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

Monday, November 27, 2006

There Is No There There

Americans have an inexplicable - and annoying - habit of placing politicians on a pedestal for all the wrong reasons. Barak Obama, as an example, has skyrocketed to stardom in the last year and yet there isn't a soul out there who could tell you what his core beliefs are. Then there're those who have been livin' it for years:

Do we need another T.R.?
If John McCain gets his way, you'll have your faith in the country restored ... or else!
By Matt Welch, The Los Angeles Times

You can read 1,000 profiles of GOP presidential front-runner John McCain without encountering a single paragraph examining his core ideological philosophy. His career is filled with such distracting drama — torture at the Hanoi Hilton, noisy conversion to the campaign-finance-reform faith, political suicide on the Straight Talk Express — that by the time you're done with the highlights, and perhaps a few "maverick" anecdotes, time's up.

People are forever filling in the blanks with their own political fantasies. Third party candidate! John Kerry running mate! Far-right warmonger! Republican In Name Only! (link)

Having found, upon thorough investigation, that McCain believes, really, in nothing (which means, like Bill Clinton, he is capable at any given time of believing in anything), a troubling truth - one that I have pointed out over the years - engulfs Welch:
Sifting through McCain's four bestselling books and nearly three decades of work on Capitol Hill, a distinct approach toward governance begins to emerge. And it's one that the electorate ought to be particularly worried about right now. McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.
It isn't quite accurate to say McCain believes in nothing. He, in fact, has an unflagging belief in government, and is willing to believe that government can solve all problems.

Which makes for a very dangerous proposition.

It's Baaaack.

The transportation crisis here in Virginia abated for a time (election season; who wants to actually talk about raising taxes while trying to get elected?) but apparently is a crisis once again. Odd how this comes and goes. Anyway, after having gone, it once again comes:
Gov. Kaine calls for more new, reliable sources of funding for transportation

Money flowing into the Virginia Department of Transportation is slowing down.

Funds generated from the gas and vehicle-sales-taxes have dropped for the fiscal year, two taxes that account for nearly half of all state money used for road improvements.

If snow removal or other costs are unexpectedly high this winter, money designated for construction projects will be cut. (link)
Gosh. And I thought Hurricane Katrina was bad. What are we going to do?

Why, raise taxes, silly:
Governor Tim Kaine calls this another example of why transportation needs new, reliable sources of funding.
Is this the same Governor Kaine who promised when he was running for office that he would raise taxes to fix our transportation problems? No. He ain't no fool. He made that promise the day after he got elected. And he seems downright proud of the subterfuge:
"The transportation funding challenges are not going to go away. They're not, if we hide from them for a year or two, they're not going to suddenly solve themselves. They're going to get harder and harder. That's why, right when I came to office, I said we've gotta deal with these."
"Right when I came to office." That's rich.

So what's to be done about this crisis?

There's only one answer. Ignore him. It's but a crisis of leadership and will pass.

Harnessing The Beast

Maybe now that the Republicans in Congress have come to the realization that they've been abandoned by much of their base, they'll go back to dancing with the ones what brung 'em. The preliminary signs are promising:
Better Late Than Never
Two Republicans take a stand against profligate spending.
John Fund, The Wall Street Journal

It's been years since federal agencies have screamed this loudly about fiscal discipline being imposed on them. GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have decided to take a stand against overspending by objecting to the nearly 10,000 earmarks, or member-sponsored pork projects, larded throughout the spending bills Congress is currently considering.

Overall federal spending has gone up by 49% since 2001, but you wouldn't know it from the anguished cries of those who regard ever-higher spending as some sort of birthright. A Congress Daily headline reads, "Agencies Say Long-Term CR Would Devastate Programs." The New York Times warns of "cuts in school breakfasts and shelter for the poor." Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who became a symbol of earmark excess in 2005 when he championed the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," laments that several "very important" projects in his state stalled. (link)
Ted Stevens and the New York Times being upset means we're making progress. When the Republicans actually start making cuts in federal programs - meaningful cuts - you'll know we're back on track.

Classic Liberalism

Yoko Ono, wife to slain Beatle John Lennon and one of the richest women on the planet, feels the pain of the suffering masses. So she has decided to donate her entire worldly wealth so as to alleviate their distress. Er, no. She's taken out an ad in the New York Times. Just as good:
Yoko Takes Times To Beg Your Pardon

November 27, 2006 -- Yoko Ono, widow of slain Beatle John Lennon, issued a plea for forgiveness to the world's suffering people in a full-page notice in yesterday's New York Times titled "Forgive us."

Directing her words to "people who have lost loved ones without cause," to "the soldiers of all countries and of all centuries," to civilians who were injured or killed and to "people who have been abused or tortured," Ono wrote, "Know that your loss is our loss . . . Know that the burden is ours," and pleaded, "Forgive us." (link)
Yoko Ono will win praise from her Upper West Side pals for this. She's done her part to ease world suffering. She bought an ad in the paper. And kept her $500 billion in t-bills and munies collecting primo interest.

You gotta love these people.

I Need A Cigarette

A study has been released that brings us the startling news that those quit-smoking ads you see occasionally on television are driving people to smoke:

When Don’t Smoke Means Do
New York Times editorial

Philip Morris has adopted the role of good citizen these days. Its Web site brims with information on the dangers of smoking, and it has mounted a campaign of television spots that urge parents, oh so earnestly, to warn their children against smoking. That follows an earlier $100 million campaign warning young people to “Think. Don’t Smoke,” analogous to the “just say no” admonitions against drugs.

New research shows that the ads aimed at youths had no discernible effect in discouraging smoking and that the ads currently aimed at parents may be counterproductive.

Just why the costly advertising campaigns produce no health benefits is a rich subject for exploration. (link)

Could it have anything to do with the fact that the ads are godawful? Could it have anything to do with the fact that shaming people into making a change in their habits is never going to work? And could the ads be any sillier?

They make me want to take up smoking.