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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'll Be Home For Christmas ...

Work brings me to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania this evening. I've a meeting scheduled over near York in the morning.

How many years has it been that I've found myself far away from home the week before Christmas? Often right up until Christmas Eve?

I need to cut this out some day and get a nice office job.

On second thought ....

We Solved The Problem While I Was Sleeping?

The following article originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on Thursday, November 9, 2006

Where did the transportation crisis go?
By Jerry Fuhrman

Now that we've mostly settled the macaca matter once and for all, finally, we can get back to the one crisis that looms largest for all humankind, a problem that, if not dealt with, will most assuredly bring about the destruction of all life on the planet.

No, I'm not referring to the report released last week, the details of which were reported in the Washington Post, that sent shivers down the spines of Red Lobster busboys everywhere, a study that predicted the extinction of the planet's ocean marine species within the next 50 years due to over-harvesting.

And I'm not referring to the worsening global warming crisis that prompts thousands of overpaid and underworked United Nations delegates to be assembling, as you read this, in Nairobi, Kenya, so as to find a solution to the planetary carbon dioxide emissions dilemma. Thousands of delegates. Two weeks. All expenses paid. At luxury hotels. With plenty of adult beverages. Live entertainment. Poolside frivolity. Fun and sun. Stretch limos. Private jets. Gathered together to figure out how to conserve the planet's precious resources. On your dime. A crisis indeed.

Nor am I bringing up the dreadful calamity that is soon to result from Category 5 hurricanes slamming into the Gulf region, as all the experts have predicted. They tell us that the warming temperatures of the oceans will cause shifting weather patterns that will bring ruin, once again, to New Orleans and southern Mississippi. Maybe even before the end of hurricane season, which is fast approaching.

Beyond these imminent catastrophes, there are also brooding crises having to do with E. coli in our spinach and flu bugs in our chickens, medigap and the earnings gap, prophets as cartoon characters and evangelists as immoral characters, and Mel Gibson. Problems, to be sure, of biblical proportions.

None of these troubles, though, holds a candle to what we face currently here in Virginia. Or, to be accurate, what we faced just a few short months ago. A problem that must have corrected itself while we were all distracted, trying to keep up with more important matters like what a macaca is.

Just what the heck happened to all those crumbling roads and bridges? To our deteriorating infrastructure? To VDOT's impending demise? To the end of life as we know it? Did someone sneak into town in dark of night and resolve our monumental transportation crisis while we slept? They must have, because nobody is whining about it any more.

It seems it wasn't that long ago that we were subjected to this:

• Gov. Tim Kaine: "Solving Virginia's transportation crisis is the most urgent issue facing my administration, and I am getting started on it right away."

• State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr.: "While traveling across Virginia, I realize that Virginia has one of America's worst transportation crises."

• Bev Fitzpatrick, chairman, Virginia Municipal League's Transportation Policy Committee: "Virginia is in a crisis that would have our Founding Fathers rolling in their graves. The lead state of all the colonies has forsaken its responsibility to ensure a future for its citizens by not investing strategically in a long-term solution for our transportation needs."

Gosh. Urgent issue? One of the worst? Sounds serious. How did we let these dire warnings go unheeded? Could it be that we saw the hype for what it is? A naked -- and feckless -- attempt at growing state government?

After Mark Warner pulled the same stunt (substituting the word education for transportation), could it be that the people of Virginia have gotten wise to the game being played?

If our democratic republic teetered on the brink, is it possible that a small handful of Republicans in the House of Delegates, led by the courageous and indomitable Morgan Griffith, could have stopped this train in its tracks? Seems so. Because the transportation crisis is as dead as a turkey in the oven. An apt metaphor for so much of this shameful saga.

What Was Jon Henke? A Potted Plant?

So the Democrats pull off an upset here in Virginia and it's due to the diligent efforts of bloggers who supported (and were supported by ...) the Webb campaign. As was touched on yesterday, some appear to think so:
GOP officials tout Internet to build party
By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times

Several Virginia Republicans are exploring ways to harness the political power of the Internet to strengthen the party's message and attract voters.

State Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II wants to create seats on the state central steering committee for members who would focus exclusively on increasing the party's presence on the Internet.

The idea is in its early stages, but the Fairfax County Republican said in his online newsletter "Cuccinelli's Compass" that having presence on the Internet could help the party grow "in new directions and recruit Republicans that can help our campaigns get our message out and fight the political war going on every day in the virtual orld." (link)
Let's recall, the Republicans brought in one of the most influential bloggers in the commonwealth to shape George Allen's virtual message and to steer Republican weblog conduits toward a common theme.

Yes, Jon Henke was hired on after the macaca madness erupted so it's a bit dicey to conclude that the effort never moved the needle as it relates to the public opinion polls at the time. Perhaps, in fairness, Jon proved able to stem the bleeding that was, by all accounts, profuse and worsening.

