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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Virginia Treasure Indeed

I don't know what this "Virginia Byway" business is all about but the designation is well-deserved.

From the Culpeper Star Exponent:

U.S. 15 named a Virginia Byway
By Allison Brophy Champion, Staff Writer

First came the “Journey Through Hallowed Ground.” Now the naturally and historically rich corridor along U.S. 15 in Virginia has earned acknowledgement from the Commonwealth Transportation Board as an official Virginia Byway.

The approximate 66-mile route begins at the Potomac River in Loudon County ... and into Madison and Orange counties.

“This road, with its beautiful scenic vistas and incredible historic sites, is a treasure,” said Gov. Tim Kaine in a news release Tuesday. “We’re proud to have it as a jewel in the Virginia byway program.” (link)

It is truly a treasure. One worth exploring. Next time you need to get from Gordonsville to Culpeper to Warrenton and beyond, take U.S. 15. You'll never forget it.

I'll Bet This Makes Sense, To Somebody

Regarding that corn field that the cash-strapped Virginia Department of Transportation is buying and upgrading (to the tune of $3.2 million) and turning into ... well, some kind of nature habitat or something, it now seems to be more of a swampland (what a metaphor!) and it isn't going to take money from the department's main goal (once not long ago, before it found all the money in the world, its ONLY GOAL), that being to construct and maintain the commonwealth's roads, bridges, and highways, not buying corn fields or swamps.

So pronounces the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times anyway:

Buying swampland
Behind all the eye-rolling in Botetourt County, residents who need a wider highway might give some thought to the need for wetlands, too.


Drivers who regularly negotiate the two, twisting lanes of pavement that are U.S. 220 north of Eagle Rock in Botetourt County must be sorely tempted to deride Virginia's transportation department.

Yes, the upgrade of that section of U.S. 220 is overdue. Yes, public safety fully justifies the project. Yes, lack of money has delayed it for years.

But the $3 million-plus that the highway department is spending to create 36 acres of wetlands and a 4,500-foot stream bed doesn't take a plug nickel from road-building money.

And the work being done now will pave the way for miles of highway to be built in the future. (link)

Such horse shit.

First, Botetourt needs more swamps like it needs more mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis that comes out of them.

Second, VDOT has a defined, limited amount of money to spend. $3.2 million from VDOT's budget going to the purchase of a corn field or a swamp (are these people even sane?) is $3.2 million that won't be spent on roads.

And the statement that the acquisition of a swamp is going to "pave the way for miles of highway" or for anything else other than a swampland full of mosquitoes is asinine.

The Department of Transportation and Swampland Renewal should stick to its mandate. And leave the swamps and corn fields to the snakes and rats.

She Never Did Understand Her Son

Cindy Sheehan, darling of the anti-American left, is finally going away.

The Roanoke Times this morning sends her off with one of her quotes:
"The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country, which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think."
What she has always failed to grasp is that her son wanted to make this world a better place. Spc. Casey Sheehan volunteered in the United States Army to do so and gave his life in the attempt. In his own way, on a scale measurable in lives saved and freedoms gained, he succeeded in his mission.

It's a shame his own mother never understood that. And a shame as well that she has done nothing on her own to do the same. She just whined. And now she's gone.

Goodbye. Good riddance. Your son deserved better.

He's Right

Don't ever take the Troutville exit off of I-81 (north of Roanoke). Not unless you want to watch as your life slowly slips away as you crawl along in a snarl. It's a mess. With the several truckstops there, traffic is, on any given day, at a slow creep.

And a Botetourt County supervisor thinks he can fix it. I wish him luck:
County supervisor says his priority is handling I-81 exit
By Jay Conley, The Roanoke Times

Don Assaid will seek re-election as the Valley District representative on the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors.

Assaid, a Wachovia executive, is the first Republican in Botetourt County to announce his candidacy for one of three supervisors' seats in the November election.

He said Wednesday he will seek a second term in office and that his main concern is to find a solution for heavy traffic at Exit 150.

The Interstate 81 interchange in Daleville is one of the busiest in the Roanoke Valley, located next to U.S. 220 where it intersects U.S. 11. (link)
Nothing is said regarding a plan to fix the problem, but something must be done. Exit 146 doesn't realize the same kind of traffic volume, but that area is experiencing serious growth as well. North of there, exit 156 is a good bet. As is the Buchanan exit at mile marker 162.

The county supervisors, and Mr. Assaid, would do well to concentrate their efforts on steering expansion efforts to that area north of Troutville/Daleville. And leave the truckers to battle it out at the 150.

Competing Views, Same Subject

Sub-headline in this morning's Wall Street Journal:

Conservatives will pay a price for demoting economic forces in immigration.

My response:

America will pay a price for demoting the law on immigration.

When Will They Learn?

What's the number one reason you don't like to drive downtown to go shopping?

We agree. Parking is a pain in the ass.

In Wytheville, down in Wythe County, a person parking in the downtown area will find his tires chalked by the local police. If that person's vehicle is there two hours later, he is fined.

Then in the larger cities there are the parking meters, the pay-for-your-time parking lots and garages, and the myriad tow-away zones.

All that makes for a pleasureable shopping experience, doesn't it?

At the same time, Wal-Mart up the road offers enough free parking to accommodate the 1st Armored Division. With space still available for a tent sale.

So what do the geniuses who run America's cities do about it? How do our downtown areas respond to Wal-Mart's competitive edge? They make it worse:

Parking fee a loser in downtown group's poll
By Christina Rogers and Mason Adams, The Roanoke Times

Downtown Roanoke Inc. made a push Wednesday to get city hall to reconsider ending after-hours free parking in several of the city-owned garages and lots downtown.

As part of this effort, the downtown business advocacy group launched an informal online survey on whether a new $2 parking fee on weeknights and Saturdays would deter visitors from coming downtown, especially for events. The seven-question survey was initially distributed via e-mail to the organization's governing board, its members and those who receive its city market newsletter.

