Sunday, July 23, 2006
Observer: Allen takes first roundIf we can all agree that it is Webb's job to convince the voters that they should no longer support Allen, putting them to sleep when he is attempting to do just that isn't a promising start.
Carlos Santos, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Robert Denton, a specialist in political communications at Virginia Tech, said Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen bested Democrat Jim Webb in the almost two-hour debate.
"Webb showed a lack of aggression," Denton said. "He did not clearly make any difference between himself and his opponent."
In fact, Denton said the debate was so tame that he saw some audience members in the back of the room sleeping. (link)
Where's that Harris Miller character? We may need a quick do-over.
Tourism campaign finally gets under wayHere's the insidious part of the story: A hotel occupancy tax is paid by outsiders.
Montgomery County's first formal marketing effort is being funded by an increase in the hotel occpancy tax.
By Niki King, The Roanoke Times
When Shane Adams looks out at Montgomery County he sees natural attractions, museums, shopping, restaurants. For a guy who has a background in tourism all that makes one resounding sound: cha-ching.
For the last few years, Adams has been the man behind the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce's effort to raise funds for and develop a first-ever tourism campaign.
His argument has been simple: Tourism is one of the hottest industries in the country and especially hot is eco- and culture-based tourism, something Adams thinks the New River Valley can offer.
Last year, Montgomery County's three municipalities agreed to raise their hotel occupancy taxes by 1 percent to fund the effort. That equals about $100,000 from Christiansburg, $65,000 from Blacksburg and $5,000 from Montgomery County each year. (link)
"I think it's a good thing," Christiansburg Councilman Ernie Wade said of the marketing project. "There's really no cost to the citizens of Christiansburg."No cost? Shoot, let's raise the tax even higher and just hand the money to the citizenry. We'll all be rich and we can quit diddling with this nonsense.
Making it more expensive for travelers to stop at local hotels is never a good thing. Especially when those sought-after tourists have Dollywood, Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol, Six Flags, Nag's Head, Gettysburg, and our rocks/bushes from which to choose.
But beyond that, when are we going to expect results from all these snake oil salesmen? When do we make these jokers prove their statement, "especially hot is eco- and culture-based tourism"? Traffic count on the Blue Ridge Parkway, down by millions over the last several years, screams the fact that it is not hot or "especally hot"; it's ice-cold.
How many more visitor centers and museums (before the roof blew off the other day, how many of you knew we had a Museum of Transportation up in Roanoke?) can we build with hard-earned taxpayer dollars before we can agree that if it ain't enough to bring tourists in today, adding even more isn't going to help? And what about all those marketing campaigns that have been launched previous to this one in communities across Southwest Virginia? Has anyone taken the time to evaluate their rate of return?
In the meantime, our existing jobs base suffers mightily. Our manufacturers in particular need our help, if only to have the state and federal government ease the burden brought on in part by taxation and regulation.
But no. We are going to market our trees and shrubs to northern folk who are going to drive past millions of acres of trees and shrubs to get here.
If we must, let's at least find us a large-breasted reasonably attractive woman around which we can build this marketing campaign. That at least worked for Pigeon Forge.
But let hate-crazed lunatics be banned from protesting at funerals of fallen American soldiers and the ACLU is ready to do battle. And in the name of religious freedom of all things:
ACLU Sues for Anti-Gay Group That Pickets at Troops' BurialsThe ACLU: Champions of Religious Freedom. Such hypocrisy.
By Garance Burke, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas church group that protests at military funerals nationwide filed suit in federal court, saying a Missouri law banning such picketing infringes on religious freedom and free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with signs condemning homosexuality. (link)
The first charge is not deniable - unless you get beyond tax rates and look at tax revenue, then you find that the rich are paying taxes in record amounts.
Beyond that, there's no denying the fact that tax breaks in fact, fairly or unfairly, impact the rich since the top 5% of America pays 50% of the taxes. It only makes sense that tax relief is going to impact the wealthiest among us more than it will the poor - who can't be relieved of their tax burden since they have no burden to relieve.
