set up to judge his reign as the almost unchallenged dictator of Iraq. (link)
"Hanged for Crimes Against Humanity ..." How powerful that message is. Too bad there is a host of Americans who fight the notion.

I expect the U.N. to respond with a call for more weapons inspectors and a resolution condemning ... something ...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Boucher's Big Plans

9th District Congressman-for-life Rick Boucher outlined his priorities for the upcoming session of Congress in a recent interview with The Coalfield Progress. (link requires paid subscription).

Jobs. Jobs, Jobs.

That sums up ... what he doesn't care about.

Now, what does he have planned for those of us who are going to have to pay for his fanciful notions?

Boucher charts 2007 action plan
By Bonnie Shortt, Staff Writer
In an interview Tuesday, Boucher said during 2007 he will work on promoting ...

● Coal technology. In the coming year, Boucher hopes to promote the use of technology for converting coal to liquid transportation fuels.
If he'd left it at that, I'd be singing his praises. But he had to throw in this bit of idiocy:

Coal-to-liquid fuels are feasible to use when petroleum costs $40 a barrel or more, Boucher said. He added he would like to set a price floor on petroleum to ensure more people would use coal-to-liquid fuels. Many countries we buy petroleum from are the most politically unstable, he said. As a result, we have our hands tied in regions where we shouldn't even be involved, he said.
A price floor. What that means is Boucher doesn't ever want that gallon of gasoline you pay for to get too cheap. What's with that? And, if he's willing to set prices on gasoline at the pump, is he willing to set prices on milk? Aspirin? Diapers? PlayStation3's? Water? Didn't Richard Nixon try this only to manage to completely screw up the economy?

● Diesel. Boucher also plans to promote greater use of diesel fuel ...
Don't ask me. I can only guess he drives an Audi diesel around his upscale neighborhood in Washington D.C. and wants easier access to his favorite fuel for himself and his tea-sipping pals.

● Higher education. Boucher hopes to make college more affordable. Many students are forced to not finish college because of the high prices, he said, and those who finish often face large amounts of debt. He would like to see Congress make more education grant funds available to reduce the amount of loans that students take, he said.
"He would like to see Congress make more education grant funds available ..." Let's hope he also intends to have his fabulously wealthy friends in Congress pay for them. Is this a typically boneheaded Democratic solution to a problem or what?

Boucher wants to confiscate a portion of your paycheck so as to make it easier for your kid to go to college. How 'bout we keep our money and we send our kids to college without your intereference, Rick? What the hell do we need you for?

● Health care. Boucher said he hopes to help authorize the government to negotiate with drug manufacturers to ensure lower drug prices for those who receive Medicare. Also, he noted, he would like to help close a gap in Medicare coverage that he called harmful to senior citizens. Currently, Medicare covers 75 percent of the first $2,260 spent on medication, Boucher said. After that, Medicare stops paying until the recipient pays a certain amount of out-of-pocket money, he said.
See my response to his last nanny initiative above. Pharmaceutical companies will be more than willing to charge less for medications going to seniors on Medicare (if Boucher's gun is pointed at their heads) and will then make up the shortfall by charging the living hell out of the rest of us.

● Press freedom. Boucher plans to introduce a bill geared toward reporters next month, he said. The bill would protect reporters from being jailed for contempt because they refuse to reveal off-the-record sources in federal court, he said. The only way for the public to know things is through what news reporters obtain from inside sources, Boucher said. No one will tip reporters to news if they face having their identities exposed in court, he said.
This is so unimportant, it's hardly worth a comment except for me to suggest that Boucher has to throw some kind of bone to the people who work so hard to get him reelected every two years. Consider this the media's bone.

● FEMA. Boucher hopes to help restore the Federal Emergency Management Agency to an independent agency, he said.Boucher said Bush degraded the agency, took its funding, buried it within the Department of Homeland Security and redirected its mission to helping fight the war on terror. FEMA needs to be restored to its previous status as a first-class responder to natural disasters, Boucher said.
Whatever.

● Water, sewer. Boucher added he hopes to continue obtaining money to help fund public water and sewer projects. The region has already benefited and he is determined to continue until all homes have clean water, he said.
This should have been his most important priority over the last two decades (along with the promotion of Southwest Virginia's economy) instead of wasting his time and our money (tens of millions) on those worthless hiking trails and bike paths that now criss cross the area. This is the kind of thing government was created to handle. Not taking our money and giving some of it back.

