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Sunday, January 29, 2006

ODBA Roundup

Well, let's see what's going on this weekend within the Old Dominion Blog Alliance. Any common point of interest? A recurring theme? No. But diversity is what makes this bunch so readable as a group. Anyway, here's the most interesting of this week's postings:

Chad over at Commonwealth Conservative brings us a snippet (here) of a fascinating article written by David Brooks (didn't he write for the New York Times way back when?) that has to do with social conservatism, economic conservatism and which may be of more importance to the average folk. My opinion? Both are equally critical for the USA to continue to prosper.

Kilo Sparks It Up!! with a piece relating to the regionally renowned Barter Theater and its history. Ever wonder where it got its name? Ask Kilo ...

The hardest working attorney in Southwest Virginia, Steve Minor at SW Virginia Law Blog has a post that (... I can actually comprehend and that ... ) touches on the Alito and Roberts nomination processes and the self-flaggelating debacle that the inept Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee brought upon themselves (here). Steve links to a Terry Eastland article that has it dead on. Roberts and Alito were successful (fingers crossed on that second one) because they stood - intellectually - head and shoulders above their inquistors. Good stuff.

Fellow Southwest Virginian Alton Foley at ImNotEmeril has ... nothing posted this weekend. I'm beginning to worry about the man. He's putting in too many hours at work and his health is at risk. Slow down, dude. That engineering stuff will be there tomorrow when you get to work.

A man who secured a special place in my heart when he eloquently - and aptly - termed the Roanoke Times "fish wrap," Norm Leahy (One Man's Trash) addresses the upcoming DNC snoozefest featuring none other than Tim "ImNotWilliamJenningsBryan" Kaine as guest responder to President Bush's State of the Union address. As if "fish wrap" wasn't catchy enough, the title of his post, "Eyebrow Control," is fabulous.

Old Zack at Sic Semper Tyrannis reveals (here) that I'm not alone in saying I'll never vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter the opponent (I'll sit out the election if McCain runs against her). Apparently a majority of Americans won't vote for her under any circumstances. That in itself means the Democrats will probably nominate her. Thanks, Old Zack, for the info.

Doug over at Below The Beltway has more on Hillary. Read it here. She's apparently decided to join the Alito filibuster bandwagon - if it can be called that. So far, the wagon is loaded down with such heavyweights as John Kerry and ... well, Hillary. That's pretty much it so far. Some load. Doug's post is really well written. Check it out.

What an entertaining and talented bunch of bloggers. I can't wait until tomorrow morning when they'll all be pounding the keyboard once again.

If Y'all Don't Want It, Can We Have it?

I tend to agree with today's Roanoke Times editorial (if not its title), "Kaine's plan to grow transportation wisely." Essentially the thrust of the column is that "[Governor Tim] Kaine proposes to clarify ... existing law, require uniform traffic impact studies and improve cooperation between state transportation planners and local officials, all of which would give local governments clear authority under the law, plus added expertise to judge rezoning requests based on transportation impacts."

But I paused when I read this:
Kaine's plan represents small steps to give the state and localities influence over growth patterns that create road needs at a pace state taxpayers cannot sustain.

Lawmakers should listen. Even in the suburbs, voters have had enough of sprawl. (link)
No argument there. But Kaine and his pals at the Times think developers have caused the growth in Fairfax and Woodbridge. Economic vitality had nothing to do with it.


Here's the real deal:
  • Developers and the investors that fund them chase after opportunity (call it capitalism).
  • Opportunity can be found where economic expansion is occurring.
  • Developers can only create wealth where that opportunity currently exists.
  • Government - both state and local - can easily stymy the opportunity for growth. That is what Tim Kaine and the Times editorialist are advocating.
  • I encourage their efforts. The more developers, and businesses, and jobs, and related capitalism that are driven from Northern Virginia, the better the chances are for investment to be brought down here to Southwest Virginia, where we are enthusiastically supportive.

Special note to developers: We here in Southwest Virginia are in the process of throwing out the bums in Richmond who favor high taxes and stifling regulation - one Democrat at a time. Your opportunity to take advantage of this is now. We want your money.

Come on down, boys. Bring that cash. And the jobs that go along with it.

To Tim Kaine and the Roanoke Times: Keep it up. Run those developers and their investors out of Manassas. I've put the welcome mat out. We've got a whole mess of vacant buildings down here and we're eager to have someone bring them to life.

Particularly attractive should be this jewel.

Legislature To Kill Jobs

I wrote yesterday - and many days previous - that in order to slow the heartbreaking trend of employers shutting their doors and fleeing Southwest Virginia, we need to lessen their costs of doing business here. The Virginia legislature has the opposite intention it appears - on both counts:
Bills Would Boost Minimum Wage in Va.
By Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post Staff Writer

RICHMOND -- The Virginia General Assembly, long unfriendly to proposals on raising the minimum wage, will consider bills sponsored by Northern Virginia legislators who say the state should no longer tie its rate to that set by the federal government.

