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

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don Knotts Dead at 81

I'll bet there's a college course being taught somewhere that focuses exclusively on The Andy Griffith Show. It was a phenomenon. It is the only television sitcom that, after watching every episode numerous times, I can still find entertaining. And if there was some kind of magic at work to make the show the wonder that it was, like
Chad, I know Barney Fife was its catalyst.

Ol' Barn', aka Don Knotts, died yesterday at the age of 81.

He will forever be remembered as that bumbling small town deputy sheriff who was longing for excitement and found adventure - and sometimes the most complex conspiracies - every day he was on duty.

Don Knotts as Barney Fife was - is - a treasure and the news that he has passed away brings a sense of sadness.

Let Them Pay Their Own Way

The median household income in Fairfax County in 1999 was $81,050. In Dickenson County it was $23,431. (link) And the people of Dickenson are paying for the people of Fairfax to get to work each morning.

God knows the government employees who live in Fairfax and who commute to Washington DC each day can afford to pay to get themselves there. Instead, we here in Southwest Virginia, where tax rates are now at such a level that area businesses are shutting down in droves because they cannot compete with low-tax countries like Singapore or low-tax states like Florida, help subsidize the rich folks' ride to work by funding the mass transit system there known as Metro.*

We here in Southwest Virginia are slowly coming to grips with the notion that what is needed to fix Northern Virginia - more tax revenue - will, if allowed to pass, have an adverse effect on Southwest Virginia - a decline in our already devastated economy. More taxes here translate into fewer employers and no career opportunities.

It seems a clear solution to this dilemma would be for those northern counties - if they need money for transportation improvements that will benefit only their citizens - to acquire tax revenue locally. The Virginia Senate proposed just that and a House committee turned it down. (Read about it here)

Now this is going to sound vindictive. But it is the northern counties of Virginia that overwhelmingly voted for our new governor who, as soon as he came into office, proposed the largest tax increase in the history of the commonwealth. The people of Fairfax and Arlington and Alexandria and Woodbridge and Prince William knew exactly what they were doing when they voted for the Democrat. Tim Kaine is only doing what Democrats always do. The people up north, in voting for the scoundrel, obviously were accepting of a greater tax burden. Fine for them.

But we don't need more of a burden here. We need more employers. And the way to attract employers is to enhance the potential for them to grow the bottom line by relocating to low-tax Southwest Virginia.

I watched the remake of "Bad News Bears" last night on DVD. In one scene, Coach Buttermaker pulls a small, frail player aside as the little fella is going up to bat and the coach tells him to lean into the pitch in order to have the ball hit him, so that he could get on base. "Take one for the team," he said to his player. The player did. And I felt his pain. The second time he came up to bat, though, he was again told to sacrifice himself, but this time the player said to himself, "that's enough of that" and instead swung for the fences. I cheered for him.

We in Southwest Virginia have been team players long enough. We've been told over and over again to "take one for the team." The people here have been battered beyond their endurance. We've leaned into more than our share of pitches in order to benefit the folks up north. We're not doing it any more.

As for the rest of you, get beaned again if you so choose. As for us, we're now inclined to take the bat, beat the coach, and ask for new leadership and a different strategy; one that benefits the entire team.

* The mass transit system in Southwest Virginia involves U-Haul rentals to take displaced workers north.

To Accentuate The Point

Another Southwest Virginia company announces layoffs:
Declining demand for gas- guzzlers costs jobs
Joe Geraghty, Bristol Herald Courier

LEBANON - The auto industry's declining fortunes have cost the region another 100 jobs.

Lear Corp. has laid off more than 100 employees at its factory here, spokeswoman Andrea Puchalsky said. The cuts were a direct result of the closure of a General Motors plant in Oklahoma, that assembled GMC Envoys and Jimmy sport utility vehicles, she said. (link)
Lear had previously announced that it was laying off all its employees in Covington over in hard-hit Allegheny County and was closing the plant there permanently.

These are excellent-paying jobs that we cannot afford to lose. And most of them will never return.

Radford Makes The News

I found out yesterday that Radford University has a student-published magazine. It's called "Whim." (link) It has made international news in recent days (read it here) because it employs a cartoonist who does a strip called "Christ on Campus." (See an example here). Christian Keesee, the cartoonist, is getting his 15 minutes of fame because of the Mohammed-with-bomb-on-head Danish cartoons story that has brought about outrage in the Muslim world and has resulted in the deaths of at least 100 people.

