Quote

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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Knowing Friend & Foe

This editorial blurb in the Charleston (WV) Gazette should give one a good understanding as to which side of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict the staff members are rooting for:
Editor & Publisher, a trade journal of American newspapers, says the U.S. press mostly has failed to report that the Israeli weapons currently shattering Lebanon were provided by America. But Arabs are well aware of this ugly fact — and hatred for America grows each time a civilian neighborhood is blasted by U.S.-made rockets, bombs and planes. [my emphasis] (link)

No ambiguity there.

Got Some Catchin' Up To Do

My guess is you folks over in Danville aren't going to see much of senate candidate Jim Webb in coming weeks. No sense in wasting his time trying to improve on this:
Poll shows Southside backs Allen
By Mac McLean, Danville Register & Bee staff writer


DANVILLE, Va. - The Lynchburg/Southside Virginia area was one of three regions where a majority of voters supported U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., in his race against Democrat Jim Webb, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday.

The poll showed 52 percent of voters in this area supported Allen, 24 percent supported Webb and 24 percent were undecided. (
link)

24% favor Webb. How pathetic is that.

It's over before it's even begun ...

Marching Toward Oblivion

Well, let's see.

We are fighting a war on terror around the world.
We have soldiers dying in Iraq.
Israel is fighting a two-front war that could lead to World War III.
The Iranians and the North Koreans are developing nuclear weapons.
We are racking up budget deficits like never before.
We are awash in illegal aliens.
The price of a barrel of oil is staying above $70.
Interest rates continue to climb.
Sales of houses are declining as the market softens.

Not to mention the looming chicken flu pandemic.

So what is the winning strategy for the Democrats in November? It seems they've settled on this:
Democrats see minimum wage, stem cells as hot issues
By Christina Bellantoni, The Washington Times


Democrats will spend August stumping on issues they say matter most to voters -- such as raising the minimum wage and funding stem-cell research -- as they scramble to try to regain control of the House or the Senate.

Some optimistic members of the minority party say a focus on middle-class matters could lead to Democrats' recapturing both chambers. (
link)
Hot issues. Stem cells and the minimum wage.

Now you know why these geniuses have been out of power now for 20 years.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why I Am No Longer Liberal

To think, I was once as passionate - and as incoherent - as this Virginia blogger:

An Inconvenient Truth
by:
Lowell
Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 19:37:55 PM MDT

Check out
the website, see the movie, and take action. Vote for candidates who will protect our planet; vote against those who won't. The ice caps are melting, the polar bears are drowning, the forests are dying, and the climate is going completely haywire. We have no time to lose, so act fast. Start by seeing Al Gore's amazing movie, and telling all your friends to do the same. (link)
The world is going to end; we have no time to lose; respond by heading down to the movie theater. I don't know ...

I must admit, if the ice caps were indeed melting (which they aren't) and our forests were dying (an utter and laughable falsehood) and our climate was going more haywire than it has been since the beginning of time (weather is by its "nature" unpredictable or "haywire"), I could give a rat's ass about drowning polar bears. I guess I'm just selfish at those points in time when all life on this planet is about to cease.

But to the point - (1) the earth's average temperature in the 100 years of the twentieth century increased just over one degree fahrenheit (plus or minus 0.4 degrees!), such an underwhelming number to produce such unbecoming hysteria. (2) Some scientists suggest that the warming is cyclical, and that the earth's temperatures have risen and fallen since before the dawn of man. (3) Other scientists believe the warming trend to be potentially a good thing, allowing more cropland to be available for production for longer periods of time, providing food for more starving people in Zimbabwe. (4) environmentalists (and hysterical bloggers) have proven themselves to be less than trustworthy when it comes to piloting the lifeboat. A steadier, less frightened hand at the helm is to many of us more desirable.

So. Call your congressman, save a drowning bear, go see Al Gore's Hollywood epic, or do what I plan on doing today - bask in the warmth and sunshine with an ice cold Bud.

Just don't get overheated by it all.

Surface Mining Is Our Future

If you were to listen to the hysterics coming from environmentalists with regard to the preferred method in these parts of mining coal, you'd think our croplands are at risk of laying fallow, our forests being denuded, our rivers and streams running rancid, our children waking up stupid, and our women trending toothless and ugly.

Every now and then though we get a report that the world is not in fact ending any time soon here in Southwest Virginia. An example:

Reclaimed strip mine land serves fruitful purpose
Kathy Still, Reporter, Bristol Herald-Courier


WISE – David Lawson was 10 years old when a coal company razed a mountain beside his home.

The mining stopped in the early 1980s, and crews reclaimed the land by flattening it to pasture-grade.

Lawson and his family harvest grapes on the former strip mine. They extract the juice and make a variety of wines at MountainRose Vineyards.

The Lawsons operate the only vineyard and winery in the state on a former strip-mine site. (
link)

Flattening mountains, extracting valuable minerals, creating pastureland and vineyards, growing jobs, invigorating the local economy. I think we have the makings of a plan to bring success to this troubled region.

A Broadening Chasm

As further evidence of the existence of a growing divide between Northern Virginia and ... everywhere else, senate candidate James Webb is heavily favored at present over incumbent George Allen by voters around Washington DC but is virtually unknown - and unsupported - outside the area:
Poll: Allen leads race for Senate over Webb
However, one-fifth of those surveyed remain undecided, and Allen still lacks majority support.
By Michael Sluss, The Roanoke Times


RICHMOND -- U.S. Sen. George Allen holds a comfortable lead in his race for re-election and boasts a solid job approval rating, according to a poll commissioned by The Roanoke Times and other Virginia newspapers.

The Republican senator leads Democratic challenger James Webb by 16 percentage points in a statewide survey conducted last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

Allen has the support of 48 percent of the voters surveyed and leads Webb by wide margins in most regions of the state. Webb, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and former secretary of the Navy, leads Allen in densely populated Northern Virginia but remains unrecognized by one-third of the state's voters. (
link)
An interesting political demographic continues to develop with overpopulated, tax-happy, big government supportive Northern Virginia trending to the left and tax averse, socially conservative, fiscally conservative Western, Southwest, and Southside Virginia rapidly advancing to the right, with Tidewater remaining somewhere in between to serve as spoiler.

We know where this will end as it pertains to the Webb/Allen Senate race, but beyond?

Call In The 101st Airborne

Well, the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana summoned the National Guard to stem the tide of murder and mayhem in the Crescent City after admitting that the police force there was powerless. It appears the Guard isn't a match for the hoodlums either:
New Orleans cops probe 6 killings in 1 day
By Mary Foster, Associated Press Writer


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Police were investigating six fatal shootings that occurred within 24 hours, the latest round of killings as the city struggles to rein in violence that has shadowed the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Last month, Gov. Kathleen Blanco sent the Louisiana National Guard and state police to New Orleans after five teenagers were shot to death in a single attack. (
link)
What now, fellas? The 8th Army? Roman Legions? Mongel Hordes?

For the love of God. These boobs can't even meet the first obligation of governance - protecting the citizenry. And we've entrusted billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to them for reconstruction ...

Eating Their Young

This is interesting. The New York Times is throwing longtime Connecticut Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman over the side in favor of an anti-war zealot:
A Senate Race in Connecticut
Editorial

Mr. Lieberman is now in a tough Democratic primary against a little-known challenger, Ned Lamont. The race has taken on a national character. Mr. Lieberman’s friends see it as an attempt by hysterical antiwar bloggers to oust a giant of the Senate for the crime of bipartisanship. Lamont backers — most of whom seem more passionate about being Lieberman opponents — say that as one of the staunchest supporters of the Iraq war, Mr. Lieberman has betrayed his party by cozying up to President Bush.

This primary would never have happened absent Iraq.

We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut. (
link)
This, by the way, is the same New York Times that endorsed the Iraq War before it began. Hopefully Mr. Lieberman will take from this a lesson learned by a growing number of other Americans: With friends like these, who needs enemies.

A Pig Is a Pig

A Muslim man walks into an office filled with Jews and opens fire, killing one and wounding five others. This is an act of:

a) ethnic cleansing
b) genocide
c) terrorism
d) a hate crime

A case can be made for the correct answer to be a, b, or c. But to Seattle police it's merely d.
Police Describe Seattle Shooting as a Hate Crime
By William Yardley, The New York Times

SEATTLE, July 29 — A day after a gunman killed one woman and wounded five others in the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the police identified a Muslim man on Saturday as the suspect and said he used the Internet to select the federation as a random target for his anger toward Jews.

The police are treating the shooting as a hate crime based on what they say Mr. Haq told a 911 dispatcher shortly before surrendering.

“He said he wanted the United States to leave Iraq, that his people were being mistreated and that the United States was harming his people,” Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske of the Seattle Police said Saturday at a news conference. “And he pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems. (link)
Hate crime, terrorism, or the aftereffects of a bad lunch, this is a scourge that needs to be eradicated everywhere it raises its ugly head.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Beating The Odds

Something for you to consider:

I took a stats course in graduate school that was taught by the manager of General Motors' seat belt division in Detroit (you're asking - a statistician was in charge of seat belt design and manufacture? Yes. He was there to calculate failure rates, which there always will be, no matter how safe they become. Six sigma and all that.).

Anyway, I remember him asking the following question of his students one day:

If you were to take all the different kinds of gaming in Las Vegas - roulette, slots, craps, blackjack, etc. - rolled them together and calculated the odds of a person winning, what percentage of the time would a person beat the house and come away a winner?

Answers ranged from 1% to 10%.

In fact, your chances of winning are 49.5%. Nearly every other time you sit down to gamble, odds are you're going to come away with some extra cash. Nearly being the key word. It is that 0.5% that makes Las Vegas rich. If you think about it, if the odds were remote, you'd never come back for more. It only makes sense.

That being the case, I'm here to tell you I beat the odds this week in my four fun-filled days in Atlantic City. I broke even. I didn't bet a dime.

So I came out 0.5% ahead of the casinos. And spent the money on beer. I was a winner all the way around.

Did You Take My Advice?

I told you three months ago that, despite General Motors' woeful showing in terms of profitability and market share, it was time to buy. I hope you took my advice:
GM shares increase for 10th straight day
Jeff Green and Daniel Hauck, Bloomberg News


NEW YORK -- General Motors Corp., the best performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, tied a 22- year record for consecutive daily gains with Friday's increase.


The shares rose for a 10th straight day, gaining 24 cents to close at $32.35 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They matched a streak that last occurred July 25 through Aug. 7, 1984, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

GM's stock has climbed 67 percent this year. [my emphasis] (
link)
Just for the sake of bragging rights, that climb began the Monday after I issued my BUY directive.

I should do this full time.

It Ain't Over

While I'm giving financial advice, I thought I'd pass this along.

I advised you a few months ago to put a chunk of money in short term CD's because the price of oil was going to play havoc on inflation and, in turn, interest rates. While you may have gotten over the "gas pump shock," inflation pressures are now starting to build.

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
Producer Price Index

Producer prices for finished goods jumped a higher-than-expected 0.5% in June, driven by a large 1.4% jump in prices for food products. Prices for core finished goods, which exclude food and energy, edged up just 0.2% for the month. Inflation was greater at the earlier stages of processing, with prices for core intermediate goods rising 0.8% in June and prices for core crude goods increasing 1.7%. [my emphasis] (
link)
It's at this level where inflation will start raising its ugly head. Its ugly head seems to be a'rising.

Roll those short term CD's into short term CD's. Or don't pay attention to the expert and starve. It's up to you.

My Kinda Hotel

I rolled into Richmond yesterday morning at 2:00 am, was checked in by 2:05, and was in bed at 2:09.

Holiday Inn Express indeed.

It All Becomes Clear

I did a short piece yesterday (see it here) on Chicago city council's decision to pass an ordinance requiring that Wal-Mart stores operating within city limits pay their employees more. It made absolutely no sense.

Now it does:
Stone: Labor playing rough on wage issue
By Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter


An influential alderman accused organized labor on Tuesday of using political threats to muscle aldermen into supporting wage and benefit standards for Wal-Mart and other giant retailers.

... [Alderman Bernard] Stone said he has little hope of getting through to his colleagues now that union leaders have flexed their political muscle.

"The unions have backed aldermen against the wall. They've threatened to fund opponents against them and to solicit opponents to run against" those who dare to oppose the big-box ordinance, Stone said.

"I'm not stupid. I know certain aldermen have been threatened. That's the type of campaign the unions have run. I think it's despicable what's been done. They figure they've got us by the short hairs." (
link)
Gotta keep the rich and powerful union bosses happy, even if it means the poor go without jobs ...

Oh, did I mention that Chicago is run by the party of the little guy?

Semper I

I received a great email that I thought I'd pass along:

***
"Semper I" is an old Marine Corps term applied to those selfish careerists who place their own success ahead of their men and the wellbeing of the Corps. Congressman John Murtha is a living example of that disgraceful term.

A bugle blows in Arlington,
Lilting notes fill still sad air,
An eagle’s tears a globe fall on,
Trail an anchor with despair,

For a man we’d wish had not to die,
Brave youth among the best,
A Marine, he lived for Semper Fi,
And with Semper Fi he’ll rest.

So sadly is the contrast,
Between those who talk and fight;
Fat Pols for whom their war’s past,
But now can’t see the light,

Accusing brave young fighting men,
Of crimes they can’t defend,
Disgraceful fat old congressmen,
Who’ve lost the will to win.

Yes there we see the difference,
Between those who fight to win,
And a congressman with no sense,
Who’s committed grievous sin;

He’s turned against his Corps,
And no one knows quite why,
Except he loves himself much more:
Classic case of Semper I.
Semper Fi to all Marines everywhere from an old paratrooper who holds Murtha in as much contempt as you do.

Russ Vaughn
327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

The feelings of betrayal run deep ...

Friday, July 28, 2006

I Guess You Have To Be Partially Comatose

The people at the Charleston (WV) Gazette confuse the beejeebers out of me sometimes:

Civilians caught in the middle lose their moderation
Gerald Beller


By now, even partially comatose promoters of current American foreign policy should realize that terrorism finds fertile ground in destruction and humiliation visited upon civilian populations suffering through war and occupation. (
link)
Which explains why terrorism has found fertile ground in such places as Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and Canada. It's the military occupation.

Count me among the not-even-partially-comatose promoters of current American foreign policy.

You decide where this fella's cognitive abilities are.

A Leader Of Tomorrow

This guy has a future in politics:
Man writes stolen check to himself
News Channel 11 Staff Reports

A man accused of ripping off his employer for more than $4,000.00 is expected to appear in court this morning.


Johnson City police say Kristopher Honeycutt, 22, is charged with forgery, theft, and attempting to obtain narcotics by fraud. (
link)
Remember Kristopher on tax day. Though he may seem less than bright, he's learned from the best.

Oh Yeah. It's a Cacophony.

What do you know? There is a clamoring for a minimum wage increase. In front of the urinals in the restrooms at the New York Times building anyway:

The latest example of mind-numbing idiocy:
Chicago’s Message
New York Times Editorial

The anti-Wal-Mart movement collided with the growing national debate about minimum wages in Chicago this week. The city council passed an ordinance requiring big retailers to pay higher wages and benefits than other businesses must. Legal challenges are bound to follow, but the council’s action should be taken as another sign that while Washington ignores the problem of living wages for workers, the rest of the country is growing very concerned. (
link)
Let it be said first that Chicago city council members are good at two things - paying themselves lavishly and thinking they can force private employers to pay their underlings likewise.

Secondly, Wal-Mart and other big box retailers have already served notice to these geniuses that if the harassment continues, they will all relocate across the street from Chicago city limits and take their millions in tax revenue with them.

Third, the rest of the country doesn't give a damn about the minimum wage.

Fourth, if you're the head of your household and you're sound of mind and body and you are working for minimum wage, you're a loser and you should be ashamed of yourself. Get your dead ass out there and find a real job.

Last, I wouldn't overlook that little thingy about "[l]egal challenges are bound to follow," because the actions of the Chicago city council are about as unconstitutional as you'll ever get.

We're Saved!

As most Americans know, the preponderance of minimum wage earners in this country are young and live in households where someone else is the primary provider. They are also mostly part-timers. In addition, less than 5% of workers in the USA are affected by the minimum wage (the average full-time wage for Wal-Mart employees in this country is $10.11).

So to raise the minimum wage from its current $5.15 is a complete waste of time. But we all know what Congress does best:
Republicans Near a Vote to Increase U.S. Wage
By Carl Hulse, The New York Times


WASHINGTON, July 27 — Under intense pressure from their moderate wing, House Republican leaders moved on Thursday toward allowing a vote Friday on an increase in the minimum wage before sending anxious lawmakers home for a month of campaigning in the battle for control of Congress.

House Republicans were still assembling a proposal Thursday night. But the momentum had clearly shifted in favor of considering an increase of at least $2 in the $5.15 an hour minimum wage, despite strong resistance from conservative Republicans and the party’s allies in the business community.
(link)

There's a reason why I generally vote Republican. But it's moments like this that I just can't remember why.

On the bright side, I suppose this relentless drive to do something meaningless keeps these guys from trying to save us from global warming ...

Mountains and Molehills

I'm rather surprised the New York Times didn't do a better job of juicing up this front page non-story this morning:
Drug Makers Pay for Lunch as They Pitch
By Stephanie Saul, The New York Times


Free lunches ... occur regularly at doctors’ offices nationwide, where delivery people arrive with lunch for the whole office, ordered and paid for by drug makers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. (
link)
But even the Times couldn't avoid this naked truth:
Doing business over lunch is a common practice in many fields, but drug makers have honed it to perfection ...
I wish I had a dime for every lunch or dinner I've bought for a customer over the years. Hundreds to be sure. Not one of which involved a doctor.

Will I burn in hell? Perhaps. But it won't be because of this.

Such silliness.

What a Shock

There are three things that the Arab world can be counted on to do when Islamist terrorists are under attack. Here's one (that strangely must come as a complete shock to the New York Times):
Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah
By Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times


DAMASCUS, Syria, July 27 — At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.

Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements. (
link)

Beyond showing solidarity with this snake, Arabs can be counted on to: (a) talk like they're all badasses and (b) not lift a finger to help this supposed folk hero.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Atlantic City

Well, I've been in Atlantic City for the last several days and I must tell you it's not my kind of vacation spot. Besides the fact that I seem to have found myself here at a point in time when dead mussels litter the beach - and stink up the boardwalk and surrounding countryside in front of the Hilton - there is also a certain other-worldliness to this town.

Buses roll in throughout the day, many of them originating in New York City, and they disgorge their passengers - the preponderance of which are very old; some even feeble - at the casinos. Thousands of elderly people can be found sitting in front of the slot machines at the various facilities around town with a surreal indifference in their expressions. They play. They lose. They go home. Hard to tell if they're actually enjoying it.

But they show up each day by the nursery home-load. So they must find some kind of pitiful satisfaction in their experiences.

Then I could mention the adventure it is to head out of the downtown area to find a nice restaurant at night, one in a location where you won't get your head handed to you.

But I'll not go there ...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Massaging The Truth

The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to make it a federal crime for someone to take a minor across state lines for an abortion without parental notification.

That being a fact, I wonder how long it took the New York Times to twist it into this:
Senate Removes Abortion Option for Young Girls
By Carl Hulse, The New York Times


WASHINGTON, July 25 — The Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would make it a federal crime to help an under-age girl escape parental notification laws by crossing state lines to obtain an
abortion.


The bill was approved on a 65-to-34 vote, with 14 Democrats joining 51 Republicans in favor. (
link)
... removing an abortion option. Classic.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

DemocratThink

Does this make any sense whatsoever?

Raise Wages, Not Walls
By Michael S. Dukakis and Daniel J.B. Mitchell, The New York Times


If we are really serious about turning back the tide of illegal immigration, we should start by raising the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to something closer to $8. The Massachusetts legislature recently voted to raise the state minimum to $8 and California may soon set its minimum even higher. Once the minimum wage has been significantly increased, we can begin vigorously enforcing the wage law and other basic labor standards. (
link)
An increase in the minimum wage will keep Mexicans from illegally crossing the border ....

Let it be noted that most level-headed Americans now recognize how bad for America John Kerry would have been. Let's pause and reflect on what kind of America we would have today if Dukakis had been elected back in 1988 also.

These guys are frightening.

No, That's Not What Israel Needs

The New York Times is trying to undermine the Israeli effort to provide security to its people - again:
No More Foot-Dragging
Editorial

What the people of Lebanon and Israel urgently need is a cease-fire followed by the swift deployment of a well-armed force with a mandate to aggressively keep the peace. That must be accompanied by an international guarantee that Hezbollah will be forced to halt its attacks on Israel permanently and disband its militia so Lebanon can regain control of its borders and its sovereignty. (link)
Fools. These people are utter fools. The U.N. had an observation post 200 yards from the spot where the Hezbollah attack occurred that left several Israeli soldiers dead and two captured two weeks ago. The observers ... observed and did nothing else. They were worse than feckless.

Beyond that, the U.N. has a resolution in place demanding that Hezbollah abandon southern Lebanon. It was ignored by Hezbollah ... and by the U.N.!

Passing more resolutions and putting more observers on the border will produce more of the same.

Israelis are doing what needs to be done. They are killing all the terrorists who are committed to slaughtering them.

The Times is, if nothing else, consistent. Consistently on the wrong side of this issue. The editorialists would do well to stick to whining about lost stem cell opportunities and such inanity.

You Gotta Love These Guys

Can there be a more fitting story about America and those who make it - and keep it - strong?
Three Wounded Soldiers Take Another Oath
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, July 24 — President Bush presided over a citizenship ceremony Monday for three foreign-born soldiers wounded in Iraq and renewed his call for Congress to pass legislation overhauling immigration law.

“We are stronger and more dynamic when we welcome new citizens like these,’’ Mr. Bush said at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, adding, “As the nation debates the future of our immigration policies, we must remember the contribution of these good men.’’ (
link)
Foreign-born soldiers prepared to sacrifice themselves for the rest of us. Welcome home, fellas.

The Virginia Blog Carnival Is Up

Kilo has the latest installment of the Virginia Blog Carnival posted over at Spark It Up!!

Great job, Carl.

Check out this week's broad range of offerings.

It Don't Get Better Than This

I'm in a room on the 10th floor of the Hilton overlooking the (dark) Atlantic this morning. I had the opportunity yesterday to meet up with a business associate in Virginia Beach and we drove from there across the Chesapeake Bay (no we didn't have a Cuban floating car; we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel) to Lewes, Delaware, where we caught the car ferry and crossed the Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey.

Great day. Calm seas. Lots of jelly fish ...

And to think - I get paid for this.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

On The Road Again

I'm off to Atlantic City on business. Time is going to be in short supply. I'll catch you later.

Lincoln-Douglas It Wasn't

Audience members went to sleep at yesterday's debate between Senator George Allen and contender James Webb? Seems so, according to one eyewitness:
Observer: Allen takes first round
Carlos Santos, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Robert Denton, a specialist in political communications at Virginia Tech, said Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen bested Democrat Jim Webb in the almost two-hour debate.

"Webb showed a lack of aggression," Denton said. "He did not clearly make any difference between himself and his opponent."

In fact, Denton said the debate was so tame that he saw some audience members in the back of the room sleeping. (
link)
If we can all agree that it is Webb's job to convince the voters that they should no longer support Allen, putting them to sleep when he is attempting to do just that isn't a promising start.

Where's that Harris Miller character? We may need a quick do-over.

When Will They Deliver?

It's no secret that area employers are leaving Southwest Virginia in droves because the cost of doing business here is too high. Whereas area politicians could help ease the burden, they instead choose, over and over again, to waste money on projects that, by most estimates, are bringing nothing in return. The latest:
Tourism campaign finally gets under way
Montgomery County's first formal marketing effort is being funded by an increase in the hotel occpancy tax.
By Niki King, The Roanoke Times


When Shane Adams looks out at Montgomery County he sees natural attractions, museums, shopping, restaurants. For a guy who has a background in tourism all that makes one resounding sound: cha-ching.

For the last few years, Adams has been the man behind the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce's effort to raise funds for and develop a first-ever tourism campaign.

His argument has been simple: Tourism is one of the hottest industries in the country and especially hot is eco- and culture-based tourism, something Adams thinks the New River Valley can offer.

Last year, Montgomery County's three municipalities agreed to raise their hotel occupancy taxes by 1 percent to fund the effort. That equals about $100,000 from Christiansburg, $65,000 from Blacksburg and $5,000 from Montgomery County each year. (
link)

Here's the insidious part of the story: A hotel occupancy tax is paid by outsiders.
"I think it's a good thing," Christiansburg Councilman Ernie Wade said of the marketing project. "There's really no cost to the citizens of Christiansburg."
No cost? Shoot, let's raise the tax even higher and just hand the money to the citizenry. We'll all be rich and we can quit diddling with this nonsense.

Making it more expensive for travelers to stop at local hotels is never a good thing. Especially when those sought-after tourists have Dollywood, Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol, Six Flags, Nag's Head, Gettysburg, and our rocks/bushes from which to choose.

But beyond that, when are we going to expect results from all these snake oil salesmen? When do we make these jokers prove their statement, "especially hot is eco- and culture-based tourism"? Traffic count on the Blue Ridge Parkway, down by millions over the last several years, screams the fact that it is not hot or "especally hot"; it's ice-cold.

How many more visitor centers and museums (before the roof blew off the other day, how many of you knew we had a Museum of Transportation up in Roanoke?) can we build with hard-earned taxpayer dollars before we can agree that if it ain't enough to bring tourists in today, adding even more isn't going to help? And what about all those marketing campaigns that have been launched previous to this one in communities across Southwest Virginia? Has anyone taken the time to evaluate their rate of return?

In the meantime, our existing jobs base suffers mightily. Our manufacturers in particular need our help, if only to have the state and federal government ease the burden brought on in part by taxation and regulation.

But no. We are going to market our trees and shrubs to northern folk who are going to drive past millions of acres of trees and shrubs to get here.

If we must, let's at least find us a large-breasted reasonably attractive woman around which we can build this marketing campaign. That at least worked for Pigeon Forge.

Leave It To The ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union doesn't give a damn if books are banned from school libraries (if the banned books have anything to do with Jesus). And the ACLU looks the other way if a student's right to free speech is denied (when that student intends to conduct a prayer before a football game).

But let hate-crazed lunatics be banned from protesting at funerals of fallen American soldiers and the ACLU is ready to do battle. And in the name of religious freedom of all things:
ACLU Sues for Anti-Gay Group That Pickets at Troops' Burials
By Garance Burke, Associated Press


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas church group that protests at military funerals nationwide filed suit in federal court, saying a Missouri law banning such picketing infringes on religious freedom and free speech.


The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with signs condemning homosexuality. (
link)

The ACLU: Champions of Religious Freedom. Such hypocrisy.

On The GOP And Starving Children

You hear a lot these days from Democrats (who consider you to be stupid) about how President Bush is not only giving tax breaks to the wealthy but he's also reducing aid to the less fortunate. "On the backs of the poor" and all that drivel.

The first charge is not deniable - unless you get beyond tax rates and look at tax revenue, then you find that the rich are paying taxes in record amounts.

Beyond that, there's no denying the fact that tax breaks in fact, fairly or unfairly, impact the rich since the top 5% of America pays 50% of the taxes. It only makes sense that tax relief is going to impact the wealthiest among us more than it will the poor - who can't be relieved of their tax burden since they have no burden to relieve.

But if the first charge is debatable, it turns out the second charge is utterly false. The ruling GOP hasn't cut poverty programs at all. They've actually sent spending on the poor through the roof:

Anti-poverty vapors
By Deroy Murdock, The Washington Times

Heritage Foundation budget analyst Brian Riedl actually looked at social spending under Republican control. What he finds is as astonishing as it is counterintuitive: Under the mean, nasty, coldhearted Republicans, expenditures on the poor have zoomed to record levels. In 2004, 16.3 percent of the federal budget went to anti-poverty efforts. This figure never has been higher.

In 2001, Mr. Bush and Congress spent $285.7 billion on 33 antipoverty programs. By 2005, that had grown $111.2 billion to a total of $396.9 billion. That 39 percent boost far outstripped that period's 10 percent cumulative inflation. Republican poverty spending soared at nearly quadruple the inflation rate ... (link)

Federal anti-poverty programs have increased their spending by $111 billion since George Bush came into office. The heartless bastard.

Any more reductions in spending like these and we'll all be spent into the poorhouse.

The NY Times Gets Slapped Again

The editorial staff at the New York Times has a reputation for being inconsistent. Too often it can even be accused, to put it delicately, of rank hypocrisy. So to pick on the Times - again - is to risk being labeled a sadist. But it's still fun to do. And watch.

Today's bitchslap:
Intellectual confusion on terror
Today's Editorial, The Washington Times


Two days ago, the New York Times suggested an out-of-character response to dealing with the crisis in the Middle East should the U.N. Security Council fail to enforce Resolution 1559, which requires Hezbollah to disarm. "If the Security Council isn't willing to issue such explicit demands or link them to clear punishments," the paper editorialized, "the United States, Europe and key Arab allies, who are also eager to see the fighting and Hezbollah contained, will have to bring serious pressure on their own." Of course, the editorial continued, "[t]he United States will have to take the lead."


The NYT's argument that the United States may be forced to assemble and lead a coalition if the Security Council fails to act represents a remarkable change in perspective from just three years ago.

This is the same editorial page, after all, that claimed in March 2003 that it was "persuaded of the vital need to disarm Iraq. But it is a process that should go through the United Nations." (
link)
It's the same editorial page as well that will chide President Bush as being a cowboy if he acts upon the advice the editorialists provide. You gotta love this bunch.

'I Survived The Big Dig'

All you thrill-seekers might want to put a trip to Boston on your list of places to visit, along with bungee jumping in Nanaimo, British Columbia and rafting the Klamath River in Oregon. You need to test your nerve by driving The Big Dig:
Ceiling collapse tip of Big Dig problems
By Joyce Howard Price, The Washington Times


So many setbacks have plagued Boston's Big Dig during its 15-year history that a more appropriate nickname for the $14.6 billion underground highway project might be the Big Debacle.

Capping those problems, a concrete ceiling collapsed July 10 inside the new I-93 tunnel complex and killed a 38-year-old mother of three. The collapse prompted a shutdown of two of the project's tunnels for a safety inspection and a criminal investigation by state Attorney General Tom Reilly.

On Thursday, Gov. Mitt Romney overruled an earlier finding by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) and temporarily shut down the eastbound Ted Williams Tunnel after it was discovered that two ceiling panel bolts inside that structure had shifted by as much as an inch. (
link)
I actually deserve a tee shirt that reads "I Survived The Big Dig." I drove it - without mishap - several months ago. Of course, I didn't know I was taking my life in my hands at the time. I was simply trying to get to my hotel. In any case - I LIVE TO TELL THE TALE.

Others won't be as fortunate.

Slowly They Come Around

Democrats are known to be less than serious when it comes to the energy crisis. They routinely travel over to the nearest gas station to stage a press conference, at which they decry the high price of gas, and whine that we need to do something about it. They then go back to work and block every attempt at lowering the price at the pump. The environment and all that.

Even some Republicans - Jeb Bush in Florida; liberal Senators in New England Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins - are on the wrong side when it comes to easing the burden.

But $75 a barrel oil seems to give pause to even the most ardent environmentalists:
Senate bill would open gas and oil fields in Gulf of Mexico
Michael Janofsky, New York Times


WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans have agreed on legislation that would open four times more of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling than the Bush administration was seeking, and a vote on the bill is expected this week.

The Senate's only energy measure with a chance to pass this year, the bill would open more than 8 million acres of the gulf to new drilling for oil and natural gas. (
link)
Until scientists discover a way to make solar energy drive something more powerful than a pocket calculator, oil is realistically our only economical source of fuel. And in order to drive down the price, we need more of it (econ 101).

Slowly, these people in Congress are coming to grips with those facts.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Throw Away The Key

In the summertime, the mountains around here become infested with college-age badasses who intend to save the planet (in our case from coal mining and tree harvesting) and destroy our way of life, before they all have to go back to school in the Fall and take up their studies of accounting once again.

A few of them at least, these out in Oregon, are soon to find themselves only trying to save their virginity:
3 Plead Guilty in Ecoterrorism Spree
By Jeff Barnard, Associated Press Writer


EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Three more people pleaded guilty Friday to being part of an ecoterrorist cell that planted fire bombs around the West.

The trio are accused of trying to stop logging, wild horse roundups, genetic engineering of plants, sport utility vehicles sales and expansion of a ski resort into endangered lynx habitat.

In pleading guilty, the three admitted they were part of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, loose-knit groups of environmental activists that claimed credit for arsons in recent years throughout the West. (
link)
Human waste. Dispose of it quickly so that the rest of us can move on.

A Curious Mindset

This seems wrong:

36 Pit Bulls Euthanized in Denver
Associated Press

DENVER (AP) -- Thirty-six pit bulls confiscated from a home were euthanized this week after their owner struck a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid jail time under Denver's ordinance banning the breed.

Hundreds of dogs have been euthanized since Denver reinstated its ban in May 2005. (link)

Strange how this sort of thing plays out. The do-gooders who are hell-bent on destroying a breed of dog are the same bunch who would champion the cause of a judge who comes to the aid of an imaginary woodpecker.

We Need More Gun Control

It's at this moment that gun control fanatics drag out the argument that banning guns would have prevented a senseless tragedy:
8 employees stabbed at Tenn. grocery store
By Woody Baird, Associated Press Writer


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- A knife-wielding grocery store employee attacked eight co-workers Friday, seriously injuring four before a witness pulled a gun and stopped him, police said.

Elartrice Ingram, 21, was charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder, police said. The attack apparently stemmed from a work dispute, investigators said. (
link)
Ban 'em. Let's make the world safe from ... knives.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's Become Of Country Music?

I suppose it was inevitable that, with billions of dollars flowing into country music, simple people who once felt grateful when they were able to find a gig at a local honky tonk in Nashville and could make enough to pay for a few beers and a change of underwear now find themselves fabulously wealthy and therefore feel it their duty in life to preach to the rest of us.

Call it the Dixie Chicks syndrome.

The latest annoyance comes from none other than the king and queen of country music, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

The Ballad of Tim and Faith
By Alanna Nash, Ladies' Home Journal, August 2006, pg. 108

... McGraw, who grew up in Louisiana, and Hill, who is, as her song says, a "Mississippi Girl," got tough about the government's woeful lack of progress on the [Katrina] cleanup and rebuilding effort. "It's wrong," Hill said. "It's embarrassing. It really gets us fired up. That's our homeland."

McGraw took it one step further, focusing directly on President Bush. "There's no reason why someone can't go down there - who's supposed to be the leader of the free world - and say, "I'm giving you a job to do and I'm not leaving here until it's done," he said. [print version only available]
I've never been much of a Tim McGraw fan, in part I think because he tries his best to come across in his mannerisms and dress as being, for some inexplicable reason, gay (although Paula tells me she'll throw me over the side in a heartbeat if he knocks on her door) and because he has no range in his singing voice. And, as far as I'm concerned, Faith Hill hasn't sung a country song in several years, preferring instead - like the Chicks - to belt out pop hits (and misses) these days.

To their point, Congress has appropriated $63 billion for Katrina relief thus far and some estimates put the final cost to the government (that would be you) at somewhere around $200 billion, making the reconstruction of the Gulf coast more costly than all other post-hurricane cleanup efforts in the history of the USA combined. And President Bush isn't doing enough ...

So what explains the attitude of Hill and McGraw? The fabulous wealth? The daily dose of servile flattery? What gives?

The article does mention that McGraw, a Democrat, "might want to run for governor of Tennessee" some day. Perhaps he's testing his political wings and feels the need to be part of the looney left that rules his party these days. Or maybe he just seized on the opportunity to bitch about our President - a la Natalie Maines.

To quote Don Williams: “Fame and riches are fleeting. Stupidity is eternal.”

In any case, it would do both of these spoiled stars well to reflect on the fact that they're not that far removed from the days when they were yodeling for their supper - and were thankful for the opportunity.

As a great American advises, "Shut up and sing."

This Has To Be a Record

When would he eat?
2 from VCU give swimmers music
By Jeffrey Kelley, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer


Sheldon Retchin has been swimming for 30 years. (
link)
In order to pass a lifesaving course years ago, I had to swim 40 laps without stopping.

But 30 years ...

Remembering Terri Schiavo

A story upon which to reflect appears in today's Wall Street Journal. It has to do with those who are hell-bent on inflicting "death with dignity" on those who cannot defend themselves.

Bush Wastes Some Breath

The one organization here in the USA that best represents those who still live off the slave trade is the NAACP. And a pretty good living it is.

So President Bush's decision to speak before the assembled throng of racists and bigots was a bit disappointing. But since the group is on its way to that trash heap of history, only a bit.

The news:
Bush reaches out to NAACP
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times


President Bush yesterday told the NAACP that slavery and years of discrimination continue to "wound" and "stain" America but said he will work with black leaders on issues such as education, homeownership and AIDS, where they agree on the goals.

"I want to change the relationship," the president said at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual convention at the Washington Convention Center, his first appearance after five years of declining invitations. (
link)
Whatever ...

Payback

New York City, as you may recall, is one of the locales that decided several years ago to sue gunmakers out of existence. It didn't work but the resulting legal bills did prove to be costly for the gunmakers (that was the city's intent) and costly for the taxpayers of New York (who apparently don't care how their confiscated earnings are wasted).

The Mayor of New York pulled another stunt recently, sending undercover agents to a number of out-of-state gun dealerships in order to make some political point. Michael Bloomberg, a Republican by the way, may have violated federal privacy laws by using information that was not his to use in order to track down the dealers that he decided to harass.

And now it's payback time:
GUN DEALER TARGETS MIKE
By David Seifman, New York Post City Hall Bureau Chief


July 21, 2006 -- One of the 15 out-of-state gun dealers snared in a city sting filed a $400 million lawsuit against Mayor Bloomberg yesterday, claiming Hizzoner didn't have the authority to send undercover agents to Georgia.