● Telecommunications. Boucher said he would like to see broadband use become more widespread. The United States is where the Internet was created, yet we are 16th in the world in the use of broadband, he said.
He'll never grasp the concept that a vibrant economy brings about such technological advancements. Not the other way around. In fact a booming economy will demand such infrastructure improvements. But we need to turn the economy around first, Rick. Broadband is going to do those 1,000 employees who are about to be laid off at Volvo in coming days a lot of good.

Then there is the obligatory ...

● Forests. Bush wants to put thousands of acres of national forest land into private ownership. Boucher said he will strongly oppose that proposal, he said.
Thank God. I was worried we were going to run out of forests around here.

Somebody shake me. This has to be an ongoing never-ending nightmare.

Rick Boucher's plan for the future: Jobs, jobs, jo ... er ... More forests, more redistribution of wealth, more hard times for Southwest Virginia.

Don't Let Your Eyes Deceive You


Isn't this a tranquil scene? Young lovers. Lakeshore. Beautiful day. A baby.

A baby?

Look again.

Edwards Goes a'Slummin'

Hey. Look at me. I'm touching black people!

Edwards: I Blundered. Vote For Me.

I don't know about you but when a candidate comes to me and says he wants my vote, followed closely with an admission that he made the error of the century, well, it just doesn't create in me a sense of confidence in his ability to be Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world:

Edwards Formally Joins 2008 Presidential Race
Ex-Senator Calls for Drawdown in Iraq
By Dan Balz, Washington Post Staff Writer


NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 28 -- Former senator John Edwards of North Carolina launched his second campaign for the White House from this flood-ravaged city Thursday with a call for the United States to reduce its troop presence in Iraq and a plea for citizen action to combat poverty, global warming and America's reliance on foreign oil.

Edwards was sharply critical of the administration for its conduct of the war in Iraq, and he again recanted his own vote authorizing President Bush to take the country to war, which he called a mistake. (link)


"I make mistakes. Vote for me."

Doesn't seem like the most resonating campaign slogan I've ever heard.

But then the Democratic Party, a mistake in itself, did see fit to nominate him in 2004 ...

But What About That Third Eyeball?

This is not going to sit well with those "scientists" out there who decry irradiated and gentically modified foods:
F.D.A. Tentatively Declares Food From Cloned Animals to Be Safe
By Andrew Pollack and Andrew Martin, The New York Times


After years of delay, the Food and Drug Administration tentatively concluded yesterday that milk and meat from some cloned farm animals are safe to eat. That finding could make the United States the first country to allow products from cloned livestock to be sold in grocery stores.

... the F.D.A.’s draft policy touched off an immediate storm of criticism from consumer groups, as well as some concerns from meat and dairy companies worried about consumer reaction. (link)
A storm of criticism. Go figure.

Of course, these are the same frightened children who think your microwave oven is going to give you cancer. And Proctor & Gamble has been taken over by Satan. And your electric toothbrush will cause tumors. And ...

A Question For The Anti-Goode Crowd

Bigot
Noun: bigot
1. A prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own

A columnist of considerable renown asks the following question this morning of all the holier-than-thou pundit wannabes here in Virginia and elsewhere who have savaged Congressman Virgil Goode in recent days:

"For those of you who think Goode is a bigot, have you the same thoughts and feelings about the Muslim who prompted this uproar? If your answer is no, I ask you this: Who's the bigot now?"

My Roanoke Times column this week: Now Who's The Bigot?

Update 12/29/06, 5:30 am: I seem to have struck a raw nerve with my column about Keith X Ellison, our new Muslim member of Congress. The email has poured in from people who have high praise for Virgil Goode and from a number of people who are concerned about the ugly and ever-expanding danger Islam engenders - both here and abroad.

Several emailers have asked for sources of the information I used in the column. See it below.

● For an extensive biography of the man, click on
Wikipedia.

● What caught my eye back before the November election was Scott Johnson's article in
The Weekly Standard in which I read, among other things:

Ellison's record also includes a multitude of embarrassments of the traditional kind. He fell afoul of the IRS after failing to pay $25,000 in income taxes; he ignored fines that he had incurred for parking tickets and moving violations so numerous that his driver's license was suspended more times than he can remember; he was fined for willful violation of Minnesota's campaign finance reporting law. It amounts to a striking pattern of lawbreaking since he undertook the practice of law in 1990.

