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

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Back To The Future

The first rule in my world is: Strive to improve your performance each and every day or some teenager is going to come along, show you how it's done, and take your place.

And, as I've often said, just when you think you have it all figured out, when you're confident that you're at the top of your game, when you are dead-certain that you're the master of your universe, that you have all the answers, somebody comes along and changes all the questions.

With that in mind, and out of this relentless pursuit of self-preservation, I've gone back to school. At least for two days (today and tomorrow) I'm in learning mode. You'll find me in Greensboro, North Carolina.

So much to learn and there's so little time. And so many teenagers ...

Expected But Still Not Welcome

Adam over at Smyth County Conservative links to an article in his local paper that brings us news that isn't really news at all. When it comes to housing starts, a reliable measure of economic vitality, the county is stuck in neutral.

Smyth County, and Marion and Chilhowie in particular, have been devastated by plant closings and massive layoffs in recent years and the fact that there is a glut of available housing in the area - due to a declining population (a 1.4% decline in the last 4 years) as people head north to find work - was predictable.

Tragic but predictable.

Christopher Hitchens Has My Back

I came to the defense yesterday of a Jew-hater by the name of David Irving. An Austrian court had sentenced him to three years in prison because he believed the Holocaust to have never occurred and wrote a book on the subject. He was imprisoned because of his beliefs.

Today, Christopher Hitchens writes on the same subject in The Wall Street Journal (it would seem we can expect his imprisonment any day now too):
An Indivisible Right
By Christopher Hitchens

It is best not to mince words. The imprisonment of David Irving by the Austrian authorities is a disgrace. It is a state punishment for a crime -- that of expression and argument and publication -- that is not a legal offense in Mr. Irving's country of birth and that could not be an offense under the U.S. Constitution. It is to be hoped, by all those who value the right to dissent, that his appeal against both sentence and conviction will be successful.

... it is somehow unfortunate that a small European country with a very bad record from the Nazi period should be jailing an eccentric Englishman at the precise moment when a small European country with a much better record is the object of an orchestrated campaign of lies, blackmail and violence. Those who jump for joy when the embassies of European democracies are immolated in the capital cities of squalid dictatorships have decided to announce their own game of moral equivalence. What of your precious free speech, they say, when the Holocaust is immune from criticism on your own soil? Austrian bureaucracy ... could almost have set out to try and prove the Islamist demagogues' "point." (link)
Disgraceful. The entire western world should be ashamed.

Why Do We Need Republicans?

How embarrassing. We here in Virginia knew that we had a huge problem with the state Republican Party having gone to the dark side; that it had become far too liberal. Especially when it came to the our elected representatives occupying space in the state senate.

Now the world knows it as well. From The Wall Street Journal:
How to Turn a Red State Blue

If you think Republicans on Capitol Hill have troubles, take a look at Virginia, where GOP lawmakers are busy writing an instruction manual on how to become a minority party.

Republicans in that ostensibly "red" Southern state got their clocks cleaned in November's elections after they refused to take a coherent stand on taxes, and Democrat Tim Kaine squeezed to their right on pocketbook issues. As GOP state senator Ken Cuccinelli explained, "We ran on a message of almost being for tax cuts, almost for smaller government, almost for protecting Second Amendment rights, and almost being pro-life. As a result, the voters almost came out and voted for us."

And they apparently have learned nothing from that rout. When the legislature reconvened last month, the first proposal from the majority Republicans in the state senate was to endorse a $1 billion tax hike for roads and transit projects -- the second huge tax increase in two years. The GOP plan would increase auto fees, the gas and diesel tax, and even taxes on batteries and tires. This is the same party that last won the governorship under Jim Gilmore in 1997 promising to abolish the very car taxes they now want to increase.

