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

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tourism On The Decline?

Have the efforts of all those who have been investing in the tourism economy here in Southwest Virginia already gone down the drain? The National Park Service numbers relating to Blue Ridge Parkway visitations may be telling us that that is the case.

As promised yesterday, here are the statistics showing the number of tourists who have visited the Parkway each year for the last four*:


And here's corresponding analysis reported by Rex Bowman for the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Parkway traffic dips again
The three-year decrease in Blue Ridge visitation is first in road's 70-year history
By Rex Bowman, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

The number of visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2005 fell for the third consecutive year, the first time in the scenic road's 70-year history that visitation has dropped three years in a row.

National Park Service officials were at a loss to explain the three-year decline in the number of visitors to the popular parkway, though an agency spokesman speculated that higher gas prices might have kept motorists away last year. But the spokesman also wondered aloud if years of homebuilding near the two-lane blacktop, along with air pollution, have at last prompted people to forgo a trip along the parkway. (link)

Housing development, air pollution, the price of gas, global warming, Jen and Brad's breakup ... The reason for this decline is less important than the fact that our politicians have been telling us for years now that tourism was going to be our salvation, along with the fact that many of those same politicians have spent desperately needed tax revenue on this pipe-dream, building museums, cultural centers, trails, paths, even Indian villages, only now to be finding that their investments in tourism haven't brought on an increase in traffic at all. In fact the end-result is a precipitate decline.

If you're needing a reason though, you might consider this possibility:

As for the decline of visitation over three years, [Wayne] Strickland [executive director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission], said it's possible some people have concluded development along the road has lessened the natural beauty of the drive. But, he said, the decline could more likely be attributed to the differing tastes of a new generation.

"The parkway may not appeal to the younger folks," Strickland said. "The baby boomers enjoyed it. The younger generation, they like to be entertained."

" ... like to be entertained." I'm waiting for Congressman Boucher to jump on the casino bandwagon. Then we might all just as well close the doors and leave forever.

* Statistics provided by the National Park Service and the Times-Dispatch

With Apologies To Terry Bradshaw

I received the following from a rabid Indianapolis Colts fan:

**************

Terry Bradshaw, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Steelers flag in the window.

"This house is yours for eternity, Terry," said God. "This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here."

Terry felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a 3-story mansion with a blue and white sidewalk, a 50 foot tall flagpole with an enormous COLTS logo flag, and in every window, a Colts emblem.

Terry looked at God and said, "God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was an all-pro QB, I won 4 Super Bowls, and I even went to the Hall of Fame."

God said "So what's your point Terry?"

"Well, why does Peyton Manning get a better house than me?" God chuckled, and said "Terry, that's not Manning's house, it's mine!"

GO COLTS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

A special thanks for the email goes out to the rabid fan, my sister, Suellen ...

It's The Thought That Counts

Ya gotta love those environmentalists. They will go out of their way to save the planet. Or at least make themselves feel better thinking they're saving the planet:
Green House Gasbags Conspicuous conservation is a huge waste of energy
By Daniel Akst, The Wall Street Journal

In North Carolina, the owners of a 4,600-square-foot home that cost $1.2 million wanted it to be as "green" as possible, so they spent $120,000 on solar power.

In Colorado, using recycled materials, an architecture professor built a 4,700-square-foot home that uses geothermal heating and cooling and was on the market recently for $930,000.

And in Southern California, a husband-and-wife architect team who say that they "came of age during the '60s and '70s at U.C. Berkeley" also relied on recycled materials--in building a second home six hours from their primary residence.

... the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described an "environmentally responsible" house in Pennsylvania that made ample use of recycled materials--but exceeds 4,000 square feet in size, boasts an in-ground pool and sits in a 4.3-acre "woodland setting," ... The house's salient feature: a 45-foot observation tower, which must be useful as a refuge from thinking about the utility bills. (link)
Homes that are nearly 5,000 square feet in area. Berkeley hippies building a second house out of recycled materials two tanks of gas away from their first. An environmentally friendly home complete with in-ground pool. Mother Nature must be so pleased.

Today's typical cutting-edge (and so very bourgeois upper class) environmentalists.

These people crack me up.