Ellison was born Catholic in Detroit. He states that he converted to Islam as an undergraduate at Wayne State University. As a third-year student at the University of Minnesota Law School in 1989-90, he wrote two columns for the Minnesota Daily under the name "Keith Hakim." In the first, Ellison refers to "Minister Louis Farrakhan," defends Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad, and speaks in the voice of a Nation of Islam advocate. In the second, "Hakim" demands reparations for slavery and throws in a demand for an optional separate homeland for American blacks. In February 1990, Ellison participated in sponsoring Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) to speak at the law school on the subject "Zionism: Imperialism, White Supremacy or Both?" Jewish law students met personally with Ellison and appealed to him not to sponsor the speech at the law school; he rejected their appeal, and, as anticipated, Ture gave a notoriously anti-Semitic speech.

Even in 1995, Ellison's work on behalf of the Nation of Islam extended well beyond his promotion of the Million Man March. That year, he dutifully spouted the Farrakhan line when Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, was indicted for conspiring to murder Farrakhan. Ellison organized a march on the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis demanding that Shabazz be released and alleging that the FBI itself had conspired to kill Farrakhan. In a November 6, 1995, column for the Minneapolis periodical Insight News, Ellison wrote under the name "Keith X Ellison." He condemned a Star Tribune editorial cartoon that was critical of Farrakhan as a role model for blacks because of his anti-Semitism. Ellison argued to the contrary.

Then, in February 1997, Ellison appeared as a local spokesman for the Nation of Islam with the last name "Muhammad." He spoke at a public hearing in connection with a controversy involving Joanne Jackson of the Minnesota Initiative Against Racism (MIAR). Jackson was alleged to have said, "Jews are among the most racist white people I know."
● In a September column for Front Page Magazine, Andrew Walden wrote:

In a clear sign of the deepening Unholy Alliance between the Democratic Party Left and Islamist extremists, Minnesota’s Democratic Party has nominated for U.S. Congress a “former” member of the Nation of Islam who has defended membership in the Bloods street gang, and called cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and leftist terrorist Sara Jane Olson “freedom fighters.”

The DFL is now handing its “greatest stronghold” over to a candidate with long ties to Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and who has already accrued at least an estimated $20,000-$35,000 in funding from the terrorist-connected Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), including the maximum personal donation from CAIR chief Nihad Awad.
● The Washington Post (!) revealed that Ellison only repudiated Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam during the recent campaign when his affiliation with the organization became known to a disturbed electorate in Minnesota.

● The
New York Times (!) disclosed some of the reaction to Ellison's victory in the Arab world:

The news garnered a rich variety of comments from Arab readers on the Web site of Al Arabiya, a satellite news channel based in Dubai. “God willing in the next election, half of Congress will be from the rational Muslims,” wrote one reader, while another said, “May God make this the beginning of victory for Muslims on the very ground of the despots.”
There you have it.

One commenter asked that I focus on the man and not the religion. Consider it done.

I just wish the people of Minnesota had done the same before electing this joker to represent them in Congress.

Secondarily, I ask you to read the first comment left by a reader. He disparages Congressman Goode and "redneck Christian idiots" but then states that he doesn't "give two figs" about Ellison's background. I refer you - and him - to the definition of the word BIGOT above.

Showing The NY Times How It's Done

A day after the editorialists at the New York Times called for the Ethiopian army to withdraw from Somalia and to leave the Islamists who had taken control there in power so as to bring about some kind of unity to that tormented country, a kind of unity has come about anyway.

The terrorists have been driven out and the western-backed government has been restored.

Somalia, U.N. regain Mogadishu
By Mohamed Olad Hassan, Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Jubilant Somalis cheered as troops of the U.N.-backed interim government rolled into Mogadishu unopposed yesterday, putting an end to six months of domination of the capital by a radical Islamist movement.

Ethiopian soldiers stopped on the outskirts of town, after providing much of the military might in the offensive that shattered what had seemed an unbeatable Islamist militia. Islamist fighters fled south vowing to continue the battle.

"We are in Mogadishu," Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi declared after meeting with local clan leaders to discuss the peaceful transfer of the city. (link)


Had the invading forces taken the advice of the New York Times peace-at-any-price crowd, terror would still reign in the streets of Mogadishu. Instead, with the use of overwhelming lethal force, some semblance of humanity is returning, and the terrorists have been either killed or driven into headlong retreat.

A lesson well-learned after 9/11. To all except the neurotics at the New York Times.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

To Think, He Might Have Been Commander-in-Chief


John Kerry decided to fly to Iraq the other day to get a feel for what the troops there were thinking. If this photo is any indication, he now has that feel.


