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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Tale Of Two Virginias

No, I'm not thinking of our wayward western counties that decided in 1863 to go their own way and (misguidedly) form their own state. I'm thinking of the cavernous expanse that today separates northern Virginia from southern Virginia.

Up north, the issues of the day relate to employers and how the planners up there might be able to stack one on top of another. Smart growth, mass transit, alternative fuels and such are the big topics of discussion.

Down here, our big issues relate to employers and how we might gain a few. To hold on to the few we have. We talk too about improving the quality of a woefully inadequate public education system. About improving the quality of the drinking water. In Southwest Virginia we talk - in 2006 - about putting sewer systems into communities that have never had them.

There is certainly talk in some circles about the needed completion of the Coalfields Expressway and about much-needed improvements being made to U.S. Route 58. Some say I-81 down this way needs to be upgraded. And that's all, in the big scheme of things, probably important. But generally, transportation issues aren't uppermost in the thoughts and discussions of folks around here.

Paychecks are. Food. Clothing. Shelter. The kinds of things taken for granted in the fabulously prosperous north. And there are issues here that people in the D.C. suburbs rarely talk about: Grievous suicide rates; Drinking water unfit for human consumption; Depopulation. Small communities decimated by the loss of thousands of jobs.

With this in mind, I think the recently announced proposal put forth by the Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates to solve northern Virginia's transportation problem is a swell idea:
GOP Plan Would Raise N.Va. Taxes for Area Roads
By Michael D. Shear and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post Staff Writers


RICHMOND, June 26 -- People who live or work in Northern Virginia would pay steep new fees and higher taxes under a $578 million transportation plan being circulated by six Republican delegates from the region.


Having voted for months to block statewide tax increases that were pushed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and the Republican-controlled Senate, the House members said their constituents will gladly pay more as long as the money raised is used only for road and rail projects in their area. (
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You folks up north feel your transportation system is inadequate? Fix it.

It's not that we want to do what our western counties did in 1863 and walk away from our troubles. We here in southern Virginia - particularly those of us in Southwest Virginia - simply need to solve our problems and work to bring our way of life into the 20th century - before we assist you in taking yours into the 22nd.

So. You all go along and take care of yourselves. You certainly have the means. We'll be along directly and will be happy to pitch in and help.

But first we have problems of our own that need fixing. Starting with the turds floating in the drinking water in Callahan Creek.

A Short Memory

Burning the American flag was unlawful in this country (in 48 states) for many, many years. Since before any of us were born, at least. This may come as a shock, but it wasn't until just recently, 1989 to be exact, that a liberal (in the literal sense of the word) Supreme Court decided that the freedom of speech clause in the 1st Amendment to the Bill of Rights protected something creatively called "symbolic speech."

James Madison, it is rumored, cried out, on the very day that the ruling came down, from his place of rest over at Montpelier, "Gi' me that again?"

You'd think, from all the hand wringing and gnashing of teeth of late, that Madison meant for "speech" to include "lighting a fire" in the first place. Well, I've got some bad news.

But don't tell that to the hand-wringers at the New York Times:
Burning the Bill of Rights

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, Senate Republicans are holding a barbecue. Unfortunately, instead of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, they are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment's free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.


Some things should be out of bounds even in a competitive election year. Messing with the Constitution is one of them. (
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I like that "messing with the Constitution" bit. If discontorting the meaning of the word "speech" is messing, let it be messed.

The Republic will survive, I'm reasonably confident.

Epitaph

Tough-talking badass and Indian Chief wannabe Ward Churchill is getting the boot from Colorado University:
University of Colorado Chancellor Advises Firing Author of Sept. 11 Essay
By Kirk Johnson, The New York Times


DENVER, June 26 — The interim chancellor at the University of Colorado said on Monday that Prof. Ward L. Churchill, whose comments about the victims of Sept. 11 prompted a national debate about the limits of free speech, should be fired for academic misconduct.

Professor Churchill, 58, was immediately relieved of his academic and research duties as a result of the chancellor's recommendation, but will continue as a paid professor pending a decision by the Board of Regents.

[Chancellor] DiStefano said two committees had found evidence of serious misconduct in the professor's record, including plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and fabrication of scholarly work.

[Churchill] wrote in an essay shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks that many of those who had been killed were not innocent victims but were part of a machine of American foreign and economic policy that the world was rebelling against. But it was the essay's incendiary tone, especially the comparison of dead office workers in New York City to Eichmann, who helped carry out the Holocaust, that prompted the firestorm. (
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Ward Churchill will have plenty of time to rebel against "the machine" now.