So far, the results have been overwhelmingly in favor of nixing the after-hours parking fee.
Duh. This required a survey?

You people want to grow consumer traffic in the downtown area? Offer convenience to your potential shoppers. Free parking available in abundance.

Or watch the downtown area continue its decline. And watch from afar as the Tanglewood area continues to grow.

"But we can't do that," you whine. You can't stay in business either. Welcome to the 21st century.

There are many reasons why Wal-Mart rules the world. Price is only one of them.

Fact Checker!

Someone at the Roanoke Times might want to research this stat (from an article in today's paper, "Town works to preserve battlefield" regarding the Civil War "Battle" of Appomattox Station):

The story told at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is incomplete because it only shows the picture of the surrender, Thomason said.

"The reason you have the surrender is because of the fighting that took place all around here," he said. "It's not the bloodiest fight, but it's of great strategic importance."

It also was unique because the fighting involved mounted Union cavalry troops attacking about
28,000 Confederate artillery troops, said Appomattox Court House historian Patrick Schroeder. [my emphasis]
I doubt that Patrick Schroeder made such a claim.

Since there were only 27,805 troops in Lee's army the day after this "battle" took place - the day of Lee's surrender at Appomattox - there could have been only a fraction of that number serving as "artillery troops." Perhaps a few hundred. And, considering the fact that the Army of Northern Virginia had lost most of its cannons days before when Petersburg fell, and more still at the Battles of Five Forks and Sayler's Creek, it's fair to assume that few "artillery troops," by the 8th of April, 1865 were actually serving their artillery. By then, they had been transferred, albeit informally, to the infantry.

Thought I'd correct the record for you, fellas.

The 'Surge' Must Be Working

How else to read this attempt at tragi-news out of Iraq?
Violence forces Iraqis to give up meat
By Sharon Behn, The Washington Times

Baghdad -- Once-flourishing middle-class families in Baghdad are now eating meat only sparingly, if at all, as violence across the city prevents people from working and farmers from delivering food to the capital's markets.

Some women are eating less in order to give their food to their children, residents say, while others ... (link)
Time to get out. All is lost. Meat is in short supply in Baghdad.

For the love of God.

This Should Make Paula Happy

Or, when she begins to wonder why the folks at Coke and Pepsi would feel the need to perform tests on those cute little fuzzy animals in the first place, she may not be mollified. The news:
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Agree to Curb Animal Tests
By Brenda Goodman, The New York Times

Atlanta, May 30 — Under pressure from animal rights advocates, two soft drink giants, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have agreed to stop directly financing research that uses animals to test or develop their products, except where such testing is required by law.

Researchers at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sought the assurances after discovering studies financed by the companies that used animals like rats and chimpanzees to test taste perception and, in some cases, to bolster support for promotional health claims. (link)
They use chimps for taste tests? What, they work cheaper than illegal immigrants?

Anyway. Animal rights people should be pleased with this decision. Now Coke and Pepsi can put that disclaimer on that 20 ounce bottle of joy that we buy daily: "No rats were harmed in the making of this product."

Not sure what that thought will do for the taste though.

Where Advocacy Damages Our Country

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's partisan actions on the Supreme Court have become so commonplace, the news that she takes time to lecture from the bench for "women's rights" goes without notice. But it shouldn't.

Just the other day she put Americans' civil rights on a plane one rung lower than women's rights by arguing that a court ruling denying a petition from a woman who claimed she was discriminated against many years ago, with the allowable time to file her claim long past, was wrong and that it would "set back women's rights," arguing, presumably, that if the same case came before the court but the complainant was male, she'd have voted with the majority. So much for constitutional equal protection.

Read David Bernstein's analysis of her comments here.

Make no mistake, Ginsberg's point of view is reprehensible and has no place in American jurisprudence. She blemishes the court.

But the New York Times sings her praises this morning because of it:
Oral Dissents Give Ginsburg a New Voice on Court
By Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times

Washington, May 30 — Whatever else may be said about the Supreme Court’s current term, which ends in about a month, it will be remembered as the time when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found her voice, and used it.

Both in the abortion case the court decided last month and the discrimination ruling it issued on Tuesday, Justice Ginsburg read forceful dissents from the bench. In each case, she spoke not only for herself but also for three other dissenting colleagues, Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer.

But the words were clearly her own, and they were both passionate and pointed. (link)
I heard Ginsberg described once long ago as being a champion on the court for individual rights. The opposite is true. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of those fossils that hang on from the 60's who believe in group advocacy. In her case, she advocates for what was known then as women's rights, a concept that fell out of favor when the feminists all died off.

Still, this is dangerous stuff.

For a member of the United States Supreme Court to argue that a woman should be given special consideration in the eyes of the law - because she is a woman - putting men on a lesser plane, is not what this country is all about. Not now; not ever.

Shame on her.

Separated At Birth?

Well, maybe not. But it's going to take more than a $400 haircut to outdoo outdo the big guy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You Made Your Bed. Now Lie In It.

So the downtown area will continue to decline.

And Wal-Mart will locate its Superstore just outside the town limits.

And Blacksburg won't get one dime of tax revenue from the project.

Way to go, fellas:
Blacksburg Town Council passes ordinance
By Tonia Moxley, The Roanoke Times

Blacksburg — It’s unanimous. Developers who want to build retail buildings larger than 80,000 square feet in Blacksburg must submit their plans to Town Council for an extra layer of review.

But such ordinances don’t necessarily block Wal-Marts or other big-boxes from moving into a community. In October, Roanoke County supervisors approved such a permit for a Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for the Clearbrook area. (link)
Not to mention the fact that this ordinance is illegal as hell. "Equal protection" and all that.

But beyond that, what have the council members and advocacy groups really accomplished? They've certainly assured the acceleration of the problem with downtown business vacancies, which will bring about a decline in local tax revenue, which will bring about cutbacks in public services, which will lead to more decline, which will lead to more vacancies ...