From Scott Hennen at HotTalk:
A picture tells a 1000 words.....

A friend of mine serving in Iraq sent me this photo and note. I received it before Christmas, but was out of the office. Priceless story it tells....

"This is a true story.....Check out this photo from our mess hall at the US Embassy yesterday morning. Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.

What is amazing is Bill O'Reilly came to visit with us and the troops at the CSH the same day and the line for autographs extended through the palace and people waited for two hours to shake his hand. You decide who is more respected and loved by us servicemen and women!"

Again I say..."GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!!" (
link)
All this will go unnoticed by the mainstream press. The troops stationed in Iraq are, to them, nothing more than knuckle-dragging high school dropouts who failed in real life and are therefore not worthy of attention.

But God bless 'em indeed!

Hattip to Scott Johnson at Powerline.
Photo courtesy of HotTalk.

Home Sales Are Up, And Down

The good news:
New Home Sales Climb 3.4 Percent in Nov.
By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer


Washington (AP) -- Sales of new homes bounced back in November and have now posted increases in three of the past four months, a hopeful sign that this year's severe drop in housing may finally be coming to an end. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that sales of new single-family home rose 3.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 million units.

That was better than the 1.1 percent gain economists had been expecting and the government also revised the previous three months to show stronger activity. (link)
The bad news:
Home sales decline for 7th month
Sales dropped 18 percent in November, normally a fairly brisk time, ...

By Jenny Kincaid Boone, The Roanoke Times

November marked the seventh month this year that home sales dropped in the Roanoke Valley, despite strong business at some individual real estate offices. The number of residential units sold sank 18 percent last month, compared with November 2005, according to the latest report from the Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors. (link)
Seven months of declines. 18% in November. While (new) home sales nationally were strong. Not good.

Make That TWO Big Macs!

It looks like my days of living off of the consumption of leaves and twigs are about to end:

Pill For The Portly Has Promise *
By Rita Delfinger, The New York Post


December 28, 2006 -- There's a remarkable pill on the horizon that may offer new hope for obese people trying to shed pounds.


Excalia, which is now being tested in trials in the United States, fools the weight-controlling part of the brain into believing it's OK to keep on losing weight.

Men and women who took the pill - a combination of two drugs - for 48 weeks lost an average 12 percent of their weight during a study, said Excalia's California-based developer, Orexigen Therapeutics. (link)
The possibilities ...

I wonder what Jabba The Hut is going to look like when he's half the man he is today. (Well, that'll still make him twice the man he needs to be, but it's a start.)

Bring on those fat pills!

* A disclosure: I'm 6'0" and 185.

We Need More Gun Control!

Well, it appears that all of those gun control laws passed by city council in New York are paying off:
Murders Are Up in New York, Other Cities
By Karen Matthews, Associated Press Writer


New York (AP) -- Gangs, drugs, easy access to guns and a disturbing tendency among young people to pull guns to demand respect were among the causes authorities cited in trying to explain this year's increase in murders in New York and many other major cities after years of decline.

New York reported 579 homicides through Dec. 24 - a nearly 10 percent increase from the year before.

[Police Department spokesman Paul] Browne blamed the rise in part on the availability of guns, particularly weapons from out of state. (link)
That last line is a side-splitter. Liberals in New York have been pointing to lax gun laws as a main reason for the rampant crime that plagues their streets and have passed dozens of restrictions on firearm ownership, possession, and use in recent decades. Those restrictions have clearly failed.

Why? Because of lax gun laws everywhere else!

To think, it is this same bunch of mental midgets that took charge of Congress last month. I fear for my country.

Stop! You're Hurting Those Islamists!

Just when the radical Islamists who had inflicted such hardship and suffering on the Somali people were being crushed in Mogadishu (see "Islamic Forces Abandon Somalia's Capital") by invading Ethiopian forces, the peace-at-any-price crowd at the New York Times calls for ... unity:
War in the Horn of Africa
editorial

It is tempting to wink at Ethiopia’s stunningly successful offensive in Somalia. It pushed back a hateful Islamic militia that was defying the United Nations, threatening to impose religious tyranny and, according to Washington, harboring international terrorists. The Bush administration quickly succumbed to temptation, lauding Ethiopia’s attacks as a legitimate response to “aggression.”

But if there’s anything we should have learned over the past few sad years, it is that this kind of unilateral pre-emptive attack seldom solves anything, particularly when the country doing the invading is regarded as a longstanding enemy.