But if the first charge is debatable, it turns out the second charge is utterly false. The ruling GOP hasn't cut poverty programs at all. They've actually sent spending on the poor through the roof:
Federal anti-poverty programs have increased their spending by $111 billion since George Bush came into office. The heartless bastard.
By Deroy Murdock, The Washington Times
Heritage Foundation budget analyst Brian Riedl actually looked at social spending under Republican control. What he finds is as astonishing as it is counterintuitive: Under the mean, nasty, coldhearted Republicans, expenditures on the poor have zoomed to record levels. In 2004, 16.3 percent of the federal budget went to anti-poverty efforts. This figure never has been higher.
In 2001, Mr. Bush and Congress spent $285.7 billion on 33 antipoverty programs. By 2005, that had grown $111.2 billion to a total of $396.9 billion. That 39 percent boost far outstripped that period's 10 percent cumulative inflation. Republican poverty spending soared at nearly quadruple the inflation rate ... (link)
Any more reductions in spending like these and we'll all be spent into the poorhouse.
Intellectual confusion on terrorIt's the same editorial page as well that will chide President Bush as being a cowboy if he acts upon the advice the editorialists provide. You gotta love this bunch.
Today's Editorial, The Washington Times
Two days ago, the New York Times suggested an out-of-character response to dealing with the crisis in the Middle East should the U.N. Security Council fail to enforce Resolution 1559, which requires Hezbollah to disarm. "If the Security Council isn't willing to issue such explicit demands or link them to clear punishments," the paper editorialized, "the United States, Europe and key Arab allies, who are also eager to see the fighting and Hezbollah contained, will have to bring serious pressure on their own." Of course, the editorial continued, "[t]he United States will have to take the lead."
The NYT's argument that the United States may be forced to assemble and lead a coalition if the Security Council fails to act represents a remarkable change in perspective from just three years ago.
This is the same editorial page, after all, that claimed in March 2003 that it was "persuaded of the vital need to disarm Iraq. But it is a process that should go through the United Nations." (link)
Ceiling collapse tip of Big Dig problemsI actually deserve a tee shirt that reads "I Survived The Big Dig." I drove it - without mishap - several months ago. Of course, I didn't know I was taking my life in my hands at the time. I was simply trying to get to my hotel. In any case - I LIVE TO TELL THE TALE.
By Joyce Howard Price, The Washington Times
So many setbacks have plagued Boston's Big Dig during its 15-year history that a more appropriate nickname for the $14.6 billion underground highway project might be the Big Debacle.
Capping those problems, a concrete ceiling collapsed July 10 inside the new I-93 tunnel complex and killed a 38-year-old mother of three. The collapse prompted a shutdown of two of the project's tunnels for a safety inspection and a criminal investigation by state Attorney General Tom Reilly.
On Thursday, Gov. Mitt Romney overruled an earlier finding by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) and temporarily shut down the eastbound Ted Williams Tunnel after it was discovered that two ceiling panel bolts inside that structure had shifted by as much as an inch. (link)
Others won't be as fortunate.
Even some Republicans - Jeb Bush in Florida; liberal Senators in New England Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins - are on the wrong side when it comes to easing the burden.
But $75 a barrel oil seems to give pause to even the most ardent environmentalists:
Senate bill would open gas and oil fields in Gulf of MexicoUntil scientists discover a way to make solar energy drive something more powerful than a pocket calculator, oil is realistically our only economical source of fuel. And in order to drive down the price, we need more of it (econ 101).
Michael Janofsky, New York Times
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans have agreed on legislation that would open four times more of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling than the Bush administration was seeking, and a vote on the bill is expected this week.
The Senate's only energy measure with a chance to pass this year, the bill would open more than 8 million acres of the gulf to new drilling for oil and natural gas. (link)
Slowly, these people in Congress are coming to grips with those facts.