So celebrate. You got your way. Consumers, when that Wal-Mart is built a mile down the street, just outside town, will have to drive an extra minute to get their groceries. Break out the bubbly.

Sometimes the smartest people can be just plain stupid.

So Much For That Crisis

Remember, not long ago, how the commonwealth of Virginia was in a transportation budget crisis of monumental concern? That VDOT was having to make draconian cutbacks in order to fill our millions of potholes? That we had to raise a myriad of taxes in order to improve the state's crumbling highway system?

It was all a lie. Obviously:
VDOT to earn eco-credits with habitat project
By Jeff Sturgeon, The Roanoke Times

Along a busy, two-lane stretch of U.S. 220 in Botetourt County that needs widening for safety, the Virginia Department of Transportation is poised to spend millions without improving a single inch of the road.

The highway department is plowing ground on a grand scale to form a habitat for plants, insects and wildlife, complete with a meandering stream.

It represents a $3.2 million outlay to be used not on U.S. 220, but in a low-lying cornfield beside it that the state bought for $425,000. (link)
Our department of transportation bought a cornfield. For half a million dollars. On which VDOT is going to spend $3,200,000. A corn field. In a remote corner of the state.

Don't speak to me ever again about a transportation budget crisis. A transportation leadership crisis maybe. But there is obviously no budget problem.

A Chicken In Every Pot And a Car In Every Garage ...

To think, millions of Americans will think this possible:

Obama Calls for Wider and Less Costly Health Care Coverage

To those who buy into such lunacy, I have a bridge in Alaska I'll sell you ...

Gingrich Deserves This

As much as it pains me to reprint this garbage, Newt Gingrich has brought this kind of criticism on himself. From the enlightened doorknobs over at the Charleston (WV) Gazette:

Running for the GOP nomination for president (*1), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has launched a crusade against “secularism,” the lack of religion (*2) . In his commencement address at evangelist Jerry Falwell’s fundamentalist Liberty University, Gingrich warned that “radical secularists insist that religious belief is inherently divisive. ... This anti-religious bias must end.” But Gingrich is an unlikely champion of piety, since he was having an extramarital affair while he led the impeachment (*3) of President Clinton for [having had] (*4) an extramarital affair. Gingrich also served divorce papers on his wife as she lay [in a bed in a room] (*5) in a cancer ward. How can he pose as a hero for religion? [how does one pose as a hero?] (*6) (link)
Everything Gingrich said is absolutely correct. And we thank him for saying it.

Problem is, he talks the talk but, by cheating on his wife all those many years ago, he didn't walk the walk. For that he deserves to be bitchslapped by the illiterate lowlifes over at the Gazette. How humiliating. For all of us.

*1 Newt isn't a candidate for president.
*2 Secularism is not "the lack of religion." Secularism is a doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations.
*3 Can this sentence be any more butchered? Try, for the sake of clarity, and accuracy: "But Gingrich is an unlikely champion of piety virtue, since he was having an extramarital affair at the very time that he was leading the effort to impeach then President Clinton for an extramarital affair having lied to a grand jury.
*4 English 101
*5 For the sake of accuracy, Gingrich's wife was probably reclining in a bed, not sprawled across the ward floor, as is implied.
*6 Gibberish. Gibberish.

We Should Have Seen This Coming

Just as I am holding back these days before endorsing a particular presidential candidate until I get to know each of them - as well as their positions on the critical issues of the day - a whole lot better (yes, I've written off McCain and Giuliani), I was doing the same back in 2000, looking for a solid conservative to replace the slimeball who was then using the White House as his personal House of Debauchery, but not wanting to commit to a particular candidate too prematurely.

Like most everyone else, I thought George W. Bush was an attractive prospect at the time. Great résumé. Good on taxes. Good on business and growth. Good on abortion. Great on America's place in the world.

But right in the middle of the campaign, a gray cloud appeared. Bush went out of his way to attack us - conservatives - for being too callous; that we came across sometimes as being bigoted knuckle-draggers.

George Bush liked to think of himself, you may remember, as being more of a "compassionate conservative," whatever that was. Nobody was sure, but to me it sounded too much like something a Democrat would say.

So I voted for Alan Keyes.

My concerns about Bush's "conservatism" at the time are proving to be well-founded. Today's sad news:
Bush Takes On Conservatives Over Immigration
By Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times

Glynco, Ga., May 29 — President Bush took on parts of his conservative base on Tuesday by accusing opponents of his proposed immigration measure of fear-mongering to defeat its passage in Congress.

“If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill’s an amnesty bill,” Mr. Bush said at a training center for customs protection agents and other federal agents here in southeastern Georgia. “That’s empty political rhetoric trying to frighten our citizens.”

It was some of Mr. Bush’s toughest language as he started an intensified effort to build support for the compromise bill in the Senate. (link)
For six years we've been begging this guy to fight back against the savage attacks that have been leveled -relentlessly - at him by the Democrats. But he's consistently shunned the down-and-dirty. That "compassionate" thing, one can only guess.

Until now.

He finally has fire in the belly. He's on the attack. And we conservatives are his targets.

Well, to coin a phrase, bring it on, big boy. We are finally coming to understand where your sympathies lie. You join John McCain and Ted Kennedy in their ever-recurring assault on America's traditional values. We welcome the debate. Let's have at it.

As Sun Tzu famously said, many centuries ago: "If you know both yourself and your enemy, you will come out of one hundred battles with one hundred victories."

When it comes to the illegal immigration amnesty debate, we now know who our enemy is. To coin another phrase: "Goodbye, George. We hardly knew ye."

We've Lost Our Minds

While we race pell-mell to give amnesty to the 12 million foreigners - mostly Mexicans - in our midst whose first act upon entering the USA was to mock our way of life by breaking the law, and to make room for the next 12 million that are lining up at the border, we get, in return, derision:
Booing Miss USA
By Michelle Malkin, writing in the New York Post

May 30, 2007 -- The United States government is on the verge of approving a mass amnesty to millions of illegal aliens - a plan pushed aggressively by meddling Mexican officials who reap billions of dollars in remittances (illegal aliens' earnings sent back to Mexico) without having to lift a finger to clean up their own country.