Rather than trying to marginalize the Islamic militias and the huge clan they represent, the international community should ... (link)
No, we certainly don't want to "marginalize" those radical Islamic militias that have been terrorizing all of Somalia. And we sure don't want to "wink" at the Ethiopians' victory.

No, that would be too insipid. We should be cheering the demise of oppressive Islamist factions - in Somalia and anywhere else on the planet where human beings can destroy these throwbacks to an ancient time - and we should be supporting the killing of every one of the murderous bastards.

This Was Inevitable

I was waiting for the "tolerant" crowd to get around to this:
Texas: Panel Will Study Confederate Statues
By The Associated Press

The president of the University of Texas at Austin, William Powers Jr., left, said he planned to form an advisory committee to study whether something should be done about the numerous campus statues honoring the Confederacy. The statues have become a topic of debate among students, professors and administrators. They include four bronze figures on the campus South Mall honoring Confederate leaders like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. Mr. Powers said he planned to appoint a committee of advisers early next year, probably including faculty members and students. “The whole range of options is on the table,” he said. “A lot of students, and especially minority students, have raised ... (
link)
Expect this to be the next target in this age of (in)tolerance.

Going Over To The Dark Side

Today's lesson: How does a Republican get favorable press these days? He trashes the war effort:
G.O.P. Senator in Spotlight After a Critical Iraq Speech
By James Risen, The New York Times


Washington, Dec. 27 — At the close of the Senate’s lame-duck session, in between formulaic tributes to senators departing voluntarily or otherwise, a Republican backbencher suddenly rose to give one of the most passionate and surprising speeches about the war in Iraq yet delivered in Congress.

For a solid Republican who had originally voted for the war, the words spoken by the senator, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, on the evening of Dec. 7 were incendiary and marked a stunning break with the president.

“I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day,” Mr. Smith said. “That is absurd. It may even be criminal.” (link)
Smith, one of those legendary "moderates" in the GOP, didn't provide us with his take on who the criminals are exactly - whether he was thinking of our president, our military leadership, or the troops taking fire on the field of battle. Perhaps he was referring to all of the above.

Or perhaps he just wanted high praise from the liberal press and knew he would get it by jumping ship and going over to the anti-war side.

If the latter was his intention, mission accomplished.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On Censorship And The Blogging Community

There has been much discussion of late in the blogosphere about Waldo's decision to censor ... no, it goes beyond that, his decision to ban a fellow blogger from posting to his virginia political blogs aggregator. Apparently forever.

Although I was initially supportive of his decision, I wondered at the time where it would stop. I've also been troubled by comments he's made on other weblogs about the offender that he banned. It seems Waldo's decision was far more subjective than he'd like to admit.

So where's the line, Waldo? Does a weblog that posts a very offensive photoshopped image of a Republican member of Congress dressed in Nazi uniform warrant a permanent ban? If not, why not? Is there a right-wing threshold and a separate left-wing threshold?

The degree to which the aggregator-in-chief is "offended" as an ethical standard is a very unstable foundation upon which to foster the free expression of ideas. But such is your standard.

I don't envy you the problems you've now brought upon yourself.

Too bad too. It was a nice read.

We Got Us A New Trail!

Well, it looks like we have a new hiking trail here in Southwest Virginia. This makes 812. One for each tourist we see here annually.

The exciting news:

Southwest Va. hiking trail gets help from church group
By Rex Bowman, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer


A new, 22-mile hiking trail connecting two lakes in Southwest Virginia could be ready for hikers and bikers by 2008 thanks to a church group's generosity.

The Brumley Cove Baptist Camp has conveyed an easement granting right of way to hikers along an 1,800-acre tract on rugged Clinch Mountain.

The trail is one of several under consideration or construction in Southwest Virginia as local communities increasingly attempt to use their mountain scenery to lure tourists. (link)
Even the Baptists, generally known to be sane and level-headed people, have gotten caught up in this silly business.

Time for a reality check:

First of all, there's not a biker in his right mind who is going to risk his life tackling Clinch Mountain.

And second, what exactly are you all expecting out of those five or six hikers (for the sake of argument, we'll call them "tourists") you're going to see walking your new trail? They are going to be very young and penniless, they'll have their sleeping quarters strapped to their backs, and they'll drink from streams and eat Snicker's bars. If you gain anything, it will be lice or some communicable disease that they're going to bring to your church campground.

Oh, I shouldn't forget, there is also the deposit they're going to leave in your flower beds.

