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

Monday, July 03, 2006

Quote Of The Day

America's political elites certainly have come a long way since September 11. In the wake of that bloody attack on U.S. soil, everyone clamored for the executive branch to act with energy and dispatch against our enemies. Yet last week, not five years later, many of those same voices celebrated a Supreme Court ruling that rebuked the executive in order to guarantee more rights to Osama bin Laden's former driver and bodyguard.

That is the larger context in which to read the Supreme Court's verdict in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which has liberal journalists waxing lyrical even in their news accounts. Only a country that feels safe once again would dare to rejoice in a ruling that could give enemy combatants the same due process rights that U.S. servicemen get in a court martial.

Wall Street Journal Editorial, "After Hamdan," July 3, 2006 (link)

Quote Of The Day II

With regard to global warming and the global scare campaign:
... what ... is one to make of this alleged [global warming] debate? I would suggest at least three points.

First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists--especially those outside the area of climate dynamics.

Secondly, given that the question of human attribution largely cannot be resolved, its use in promoting visions of disaster constitutes nothing so much as a bait-and-switch scam. That is an inauspicious beginning to what [Al] Gore claims is not a political issue but a "moral" crusade.

Lastly, there is a clear attempt to establish truth not by scientific methods but by perpetual repetition. An earlier attempt at this was accompanied by tragedy. Perhaps Marx was right. This time around we may have farce--if we're lucky.

Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science, MIT, "Don't Believe the Hype," The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2006. (link)

Harsh Words For 'Weekend Environmentalists'

I think I like Dink Shackleford, the executive director of the Virginia Mining Association. He has a way with words. Unfortunately for the pimple-faced, fuzzy-cheeked environmentalist warriors who show up in coal country for brief periods in the summertime to do battle with the capitalist system, the internal combustion engine, the CIA, the American way of life and, oh-by-the-way, the coal mining industry, Shackleford targets them with his gentle barbs.

From "Young and eager, activists aim for a clearer focus," The Roanoke Times:

[Dink] dismisses Mountain Justice Summer as well-meaning but misinformed.

He calls the activists weekend environmentalists. They visit nature. They don't live in it. So they can't understand it.

At one rally, Shackleford said, "I saw five or 10 college professors and I saw about 110 misguided kids 17, 18 years old that you can't even hardly get mad at when you see them.

"They're so young. You know they don't know what they're talking about."

Shackleford gives locals who support Mountain Justice Summer even less credit than he gives the activists.

"The people who are doing the complaining are the people who can afford to complain," he said.

They get their living out of a mailbox, Shackleford said. They're retired or receive disability payments so they don't have to worry about what the loss of mountaintop mines would do to the economy.

That's pretty much what it all comes down to. Those who look to the coal industry for desperately needed jobs and a semblance of economic vitality in a land wracked by poverty and despair against snot-nosed, lice-infested college students who come to Appalachia to smoke dope, bang drums, copulate, pee in the bushes, and talk tough about The Man - for a few weeks each summer, along with a small group of the disaffected.

Keep at 'em, Dink.

I'm Not The Lone Ranger

It looks like Ben Stein has the same difficulty understanding the Supreme Court's hate speech stance I do:
Defending the Flag
By Ben Stein, The American Spectator

One of the controversies that came to a boil this past week and will undoubtedly have a spot in the upcoming elections is about a Constitutional amendment to ban burning Old Glory. A vote for this amendment failed by one vote very recently in the Senate, and the issue is far from over with.

The argument for not burning the flag is fairly clear: it's the symbol of the nation. It represents the nation that hundreds of thousands have died for. It represents our sacred
pledges to our nation. It's what we pledge allegiance to.

The argument against is simply that one of our core values is free speech. Burning the flag is a form of speech, some courts have ruled, so burning it should be protected by the First Amendment, which protects free speech.

Well and good, except this argument just does not hold up. We already have many exceptions to a complete protection of free speech. You can't show child pornography online. You can't call members of various ethnic groups by slurring words that were common when I was a child. That's called hate speech, and it's barred by law in most if not all parts of the nation.

