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

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blog Comity Goes To Hell

To think, before Will Vehrs' career became threatened by a cabal of local Martinsville politicians, the Virginia blogosphere was such a happy place. Now I fear for my life.

First Waldo Jaquith, may he rot in hell, announces the dates for the upcoming Blog Summit.

Not Larry Sabato, Kilo, and Alton Foley then suggest that, as a way to mend fences with the city of Martinsville, the summit be moved there.

Waldo advises Kilo (see comments) that preparations are too far along to walk away from Sorensen.

Alton is indignant and wants to know why other bloggers weren't included in the preparations or made aware of the plans made thus far.

The Jaded JD comes back with a theory that the dust-up is somehow a fight between new bloggers and old bloggers (I went back to my archives - not sure into which category I fall) and, apparently being an old blogger, he accuses the "new" bloggers of throwing an "adolescent temper tantrum."

Kenton Ngo, in an effort to heal the rift that is widening by the minute, calls the Martinsville gang a bunch of "party-poopers" but then encourages them to show up at the Charlottesville event (he has a future as a union/management abitrator).

Kilo bans Tom Joad from Spark It Up! (don't ask me; I'm still investigating...).

Norm Leahy, God love him, plays the role of Rodney King and pleads for everyone to get along.

Will Vehrs, by this time, probably wishes he'd been taken out back and shot ...

... and I'm trying to decide (a) which side I'm on, (b) what a "blog summit" is (c) whether I need to load the .357 magnum and turn on the security system, (d) whether I've been insulted by anyone ... yet and (e) why I suddenly feel like I've come down with a serious case of jock itch.

To put it another way: As Cher's grandfather in the movie Moonstruck said at the breakfast table - with head in hands- "I'm so confused."

Update 05/11/06 5:05am - I have been informed that Kilo, Alton, and Ben contacted Martinsville before Waldo made his announcement ...

Incontrovertible Proof


Here is the first bit of concrete evidence that's come across my desk that supports global warming theory.

Going On Offense

Will Vehrs has decided he's issued all the apologies he's going to and is now demanding one himself. (link) You go, Will.

In addition, he does a little smackdown:
The editors [of the Richmond Times-Dispatch] ... work the blogging on state time angle. I hope they’re also incensed that nose to the grindstone state employees are frequently interrupted from their important work to answer questions posed [by] the T-D news staff.
I'm not sure this helped his cause but it had to feel good.

Ouch

This from Alton Foley I'm filing under ... OUCH.

A suggestion to everyone with undies abunch: Why don't we settle this the good-old fashioned way. We'll dress in gray. Them northerners'll dress in blue. We'll meet in Lynchburg and ... go at it.

More On Big Oil And Price Gouging

Dale Franks over at QandO Blog has done some excellent research on the relationship between oil prices and gasoline pump prices. See "Those Blood Sucking Oil Merchants" here.

He also tries valiantly to explain oil economics to his readers. Nice try, Dale. You have more patience than I have.

You Don't Help Your Cause

Precious tax dollars spent on projects geared toward the development of the tourism industry in Southwest Virginia always come with wild statistical projections that make me chuckle. I read somewhere the other day that The Crooked Road was going to generate 450 new jobs for the Wise County area and I shook my head - and moved on. I also read a while back that there are 9,000 jobs in Southwest Virginia that some expert claims can be directly attributed to the tourism industry. I gave out a hearty laugh - and moved on.

When attendance and employment numbers are actually and realistically analyzed, the picture is always different.

Here's another shameful example:

Museum's inflated numbers traced
Joe Kennedy, The Roanoke Times


Got a fax Monday from Ted Stone, producer and editor at WDBJ television in Roanoke.

Stone is a steam train buff who noticed the reference in my Monday column to a projected annual attendance figure of 75,000 at the O. Winston Link Museum.

Actual attendance at the museum full of black-and-white photographs taken by the esteemed steam train photographer, including outreach and special events, was 23,553 in its first year of 2004 and 33,512 in 2005.

He included a page from a Center in the Square news release issued in August 2001 that said the center estimated 150,000 people would visit the museum in its first year and 75,000 annually after that. (
link)
As you might imagine, the person who allegedly came up with the projected number of visitors to the museum doesn't now know where that number came from.

These guys are certainly allowed to make these wild claims. It helps sell their projects. It also helps politicians get reelected over and over again.


But their preposterous ideas come with a hefty price tag - and you the taxpayer often pay the bill. And there's another price to be paid. Credibility.

Whether it's a cultural center in Pulaski or a horse trail in Scott County or a little-used park in Giles County, the lure is always tourism dollars. Those elusive tourism dollars. From those elusive tourists. Who will be arriving any day now.

By the way, I've got a deer trail here in Bland County that, with enough state and federal development assistance, is sure to bring in ...

You Mean We ARE Soaking The Rich?