If there is one demographic on the planet that will deliver absolutely nothing in the way of economic prosperity to a business or community, it is the young, white, male, unemployed college student who is hiking down your path for a few days who has the goal of spending no money on the journey.

The Brumley Cove Baptist Camp has joined the rest of Southwest Virginia. It has its very own hiking trail. And its members have lost their collective minds.

May God have mercy.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Former Senator John Edwards is your classic limousine liberal. He campaigns for the poor and downtrodden and even touches one of them occasionally in a show of solidarity - just before he gets back into his private jet (or limousine) and heads back to his palatial estate where he expects those same poor and downtrodden to have the goddam lawn manicured and the pool cleaned or he's going to send them back to Guadalajara!

The latest:

Estate of Denial
By Ian Bishop, The New York Post


December 27, 2006 -- Washington - White House hopeful John Edwards is playing to the poorest people in America to propel his presidential bid while living in the lap of luxury on a North Carolina estate that makes the famed Kennedy compound look like a seaside cottage.

The megarich Edwards, worth upwards of $30 million, is slated to use the very symbol of American blight as a political prop to announce his candidacy tomorrow: the Lower Ninth Ward of Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

It's a far cry from his new Shangri-La nestled amid soaring Carolina pines on a 100-acre estate outside of Chapel Hill.

"It's one thing to be a millionaire, but it's totally tone-deaf to be using Katrina victims while you're putting the finishing touches on your multimillion-dollar mansion," said one Democratic operative.

Edwards' posh estate is a work in progress, with a recently completed 10,700-square-foot main mansion as its centerpiece.

The $3.1 million ritzy pad sports 10 rooms, 61/2 baths, two garages, a huge country kitchen with hardwood floors, and sweeping verandas to soak in the view of the verdant pasture. (link)

I've said more than once, I'll believe these bleeding hearts, especially the slimy former trial attorneys in the crowd, really want to solve the problems we face with poverty when one of them signs over his or her fabulous worldly wealth to the poor. But none do. Ever. They fly in. Hug a bum. Shed a tear. Fly back out. Before they catch something.

Talk is cheap, pal.

Write that check, Johnny. Show us you mean it.

So That's What Cow Poop Looks Like?

The leaf and twig eaters at The New York Times make a pathetic argument this morning, trying feebly to convince us that meat is bad:
Meat and the Planet
editorial

When you think about the growth of human population over the last century or so, it is all too easy to imagine it merely as an increase in the number of humans. But as we multiply, so do all the things associated with us, including our livestock. At present, there are about 1.5 billion cattle and domestic buffalo and about 1.7 billion sheep and goats. With pigs and poultry, they form a critical part of our enormous biological footprint upon this planet.


Consider these numbers. Global livestock grazing and feed production use “30 percent of the land surface of the planet.” Livestock — which consume more food than they yield — also compete directly with humans for water.

But what is even more striking, and alarming, is that livestock are responsible for about 18 percent of the global warming effect, more than transportation’s contribution. The culprits are methane — the natural result of bovine digestion — and the nitrogen emitted by manure. (link)
This is abject idiocy.

1) Anyone having the slightest understanding of the cattle industry knows that the "30 percent of the land surface of the planet" used for grazing beef herds is generally either too rugged, too hilly, or too arid to support cash crops. In places like Iowa, where corn is king, hog farms take up only a tiny fraction of the valuable cropland.

2) The notion that 18% of "global warming effect" comes from cows farting is simply hilarious - and says a lot about the kind of people who will buy into any crazy theory ... like global warming.

3) The "nitrogen emitted by manure" is a highly sought-after nutrient for gardens and farmland. It's not a bad thing; it's just the opposite.

Someone needs to call these morons a taxi, pile them all in the back seat, drive them from their confines in downtown Manhattan to the nearest farm, introduce them to a cow, and educate them on what cattle eat, where they eat, and what they poop.

These people crack me up.

Speaking Of Those Consumed With Self-Importance


El Ingenioso Hidalgo de la Mancha, known to some as Senator Joe Biden, stated publically yesterday that he'll fight the Pentagon if the decision is made to increase troop strength in Iraq.

This isn't the first time he's gotten caught up in such antics. Biden, a (psychotic) senator from some tiny and insignificant northeast state, has been known to suffer from frequent bouts of delusions of grandeur. Assuming command of American land and sea forces is one of many manifestations ...

