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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, August 29, 2006

Enough Is Enough

Am I the only person getting a little put out by the whining down in New Orleans?

Am I the only person who would have decided that waiting for the government for a full year to come along and rebuild my house, replace my car, feed my dog, and wipe my nose was not a viable plan?

Am I the only person who's fed up with people who have ulterior motives writing crap like this?

One year of failure after Katrina
The Gulf Coast continues to suffer thanks mostly to the Bush administration's shameful response to Hurricane Katrina.

Roanoke Times Editorial

One year ago, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast and quickly became the worst natural disaster to strike America in decades, perhaps ever, depending how one measures such morbid things.

No one expected the scars to disappear in one year, but the Bush administration has continued to fail New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. Reconstruction is far behind where it should be.

Washington eventually marshaled financial assistance, directing $110 billion to the recovery. The Bush team mismanaged those funds as badly as it bungled the relief efforts a year ago. It has spent less than half of the allocated money, despite the ongoing problems on the ground. (link)

That $110 billion was yesterday's number. According to the Wall Street Journal (see graphic above), the price tag today is up to $122.5 billion. God knows what it will be tomorrow.

But the charge that the Bush administration isn't doing enough because a huge chunk of the allocation hasn't been spent is infuriating.

Had anyone actually checked into the situation, one would have found out that the government can only pay for services rendered when there is someone prepared to render a service.

Had anyone checked, they would have found that the same federal government relief operation is working just fine in nearby Mississippi and over in Texas where Hurricane Rita struck just after Hurricane Katrina ripped into the Gulf coast. Mississippi, though suffering less damage than Louisiana, has hauled away more debris and rebuilt more homes. Schools are back up and running. Street lights work. It's only in Louisiana that chaos still reigns.

The state of Louisiana and to a lesser extent the city of New Orleans have performed miserably in this affair. And to blame the federal government for the actions of the Democratic leadership there smacks of crass politics.

Chart courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
Click on image to enlarge

The Martinsville Blog Conference

For those of you who weren't able to make it to Martinsville for the bloggers conference, Kat over at Cathouse Chat has an incredible write-up of the event.

I'm hawking her post in part because you'll see a photo of me there (scroll down a third of the way and you'll see - from the left - me putting a whammy on my coffee cup, Dan Radmacher, superb interim editorial page editor of the Roanoke Times, the renowned Norm Leahy, and Jeff Schapiro with the Richmond-Times Dispatch with whom I had breakfast and found to be quite entertaining.

Great work, Kat.

Can We Vote On That?

I'm fully aware of the fact that the commonwealth of Virginia has major transportation problems. And that a great deal of money is going to be allocated to solve them.

But I also know that if we add to the already crushing burden shouldered by Southwest Virginia's employers, we are going to see more factory gates padlocked and more small businesses shuttered. More jobs lost. More people moving out.

So, when I read that northern Virginia needs a new commuter rail line and that it will cost $4 billion, I wince. But we're all in this together so I'm okay with it, even knowing, depending on how it is ultimately funded and knowing that if the government says that it is going to cost $4 billion it will probably cost $12 billion, that it may very well do more harm to my neighborhood. Yes, I accept it because we're all in this together ...

What I don't accept is this:
Neighborhood Group Backs Tysons Tunnel, With Cost Warning
By Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writer


While Northern Virginia developers and business leaders rally around the proposal for a Metrorail line to Dulles International Airport that runs under Tysons Corner instead of above ground, some neighborhood groups are leery of the project's cost and its potential for triggering excessive growth.

A tunnel through the four-mile Tysons stretch is expected to add at least $200 million to the cost of the 23-mile rail extension, estimated at $4 billion. (
link)
Why a $200 million tunnel?

(1) Aesthetics. A tunnel through Tyson's Corner will hide those horrid tracks from view. Oh sure, you'll hear advocacy groups argue that it is an alternative to an above-ground Chicago-style "L" transit system that could cause more traffic congestion. But the "L" does no such thing. It's all about maintaining the ambiance - if such exists in that heavily populated area.

(2) Land values. Current prices for land and housing in northern Virginia are stratospheric. Homeowners in Fairfax County don't want to see their properties devalued as a result of a train track bed being carved through its center.

So. Are Southwest Virginia employers going to be on the hook for a portion of this $200 million so that exorbitant land values can be maintained in the commonwealth's wealthiest county? Are more jobs in Southwest Virginia going to be lost so that folks in Tyson's don't have to listen to the annoying toot of that train horn as it makes its way to DC each morning?

Count on it. They warned us of the looming transportation crisis. It has arrived.

A Legend Returns

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

Interesting news. The possibility exists that the chestnut tree, an extinct arboreal mammoth of a bygone era, may be finally making a comeback:
Researcher says heir to chestnut tree found
By Debra McCown, Bristol Herald-Courier

Meadowview [VA] – Three decades of work could bear fruit very soon.

Or, rather, chestnuts.

"They’ll never be American chestnut trees," plant pathologist Fred Hebard said, "but they’ll walk and talk like an American chestnut tree."

Hebard has been studying chestnut blight for half his life, and he’s finally on the verge of bringing back the once-abundant trees.

During the first half of the 20th century, the blight wiped out the American chestnut, which thrived in mountain forests from Georgia to Maine.

For more than two decades, researchers have been cross-breeding American and Chinese chestnuts here to transfer the blight-resistant gene from the Chinese tree to its American cousin.

Trees planted this year could be placed out in the woods, where researchers believe they would survive and fend off the blight. (
link)
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

The Arrogance Of The Left

A national bestseller that most of you never heard of (it was written in 1958) The Ugly American was a novel about arrogance, intellectual vapidity, and an attitude of superiority exhibited by many Americans back then manifested in the exploitive idea that it was our duty to change the way others live their lives. The Peace Corps was, in a way, part of this colonialist attitude.

The Vietnam War provided, in its own brutal way, a wake-up call to those who harbored such attitudes.

Well, it's back. It can be seen in Democratic Senator Joe Biden's mindless plan to divide Iraq into three confederated countries - Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. And in this:
Obama Urges Kenyans to Get Tough on Corruption
By Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times


NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug. 28 — Barack Obama strode into a packed auditorium in Nairobi on Monday and attacked an issue that notoriously bedevils Kenyan society: corruption.

He urged people to reject “the insulting idea that corruption is somehow part of Kenyan culture” and “to stand up and speak out against injustices.” (
link)
This is arrogance personified. Obama hails from what is arguably the most politically corrupt city in the USA - Chicago. Yet he feels the urge to travel to an African country he knows nothing about to tell strangers that their corruption is a bad thing and they need to change their ways.

The Ugly American at its worst.