In some settings, you cannot tell a woman in your office that she looks sharp in her new sweater or tell a man that he has nice buns in his new trousers. That's called sexual harassment and it's been found to be illegal. (
Here's where I get really confused. The same people who argue in favor of banning "hate" speech argue against banning hate-filled flag-burning speech.

Am I the only one who's confused here? I don't think so.

Is It The Word Of God Or a Metaphor?

Still wondering why the Episcopal Church USA is in rapid decline? Here ("Episcopal Protest of Top Bishop Increases," Washington Post) is the newly elected head of the church talking about Scripture:
To those who accuse her of heresy for referring to a female Jesus, [Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori] responds with a typically learned disquisition on medieval mystics and saints who used similar language, including Julian of Norwich and St. Teresa of Avila. "I was trying to say that the work of the cross was in some ways like giving birth to a new creation," she said. "That is straight-down-the-middle orthodox theology."

"All language is metaphorical, and if we insist that particular words have only one meaning and the way we understand those words is the only possible interpretation, we have elevated that text to an idol," she said in a telephone interview. "I'm encouraging people to look beyond their favorite understandings."
Bishop Jefferts Schori is going to reinterpret the Bible for the flock. That'll go over big among those who see the Baptist church down the street looking mighty inviting about now.

This Could Have Been Us

Well, New Jersey is shut down. At least the state's government offices are. By Jon Corzine's decree:
1st workday dawns on N.J. gov't shutdown
By Angela Delli Santi, Associated Press Writer

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Courts, motor vehicle offices and inspection stations are closed. Lottery ticket sales have been halted. The same could happen to betting at race tracks and casinos.

More than half the state work force was staying home Monday on the first weekday of a statewide shutdown that began after lawmakers missed a July 1 deadline to adopt a new state budget.

The furlough affects about 45,000 state employees. It exempts personnel deemed essential, including state police, prison guards, child welfare workers and some administration staff. (
I always enjoy, in reading about situations like this, that a state - in this case New Jersey - has 45,000 "non-essential" employees. It makes one wonder if the shutdown wasn't a good idea in the first place, and shouldn't be extended indefinitely.

I bring this up to make a point for all those editorialists at various newspapers around the state of Virginia who were predicting the end of life as we know it if/when Virginia shut down. Let's see if Jersey's closure wreaks the kind of havoc these fearmongers were predicting or if it simply makes it more difficult to bet on the horses.

So far ... so good.

Your Government At Work

While politicians here in the commonwealth fall all over each other trying to see who can come up with the greatest number of bike paths and hiking trails that can be carved through our old-growth forestland, they are also doing everything they can to carve out small business owners from our landscape. A revealing example:

Wine makers have little reason to toast new law
Zach Fox, Reporter, Bristol Herald-Courier

ABINGDON – When Bob Carlson sunk more than $1 million of his money into his Abingdon Vineyard & Winery, the law allowed him to sell his wine to local wine shops and restaurants.

He wouldn’t have made the investment otherwise.

Now that he’s lost that right, Carlson expects it will be eight years before he recoups his investment.

Carlson founded the 10-acre vineyard with his wife, Janet Nordin, in 2001, and the business only recently started to turn a profit.

The saga began last year with a federal court ruling that forced the General Assembly to change its winery laws, which had allowed Virginia vintners to distribute their wines wholesale. The court ruled that the law favored in-state wineries to the detriment of out-of-state ones.

The General Assembly had to level the playing field either by allowing all vintners to sell wholesale or to take the right away from the state wineries. Legislators chose to do the latter.

Vintners now must go to distributors – middle men who buy wine from vineyards and resell it to retailers. Vintners now can sell wine directly only from their tasting rooms.

With self-distribution making up 40 percent of the revenue of small vineyards, some worry vintners will be forced out of business. [my emphasis] (

You just can't make this up. Our government is forcing the fledgling wine industry into extinction. Maybe we should adopt New Jersey's approach to government here. And shut 'er down.