Last week the senators floated another tax plan that is so bizarre and complicated it has made them a laughing stock. This scheme would raise the gas tax by 5%, but the sponsors insist that "no one would have to pay the tax if they didn't want to," because motorists could get a rebate at the end of the year if they keep shoeboxes full of tiny scraps of service station receipts. This would add immeasurably to the joys of April 15. (link)
And then there is the shame with which we have to live:
These tax-hike proposals keep coming despite a state revenue office report that Virginia now has a $2 billion biennial budget surplus. As a high-tech state, Virginia has been a huge beneficiary of the expansion spurred by the Bush investment tax cuts. But the entrenched senate Republicans -- many of whom have been fixtures in the capital of Richmond for decades -- want to spend the tax windfall and then some.

Only 18 months ago this same senate gang rammed through a $1.5 billion sales tax increase, even after 55% of the voters had defeated the same tax scheme when it was a ballot initiative a year before. The original senate Republican tax plan was so supersized that even then-Democratic Governor Mark Warner, who openly promoted higher taxes only after he'd won election in 2001, denounced the GOP plan as too heavy a burden. In short, this is a state GOP suffering from a severe identity crisis.
This wantonness will continue and our taxes will continue to skyrocket if we don't call a halt to the profligacy now. Turn the bums out now. Here and now.

The People Will Not Be Denied

Whether you're pro-abortion or pro-life, one fundamental aspect of this our democratic republic is that we decide under what laws we will live. Not seven old men on the Supreme Court.

I think it has been understood by most everyone that in 1973 the court made a grievous error in mandating that we allow the slaughter of little children in abortion clinics (use your own euphemism, if it makes you feel better); that somehow the abortionists were protected by the Constitution. The slaughter, they said, was a matter of privacy. They didn't say where the children fit into that concept.

I think it has been understood by most everyone too that Roe v. Wade as the law of the land cannot stand. At some point, five principled members of that same Supreme Court are going to turn to the American people and say, "We stepped in and did your work for you. That was not our place. We are turning the policy-making back over to you."

Until the day comes that the Supreme Court removes itself from the democratic process, it will continue to be bombarded by citizens - through their legislatures - with demands that they be allowed to govern themselves. Another example:
S.D. Abortion Bill Takes Aim at 'Roe'
Senate Ban Does Not Except Rape, Incest
Evelyn Nieves, Washington Post Staff Writer

South Dakota lawmakers yesterday approved the nation's most far-reaching ban on abortion, setting the stage for new legal challenges that its supporters say they hope lead to an overturning of Roe v. Wade .

The measure, which passed the state Senate 23 to 12, makes it a felony for doctors to perform any abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. The proposal still must be signed by Gov. Mike Rounds (R), who opposes abortion.

The bill was designed to challenge the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe , which in 1973 recognized a right of women to terminate pregnancies. Its sponsors want to force a reexamination of the ruling by the court, which now includes two justices appointed by President Bush.(link)
The people of South Dakota are banging on the door once again, demanding that the Supreme Court listen to them. They will continue to do so until the court recognizes the fact that it has usurped the law-making role of our duly elected state and federal legislatures.

You don't like it? Vote. You have as much say in this as anyone else. That is the magic of our system.

Lesser Courts Are Coming Around

Here's an example of that which can be accomplished if the people push the judiciary hard enough. From The Wall Street Journal:
The Anti-Kelo Case

On a list of states with the worst property-rights protections, Oregon has long held a top position. So hearty congratulations to that state's landowners, who this week won a long struggle for more control over their acreage, and in the process may become a model for land-use reform across the country.

Their victory came in a unanimous Oregon Supreme Court decision upholding a 2004 ballot measure designed to curb "regulatory takings." Oregon lawmakers have spent 30 years perfecting the art of imposing their environmental agenda by restricting how landowners can use or develop their own property, whether it be building a new house or cutting down trees.

Oregon's ballot measure, which passed with a mere 61% of the vote, required authorities to either compensate landowners for any reduction in the value of their property, or exempt them from the regulations. This was the second time voters had passed the measure, the first version having been tossed out on a technicality by the state's notoriously liberal Supreme Court. (link)

The court blocked the will of the people once. The people came back and pounded on the door again, saying "We make the law, not you!" The court relented.

It shouldn't be necessary for the people to have to go through this. But too many judges have decided that they are legislators too. So the people respond.

More power to them.