Biden Opposes a Troop Increase in Iraq, Foreshadowing a Fight With the Bush Administration
By Helene Cooper, The New York Times


Washington, Dec. 26 — Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday rejected a troop increase for Iraq, foreshadowing what could be a contentious fight between the Bush administration and Congress.

Mr. Biden, a Democrat, announced that he would begin hearings on Iraq on Jan. 9 and expected high-ranking officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to appear. (link)
Biden intends, in the mold of Don Quixote, to oversee the conduct of the war from his padded committee seat deep in the bowels of the Tower of Babble.

If the subject matter weren't so serious, he'd be laughable.

***

It all becomes clear. Biden is trying to capture the hearts of the Democratic Party's looney left (in lieu of brains) for a 2008 run. Ah, those delusions of grandeur.

A Good Man Swept Up In Bad Times

Former President Gerald Ford has died at age 93. Read the full story here.

President Bush has this epitaph that hits the mark:
“With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency.

The American people will always admire Gerald Ford’s devotion to duty, his personal character, and the honorable conduct of his administration.”
I have no fond memories of the Ford years or of that tumultuous era in which he and Richard Nixon were caught up in the Watergate mess.

As Mr. Bush said, Gerald Ford had kind instincts. A genuinely good man.

Photo courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin.
Click on image to enlarge.

Lost In The Wilderness II

What does one do when confronted with a situation that requires action but it involves something that you know nothing about?

You hire an expert:

Hillary Hires Evangelical Consultant
NewsMax.com Staff

Hillary Clinton has hired an "evangelical consultant” to help woo Christian conservatives in her likely 2008 presidential campaign.

Clinton’s new hire is Burns Strider, an evangelical Christian who directs religious outreach for House Democrats and is the lead staffer for the Democrats’ Faith Working Group, headed by incoming Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. (link)

I wouldn't consider this a typically cynical move on her part if it weren't for the fact that she decided she needed help with Christian voters after she ran for re-election in New York.

Hillary needs an expert to teach her about Christianity.

For the love of God.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On That 'Shrinking Middle Class'

For those who have bought into Senator-elect Jim Webb's class warfare act and believe the middle class in this country to be disappearing, new statistics recently released blow his argument out of the water:

The Wages of Growth
The Wall Street Journal

The latest reports on wages and income have been rolling in, and with them we can discount one more canard about the current economic expansion--namely, that wages are stagnant and workers are doing far more poorly than they did in that second Age of Pericles known as the 1990s.

Over the past year, the real average wage for non-supervisory employees has risen 2.8%. That equates to about a $1,200 increase in purchasing power for the typical household this year. Last year, real median household income was also up 1.1% after inflation. This rise in take-home pay helps to explain how Americans have had the disposable income this Christmas shopping season to pay $600 for PlayStation 3 computer games and $150 for the Kid-Tough Digital Camera for three-year-olds. (link)

Facts of course have never gotten in the way of Jim Webb's fanciful (he is a novelist after all) view of the America he knows so little about. So expect him to continue his rant about the rich.

But as it turns out, we're doing quite well. Let the good times continue to roll.

On Tariffs

I consider myself to be as much a capitalist as the best of them, except where one particular topic is concerned. That has to do with targeted tariffs on imported goods. Whereas the concept is anathema to most modern-day economists, I consider it to be good strategy if dealt with carefully, considering the circumstances we have made for ourselves.

Two important facts to consider:

1) Chinese manufacturers pay no American corporate taxes.

2) The American corporate income tax rate is currently higher than the average global corporate tax rate. (It should come as no surprise that booming economies like that of Hong Kong at 17.5%, Singapore at 20%, and Ireland at 12.5% have rates far below that of the USA at 35%).

These facts alone, considering the exorbitant tax rates our corporations pay to the feds, to the states, to local governments, make for a seriously imbalanced playing field. Tariffs, if applied carefully (i.e., if they are targeted) balance that field.

The Wall Street Journal this morning takes the healthier approach to the problem. They just want the rate reduced:
The Wages of Growth
To lift worker incomes, cut the corporate tax rate.

We certainly agree with those who'd like to do more to lift worker paychecks, so ...

... slash the corporate income tax. A recent study for the American Enterprise Institute by economists Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur examined 72 nations over 22 years and found that "wages are significantly responsive to corporate taxation." In today's global economy, capital migrates across national borders away from high-tax nations to places where tax systems are less punitive. Workers suffer when capital flees, and job and wage growth slow.