And the thanks we get? Internationally televised public humiliation.

On Monday night, the beautiful young woman who represented America in the Miss Universe pageant was booed and mocked as she competed on stage in Mexico City.

Rachel Smith, 22, did her best to respond with grace and dignity ... (link)
Even more galling, there'll be no response to this disgrace and humiliation from our White House. Bush instead thinks he has a bigger problem with American conservatives.

How long are we going to put up with this?

How To Win Customers

Treat 'em like dirt:

Overbooking, Bumped Fliers and No Plan B
By Jeff Bailey, The New York Times

Phoenix — The summer travel season is under way, and so many planes are expected to be full that, if you are bumped, you could end up waiting days for a seat on another flight to the same destination.

The number of fliers bumped against their will is expected to reach a high for the decade this year.

Those environmentally friendly bicycles are looking really good about now.

In any other industry, Fuhrman's first rule of corporate governance would apply: That company, no matter the business channel, that truly makes the customer its first priority will not only lead that industry, it will be that industry.

One industry excepted.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This Takes Nerve

Noun: chutzpah xhootpu
1. (Yiddish) unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity

The Charleston (WV) Gazette has an editorial this morning that warns against the privatization of toll roads around the country. And I think the geniuses there are serious:

Public, not private


Around America, private investors are quietly seeking to take over roads, bridges and airports from government authorities, to reap profits from facilities built by taxpayers. Investors also hope to buy several state lotteries.

By leasing or buying roads, speculators assume huge financial burdens for maintenance and improvements. But those investors also get to charge tolls, which are likely to mushroom quickly.

Toll increases are inevitable when private investors take over. But good maintenance is not. Once public assets are leased or sold, BusinessWeek warns, they are likely to be resold, again and again. New buyers feel pressure to limit maintenance and rake in higher profits. (link)

I somehow missed the BusinessWeek article so I'll not comment on it.

But I will comment on the uproarious notion that government-operated toll roads are somehow better maintained than are private roads. Especially coming from a publication in West Virginia, home of the West Virginia Turnpike.

I'm tempted to say, in response to the editorial - prove it!

But don't think you are going to use the turnpike (I-77) as an example of a well-maintained highway. It is awful by anyone's measure. It is so poorly maintained around Beckley that it has become hazardous to drivers' well-being. The only highway I've ever driven that was as poorly preserved was I-94 in southeast Michigan between Detroit metro airport and the city. It too is a government-maintained highway.

If there is a worse-run system, I don't know where it is. In fact, there can't be a more poorly maintained highway system in this country or the government would shut it down for being hazardous to human health.

So give up the hallucinogenic drugs, leave the bicycle at home, and take a journey southbound out of your cloistered enclave there in Charleston.

But consider yourself forewarned. You'd better be wearing your hardhat and have your life insurance premiums up to date. That publically-owned and maintained turnpike is a killer.

Grasping At Straws

The Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning wants us to believe that global warming is "increasingly more certain." Capitalists and generals say so.

Well. Who could argue with them?

The Changing Climate

There was a time, perhaps a dozen years or so ago, when global warming could be dismissed as a liberal plot by Al Gore and a coterie of greenpeaceniks. The outer fringes of American liberalism have a history of antagonism toward capitalism and big business, after all, and the argument that industrial society was going to kill everybody by heating up the planet sounded like one more anti-business jeremiad in a long string of them.

But then came repeated, and increasingly more certain, reports from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

,,, comes now news that another institution has sounded the alarm about global warming: the U.S. military.

The military follows in the tracks of another sector not known for its liberalism: the insurance industry.

Conservatives might dismiss Al Gore out of hand, but they can't dismiss the captains of capitalism and the generals of the U.S. military. The climate about climate change is changing, too. More and more conservative institutions are coming to the conclusion that just because Al Gore says something doesn't mean it's wrong.

A few points:

1) I am a conservative and I dismiss without hesitation this silly argument because the TD uses non-scientists as a reliable source for its support of global warming science - those "captains of capitalism and the generals of the U.S. military," for God's sake. If that's the best you can do, you lose without reservation or exception.

2) It's a pretty sure bet still that if Crazy Al Gore says it, it is most assuredly wrong.

3) A growing number of scientists - as opposed to generals and businessmen - is rejecting the theory that global warming is caused by human activity. As research continues to pour in and more scientists take a good hard look at it, and weigh their conscience accordingly, that number of skeptics will climb dramatically.

For all these reasons, consider your editorial dismissed as well.

We Are Not Going To Die

I know the world is not going to hell in a handbasket as long as I can get up each morning and read headlines like this:

Poland to probe if Teletubbies are gay

As long as politicians are devoting their time to such idiocies (by the way, isn't it time for ours to issue another empty apology to someone?), the sun will surely come up tomorrow and all will be well.

These People Must Be Stopped

The Washington Times this morning blares a shrill warning about the harsh reality of the immigration bill that is being "debated" in the Senate:

Immigration disaster looming

Judging by what took place in the first hours of the Senate immigration debate last week, critics are deluding themselves if they expect lawmakers to improve the bill when debate resumes after the Memorial Day recess. Most of the organized political pressure on the immigration issue is coming from open-borders advocates intent on enabling more illegals to obtain amnesty and bring their relatives to the United States, and from Washington elites on the left and the right who think anyone who doesn't share their permissive philosophy is backward and xenophobic. Unless the American people rise up en masse and tell their senators in no uncertain terms that they cannot accept amnesty, the Senate bill will easily pass and no one should be surprised if it passes with amendments making it even more harmful to taxpayers and detrimental to hometown safety and homeland security. (link)

"... harmful to taxpayers and detrimental to hometown safety and homeland security." A looming disaster indeed.