Here's something (appearing in this morning's Wall Street Journal) you won't read in the New York Times:
Revenue Revelation

House and Senate GOP conferees finally agreed yesterday on extending the 15% tax rate on dividends and capital gains for two more years through 2010. This means you can expect lots of media and liberal rhetoric about "the deficit" and "the rich," but the real news is how well these lower rates have been soaking the rich to fill government coffers.

The latest evidence is Treasury's monthly budget report for May that tax receipts were up by $137 billion, or a remarkable 11.2%, for the first seven months of Fiscal 2006 through April. That's more than triple the inflation rate. And it comes on top of the $274 billion, or 14.6%, increase in federal revenues for all of Fiscal 2005, which ended last September 30. (
link)

Wait a minute. You're telling me that George W Bush cut taxes and, because of it, federal tax revenue has soared? But really smart liberals said the tax cuts would benefit (only) the rich. How can this be?

You've Asked The Wrong Question

By all accounts, Cass Sunstein is a really smart person. So why does he come across as a blooming moron in this article he wrote for the Washington Post?

It's Only $300 Billion
If We Can Fund the War in Iraq, Why Can't We Fund the Kyoto Protocol?
By Cass R. Sunstein


For the United States, the cost of the Iraq war will soon exceed the anticipated cost of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement designed to control greenhouse gases. For both, the cost is somewhere in excess of $300 billion.

With respect to the Kyoto Protocol, the most systematic estimates come from William Nordhaus and Joseph Boyer of Yale University. Writing in 2000, they offered a figure of $325 billion for the United States, designed to capture the full costs of compliance over many decades. (
link)
I should answer his question, I suppose. We could. We're charging the War on Terror to the national debt account. We could do the same with Kyoto. But Sunstein only touches on the real question: Should we?

Should we waste 325 billion in tax dollars on a pie-in-the-sky plan that won't alter climatic conditions even one iota (okay, two iotas)? Those who have studied the plan say no.

Even if all nations on earth were to comply (few are) to the climate treaty they all signed with great fanfare, analysts have determined that it would have an insignificant impact on global temperatures.

And the fact that Crazy Al was behind the Kyoto Protocol should be enough to axe this silly notion.

Save the money. We'll be needing it to fight terrorists - a real problem.

Another Alternative Fuel Flames Out

With gasoline prices soaring, people are frantically looking to alternative sources of energy (well, some are anyway) to ease the pain at the pump. One alternative often mentioned is ethanol - a gasoline additive made from corn. Some say it is the answer to all our dreams because, in part, there is enough corn grown in the USA to satisfy our needs. Others disagree:
Ethanol fumes
By Ben Lieberman, Writing in the Washington Times


It seems like an easy fix.

Oil prices have hit record highs. Ethanol, a gasoline additive, can both stretch our supplies of oil and ease air pollution. And best of all, it's a corn-based product.

In fact, it's part of the reason gasoline prices are so high.

Beyond its high price, ethanol imposes costs in other ways. Ethanol costs more to ship than gasoline, especially troublesome now that ethanol use has expanded beyond the industry's Midwestern base. It also requires more energy to manufacture ethanol. Cars using it get lower gas mileage. All things considered, ethanol not only adds several cents per gallon to the price of gas, it does little, on balance, to reduce fossil fuel use.

Ethanol's much-ballyhooed environmental benefits don't stand up to scrutiny either. Though ethanol use reduces some forms of vehicular pollution, it increases others. Moreover, the EPA says ethanol plants themselves are significant emissions sources, especially now that high natural-gas prices have forced some to burn more coal. (
link)
Back to the drawing board ...

And Congress Responds ...

So what is Congress' answer to rising gasoline prices? To force GM and Ford into bankruptcy:
Senators: Increase mileage standard
The Washington Times


Senators called for higher automobile fuel-economy standards yesterday as a top Bush administration official declared an end to the supply disruptions that sent pump prices over $3 a gallon last month.

... on Capitol Hill, the administration came under criticism for not going far enough to increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles in regulations last month requiring a 1.8 miles per gallon boost in the average mileage of sports utility vehicles and other light trucks over the next four years.

At a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, called such an increase "abysmal" in view of the technological advances available to automakers.

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, said a National Academy of Sciences study in 2001 concluded substantial mileage increases could be made using today's technology.

"What is the resistance, your reluctance?" Mrs. Snowe asked. She said she plans to press for legislation requiring a 10 mpg fuel-economy increase for passenger vehicles. (
link)
For what it's worth, there is no better quick fix to high gasoline prices than to increase oil production and refining. Both Ms. Boxer, a Democrat (in every sense of the word), and Ms. Snowe, a Republican (on rare occasions), have both been in the forefront of the successful effort to block exploration in offshore areas and in ANWR.

And they waste their time dabbling in automobile fuel efficiency standards.

For the love of God.