While business groups strongly oppose the legislation, backers of the wage increase say that after years of waiting for Congress to raise the $5.15-an-hour rate, it is time to press ahead at the state level for the sake of low-income workers. (link)
" ... the sake of low-income workers." How touching. The fact is, thousands of jobs in Southwest Virginia, low-income and otherwise, have fled to Mexico and China and the Philippines in recent years because our employers cannot compete here. A raise in the minimum wage will add to the burden for those companies that are struggling to survive and are unable to pay more than that. They too will flee.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Cindy Sheehan May Run For Senate

Good News! Just when we began to worry that she was going to waddle into obscurity and irrelevance, Cindy Sheehan may stick around, allowing for continued ridicule and scorn. From the Washington Post:
Cindy Sheehan May Challenge Calif. Senator
By Ian James, The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist who set up camp near President Bush's Texas ranch last summer, said Saturday she is considering running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein to protest what she called the California lawmaker's support for the war in Iraq.

"She voted for the war. She continues to vote for the funding. She won't call for an immediate withdrawal of the troops," Sheehan told The Associated Press in an interview while attending the World Social Forum in Venezuela along with thousands of other anti-war and anti-globalization activists. (link)
Cindy may not run. She thinks her three living children might be against it:
"I can't see - if they think it's going to help peace - that they would be opposed to me doing it," she said.
Me either. The lunatic will be good for regular guffaws, she'll fit right in with the likes of Kennedy, Byrd, and Schumer in the Senate, and her voting patterns cannot be any worse than those of the ultra-leftist Feinstein. She'll continue to be great fun.

So, you go, girl. You have my vote.

What Went Wrong With Wayward Wytheville?

What in God's name is going on in Wytheville? Here are two stories that made headlines the same day (as well as the evening TV news up in Roanoke):

Teacher facing sex-related charges
By Jeffrey Simmons, Wytheville Enterprise

Wearing handcuffs, jeans and a pink sweater, a former Scott Memorial Middle School teacher was loaded into a regional jail van Friday afternoon after being charged with carrying on a sexual relationship with a seventh-grade student.

Being held in the Dublin lockup without bond, 41-year-old Karen Susan Patton is set to make her first court appearance Monday on allegations that she had oral sex with a 13-year-old boy.

Police charged Patton with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, non-forcible sodomy (oral sex) and carnal knowledge of a minor. (link)
And this:

Raid ends in blaze
By Mary Beth Jackson, Wytheville Enterprise

West Franklin Street residents started Friday morning with a bang when law enforcement officers stormed a bungalow they believed to have been operating as a crack house.

Edward Owens, 34, originally of Toledo, Ohio, was arrested and charged with operating a fortified drug house, possession of marijuana and maintaining a public nuisance. Owens had lived in Wytheville for three weeks.

"(We) anticipate there may be some more arrests on this," Sheriff Doug King said. (link)

The second story actually has a keystone cops flair:

The Wythe County Sheriff's Office, Wytheville Police Department and Virginia State Police participated in the bust, making a forced entry just before dawn.

King said it did not go according to plan. The Sheriff's Office tactical team threw a light-sound device (also known as a "flash-bang") into a front window, intended to emit a disorienting flash of light and an eruptive sound to announce their arrival, but the 1 1/2-pound device didn't break the window.

The house had been fortified with 2x4 pieces of wood, concrete block and bars, King said. The team took the front door off the hinges to gain entry and broke through a window toward the rear of the house and hurled another flash-bang indoors.

The devices usually smoke and smolder, but the second flash-bang was followed by two large "booms." King said he believes that it ignited an unknown accelerant. Flames erupted from the windows and black smoke poured from the front door. He speculated the house might have been booby-trapped.

Three fire extinguishers were not enough to quench the blaze, and the Wytheville Fire Department was called to assist.

"It could have been a chemical stored in the back of the house. We don't know," Davenport [?] said, adding, "Whatever it was, after the explosion, it was smoke and fire right there at it. You couldn't put it out."

Firefighters doused the rear of the house, but the fire would only re-ignite, delaying Wytheville and state police from initiating their investigations.

After all that effort, it is rumored - and the article leads one to conclude - that the crack being sought by all those law enforcement officers was accidentally destroyed in the fire:

Much of the evidence they were searching for had turned crispy within the armored back room.

"We never could make entry through the back door, it was barricaded with steel and bars so heavily," King said.

He is still confident, with the staged buys the authorities performed, that there is still enough evidence to obtain convictions.
I know Sheriff King. They don't come any better. My guess is, he's done some ass-kicking over this.

But these are troubling stories. Quiet little Wytheville is engulfed in criminal activity. What next, hookers walking Tazewell Street? Meth labs uptown? We may get a hint from this breaking story:

Just hold it like everyone else
Justin Harmon, The Wytheville Enterprise

Wytheville Town Council members hope to revise the town's code to specifically cover public urination and defecation. (link)
Uh .......