To Sum Up The Alito Hearings

Since 1982, the Federalist Society's main purpose has been to create robust conservative legal theories and smart judges. President Bush nominated a class of them to the appellate bench. In response the minority Democrats largely abandoned Borking in favor of hostage-taking, thus delivering yet another innovation to our politics, the judicial filibuster. This in turn led to the threat of using the "nuclear option" in an institution known to our forbearers as "the world's greatest deliberative body."

This Roman circus dissipates, however, with the arrival of Supreme Court nominations, which are held in full view of the American people. And what has been witnessed so far is first John Roberts and now Samuel Alito discussing the law, rather than Coke cans, which puts their Democratic questioners on unfamiliar ground. (link)

Daniel Henninger, "Borking's End? Alito Survives Battle of Princeton," The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2006

The Other Side of The Story

We've read a good deal in recent days about how the Bush administration - in just five short years - has made all coal mines in West Virginia unsafe for workers, and caused the disaster in the Sago Mine last week (go here here and here).

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial this morning, provides another perspective:

Strip-Mining the Facts

Inevitably after a tragedy comes the political exploitation, and in the wake of the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia, it's right on time. The liberal editorial theme of the hour is that there have been 12% fewer "high dollar fines" levied against mines under President Bush than under the leadership of the working man's hero, President Clinton.

... some highly relevant facts are also never reported: that in previous years the Bush Administration had called for an increase in fines for "egregious safety violations" to $220,000 from $60,000; or that the Mine Safety and Health Administration had closed portions of the Sago Mine that had been deemed hazardous.

Even more illuminating, there were 60% more mine injuries per year during the Clinton Presidency (6,500) than there have been in Mr. Bush's (4,100). The number of mine deaths per year has fallen to an average of 31 under Mr. Bush from an average of 39 under Mr. Clinton. (link)

Odd. I don't remember the hand-wringing and sobbing coming from the editorial boardrooms of the New York Times and Roanoke Times in the Clinton years. Odd but oh so telling.

Oh Sure. It's Working All Right

This caused me to chuckle:
Federal officials tout deportation of 9 illegals
By Gary Emerling, The Washington Times

Nine illegal aliens detained last year after a traffic stop in Spotsylvania County, Va., were deported over a span of nine months in what federal officials said is an example of the immigration system working properly. (
link)
The federal government has deported nine illegal immigrants in nine months and some joker thinks the system is working.

· There are an estimated 12,000,000 illegals wandering the streets of the USA.

· At 1 per month, it will take 12,000,000 months to send them all back where they came from.

· We'll be free of law-breakers in the year 1,0002,006.

Let's start the celebration.

Aw, Shucks

Governor Mark Warner thought this little stunt might land him an on-air interview with Michael Moore. Guess that ain't gonna happen:
DNA tests confirm guilt of executed man
By Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press

RICHMOND -- New DNA tests confirmed the guilt of a man who went to his death in Virginia's electric chair in 1992 proclaiming his innocence, Gov. Mark Warner said yesterday.

The case had been closely watched by both sides in the death penalty debate because no executed convict in the United States has ever been exonerated by scientific testing.

The tests, ordered by the governor earlier this month, prove Roger Keith Coleman was guilty of the 1981 rape and murder of his sister-in-law, said Mr. Warner, a Democrat.

Coleman was convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of 19-year-old Wanda McCoy, his wife's sister, who was found raped, stabbed and nearly beheaded in her home in the coal mining town of Grundy, Va. (link)
Gov. Warner decided he'd sacrifice the emotional well-being of the McCoy family and dredge this horrific saga up from the past in order to make a bit of history. He failed. On both counts.

Shame on him.

Outrage In Maryland

It looks like I got out of Maryland just in time (I left yesterday evening). The state's legislators have lost their minds and are on a rampage:
Maryland Sets a Health Cost for Wal-Mart
By Michael Barbaro, The New York Times


ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jan. 12 - The Maryland legislature passed a law Thursday that would require Wal-Mart Stores to increase spending on employee health insurance, a measure that is expected to be a model for other states.

The legislature's move, which overrode a veto by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, was a response to growing criticism that Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer, has skimped on benefits and shifted health costs to state governments. (link)

This effort on the part of the august Maryland legislature to right wrongs (that don't exist) is unconstitutional on its face and wrongheaded in its underlying principles. Wal-Mart, in response to this egregious tax targeting only one company operating in the state, will either raise prices - if the competition will allow it - or lay off workers. The company will probably do both.

The lesson to be learned here: State politicians can be stupid and dangerous at the same time. Be very afraid.