And most senators are in favor of it.

They have lost touch with the American people. We need to lose them. Every one.

We Make Progress

Last year the global warming alarmists were screaming:

Warming Will Lead to a Rise in Hurricanes!

A year later, after we saw the calmest no-hurricane hurricane season on record, we get this from the New York Times:

Will Warming Lead to a Rise in Hurricanes?

We're winning this debate, one reality check at a time.

We Favor Gun Control Until Our Lives Are Threatened

The Cleveland Plain Dealer brings us, via NRA.org, an interesting story of an Ohio state legislator - a Democrat - who favored gun control until one evening when he came to the realization that, without one - a gun that is - he was not in control. He had one instead shoved in his face:

Theory Of Gun Control Meets Reality Of Crime

A May 15 story in The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) serves as a good reminder of how a person’s support for gun control often changes after a personal experience with crime.

State Representative Michael DeBose (D-12) of Cleveland was an opponent of Right-to-Carry, having voted against the measure twice. All that changed on the night of May 1, when he was confronted by two men, one of whom was wielding a gun. On that night, Rep. DeBose’s sense of security in his neighborhood changed, as did his view on lawful citizens being able to defend themselves.

When asked how this recent experience may change the prism through which he views Right-to-Carry, Rep. DeBose was crystal clear: "I was wrong. I'm going to get a permit and so is my wife. I've changed my mind. You need a way to protect yourself and your family. I don't want to hurt anyone. But I never again want to be in the position where I'm approached by someone with a gun and I don't have one. There are too many people who are just evil and mean-spirited. They will hurt you for no reason. If more people were packing guns, it might serve as a deterrent.”

We welcome Rep. DeBose to the growing list of Right-to-Carry converts.
We would never wish Mr. Debose's experience on anyone. But it certainly is illuminating. So often Democrats get caught up in political theory in the abstract - gun control being a perfect example - and lose sight of the practical reality of that which they argue.

We saw it in the debate that raged after the Virginia Tech Massacre: "If only there were no guns ..."
And if only there were no bad people ...

Me? I'd be thinking about chambering that first round and returning fire, rather than bewailing the fact that a madman can obtain a firearm too easily in this country and had one thrust in my face.

Call it the actual vs. the ethereal. Call it life and death.

The Ethereal vs. Cold Reality ...

While we're on the subject, that which is ethereal vs. the practical, let's talk about America's beloved environmentalists, who have their heads buried up their asses in the sand and the cold, hard reality that humans need energy to survive, and that it - energy - is in ever-dwindling supply, except for that abundance of raw energy, hundreds of millions of tons worth, a thousand years worth, that we have mountains of right here in By God Southwest Virginia and West Virginia, but they don't want us to touch:

Lawmakers Push for Big Subsidies for Coal Process
By Edmund L. Andrews, The New York Times

Washington, May 28 — Even as Congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming, a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels.

Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big
government purchases for the next 25 years.

With both House and Senate Democrats hoping to pass “energy independence” bills by mid-July, coal supporters argue that coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline and potentially greener than ethanol.

“For so many, filthy coal is a dirty four-letter word,” said Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “These individuals, I tell you, have their heads buried in the sand.”
In a different America, the need for government subsidies wouldn't be necessary. Manufacturers would have no difficulty in finding the required capital for such construction and development. And much of that capital will be coming their way anyway, regardless what the politicians decide to do. They, at this point, can only hinder the inevitable.

We have a growing need for energy. We have an abundance available. And make no mistake: We will, sooner or later, tap into that vein of black gold known as liquid coal. We will keep our homes warm in the winter.

Environmentalists, meet reality. Survival 101.

Sleepwalking Through Current Events

Barack Obama is calling for universal health care. Why? Because he's a good Democrat and Democrats are driven to spend your money before you do. Nothing more. The news:
Obama Calls for Universal Health Care
By Mike Glover, Associated Press Writer

Iowa City, Iowa - Seeking to add heft to his presidential bid, Democrat Barack Obama is offering a sweeping plan that would require every American to have health coverage and calls on government, businesses and consumers to share the costs of the program.

Obama said putting in place universal health coverage has been debated for decades, but the time has finally come to act. He said his plan could save the average consumer $2,500 a year and bring health care to all.

"The time has come for universal, affordable health care in America," Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery at the unveiling of his plan Tuesday in Iowa City. (link)
His plan would save $2,500 per person? Is he back on hard-core drugs? Besides similar debacles that have taken place in Maine, Tennessee, and (soon) Massachusetts, has Obama been paying no attention to events that are just now unfolding in his own home state of Illinois?

Illinois Tax Implosion
The political limits of "universal" health care.
The Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2007

"Universal" government health care has once again returned as a political cause, with many Democrats believing it's the key to White House victory in 2008. They might want to study last week's news from Illinois, where Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich's tax increase to finance health care became the political rout of the year.

The Democratic House in Springfield killed the proposal, 107-0, after Mr. Blagojevich came out against his own idea when it became clear he was going to be humiliated. Only a month earlier he had said he was prepared to wage "the fight of the century" in defense of his plan to impose a $7.6 billion "gross receipts tax" on Illinois businesses.

But a funny thing happened on this road to Canadian health care. The state's more rational Democrats revolted ... (link)

Legislators in Obama's native Illinois are running in fear from a plan that he is now promoting. Kinda reminds you of the horse that was led from the burning barn, only to see him break loose and run back into the inferno. It leaves one scratching one's head.

Bottom line: There isn't enough money in this country to pay for universal health care. Not if you want decent health care.

It's in moments like these that I try to remember that Barack Obama is a Democrat. It all then makes some bit of sense.

Monday, May 28, 2007

On Memorial Day

"In great deeds something abides.
On great fields something stays.
Forms change and pass;
bodies disappear; but spirits linger,
to consecrate ground for the
vision-place of souls.