Many political leaders have adapted to this reality, which is why the average corporate tax rate across the globe has fallen over the past 25 years to an average of about 30% from 50%. The AEI study finds that, if the U.S. were to cut its 35% corporate tax to the OECD average of 30%, American manufacturing workers would gain nearly a 10% pay raise dividend within five years, which is the equivalent of roughly a $3,500 a year pay boost. (link) [my emphasis]
In lieu of a sudden change of heart and gain of brain cells on the part of the Democrats who now control our government, which would necessarily reduce the egregious income tax rate burden on America's corporations, I support the alternative - that we level the playing field by setting and maintaining tariffs on goods imported by low-tax countries.

This is, after all, still the world's marketplace.

On Those Demonic Voting Machines

The following article originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on Thursday, November 16, 2006
Is that your final vote?
By Jerry Fuhrman

Now I had heard and read a good deal about Democrats around the country being alarmed by the potential for chaos and mischief on Election Day as a result of our having decided to take their advice in 2000 and drop the butterfly ballot method of voting and switch to electronic voting machines. It's an odd thing, though, that I haven't heard a single whine since Election Day. Curious indeed.

Anyway, I showed up at the polls in Bland on Nov. 7 (make that poll; the metropolis of Bland has only one voting place, next to the IGA and across from the abandoned car repair shop) to do my civic duty, with list of candidates and issues in hand so as to not inadvertently vote for a candidate I hadn't intended to and regret it the rest of my life. (I think I accidentally voted for Bill Clinton in 1996; I blame myself for his failed presidency.)

When I entered the place, I encountered six people, several of whom were working the room, making sure I wasn't an illegal immigrant, and two elderly voters, one in each of the two booths. Appearing to be short in stature, I could just see tufts of snow-white hair jutting over the top of the partitions.

It took both of them, it seemed, an inordinately long time to cast their ballots, but I just accepted it as being a situation where these older folks were trying to deal with a new technology and needed to navigate carefully through it. In any case, the two finished about the same time and left, both with looks of frustration on their faces.

So it became my turn to vote. I walked around to the front of the booth, approached the machine and touched the blank screen to activate it. It immediately lit up. As it happened, there were two pages to be dealt with, the first having to do with the major issues and races involving Allen/Webb, Boucher/Carrico (I live in the 9th Congressional District), and two of the three Constitutional amendments.

After voting quickly for George Allen by touching my index finger to his name, I moved on to the congressional race. That portion of the ballot looked something like this, as best I can recall:
.
RICK BOUCHER -- DEMOCRAT
BILL CARRICO -- REPUBLICAN

I pressed CARRICO. The screen immediately changed and the following message appeared:

ARE YOU SURE?
YES. NO.

I pushed YES. The screen went dark for a brief moment and then this came up:

YOU REALIZE OF COURSE THAT RICK BOUCHER IS THE MUCH-LOVED INCUMBENT?
YES. NO.

.
Somewhat startled, I hit NO. Then this flashed onto the screen:
.
YOU REALIZE THAT RICK BOUCHER HAS CREATED 41,000 NEW JOBS IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA?
YES. NO.

Feeling a bit of exasperation setting in, I firmly pressed NO. Another message immediately appeared:
.
HEY. THE MAN HAS BUILT INDUSTRIAL PARKS IN NEARLY EVERY COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA. HAVE YOU TAKEN THAT INTO ACCOUNT?
YES. NO.

After letting out a growl, and peering over the top of the booth to see if I was being watched, I put my fist to NO. The machine reacted with a shudder and with this:
.
YOU ARE AWARE THAT RICK MARRIED RECENTLY? HE WILL SOON HAVE ADDITIONAL MOUTHS TO FEED.
YES. NO.

I was by now incredulous and, at the same time, enraged. With teeth clenched, I clawed the surface of the voting machine, raking my fingernails across the screen. I then stabbed NO. The CRT went black. A pause ...
.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID THAT NIGHT IN CLEVELAND BACK IN 1994.
.
I rocked backward, nearly losing my balance. I stared in disbelief. A swirl of disjointed thoughts and surreal images flashed through my mind. That night. The Crazy Horse. Booze. Lots of booze. Wild merrymaking. Feelings of fear and vulnerability came over me. I stood and gazed into the abyss.
.
DON'T MAKE ME TELL PAULA.

So Rick Boucher beat Bill Carrico, handily, in the general election on Nov. 7. By a whopping 35 points as it turned out. And my marriage is safe. I think.

As for those electronic voting machines, my message to you is this:
.
BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID.