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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Time To Decide How Bad You Want It

My weekly Roanoke Times column is up (here). It has to do with the congressional race in the 9th district and whether or not Bill Carrico is going to let Rick Boucher define the terms of the debate or whether he plans on winning.

Quote Of The Day

It's fascinating to watch Anglo-American leftists (those champions of human rights and freedom) welcoming every Taliban attack and fantasizing of a Western defeat. But the rest of us deal with reality. And Afghanistan's reality is that things are going as well as any sane person could expect.

The get-Bush-and-Blair partisans who yearn for Afghanistan (and Iraq) to fail, no matter the human or strategic cost, impose impossible standards for success, then insist we're being defeated when their standards aren't met.

Ralph Peters, "Afghan Reality," The New York Post, August 31, 2006 (link)

And I've Got a Bridge In Brooklyn I'll Sell Ya ...

An "independent" group of partisan Democrats has determined that the balloting in Ohio in 2004 had a number of irregularities. Surprise, Surprise:
Ohio to Delay Destruction of Presidential Ballots
By Ian Urbina, The New York Times


With paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election in Ohio scheduled to be destroyed next week, the secretary of state in Columbus, under pressure from critics, said yesterday that he would move to delay the destruction at least for several months.

Since the election, questions have been raised about how votes were tallied in Ohio, a battleground state that helped deliver the election to President Bush over Senator John Kerry.

The critics, including an independent candidate for governor and a team of statisticians and lawyers, say preliminary results from their ballot inspections show signs of more widespread irregularities than previously known. (
link)
Now why would these honorable and independent, intrepid and independent investigators be so worked up over an election that wasn't even close and has already been certified as having been handled properly? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the fella who was responsible for the process back then - a Republican - is running for governor today? Of course not:
The critics say their sole interest in the question is to improve the voting system.
Right ...

The Times reporter assumes, by the way, that you're too stupid to draw the right inference here so he does it for you:
The planned action of Mr. [Ken] Blackwell [to preserve the ballots], a Republican who is running for governor, and the threatened suit could draw attention to possible irregularities in the election that he supervised.
... and could paint Blackwell as being either incompetent or a crook.

How reprehensible.

All Things Considered ...

There seems to be some controversy brewing over at CBS - again. Apparently the Dan Rather network is catching some heat for photoshopping some tonnage off of the perky Katie Couric when they developed a photo of her for a magazine release. The story:
CBS magazine slims down Couric in photo
Yahoo! News

NEW YORK - No, Katie Couric didn't suddenly lose 20 pounds. The incoming "CBS Evening News" anchor appears significantly thinner in a network promotional magazine photo thanks to digital airbrushing.

The touched-up photo of Couric dressed in a striped business suit appears on the inside of the September issue of Watch! which is distributed at CBS stations and on American Airlines flights. (
link)
I must admit, it's hard to get worked up over this. Once you've seen Katie's colon displayed in living color for all the world to see on morning television, any other visuals just don't register.

Cats, Cats, & More Cats

If you enjoy watching the antics of little kitties, you'll really enjoy these YouTube antics of ... little kitties.

The 8th Of November

Click here for a big and rich Big & Rich YouTube tribute to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. It brings back memories of a war too many have forgotten already.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More Of The Same

Unemployment is down in Danville. Again. So say the experts:
City's unemployment rate drops
By Bernard Baker, Danville Register & Bee staff writer

The jobless rate in the Danville metropolitan area, which includes Danville and Pittsylvania County, dropped from 8 percent in June to 7.6 percent in July. The unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in July 2005. (
link)
This is a good thing, right?

Well, if only it weren't for that pesky denominator in the unemployment equation:

The [Virginia Employment Commission’s] report, however, also showed that the labor force continued to shrink in the Danville metropolitan area.

The work force number was 50,480 in July. That was down from 51,890 in June and 51,960 in July 2005.

Danville: Still on a glide path to 0% unemployment.

Rumsfeld Gets It Right

Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said yesterday in a speech before the American Legion what many of us have been saying for years:
Rumsfeld Says War Critics Haven’t Learned Lessons of History
By David S. Cloud, The New York Times


SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 29 — Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that critics of the war in Iraq and the campaign against terror groups “seem not to have learned history’s lessons,” and he alluded to those in the 1930’s who advocated appeasing Nazi Germany.

Comparing terrorist groups to a “new type of fascism,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, “With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?” (link)
Appeasement is one way of looking at it. Sticking our heads in the sand and wanting it all to just go away is another. Until, that is, another attack occurs. Then, for a brief time, they'll all get serious about stopping terrorism. For a brief time. Then they'll go back to wringing their hands and whining about world opinion and such.

Kind of pitiful really.

I've Been Drummed Out Of The Blogosphere

I forgot to mention an amusing exchange I had with Ben Tribbett of Not Larry Sabato Friday night over in Martinsville. We had all assembled for dinner at Chatmoss Country Club (where we were treated to a delightful speech by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling) and afterwards a number of us ended up at a Congressman Virgil Goode Meet-and-Greet over at the Hampton Inn.

By midnight there were some 16 people in the room and Ben and I ended up sitting on a couch with Megan, Republitarian's wife. Now Ben looked like he'd had a good bit to drink by this time (or maybe he looks like that all the time - I'd only just met him face-to-face) so it may have been the booze talking. But Ben proceeded to inform me that the site you're visiting - From On High - is not a blog...

... it's a website....

... because I don't allow comments to be posted to the blo...website.

He was quite adamant that I cannot be a blogger if I don't allow people (meaning Ben) to leave comments.

I had two responses. (1) "I don't allow comments because anything anyone had to say would reduce the quality of this site. You want to comment? Send me an email." (2) "I'll just have to live with the fact that this doesn't rise to the level of a weblog. I ain't changing it. Now or ever."

He was disappointed. Or drunk. Probably both.

I will say this: Ben holds a lot of boneheaded left-wing attitudes when it comes to politics but with that annoying exception, he comes across as being a great guy. He reminds me of me way back when - kind of confused, wrong on politics, unaware of the ways of the world, liberal. I too was very liberal. He's a good conversationalist and defends his views well. I enjoyed the encounter and now consider him a friend.

But I ain't changin' the weblo ... website, Ben. Not now. Never.

***

Update 11:36am, 08/30/06: Rumor has it that Ben doesn't drink. If that's the case, it would appear that only the other guy involved in the conversation must have consumed too much of Kentucky's finest bourbon whiskey.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Enough Is Enough

Am I the only person getting a little put out by the whining down in New Orleans?

Am I the only person who would have decided that waiting for the government for a full year to come along and rebuild my house, replace my car, feed my dog, and wipe my nose was not a viable plan?

Am I the only person who's fed up with people who have ulterior motives writing crap like this?

One year of failure after Katrina
The Gulf Coast continues to suffer thanks mostly to the Bush administration's shameful response to Hurricane Katrina.

Roanoke Times Editorial

One year ago, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast and quickly became the worst natural disaster to strike America in decades, perhaps ever, depending how one measures such morbid things.

No one expected the scars to disappear in one year, but the Bush administration has continued to fail New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. Reconstruction is far behind where it should be.

Washington eventually marshaled financial assistance, directing $110 billion to the recovery. The Bush team mismanaged those funds as badly as it bungled the relief efforts a year ago. It has spent less than half of the allocated money, despite the ongoing problems on the ground. (link)

That $110 billion was yesterday's number. According to the Wall Street Journal (see graphic above), the price tag today is up to $122.5 billion. God knows what it will be tomorrow.

But the charge that the Bush administration isn't doing enough because a huge chunk of the allocation hasn't been spent is infuriating.

Had anyone actually checked into the situation, one would have found out that the government can only pay for services rendered when there is someone prepared to render a service.

Had anyone checked, they would have found that the same federal government relief operation is working just fine in nearby Mississippi and over in Texas where Hurricane Rita struck just after Hurricane Katrina ripped into the Gulf coast. Mississippi, though suffering less damage than Louisiana, has hauled away more debris and rebuilt more homes. Schools are back up and running. Street lights work. It's only in Louisiana that chaos still reigns.

The state of Louisiana and to a lesser extent the city of New Orleans have performed miserably in this affair. And to blame the federal government for the actions of the Democratic leadership there smacks of crass politics.

Chart courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
Click on image to enlarge

The Martinsville Blog Conference

For those of you who weren't able to make it to Martinsville for the bloggers conference, Kat over at Cathouse Chat has an incredible write-up of the event.

I'm hawking her post in part because you'll see a photo of me there (scroll down a third of the way and you'll see - from the left - me putting a whammy on my coffee cup, Dan Radmacher, superb interim editorial page editor of the Roanoke Times, the renowned Norm Leahy, and Jeff Schapiro with the Richmond-Times Dispatch with whom I had breakfast and found to be quite entertaining.

Great work, Kat.

Can We Vote On That?

I'm fully aware of the fact that the commonwealth of Virginia has major transportation problems. And that a great deal of money is going to be allocated to solve them.

But I also know that if we add to the already crushing burden shouldered by Southwest Virginia's employers, we are going to see more factory gates padlocked and more small businesses shuttered. More jobs lost. More people moving out.

So, when I read that northern Virginia needs a new commuter rail line and that it will cost $4 billion, I wince. But we're all in this together so I'm okay with it, even knowing, depending on how it is ultimately funded and knowing that if the government says that it is going to cost $4 billion it will probably cost $12 billion, that it may very well do more harm to my neighborhood. Yes, I accept it because we're all in this together ...

What I don't accept is this:
Neighborhood Group Backs Tysons Tunnel, With Cost Warning
By Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writer


While Northern Virginia developers and business leaders rally around the proposal for a Metrorail line to Dulles International Airport that runs under Tysons Corner instead of above ground, some neighborhood groups are leery of the project's cost and its potential for triggering excessive growth.

A tunnel through the four-mile Tysons stretch is expected to add at least $200 million to the cost of the 23-mile rail extension, estimated at $4 billion. (
link)
Why a $200 million tunnel?

(1) Aesthetics. A tunnel through Tyson's Corner will hide those horrid tracks from view. Oh sure, you'll hear advocacy groups argue that it is an alternative to an above-ground Chicago-style "L" transit system that could cause more traffic congestion. But the "L" does no such thing. It's all about maintaining the ambiance - if such exists in that heavily populated area.

(2) Land values. Current prices for land and housing in northern Virginia are stratospheric. Homeowners in Fairfax County don't want to see their properties devalued as a result of a train track bed being carved through its center.

So. Are Southwest Virginia employers going to be on the hook for a portion of this $200 million so that exorbitant land values can be maintained in the commonwealth's wealthiest county? Are more jobs in Southwest Virginia going to be lost so that folks in Tyson's don't have to listen to the annoying toot of that train horn as it makes its way to DC each morning?

Count on it. They warned us of the looming transportation crisis. It has arrived.

A Legend Returns

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

Interesting news. The possibility exists that the chestnut tree, an extinct arboreal mammoth of a bygone era, may be finally making a comeback:
Researcher says heir to chestnut tree found
By Debra McCown, Bristol Herald-Courier

Meadowview [VA] – Three decades of work could bear fruit very soon.

Or, rather, chestnuts.

"They’ll never be American chestnut trees," plant pathologist Fred Hebard said, "but they’ll walk and talk like an American chestnut tree."

Hebard has been studying chestnut blight for half his life, and he’s finally on the verge of bringing back the once-abundant trees.

During the first half of the 20th century, the blight wiped out the American chestnut, which thrived in mountain forests from Georgia to Maine.

For more than two decades, researchers have been cross-breeding American and Chinese chestnuts here to transfer the blight-resistant gene from the Chinese tree to its American cousin.

Trees planted this year could be placed out in the woods, where researchers believe they would survive and fend off the blight. (
link)
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

The Arrogance Of The Left

A national bestseller that most of you never heard of (it was written in 1958) The Ugly American was a novel about arrogance, intellectual vapidity, and an attitude of superiority exhibited by many Americans back then manifested in the exploitive idea that it was our duty to change the way others live their lives. The Peace Corps was, in a way, part of this colonialist attitude.

The Vietnam War provided, in its own brutal way, a wake-up call to those who harbored such attitudes.

Well, it's back. It can be seen in Democratic Senator Joe Biden's mindless plan to divide Iraq into three confederated countries - Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. And in this:
Obama Urges Kenyans to Get Tough on Corruption
By Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times


NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug. 28 — Barack Obama strode into a packed auditorium in Nairobi on Monday and attacked an issue that notoriously bedevils Kenyan society: corruption.

He urged people to reject “the insulting idea that corruption is somehow part of Kenyan culture” and “to stand up and speak out against injustices.” (
link)
This is arrogance personified. Obama hails from what is arguably the most politically corrupt city in the USA - Chicago. Yet he feels the urge to travel to an African country he knows nothing about to tell strangers that their corruption is a bad thing and they need to change their ways.

The Ugly American at its worst.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Never Again!

The following article first appeared in the Roanoke Times August 17, 2006.

A media lap dog no longer
Jerry Fuhrman
The New York Times recently revealed in a front page article ("Partisan divide on Iraq exceeds split on Vietnam," July 30) the results of a study that showed more polarization exists today with regard to opinions on the war in Iraq than existed at the time of the Vietnam War:
"No military conflict in modern times has divided Americans on partisan lines more than the war in Iraq, scholars and pollsters say -- not even Vietnam. And those divisions are likely to intensify in what is expected to be a contentious fall election campaign."
The reason for this is simple. Unlike the turbulent days of Vietnam, in which the opinions expressed on network news shows held sway over the populace, much of America today relies on an array of alternative sources for news. And we are the better for it.

When Walter Cronkite declared in 1968 that the Vietnam War was "mired in stalemate" and couldn't be won, people's resolve was profoundly shaken. The former CBS News anchorman is now credited with having nearly single-handedly turned America against the war and to have brought it to an end. He deserves that credit.

Many of us on the right learned a valuable lesson from Vietnam, the offshoot of which is that it is because of Cronkite and others like him that those alternative news sources exist today. In the '60s, we were witness to nightly bouts of anguish and remorse displayed on the evening news over the pain and suffering inflicted by American military personnel upon innocent women and children in villages and hamlets seemingly throughout Vietnam -- North and South. And we subsequently learned that all the anguish was completely phony.

As soon as we retreated, Cronkite and his ilk on the left turned their backs on our allies there and the real slaughter began -- in South Vietnam in 1975 when wholesale executions of North Vietnam's former foes began, and, at the same time, in Pol Pot's Cambodia, where the killing fields were sown with the corpses of up to 3 million innocent people. Little was said about it on the evening news. Cronkite, et al, had moved on to Watergate and more enticing matters. Many of us learned not to trust these people ever again. We came to know them for what they are -- pretenders.

So, when President Bush appeared before a joint session of Congress 10 days after 9/11 and said, "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success," we took these words to heart, steeled our resolve, prepared for that long, protracted conflagration that was forced upon us by a fanatical foe, cheered our loved ones who volunteered by the thousands to enter into harm's way in order to make us safe here at home, and vowed to stay the course.

And we expected no help from the left.

What we expected we have gotten. More stories of pain and suffering. More complaints of brutality. At the same time that accounts of buses carrying school children in Jerusalem being blown up gain only passing comment, a report of prisoners in Baghdad being forced to wear panties on their heads is condemned ad nauseam. A Koran supposedly being flushed down a toilet in an American prison gets far more air time than does the cold-blooded execution of four Americans in the streets of Fallujah.

They expect us to take them seriously. We did indeed learn from Vietnam -- and its aftermath. We learned the slogan taken up by Jews after the Holocaust: Never again! And we took to heart and live by the powerful words of Abraham Lincoln spoken at a time when another great struggle was under way, one that was taking a far more grievous toll: "We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth."

We resolve to maintain the world's last best hope in part because these pretenders won't. So we find ourselves with this great divide between the attitudes of Americans on the left and those of us on the right. We expected it. We accept it. We celebrate it.

As for Vietnam -- Never again.

Good News On The Teenage Sex Front

I've often thought that anyone who says we shouldn't try to influence the habits of teenagers as far as sexual activity is concerned because, after all, "they are going to [like rabbits and other lesser species] do it anyway" is saying more about his or her own ability to self-control and less about human nature.

My thought seems to be backed up by a University of Chicago study that is referenced by Peter Hannaford in The American Spectator that has supportive data showing that abstinence education has at least a correlative relationship if not an influential relationship with teenage sexual activity:
Though Planned Parenthood would no doubt deny it, teenage sex has declined as abstinence programs have increased. The American Enterprise Institute, which has been tracking data on this for over a decade, recently reported a University of Chicago study showing that the percentage of high school students who had ever had sex dropped from 59 percent to 46 percent between 1989 and 2001. (link)
And from that naturally flows this:
Not surprisingly, the teenage birthrate has dropped steadily over approximately the same period. In 1991 it was 62 per 1,000 teenage girls (ages 15-19); by 2004 it was down to 41.

We've a long way to go but studies like this prove that teenagers have cognitive and intuitive skills (beyond those of lesser mammals) and react favorably to cogent lessons provided in a straightforward manner.

So quit making excuses and start providing guidance! Our children deserve nothing less.

Where Errors Are Never Allowed To Occur

For those who travel a good deal, this is always troubling news:
49 Die in Crash as Jet Takes Off From Wrong Runway
By Ian Urbina and Amanda Van Benschoten, The New York Times


LEXINGTON, Ky., Aug. 27 — A Comair jet that mistakenly took off on a short runway crashed into a woody field here on Sunday, killing all but one of the 50 people aboard, federal aviation officials said.

An initial examination of the flight recorders, or so-called black boxes, indicated that the pilots of the plane, a Bombardier Canadair jet, used a 3,500-foot runway at the Blue Grass Airport, much shorter than is typically required for a fully loaded aircraft of that type. A runway twice that length that is perpendicular to the shorter runway is used mostly by commercial jets at the airport. (
link)
Without knowing the specifics of this tragic accident yesterday, I knew that the plane involved, a Canadair Bombardier (either a 100 or 200), one of my personal favorites, is an extremely reliable machine. I was figuring on pilot error. I wasn't figuring on pilot and air traffic control error.

To make the story worse, I just heard that a young couple had gotten married the day before (Saturday) and were off on their honeymoon when their lives were horrifically ended together on that aborted flight.

So sad.

When A Good Day Can Be Ruined In a Heartbeat

As many of you know, my son is a firefighter. I think about him when I read stories like this:
FATAL BLAZE TRAPS BRAVEST
By Steve Dunleavy, Larry Celona, and Bridgette Williams, The New York Post


August 28, 2006 -- A rookie firefighter battling an inferno in a Bronx store was killed and his lieutenant nearly crushed to death yesterday when the floor collapsed beneath them - plunging them into the basement and burying them in flaming chunks of the building.

Michael Reilly, 25, yesterday became the first city firefighter to die in the line of duty since then.

In addition to Reilly and his lieutenant, three other firefighters crashed into the basement. All five remained trapped for a terrifying hour and a half - as the air in their tanks began running out - covered in rubble that had been the floor and shelves of the 99-cent store.

In all, 23 Bravest were injured. (
link)
A plane crashes. A floor collapses. Lives are taken from us forever in the blink of an eye. It makes you want to take hold of your loved ones and give them a hug ...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Quote Of The Day

Governor Mark Warner came into office complaining that his predecessor, Jim Gilmore, had not fully disclosed the sad state of the Commonwealth's finances. In his 2002 State of the Commonwealth address, Warner declared: "To ensure the Commonwealth's financial integrity, I will insist on honesty and openness in our budget process." How ironic, then, that Warner's budget chief, John Bennett, evidently kept almost everyone -- including the incoming Kaine administration -- in the dark for months about a $137-million accounting snafu in the school-funding formula. Let's hope the current administration proves more forthright.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial, "In Brief," August 27, 2006 (link)

Quote Of The Day II

Over and over, white guilt turns the disparity in development between Israel and her neighbors into a case of Western bigotry. This despite the fact that Islamic extremism is the most explicit and dangerous expression of human bigotry since the Nazi era. Israel's historical contradiction, her torture, is to be a Western nation whose efforts to survive trap her in the moral mazes of white guilt. Its national defense will forever be white aggression.

But white guilt's most dangerous suppression is to keep from discussion the most conspicuous reality in the Middle East: that the Islamic world long ago fell out of history. Islamic extremism is the saber-rattling of an inferiority complex. America has done a good thing in launching democracy as a new ideal in this region. Here is the possibility--if still quite remote--for the Islamic world to seek power through contribution rather than through menace.

Shelby Steele, "Life And Death," The Wall Street Journal," August 27, 2006 (link)

Worlds Apart

This is what they do with $4 billion up in northern Virginia:
Kaine's Pick Is Said to Be Tunnel For Tysons
Campaign Backers Push Rail Choice
By Alec MacGillis, Washington Post Staff Writer


Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is close to deciding in favor of building a Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport below ground through Tysons Corner rather than on an elevated track, sources say, despite critics who say it could imperil the entire project.


With the announcement, expected in the next few days, tunnel supporters would have managed in less than a year to overhaul a $4 billion project that was to begin construction early next year with an elevated track. (
link)
The article skips past the real reason for the move away from an elevated track through Tysons Corner (a heavily populated part of DC metro), saying "its extra cost and time would be worth it because it would benefit Tysons in the long run and cause less traffic disruption during construction." One can presume that the long-run benefit relates exclusively to aesthetics. Elevated trains (a la Chicago's "L") are ugly. So burying the track underground is ... beneficial.

What would $4 billion buy us here in Southwest Virginia where we are still suffering the centuries-old aftereffects of Hurricane Appalachia? We'll never know. Our political leadership feels it necessary to bury unsightly train tracks instead.

And you wonder why your legislators demanded $20 billion for "transportation needs" here in the commonwealth ...

But He Represents The New Democratic Party ...

The Democratic party is trying to clean up its act. A recognition of God's presence still won't be countenanced within the ranks but there is some small evidence of house-cleaning. Holocaust deniers are - for now - unwelcome:
Alabama Dems: Darby Not Welcome in Party
By The Associated Press


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Democratic Party leaders want a former candidate for attorney general who denies the Holocaust occurred to stay out of their future primaries.

The party's executive committee passed a resolution Saturday informing Larry Darby that ''he is not welcome in the Alabama Democratic Party.''

Darby, the founder of the Atheist Law Center, responded by saying the vote shows that the state party's leadership is ''intellectually and morally bankrupt.'' (
link)

It's worth noting, this character wasn't drummed out of the Democratic party for being an atheist. To them, that mindset is perfectly kosher. It was his view, one yet to be adopted by the party, that the Holocaust never really happened that got him in hot water (my view is that Darby just got out ahead of this bunch of leftist malcontents and social deviants and they'll soon catch up and welcome him back with open arms).

Interestingly, Darby is only one of a sizeable bag of nuts with such views in the party of Howard Dean. He may be gone but his ideas will live on ...

The Clock Strikes 11:59 ...

While the U.N. dithers, Iran moves one step closer to destroying the western world:
Iran Opens a Heavy-Water Reactor
By Michael Slackman, The New York Times


TEHRAN, Aug. 26 — Just days before it is supposed to suspend enrichment of uranium or face the prospect of sanctions, Iran continues to project an image of defiance and confidence.

On Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a provocative, if symbolic, gesture by formally inaugurating a heavy-water reactor. The Iranians say the plant would be used for peaceful power generation. But nuclear experts note that heavy-water facilities are more useful for weapons because they produce lots of plutonium — the preferred ingredient for missile warheads. (
link)
Time for another U.N. resolution ...

Hezballah Propaganda Machine Takes a Hit

I'm going to try mightily to not make light of this story. After all, five people were reported to have been injured so it wouldn't be cool. But by the same token, the fact that Israel took out one of its/our enemies' lines of communication is to be praised. The story:
Israeli Airstrike Hits Reuters Vehicle
By The Associated Press


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli aircraft fired two missiles early Sunday at an armored car belonging to the Reuters news agency, wounding five people, including two cameramen, Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials said.

The Israeli army said it did not realize the car's passengers were journalists and only attacked because the vehicle was driving in a suspicious manner near Israeli troops in the middle of a combat zone. (
link)
Here's wishing a safe recovery for those who were injured in the attack.

That having been said, I wonder what Reuters' pals in Hezballah are going to do now for editorial support.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Uh Oh. There Go The Petunias.

It looks like Paula is forbidden - by state law - to plant flowers around our house:

Feeding wild deer to become illegal
WSLS NewsChannel 10


Effective September 1, a regulation making it illegal to feed deer will go into effect statewide. The prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January.

This regulation does NOT restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences. (link)
This is probably a good idea. Those "negative consequences" include Paula's chasing deer down the hillside, screaming and chucking rocks, after she's found them ravaging her flower beds.

It's unclear if the shrubs and trees around the property, tender morsels for the overgrown rodents in the area as well, are included in the ban.

Bring On The Rain

While folks over in southern Indiana and central Kentucky have been pummeled in recent weeks with torrential rains, we've watched and waited. And waited ...

Flash drought strikes Virginia
Continued dryness might lead to water restrictions
By Peter Bacque, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer


Much of Virginia is caught in a flash drought.

That's a period of extreme but short-term dryness, often accompanied by high temperatures. Most of the state is abnormally dry, while Northern Virginia, the northern Shenandoah Valley and part of south-central Virginia are in moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a government and academic project at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

For the year, precipitation is 3.41 inches below normal in Richmond, 8.89 inches below normal in Lynchburg and 10.49 inches below normal in Charlottesville, said meteorologist Chris Wamsley with the National Weather Service's Wakefield office. (link)

I have the official drought monitoring device at home. When the stream that flows from Big Walker Mountain (usually year-round) and crosses the old Raleigh Grayson Turnpike onto my property dries up, we've got us a drought. Said stream is at a trickle ...

Quote Of The Day

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

We have never watched a "reality TV" show in our life, and our interest in the genre is only slightly greater than the damage to national security owing to the "outing" of Valerie Plame. Still, we got a kick out of what the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes called "the stunning news . . . that CBS would divide contestants on the next 'Survivor' into four tribes based on race."

Especially amusing is this reaction, reported by the Associated Press:

"The idea of having a battle of the races is preposterous," [New York] City Councilman John Liu said Thursday. "How could anybody be so desperate for ratings?" . . .

Liu, who is Asian-American, said he was launching a campaign urging CBS to pull the show because it could encourage racial division and promote negative typecasts. He and a coalition of officials, including the council's black, Latino and Asian caucus, planned to rally at City Hall on Friday.

So "the council's black, Latino and Asian caucus" is upset over a plan to divide people up by race? Talk about the pot calling the kettle African-American!

James Taranto, Best of the Web Today, August 25, 2006 (link)

Win Some, Lose Some

Danville's loss is Martinsville's gain:

Clothes maker chooses Henry Co.
Mason Adams, The Roanoke Times

A Canadian clothes manufacturer announced this week it will open a new, consolidated center just outside Martinsville after closing distribution centers in Danville and Mount Airy, N.C.

Gildan Activewear will invest $7 million for improvements to a leased, 380,000-square-foot building in the Rich Acres section of Henry County, according to a press release and Henry County Administrator Benny Summerlin.

Gildan intends to use the new distribution center to produce athletic socks, underwear and activewear. (
link)

New investment in the area, despite the fact that one part of that area will feel the pinch, is a good thing.

Martinsville

I rolled into Martinsville last night for the bloggers conference that Alton Foley put together. He did yeoman's work on the planning - and execution - and thanks go out to him for all his efforts, as well as those of everyone who helped him.

Dinner and drinks last night. Meeting today.

Looking forward to it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

State Finances In Complete Disarray

It's no wonder Democrats in Richmond wanted a massive tax increase to be levied on an already overtaxed Virginia populace. They were clueless as to how much revenue they had so they wanted to pad the account. The shocking story:
Budget mistake brings rebuke
Report chides Warner administration for not alerting Kaine
By Michael Hardy, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer


Top fiscal officials in the Warner administration knew about a major budget mistake involving schools funding for seven months before Gov. Timothy M. Kaine independently learned about the $137 million error.

The crux of the original problem was that tax and finance analysts overestimated the amount of cash available for distribution to school districts in each year of the two-year budget because they did not take into account the speeded-up reduction of the sales tax on groceries. (
link)
That Bluto Blutarsky and his Delta House pals running things in Richmond didn't know how much cash they had on hand is one thing, to keep it a secret is another one. A much bigger one. A go-directly-to-jail-do-not-stop-at-GO one.

So how do our government watchdogs react? Like your 14-year old bassett hound:
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission recently investigated what some lawmakers described as the embarrassing mistakes. It concluded that greater scrutiny is required to avoid a repetition of the fiscal foul-up.
No shit.

We got to do something ...You know what we are gonna do? Toga party!

I have a better idea. How about you recommend that a few of our paid employees do a perp walk to a state lockup nearest you? How about somebody gets fired? How about we ask a few questions of Mark Warner (between stints on morning network talk shows)? What did you know and when did you know it? How about someone demand - some day - exacting government accountablility for our hard-earned money?

And these guys demand a tax hike. Not in this life, pal.

Like I Said

I had to bitchslap Senator George Allen yesterday for playing into the hands of those in the Democratic party and in the media who are out to destroy him politically and personally. It appears I'm not alone in my revulsion toward the senator's wienie whiny approach to problem solving:
Another Day, Another Dozen Apologies From Sen. Allen
By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post


HARRISONBURG, Va., Aug. 24 Sorry, but will Sen. George Allen please stop apologizing?

Since calling an Indian American man a type of monkey earlier this month, the Virginia Republican has apologized in two speeches, on Sean Hannity's radio show, in a phone call to the young man himself, in at least seven media interviews and in several statements from his campaign showing varying levels of contrition. (
link)
Allen's handlers are learning a valuable lesson in media politics. Give an inch, they still want the rest of your genitals.

It Depends On Your Point Of View

A headline in this morning's New York Times:
In Poll, G.O.P. Slips as a Friend of Religion
A headline in this morning's Washington Times:
Few see Democrats as friendly to religion

The accompanying articles refer to the same Pew poll. Both headlines, though seeming to support opposite conclusions, are accurate (or are, at least, backed up by the research).

It's all a matter of perspective (and being selective in your choice of statistics).

Playing Politics With Women's Lives

So it turns out that the only legacy this "compassionate conservative" president of ours will leave when it comes to the contentious abortion debate that continues to rage throughout the land is to approve a contraceptive drug that "in rare circumstances" aborts a fertilized egg:
F.D.A. Approves Broader Access to Next-Day Pill
By Gardiner Harris, The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved over-the-counter sales of the morning-after contraceptive pill to women 18 and older, resolving one of the most contentious issues in the agency’s 100-year history.

Nationwide over-the-counter sales of the drug, Plan B, are expected to start by the end of the year. It will be sold in pharmacies and health clinics only, and buyers must show proof of age. Anyone under age 18 will still need a prescription. Men may also buy Plan B for a partner. (
link)
President Bush's decision to give Plan B over-the-counter status was a blatant political move that may, in the end, result in harm to women. Even the New York Times editorial page, while chortling with glee this morning about how safe and effective the pills are, has these weasel words:
Since virtually all the scientific evidence shows that the pills are safe, no self-respecting F.D.A. commissioner could reject over-the-counter sales without looking foolish and craven. [my emphasis] (link)
What that may mean, since the evidence is not completely conclusive, is that virtually all women - and girls; don't be fooled - will survive the use of Plan B.

A wonderful legacy there, Mr. Conservative.

Prayers Are In Order

My niece Chandra (my sister's daughter) had to undergo surgery Tuesday and Wednesday at Methodist Hospital over in Louisville to have a large tumor removed from behind one of her eyes. Without going into great detail, the work required both neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons. They apparently had to remove a good bit of her skull to get to it and replaced that portion of the skull with a synthetic replacement of some sort.

The surgeries reportedly went very well (unfortunately she is in great pain now) but I received word this morning that a complication with fluid in the lungs has arisen and the doctors are concerned about infection setting in.

Chances are still excellent that she's going to be fine in the end but a prayer would be helpful about now.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Gay Marriage

My weekly Roanoke Times column is up. It is entitled "Shredding The Social Contract."

Access it here. It has to do with the Virginia marriage amendment to the constitution that's on the ballot this November. Except for one sentence having been butchered, the article provides some good background information - if I do say so myself.

Allen Grovels

I could never be a politician. Not if I have to prostrate myself, tears flowing, hat in hand, in front of (a) news cameras, (b) an opponent's operative who, in following me around with a video camera, was looking all along with eager anticipation for just this moment, and (c) the voters who look for leaders and not spineless wienie boys to represent them in the United States Senate. I would have sought out this Sidarth character (he's the victim who was abused by being called a monkey or a sh*thead or a n*gger, depending on how imaginative you are), looked him in the eye and the news cameras in the lens and told all "concerned" to kiss my ass.

But George Allen is the politician:
Allen Calls Webb Aide, Apologizes For Remark
By Michael D. Shear and Tim Craig, Washington Post Staff


Virginia Sen. George Allen apologized directly to S.R. Sidarth yesterday, telling the 20-year-old Democratic campaign staffer that he was sorry for offending him with remarks that have generated nationwide criticism for being racially insensitive.

Allen's telephone call to Sidarth was the first direct contact between the two since Allen (R) was caught by Sidarth's video camera calling him a "macaca" (sic) and welcoming the Fairfax native to "America and the real world of Virginia." (
link)

For the sake of accuracy, something that has been completely lacking in the Washington Post's reporting of this intentionally overhyped incident, Allen didn't call Sidarth "a 'macaca.'" He referred to him as "Macaca or whatever his name is."

In any case, Allen, being a Republican, can expect this "gaffe" to be etched on his tombstone. And he's doing the etching with his wretchedly submissive - and pitiable - pandering.

GOP Making Inroads In Kwaisi's Backyard?

Is Michael Steele, Republican candidate for the senate in Maryland, gaining support among black Democrats? Seems so:
Steele gaining blacks' support
By Jon Ward, The Washington Times


The Maryland Democratic Party's traditional support among blacks appears to be slipping, now that hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons -- who has helped register thousands of Democratic voters -- has endorsed Republican Michael S. Steele for the U.S. Senate.

"Russell Simmons is one of the leading progressive voices in America," said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.

"This is a major endorsement for Lieutenant Governor Steele that will help him attract young people, as well as black voters," Ms. Brazile said. "Once again, this should serve as a wake-up call to Democrats not to take their most loyal constituents and voters for granted." (link)
Steele, conservative and proud of it, is sending shivers down (voids where once were) Democratic spines. This is welcome news.

When Idealogy Supercedes Objectivity

Amnesty International released a scathing report yesterday targeting Israel's "indisciminate attacks on Lebanon."
Human Rights Group Accuses Israel of War Crimes
By John Kifner, The New York Times


BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 23 — Amnesty International accused Israel on Wednesday of war crimes in its monthlong battle with Hezbollah, saying its bombing campaign amounted to indiscriminate attacks on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and population.

“During more than four weeks of ground and aerial bombardment by the Israeli armed forces, the country’s infrastructure suffered destruction on a catastrophic scale,” the report said, contending this was “an integral part of the military strategy.” (
link)
Not surprisingly, the report (if the Times article is to be trusted) didn't mention Hezballah's indiscriminate launching of rockets (4,000 of them by some estimates) into Israeli cities with the specific intent of killing as many innocent men, women, and children as possible. But then those are mostly Jews and they don't count for anything.

This is so shameful. Amnesty International has a growing - and well deserved - reputation for having taken sides with the Islamist terrorists in their ongoing war with civilization. This "report" provides additional evidence that that is the sorry case.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Ain't Alone

Is there a more classic example of pandering than the feigned disgust and outrage expressed by the Democratic party these days toward Wal-Mart? I can't think of one. Well, apparently, I'm not the only one who has come to this conclusion. The Los Angeles Times this morning let's 'em have it:

Democrats' Shameful Wal-Mart Demonization
Presidential hopefuls only hurt themselves when pandering to unions by bashing the country's largest employer.

Editorial

Democratic presidential aspirants — including Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico — feel compelled to bash one company, the largest employer in the U.S., to score points with labor organizers. The candidates are so intent on gaining tactical advantage in the primary season that they risk alienating possible supporters in the general election.

Most Americans do not want their politicians ganging up on one company. Wal-Mart may be a behemoth that employs 1.3 million people in this country and earned $11 billion in profit last year, but it still looks like bullying when politicians single out one business to scapegoat for larger societal ills. (
link)

Nobody ever accused these Democrats of being all that shrewd - especially the ΓΌber-annoying Joe Biden - but when 127 million Americans shop at Wal-Mart each week (without anyone twisting their 254 million arms presumably), it doesn't make for a happy electorate when those shoppers are made out be supporters of genocide by buying their Fruit of the Looms at America's number 1 discount store.

What's Happened To The Methodists?

Why can't you people just focus on shepherding the flock through the Pearly Gates and give up on the silly leftist digressions?

Sanctuary Chic
By Mark Tooley, American Spectator


"Sanctuary" became a cause celebre in the 1980s when left-wing churches ostensibly offered it to illegal Central American refugees as a protest against the Reagan Administration's battles against Marxist insurgencies in Latin America.


Now "sanctuary" is chic again. There are currently two ongoing celebrated cases. One involves an illegal Mexican woman immigrant in Chicago. The other involves a U.S. army officer in Tacoma who refuses to serve in Iraq. Both involve Methodist churches.

First United Methodist Church Tacoma is offering legal counseling on evading military service, along with overnight shelter for conscience-ridden, anti-war soldiers. (
link)

It's fairly certain that Jesus is on the side of the United States military in its courageous efforts to rid the world of evil. That being the case, on what side does this put the United Methodist church?

On That 'Culture of Corruption'

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
Marcus Aurelius

It seems the Democrats have stirred up a hornet's nest with their ill-considered strategy of painting Republicans as having fostered a "culture of corruption" in Washington. And the consequences could prove to be serious:

Desert Dealings: Democrat For Hire
By Ed Morrisey, The New York Post

The leader of the Senate Democratic caucus, Nevada's Sen. Harry Reid, took contributions from clients of convicted influence-peddler Jack Abramoff and intervened on their behalf at least four times. Abramoff, for his part, hired one of Reid's staffers and started holding fundraisers for the
senator in the Abramoff offices.

Now The Los Angeles Times reports on the "culture of corruption" surrounding Reid and a new real-estate development outside of Las Vegas, in the desolate valley of Coyote Springs. Reid has intervened on behalf of powerful developer Harvey Whittemore to gain government concessions, while the developer puts money into Reid's campaigns - and, the Times reports, pays salaries to two of Reid's sons, one of whom is his personal lawyer.

Money talks. And Harry Reid walks. (link)

So it's off to prison for another crooked Democrat.

Then art thou damned for keeping thy word with the devil.
Henry IV, Part I

Sliced And Diced

Blogger Ann Althouse (okay, she's a law professor at the University of Wisconsin too) has a scathing attack on federal district judge Anna Diggs Taylor in the New York Times this morning. An attack not on her opprobrious ruling in the NSA eavesdropping case but on the judge herself:
A Law Unto Herself

This system works only if the judges suppress their personal and political willfulness and take on the momentous responsibility to embody the rule of law. They should not reach out for opportunities to make announcements of law, but handle the real cases that have been filed.

This means that the judge has a constitutional duty, under the doctrine of standing, to respond only to concretely injured plaintiffs who are suing the entity that caused their injury and for the purpose of remedying that injury. We trust the judge to say what the law is because the judge “must of necessity expound and interpret” in order to decide cases, as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Marbury. But Judge Taylor breezed through two of the three elements of standing doctrine — this constitutional limit on her power — in what looks like a headlong rush through a whole series of difficult legal questions to get to an outcome in her heart she knew was right. (link)
Wow.

When The Facts Aren't There

The left is trying so hard these days to buttress the flawed hypothesis that a link exists between global warming and the increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes slamming into the USA. The problem is, we've had no hurricanes so far this hurricane season. None. But they try to prop up that strawman anyway:
Fourth Potential Hurricane Gathers Strength
By Joeseph B. Treaster, The New York Times


Almost half way through a hurricane season that had been predicted to be particularly awesome, the fourth potential hurricane of the year is gathering strength off the coast of West Africa, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday night. [my emphasis] (
link)
Fourth potential hurricane. That's like saying I've fathered 48,263 potential children (but we won't delve into that).

Unfortunately for those who bought into Al Gore's rantings, reality just isn't helping make the case:
The three previous storms all fizzled out harmlessly at sea without reaching hurricane force.
Fizzled out. The epitaph has been written for the global warming industry.

Showin' Us Who's Boss

The USA and Europe came to Iran, hat in hand, and offered a lucrative package of financial incentives to the soon-to-be nuclear Islamist superpower in return for which it was asked that Iran not develop cataclysmic weapons of mass destruction.

Iran's leaders duly laughed uproariously and told the west to take a hike. There's a new sheriff in town:
Iran Won’t Give Promise to End Uranium Effort
By Michael Slackman, The New York Times


TEHRAN, Aug. 22 — Iran responded Tuesday to a set of incentives from Europe and the United States aimed at ending its nuclear program, but did not agree to suspend the enrichment of uranium by the end of the month, the West’s primary demand.

In its response, Iran offered “serious talks” over its nuclear activities but did not raise the issue of suspending enrichment by Aug. 31, the deadline established by the United Nations Security Council, Western diplomats said.

As European and American diplomats analyzed the 21-page counterproposal on Tuesday, it increasingly appeared that Iran’s efforts to push past the Aug. 31 deadline would be considered unacceptable and that they would be likely to lead to calls for imposing sanctions. The United States, Britain, France and Germany plan to meet Wednesday in New York to discuss the proposal and their response. (link)

" ... they would be likely to lead to calls." While Iran is likely to soon launch multi-warhead nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles at Tel Aviv, Paris, and New York.

I feel like digging a deep hole ...

'And now - the rest of the story'

So this judge is a trustee for an organization that funds the ACLU and the ACLU files suit in her court in the NSA eavesdropping case and she ... (drumroll time) ... rules in favor of the ACLU. Who would have guessed? Here are the shocking details:
Conflict of Interest Is Raised in N.S.A. Ruling
By Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — The federal judge who ruled last week that President Bush’s eavesdropping program was unconstitutional is a trustee and an officer of a group that has given at least $125,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, a watchdog group said Tuesday.

The group, Judicial Watch, a conservative organization here that found the connection, said the link posed a possible conflict for the judge, Anna Taylor Diggs, and called for further investigation.

Three legal ethicists interviewed said although Judge Taylor’s role as a trustee for a supporter of the civil liberties group would not necessarily disqualify her from hearing the case, she should have probably disclosed the connection in court to avoid any appearance of a conflict.

Federal law requires judges to disqualify themselves from hearing a case if their impartiality “might reasonably be questioned” based on factors like a financial or personal relationship with a party in the case. (
link)

This gal gives financial support to a plaintiff that comes before her in court and she rules in the plaintiff's favor. No, no sign of partiality there ...

A Wake-up Call

To all you incumbent Republicans up in Washington DC who decided to walk away from those who got you there and to dance with another partner, a second sign of voter discontent surfaced yesterday in Alaska (of all places). First there was Congressman Joe Schwarz in Michigan and now this:
Incumbent Concedes Gubernatorial Race in Alaska
By William Yardley, The New York Times


ANCHORAGE, Aug. 22 - Gov. Frank Murkowski, who gave up a seat in the United States Senate to run for governor four years ago and has encountered nearly constant political trouble ever since, appeared headed to a resounding defeat Tuesday in his bid for a second term.

With 67 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Murkowski had won less than 20 percent of the vote in a three-way Republican primary, placing a distant third to two challengers. Sarah Palin, the former mayor of a small town who has never held statewide office, was leading with 50 percent of the vote.

“He created no small amount of antagonism,” said [Carl] Shepro.

Mr. Shepro quickly listed a string of the governor’s perceived offenses: appointing his daughter Lisa to complete his fourth senate term; cutting a “longevity bonus” for seniors that had been intended to keep seniors from leaving the state; proposing to take money from a reserve account financed by oil taxes to balance the budget; and, after state and federal agencies denied his attempts to buy a jet for the use of the governor’s office, taking out a line of credit from a private bank and buying a plane anyway. (
link)
The conservative base in the Republican party is in a state of high dudgeon. Expect to see more incumbents bounced from their lofty positions in the ivory tower. And the GOP hasn't even asked the Democrats to participate yet ...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Future Is Now

How cool is this?

Your eyes aren't deceiving you.

And this is no toy.

This is a radical new tire design from Michelin.

It was unveiled to the public at this year's Philadelphia auto show.



These tires are not inflated.

This is what great R&D will do, and just think of the impact on existing technology:

... no more air valves

... no more air compressors at gas stations

... no more repair kits

These are actual pictures taken in Michelin's South Carolina plant.


Still in R&D mode, expect to see these tires on the market some time in the future.

Click on images to enlarge.

Photos courtesy of Michelin.