And reverent men and women from afar,
and generations that know us not
and that we know not of,
heart-drawn to see where and by whom
great things were suffered and done for them,
shall come to this deathless field
to ponder and dream;

And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence
shall wrap them in its bosom,
and the power of the vision pass into their souls."
-- Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

If only it were so for those Americans who took up arms to protect this great nation and who, in the course of a war fought long ago, vanished without a trace and were forgotten for all time.

Travel with me on this Memorial Day to the Danville National Cemetery in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Once the Civil War began, the Confederates found themselves with large numbers of Union prisoners captured in the Battle of Manassas. These POWs were then transported to Richmond, where they were initially housed in facilities such as Ligon's Warehouse and Tobacco Factory and many others like it. However, to reduce the high prison population in the Confederate capital, hundreds of Union POWs were relocated to six tobacco warehouses in downtown Danville, Va. These six facilities held just over 7,000 officers and enlisted men, 1,400 of whom died of such scourges as smallpox and dysentery brought on by starvation.

Danville National Cemetery was established in December 1866 on 2.63 acres, about a mile from the railroad station. With the exception of the remains of four soldiers from the Sixth Army Corps, all original interments in the cemetery were Union POWs who died in the prison. The principal cause of death was disease. Many of the bodies of Union Soldiers who died in Danville’s prisons were buried in mass graves.

Danville National Cemetery has no monuments or memorials.
Buried in mass graves. No monuments. No memorials. No marker bearing their names.

Gone and forgotten.
On this Memorial Day, let's all remember - and thank - those who gave their lives to make this nation "the last best hope of Earth."

A Fitting Tribute

For a wonderful video outlining the work of a group of New Yorkers who are driven to memorialize the lives and sacrifices of American soldiers, see Green-Wood Remembers Civil War Dead.

I Will Read No Further

From today's Roanoke Times:

The inspiring fountains of poop

I don't even want to know ...

On Crimes of Thought

A story to ponder about "hate crimes" from Nat Hentoff:
Some years ago, a young white woman, I heard during my research, was sexually assaulted and terrorized by a white predator. A friend of hers, another white woman, was also the victim of similar brutality by a black man. The white attacker of the first white woman received a significantly shorter prison sentence than the black attacker of the second woman, his act having been prosecuted and judged a "hate crime." The first white woman was greatly puzzled. Angrily, she said, "Was what happened to me of less importance to the law then what happened to my friend?" So much for "equal protection of the laws."
"Prosecuting hate crimes," The Washington Times, May 28, 2007

Something Bad This Way Cometh

What's going on in Northern Virginia? Has the bubble burst? Have the good times come to a screeching halt?

There's some evidence pointing in that direction:

Demand Down, but Rents Up
Tenants Still Seeking Most Expensive Office Space
By Allan Lengel, Washington Post Staff Writer

Commercial vacancy rates climbed in the Washington area for the fifth straight quarter, but rents rose slightly and industry experts remained upbeat.

"We've had a lackluster tenant demand compared to what we've seen in the past," said Sigrid G. Zialcita, research director at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm.

Overall, the Washington office market, which includes the District, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, recorded a vacancy rate of 10.1 percent in the first quarter, compared with 9.6 percent in the previous quarter and 8.9 percent in the first quarter of 2006, according to CoStar Group, a Bethesda-based research firm.

Zialcita said much of the market's softness is in Virginia. Soft spots in Northern Virginia were farther out, in such areas as the Dulles corridor, which had a 13.1 percent vacancy rate and the Woodbridge-Interstate 95 corridor, which had a 14 percent vacancy rate, according to CoStar. (link)

The fact that rents continue to rise leads one to believe that the market is still strong. But falling occupancy rates that stretch to a period of nearly a year and a half suggest otherwise.

Is Northern Virginia experiencing a slowdown? If so, that bodes ill for the rest of us. Always remember: As goes NoVa, so goes the commonwealth.

Here's another indicator.

Wolfowitz Is Right

If you followed the World Bank/Paul Wolfowitz soap opera fairly closely, you know that he was railroaded. An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (the hard-copy version; it hasn't appeared on-line yet) quotes a European World Bank board member who says as much. He and his European pals simply wanted him out - for who he is, not what he's done. And out he is.

And the leftists at the New York Times and Washington Post did their part to get him ousted as well. For the same reason. Wolfowitz is a "neo-con," and therefore needed to be slandered and his reputation needed to be impugned. That's who they are. That's what they do. And, as has become expected of them, they did a marvelous job of it.

They won't admit it of course. But the facts of the case are clear enough for any reasonable person to draw only that conclusion. Paul Wolfowitz has certainly drawn that conclusion:
Wolfowitz Blames Media for Resignation
By The Associated Press

London (AP) -- Departing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz in a radio interview broadcast Monday blamed an overheated atmosphere at the bank and in the media for forcing him to resign.

Wolfowitz, who has announced he will step down June 30, denied suggestions that his decision to leave was influenced by an apparent lack of support from the bank's employees.

''I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank and I'll leave it at that,'' he told the British Broadcasting Corp. ''People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend.'' (link)
He's right. Even though they'll deny it until the end of time, they got exactly what they worked to obtain. He's gone.

How pleased the "journalists" at the Times and the Post must be.

A Tax The Left Hates

Well, this is one way to get through to the tax-'em-till-they-squeal crowd. Come up with a tax that singles them out. Then sit back and listen to 'em squeal.

The New York Times squeals - again - this morning about the alternative minimum tax:
Fixing the Alternative Tax

When lawmakers return from their Memorial Day recess, fixing the alternative minimum tax, once and for all, should be at the top of their agenda.

The A.M.T. is supposed to tax tax-avoiding multimillionaires. But over the last decade, the code has been distorted in such a way that multimillionaires hardly ever pay the alternative tax. Instead, it now falls hardest on people who make between $75,000 and $500,000 a year. Unless Congress changes the rules, about 20 million such taxpayers will be hit in 2007, with an average additional tax of nearly $3,000.