Ed Marger, a lawyer for Smyrna, Ga., gun dealer Adventure Outdoors, said he regretted not asking for even more from the billionaire mayor for the "clearly illegal" move that "damaged" his client. (
link)
Bloomberg, in response to the lawsuit, says he's thrilled that he's the defendant in this case.

Not as thrilled as the rest of us, Mike.

Oh Yeah. That'll Work.

What would we do without those whose purpose it is to save our lives?

Minnesota Has a Warning for Tailgaters, Every 255 Feet
By Gretchen Ruethling, The New York Times

... a new Minnesota initiative using big white dots painted on a state highway ... 94 of them painted on a two-mile stretch of a rural highway about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis, were unveiled last month in a pilot project that officials hope will teach drivers about safe following distances.

The idea of the dots on the highway here, explained on roadside signs, is for drivers to keep a distance of two dots between vehicles. The 225 feet between dots represents a driving interval of three seconds at the speed limit of 55 miles per hour. (
link)
So I'm driving down the highway at 70 miles an hour, looking down at the pavement counting dots so as to keep a safe distance behind the car in front of me and ...

"Officer, you need to understand. I was concentrating on dots like I was instructed to by the state of Minnesota and didn't notice the car in front of me - into the trunk of which I've buried the nose of mine - had hit the brakes."

Save us, Lord, from those whose job it is to save us.

Discipline Within The Ranks

Funny how scorn and threats of reprisal can change a man's thinking:
Bolton’s First Year at U.N. Wins Over a Critic
By Jim Rutenberg and Carl Hulse, The New York Times


WASHINGTON, July 20 — Since last year, John R. Bolton has had the title of United States ambassador to the United Nations, and the work that goes with it.

But he has not had the formal approval of the United States Senate for his appointment. Instead, President Bush installed him in the job when Congress was out of session.

Now a former Republican critic of Mr. Bolton has changed his mind, giving the White House impetus to try again to get the Senate’s endorsement. Senator George V. Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, urged the Senate on Thursday to approve Mr. Bolton’s nomination, saying the United States needs a fully sanctioned United Nations representative in the tumultuous world climate. (
link)

Voinovich was savaged by the entire party after he pulled his Bolton-is-the-wrong-man-for-the-job stunt (tears accompanying) last year. The real reason the "former Republican critic" changed his mind was because he was well on his way to becoming a "former Republican."

Voinovich ain't no fool. He just acted the part for a short time.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Megahertz Rage

If the uncontrollable anger directed towards others while driving a car down the highway is called road rage, what do you call the situation where lightning has knocked out your hi-speed DSL and you're operating on dial-up?

Whatever it is, I'm experiencing it right now ...

Just Wondering ...

How is it that people who reject out of hand the whole notion of a deity put such blind faith in something called a stem cell?

How About This For A Cogent Argument

When I write about the loss of jobs and Southwest Virginia's sorry forecast for the future, I usually try to include a lecture on the benefits gained from having a vibrant economy and the changes we need to adopt if we are going to save our existing employers and attract new ones.

The folks at the Charleston (WV) Gazette don't bother with any of that. They just plead:

Save jobs

Surely there is something the world wants that could be stamped out at the Union Stamping & Assembly plant in South Charleston. How about Humvee armor or other military gear getting blown up in Iraq? How about rescue chambers for coal mines, or reinforcements for roads and bridges?


That’s the position of Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper. We agree. (
link)
Hard to argue with that kind of reasoning ...

A Wise Investment

I often criticize Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Abingdon) for wasting his time - and our hard-earned money - on meaningless (but costly) boondoggles, mostly relating to our someday burgeoning tourism industry. But there is one worthwhile endeavor for which he - and all our local officials - are to be commended:
Coalfields Expressway could be built within a decade

ABINGDON – The oft-delayed and much anticipated Coalfields Expressway could be built within a decade, a state transportation official predicted Wednesday.


First approved five years ago, the $2.3 billion four-lane, 51-mile-long highway would link Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise counties and connect to West Virginia’s own Coalfields Expressway, which then would link the region to Interstate 77. (
link)
This was one of those projects that, according to various newspaper editorial scaremongers, was going to be flushed if the state legislature didn't accede to our Governor's budget demands. Funny how that notion disappeared once the Governor's (and the editorialists') scheme was shot down.

To the point, if I want to drive from Bland, Virginia WNW to Logan, West Virginia as I occasionally have need to do (70 miles as the crow flies), I have to drive north to Charleston and south to Logan. 176 miles. Because of a small geological impediment known as a mountain range.

In addition, the most economical way to transport coal out of Mingo County, WV east is by truck (whether you rail enthusiasts want to accept it or not) so the Coalfields Expressway will be a real boon to the economy of Southwest Virginia.

And if we can get a few of you folks over in Dickenson County to dress up like hillbillies and pluck your banjos along the expressway, Congressman Boucher can declare it to be a tourist attraction as well. A true win-win.

Just had to get that in ....

You Anti-Smoking Nazis Will Be Happy

Good news ... if you take pleasure in controlling the lives of others:
Casino Windsor jobs go up in smoke
Ontario's ban on lighting up in businesses part of reason casino is forced to cut more than 300 staff.
Joel J. Smith, The Detroit News


Casino Windsor will lay off 297 union workers and terminate 32 salaried employees, casino officials said Wednesday, citing declining revenues caused by Ontario's new smoking ban, an unfavorable exchange rate, high gas prices and other factors.

The cost-cutting measures come less than two months after the Ontario provincial government imposed a smoking ban on virtually all businesses, including casinos and bingo parlors. (
link)
Well, they're unemployed but at least they won't come down with emphysema when they get old. They will thank you fifty years from now.