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

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's All A Matter Of Perspective

Have you ever wandered the countryside around Richmond, Virginia? If you have, you know that much of it, particularly on the east side, is made up of inhospitable, mosquito-infested swampland.

Or pristine wetlands, depending on your perspective and whether or not you have to deal with it on a regular basis.

As far as I'm concerned, this developer should be paid to drain the swamp and given a medal for improving the landscape:
Wetlands destruction for development approved
State water board reverses its decision on a Chesterfield road
By Julian Walker, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

A developer will be allowed to destroy some wetlands and streams in Chesterfield County to make way for a road extension to a planned mixed-use development.

The decision came yesterday from the State Water Control Board, which reversed a previous decision.

Area residents and environmental advocates oppose the permit for the project, a roughly 165-acre tract known as The Galleria, because of its potential impact on their homes and area natural resources. (link)
Wetlands destruction? Oh, I understand. You mean swamp drainage.

I chuckled when I read the news that the developer will "be allowed" to make improvements to this natural sewer. In fact, he should be given a big kiss by each of the area's residents (who are concerned about the "potential impact" that the development will have on their homes, not having the smarts to know that it will send their property values soaring).

Drain that swamp! Develop that land! Prosper!

Playing Games With The Peoples' Money

If Governor Kaine truly wants to solve the state's transportation funding problem, why doesn't he steer funds currently on hand toward the issue? That's the question House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford County) is asking:
Transportation up for debate
Gov. Tim Kaine and the General Assembly have disagreed over tax increases to fund transportation.
By Michael Sluss, The Roanoke Times

RICHMOND -- Gov. Tim Kaine said Thursday that he will ask Virginia lawmakers to approve $500 million in one-time transportation spending when they amend the state budget, and will make another push for a long-term fix to the state's road and transit financing woes.

[Howell] released a statement calling Kaine's $500 million proposal "way too low," arguing that it contains only $161 million in new money. Howell said the state may have a general fund surplus as great as $550 million, and he wants at least half of that sum devoted to transportation. (link)
Kaine has piles of cash available to him that he can devote to transportation but refuses to do so. Instead he plans to introduce legislation later on calling for a new funding source (i.e., higher taxes).

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going on here. Just as Mark Warner was able to scare the pants off of Virginia taxpayers in 2004 by issuing dire warnings about the deterioration of our education system, and was successful at raising taxes to solve that problem (money that has quickly gone down the rathole), Kaine's intent is to raise taxes again. Nothing more. Transportation is just the vehicle (no pun intended) being used to make it happen.

House Republicans exposed the deception in 2006 and held the line on new taxes. They'll be doing the same in 2007 ... and 2008 ... and 2009 ... and ...

Viva Cuba Libre!

It won't be long now that we'll be able to welcome into the union our 51st state:
Castro Near Death, U.S. Intelligence Chief Says
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff Writer

Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte said yesterday.

"Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer . . . months, not years," Negroponte told a meeting of Washington Post editors and reporters. (link)
The hour of liberation is close at hand. Celebrate with the Cuban people the long-overdue and far too painless death of Fidel Castro.

They Know Better

Check out the New York Times' feeble attempt at equating the government's effort to track down a leaker of classified documents within its ranks with the ACLU's right to free speech:

A Gag on Free Speech

The Bush administration is trampling on the First Amendment and well-established criminal law by trying to use a subpoena to force the American Civil Liberties Union to hand over a classified document in its possession. The dispute is shrouded in secrecy, and very little has been made public about the document, but we do not need to know what’s in it to know what’s at stake: if the government prevails, it will have engaged in prior restraint — almost always a serious infringement on free speech — and it could start using subpoenas to block reporting on matters of vital public concern.

Justice Department lawyers have issued a grand jury subpoena to the A.C.L.U. demanding that it hand over “any and all copies” of the three-and-a-half-page government document, which was recently leaked to the group. (link)

The government "could start using subpoenas to block reporting." Preposterous. The Times editorialists know that their right (as well as that of the ACLU) to report is absolutely protected by the 1st Amendment. But their right to obtain classified government documents is not. And that's what's at issue here.

Of course, the Times itself has some ongoing experience with this kind of thing. And an ulterior motive for its "idealism."

Having It Both Ways

What do you do if you're running a state government that has mandated the highest property tax rates in the country and is up against a taxpayer revolt over the ever-growing and compounding tax rates in your state, but you still want to invest their money in all kinds of neat projects - including those that may be a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, like embryonic stem cell research?

Why, you borrow the money, of course:
New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Borrowing $270 Million for Stem-Cell Research
By David W. Chen, The New York Times

Trenton, Dec. 14 — In an end to a two-year journey that was as much about politics as it was about science, legislators on Thursday approved New Jersey’s most sweeping and financially ambitious effort to take a lead role in stem-cell research.

By comfortable margins, the State Senate and the General Assembly authorized borrowing $270 million to build the state’s first stem-cell research centers in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden. Gov. Jon S. Corzine said on Thursday that he would enthusiastically sign it. (
The state of New Jersey is now borrowing money in order to fund a group of stem cell research facilities. Keep in mind, unlike the federal government, the state doesn't print money and can't run a deficit in perpetuity, so someone is going to have to pay (dearly) for the these loans - some day.

The odd thing about this is, there are already dozens of research facilities around the world that are currently involved in stem cell research. Why the Democrats in New Jersey felt obligated to create another is beyond a normal person's comprehension. But liberals looking for a cause célèbre are not normal people.

Oh, and what about all the promises made in election season about property tax relief?
Ultimately, both the Senate and the Assembly decided to put off until next year any action on property taxes — which for months had seemingly captured most of their attention ...

For their part, the Democrats insisted the delay was necessary to do a thorough job. “We’re closer and closer by the minute,” said the Senate majority leader ...
Democrats and their priorities. Coming to a legislature near you ...