That’s unfair. (link)
In truth, progressive taxation is "unfair." But the Times is all for that. And taxes on corporations are destructive. But the Times is all for that.

The alternative minimum tax, however, is structured in such a way as to impact most heavily on those who live in states with high local and state taxes. And New York ranks at the top of that list. More particularly, the high-wage pro-tax folks at the New York Times rank at the top of that list.

So kick back and listen to those who demand ever-higher taxes squeal that this particular tax is bad for America. And savor the moment.

Where Have These People Been?

This is news to the people at the New York Times:
Militants Widen Reach as Terror Seeps Out of Iraq
By Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet, The New York Times

The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond, according to American, European and Middle Eastern government officials and interviews with militant leaders in Lebanon, Jordan and London.

Some of the fighters appear to be leaving as part of the waves of Iraqi refugees crossing borders that government officials acknowledge they struggle to control. But others are dispatched from Iraq for specific missions. (link)
The Times and others of its ilk have been arguing for years now that Iraq - and George Bush - have been drawing in terrorists ("militants" and "fighters" just don't get it) so that they can kill American soldiers and disrupt the attempts at forming a democracy there. It's a big stretch to suggest that now they are doing it so well that they are being sent into other countries to wreak havoc.

But beyond that, we got into this war in the first place, six years ago, because terrorism was growing around the world, seeping out in all directions from Iraq and the rest of the poisonous Middle East. This isn't new. That "seeping" began in the 70's with commercial jet hijackings.

The Times, as usual, has its blinders on.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

In Memoriam

Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrows,
We gave our today.
-- The Kohima Epitaph

A headline in this morning's Richmond Times-Dispatch allows for some perspective as to exactly what sacrifices have been made to keep this wonderful country free over the years:

Nearly 1,000 died in Iraq in a year

Then there were the 1,000 who died in Virginia in one minute.

Let's celebrate the service to their country and mourn the passing of all who paid the ultimate price.

Talking Counter Point

From this morning's Roanoke Times:

Talking point

"The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics -- it is not a strategy to make America safe. It is a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world."

-- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in a foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations last week. (link)
This from the man whose list of accomplishments, after having made millions as a blood-sucking trial lawyer, could fit on a bumper sticker.

Beyond that, consider this:

Edwards presidential campaign removes 'war on terror' from Web site
Nick Juliano, The Raw Story

In his latest attempts to attract support from the anti-war wing of the Democratic party, former Sen. John Edwards is criticizing the administration's use of the phrase "global war on terror," though the senator has used the same or similar constructions several times in his political career.

Until Wednesday, Edwards' site said he believed "winning the war on terror requires wisdom and moral strength, as well as military might ..."

Prior to last month's debate, Edwards had referenced the "war on terror" in speeches, interviews and other public forums. References to the phrase can still be found in other parts of his Web site.

"To win the war on terror," Edwards wrote on his campaign blog in September, "we must preserve our moral authority to lead the world." (link)

Stick that on your bumper sticker, beauty queen.

Are These Guys For Real?

Do the geniuses at the Roanoke Times even read that which they write?

Today they decry the high price of gas and consider it "unfortunate" that Congress (and Big Oil) won't do anything to reduce it:

How do you spell relief?

Just as surely as American flags are brought out to mark Memorial Day, prices at the gas pump rise and give members of Congress their annual bout of indigestion.

Congress has proposed some gas relief to quiet Americans pain at the pumps.

Unfortunately, the proposals -- an anti-price gouging bill and a windfall profits tax among them -- will turn out to be feel-good measures that evaporate during the summer.

Just two days ago, however, this same bunch demanded an increase in the price of gas:
Time to raise the gas tax
State and federal coffers are falling short. To avoid certain shortfalls in transportation funding, the gas tax must be increased.

No lawmaker will win any popularity contests by proposing a gas tax increase at a time when a gallon of regular is averaging $3.22.

But an gas-tax hike [sic] at both the state and federal levels, however unpopular, needs to be seriously considered. Both are weak funding streams destined to become even less reliable if lawmakers don't muscle up the guts to raise them. (link)
Kinda makes your eyes cross, doesn't it?

I rarely expect these guys to be right. But consistent wouldn't be too much to ask.

Property Taxes Are The Most Execrable Of All

Just ask the people of Christiansburg, where local politicians lowered the property tax rate so as to hold property tax assessments to an increase of 15%. Makes no sense? Welcome to the world of wealth confiscation:

Learning a tough lesson the hard way
The Roanoke Times

Christiansburg is learning a tough lesson other cities and towns around the nation have already discovered: Growth rarely pays for itself.

The town has welcomed commercial growth with open arms, hoping that would enable it to keep taxes low on homeowners.

But now a debate is brewing in town council about a 15 percent increase in taxes some say is needed to keep up with a rising demand for services.

The increase won't be in the tax rate, which is going down. But the rate won't go down enough to make up for values increased by the latest property reassessment.

As Councilman Ernie Wade said after Mayor Richard Ballengee noted the rate decrease, "It is a tax increase. I don't care how you slice it. People don't pay rates -- they pay dollars." (link)

The tax went down. The tax went up.

Imagine the elderly on fixed incomes who see the property they have no intention of selling increase in value and, in turn, increase their property tax assessment. They are paying taxes on income they will never earn.

After a time, the nursing home, I'm sure, looks inviting.

The answer? Either more government handouts to compensate, or ... abolish the property tax.

Your Gov't Knows What's Best For You

George Will has a fascinating article in the Washington Post this morning on "modern urban sharecroppers" and the role government plays in keeping them locked in poverty. It's also the story of one American - an immigrant from Ecuador no less - who holds to the belief that this is still the land of opportunity.

What Border Enforcement?

The Washington Post raises questions this morning about the deeply flawed immigration amnesty bill that is sailing through Congress. Not because it is a repeat of the 1986 law that encouraged 12 million Central and South Americans to flood across our borders, but because it is too hard on those 12 million lawbreakers who are now in our midst and on the next 12 million who are lining up to join them.