I thought, when I went to his on-line cartoons, that this Keesee character was one of those hateful left-wing types who, in an effort to keep up with the Muslims (and to get his picture in a real publication), was depicting Christ with an AK-47 in hand mowing down Iraqi children and the like.

But I was surprised to find that his cartoons did not disparage Christianity or ridicule Jesus himself (as Manhattan "artists" are wont to do). Instead, and this is an important distinction, Keesee depicts Christ, often crudely and amateurishly, as looking in on today's world and wondering where it all went wrong.

Christian Keesee will, I'm guessing, want to hide under a rock for the next couple of weeks. But at least he won't have to worry about some fundamentalist preacher declaring a fatwah and calling for his death. There won't be rioting in the streets or the slaughter of innocent civilians. No burning of flags.

There will be denunciations and endless interviews and analyses on cable TV news shows. And then he'll fade into obscurity.

As he and his cartoon should.

Quote Of The Day

For several decades in America, the aim of much of the jurisprudential thought about the First Amendment's free speech provision has been to justify contracting its protections. Freedom of speech is increasingly "balanced" against "competing values." As a result, it is whittled down, often by seemingly innocuous increments, to a minor constitutional afterthought.

American legislators, using the criminal law for moral exhibitionism, enact "hate crime" laws. Hate crimes are, in effect, thought crimes. Hate crime laws mandate enhanced punishments for crimes committed as a result of, or at least when accompanied by, particular states of mind of which the government particularly disapproves. Governments that feel free to stigmatize, indeed criminalize, certain political thoughts and attitudes will move on to regulating what expresses such thoughts and attitudes — speech.

On campuses, speech codes have abridged the right of free expression in order to protect the right — for such it has become — of certain preferred groups to not be offended. The NCAA is truncating the right of some colleges and universities to express their identity using mascots deemed "insensitive" to the feelings of this or that grievance group. Campaign-finance laws ration the amount and control the timing and content of political speech. The right to free political speech is now "balanced" against society's interest in leveling the political playing field, or elevating the tone of civic discourse, or enabling politicians to spend less time soliciting contributions, or allowing candidates to control the content of their campaigns, or dispelling the "appearance" of corruption, etc.

To protect the fragile flower of womanhood, a judge has ruled that use of gender-based terms such as "foreman" or "draftsman" could create a "hostile environment" and hence constitute sexual harassment. To improve all of us, people with various agendas are itching to get government to regulate speech of this or that sort.

George Will, "Mere 'Moral Pork Barrel'," The New York Post, February 26, 2006

Episcopal Bishop Attacks Episcopal Bishop

The charge of "Intolerance" is such a dangerous weapon to draw.

Episcopal Bishop John Bryson Chane disagrees (in a letter to the Washington Post) with what he perceives to be the intolerance of one Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, with regard to homosexuality in general, and with the deeply held beliefs of many in the Episcopal congregation specifically who are of like mind.

If he'd left it at that, theirs could best be described as a policy dispute. But Bishop Chane doesn't stop there. He - intolerantly - attacks the Christian right and finds a conspiracy in the making a la Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing" sort:
Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head.

Because the conflict over homosexuality is not unique to Anglicanism, civil libertarians in this country, and other people as well, should also be aware of the archbishop and his movement. Gifts from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundations, allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ. Should the institute succeed in "renewing" these churches, what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow. (link)
Interestingly, the church denominations that the bishop cites - Episcopal, United Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and Evangelical Lutheran - as being under assault are also those that are in most precipitate decline in terms of membership - the result no doubt of that right-wing conspiracy and not of the fact that all of them have become "tolerant" to the point that they are unrecognizeable as Christian churches. They now stand for nothing other than "tolerance" of their own narrow beliefs and are nothing more than havens for long-haired 60's all-you-need-is-love types .

The Episcopal Church's ordination of an openly gay bishop has brought about an irreparable split in its congregation and such venom as that expressed by Bishop Chane will only accelerate the departure of more conservative parishioners and make the situation worse. He would do well to focus on saving what's left of his church and stop ranting about what Jerry Falwell and the Christian right are doing.