But the needle nonetheless never moved.

Don't get me wrong (as some of you already have). If 10,000 people (a number that may include powerful and influential members of the media) here in Virginia regularly read the political weblogs, there are 10,000 voters who can be influenced by such an effort.

But realistically, at this point in time in our state's history, there is no reason to believe this is going to do any more for the GOP than did Mr. Henke's valiant efforts in the recent elections.

You want to influence the voters in a meaningful way? Convince the Washington Post to go back to being a newspaper and end its disgraceful practice of being a bomb-throwing, gossip-mongering, left-wing shill for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

I write this knowing that those 10,000 votes, if swayed in the last election, could have prevented the embarrassment that we're now having to live down that's wandering the halls of our nation's Capitol. Something to think about ...

I Hope This Isn't True

I remember back during the Republican primary in 2000, George W. Bush went out of his way to attack conservatives for their seeming lack of "compassion." I took it at the time to be a bad omen. A bit taken aback, I ended up voting for another primary candidate.

That thought came to mind when I read this:
Conservatives fear tax-increase deal
By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

The Bush administration has sent signals since last month's elections that the president is prepared to accept some tax increases on upper-income families, worrying congressional Republicans and fiscal conservative watchdogs who say he will compromise with Democrats to win a legacy accomplishment.

The watchdog groups have been demanding that the president repeat his earlier pledges not to raise taxes in order to reform Social Security. But the White House has refused, with officials saying everything is on the table, including tax increases. (link)
Over the years I've come to understand that a "compassionate conservative" is much like a "compassionate Democrat." Both are willing to spend other people's money to show their compassion.

Let's hope Mr. Bush controls his wicked tendencies and doesn't do something stupid.

It All Becomes Clear

I've been wondering what all those tall plants growing back up in the mountains are. Now I know:
Pot High On List of U.S. Crops At $35B A Year

December 19, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - U.S. growers produce nearly $35 billion worth of marijuana annually, making the illegal drug the country's largest cash crop, bigger than corn and wheat combined, an advocate of medical marijuana use said in a study released yesterday.

California's production alone was about $13.8 billion...

By comparison, the United States produced an average of nearly $23.3 billion worth of corn annually from 2003 to 2005 and $7.4 billion worth of wheat, the report said. (link)
If California has $13.8 billion of that $35 billion maryjane crop, I know where the remaining $21.2 billion is being grown.

I Have An Idea

The following news story got me to wondering:
North Koreans and U.S. Take Hard Lines as Talks Open
By David Lague, The New York Times

Beijing — The United States and North Korea staked out tough positions as six-nation disarmament negotiations began here on Monday, two months after North Korea tested an atomic weapon.

The senior United States negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, warned North Korea that it faced an extended period of sanctions if it refused to abandon its nuclear-weapons program. (link)
Since we are going to end up giving the North Koreans everything including the kitchen sink by the time these negotiations are concluded, and since we are awash in illegal immigrants here in this country already, would it be more cost-effective to simply invite all 22 million North Koreans into the U.S. and pay them to pick our strawberries rather than support them over there in that hell hole?

Somebody run the numbers.

It's A Small World

Funny the things you read in obscure places. I came across a reply to something posted on Appalachian Forum's Dickenson County Bulletin Board (by someone who uses the nom de guerre "Nemesis") with regard to one of my weblog posts of a few weeks ago:

I have met the blogger, Jerry Fuhrman, who posted the blog entry you have posted here. In fact, I once had the unfortunate experience of sitting next to him at a dinner. He was very proud of the fact that he posts opinions just to try and upset people. He has no concern for the truth and takes a partisan view of everything. I would not put much stock in Mr. Fuhrman's opinions of our county. (link)
It would appear that I did not make a favorable impression on the author when we met several months ago in Martinsville at the bloggers conference. Fair to say?

Funny thing is, I don't remember
Brian Patton being at the blogger conference dinner (I do remember him being there the following morning for the conference itself) even though he apparently sat next to me. He leaves quite the impression.

The only people I remember sitting at my table that night were Senator Roscoe Reynolds, a delightfully conversant Democratic operative from Rocky Mount who was there (I think) with Reynolds, a blogger from Virginia Beach, and some annoyingly obtuse person across the table whose name I don't remember but who wore a WEBB FOR SENATE ball cap (those in attendance will remember him; he was the genius who took his one chance to ask our Lieutenant Governor a question after dinner and spent it reminding Bill Bolling that the proper name of his party is the Democtratic Party and not the Democrat Party).

As for Mr. Patton's charge, I'll leave it to those of you who attended with us to speak to whether or not his accusation about my reasons for weblogging are accurate.

He seemed like such a nice guy too ... what little I remember of him.