We're doomed as a nation:

Immigration Bill's Point System Worries Some Groups
By Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post Staff Writer

For weeks, U.S. senators wrestled among themselves and with White House officials over the question of what mix of skills, background and experience prospective immigrants should bring to their new country.

The answer they came up with, embodied in the immigration bill now on the Senate floor, would represent a radical shift in the philosophy of the U.S. immigration system. Rather than focus on reunifying families, the system would emphasize bringing in better-educated, higher-skilled immigrants who would help the United States compete in the world economy.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is raising concerns about a new point system for permanent residency in the bill, which would favor new immigrants with advanced degrees or who work in engineering or the sciences.

Why is this a bad thing (in the eyes of those who can't see)? Barack Obama sums it up:
Obama has called the point plan a "radical experiment in social engineering." In a speech last week, he said the bill "fails to recognize the fundamental morality of uniting Americans with their family members. It also places a person's job skills over his character and work ethic. How many of our forefathers would have measured up under the point system?
The primary goal of a new immigration bill ought to be the reunification of family members living in Mexico with the 12 million lawbreakers in our midst.

For the love of Christ.

The Broader Implications

What politicians don't realize, for some inexplicable reason, when they argue that an immigration law that was passed in 1986 - and was completely ignored by those who were its intended targets - can be fixed by passing another similar law is that before too long, they and their laws become one big joke.

The law becomes one big joke:
Cig Ban? What Cig Ban?
By Angela Montefinise, The New York Post

May 27, 2007 -- While Mayor Bloomberg tries to make the world safe from greenhouse gases, his cigarette ban is going up in smoke.

Scores of trendy clubs and neighborhood pubs across the five boroughs [of New York City] have become smoking speakeasies, where bartenders and bouncers regularly ignore the prohibition launched in 2003.

Smoking has been prohibited in bars, nightclubs and restaurants since March 2003, after the Bloomberg initiative became law in the fall of 2002.

"They used to" enforce the smoking ban, Brett, a Marquee regular, told The Post last week. "But they barely pay attention now." (link)
As goes New York, so goes the USA.

When those in government choose to ignore 12 million lawbreakers, anarchy reigns.

Light 'em if you got 'em.

So We Should Pray For Global Warming?

Study Finds Hurricanes Frequent in Some Cooler Periods

Leaders Of Tomorrow?

Tell me this: How are Hillary, Obama, and Edwards going to stand up to global terrorists when they run in fear from Fox News?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

When Your Gov't Has All The Money In The World ...

The United States Department of Agriculture is now buying playground equipment ...

... with your tax dollars ...

... that you might have otherwise spent on food ...

... a commodity that the agriculture department was once focused on ...

... instead of playground equipment.

For the love of God:
Boucher Announces Federal Funding to Enhance Spencer-Penn Centre
$13,750 Grant Will Be Used to Purchase Playground Equipment
By Bill Wyatt, The Martinsville Daily

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Rick Boucher announced today that, at his urging, the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Rural Development Agency is providing a federal grant in the amount of $13,750 for the purchase of playground equipment for the historic Spencer - Penn Centre in Spencer, Virginia [west of Martinsville].

"I am pleased that this measure of federal funding has been provided to further expand the activity offerings at Spencer-Penn Centre," Boucher concluded. (link)
I'm sure he is pleased. As are the kiddies over in Spencer who will be enjoying the slides and swing sets that the United States Department of Agriculture has donated for their use.

As for you poor wretches who paid for them and are wondering where your next meal is coming from, check with the United States Department of Agriculture. Folks there seem to have more money than they know what to do with.

The American Way

We go out and buy an environmentally friendly curlicue lightbulb so as to do our part to save the planet, just before we leave in our Ford Excursion for the airport so we can catch the 757 bound for Miami, where we're scheduled to take the Norwegian Princess luxury cruise ship headed toward the islands, where we'll party on the beach for six days and five nights. And when we return, tanned and rested, 2.3 kilotons of atmospheric carbon expulsion later, we turn on that lightbulb in the basement and feel good about Mother Earth and our place in it.

That's how we are going to save the environment. One lightbulb at a time.

You think I exaggerate:

And Gas Saver Makes Three Cars in the Driveway
By Micheline Maynard, The New York Times

Detroit, May 25 — With gas prices well over $3 a gallon nationwide, many drivers are lining up to buy small cars.

But hundreds of thousands of consumers aren’t giving up anything to downsize. Instead, they are simply adding pint-size transportation to their driveways, parked alongside their S.U.V. or pickup.

“Small cars are like a fashion statement,” said Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing. (link)
I love this country.

Domestic Terrorist Going To Prison

Then there are those Americans who don't think buying a curlicue lightbulb is doing enough to save the planet. They instead go out and torch ski resorts and SUV's. So as to make this world a better place ...

And some of these nitwits are now going to be paying dearly for their idiocy:
Radical Environmentalist Gets 9-Year Term
By William Yardley, The New York Times

Eugene, Ore., May 25 — By the time Chelsea D. Gerlach was 16, she was putting her passion for the environment into action.

Now Ms. Gerlach is 30, and although she may continue to be an environmentalist, a federal judge said Friday that she was a terrorist, too.

“It was your intention to scare, frighten and intimidate people and government through the very dangerous act of arson,” Judge Ann L. Aiken of Federal District Court told Ms. Gerlach at her sentencing here.

Judge Aiken sentenced Ms. Gerlach to nine years in prison for her role in “the family,” a group of at least 10 radical environmentalists who have been convicted of arson and other destructive actions at an electrical transmission tower; timber research centers; a Eugene police station; a ski resort in Vail, Colo.; and other sites in five Western states that they viewed as threats to the environment or their mission.

The defendants are connected to the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. The crimes occurred from 1996 to 2001, and the arrests were made in 2005 and early last year. (link)
Where's Abu Ghraib when we need it?