Quote

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Tale Of Two Virginias

I've been highlighting each day data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that relates to children, their health, and well-being here in Virginia.

Today, a comparison by county/municipality of poverty rates, from best (most affluent) to worst (poorest). Five of each: Click on the image to enlarge it.

When we debate issues relating to jobs, zoning, growth, health care, transportation, and the like, we (NoVa residents and those from my part of the commonwealth) are coming at the discussion from two completely different reference points.

Whereas Falls Church, Fairfax, and Loudoun worry about rapid expansion (and the creation of too many jobs too quickly!), we here in Southwest and Southside Virginia just want our kids fed and clothed. Educated. Skilled jobs? High tech? We simply want jobs.

Different priorities. Worlds apart.

You Wanted 'Em. You Got 'Em.

From this morning's Wall Street Journal:
Tax Hike Scorecard

With a new Democratic majority, the agenda on Capitol Hill has shifted abruptly this year, and no more so than on taxes. For a decade the focus in Congress was which taxes to cut. Now everywhere you look someone running the Congress, or running for President, is proposing to raise taxes on some industry or group of Americans.

... here's a list of the most notable proposals so far:

● A Senate Finance Committee plan to raise the federal tobacco tax by 61 cents to a total of $1 a pack ...

● The so-called Blackstone tax on private equity partnerships that go public, raising their 15% rate to the regular corporate tax rate of 35%.

● A tax increase on the "carried interest" of hedge funds and private equity to 35% from 15%.

● Higher withholding taxes on the U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies--in essence a tax increase on foreign investment in America.

● Raise the capital gains rate to 28% from the current 15%.

● Deny the domestic manufacturing deduction to oil producers. This is part of the Senate Finance Committee's energy bill and is estimated to raise $11.4 billion over 10 years.

● A levy on oil and gas produced from deep-water leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

● A tax surcharge of 4.3 percentage points on income of more than $500,000, which would take the top marginal rate to 39.3%.

We're probably overlooking some other tax increase proposals, and ...
Wow.

But let's look on the bright side. The Democrats may be on to something here. If they can destroy the economy - and in reading the lengthy list above, one has no misconceptions about that being their intent - we won't need all those illegal laborers coming across our border any longer when unemployment rises markedly.

Illegal immigration will be no more!

Of course, the USA will be grievously damaged, but what the heck. This is what you wanted when you voted this bunch into power, right? Right?

Let Me Kick Him One More Time

I had a mess of fun heaping scorn on former Vice President Walter Mondale yesterday for his having written a preposterous letter to the editor of the Washington Post in which he extolled the virtues of the Carter administration and the vital vital VITAL role he played in it.

It appears that James Taranto was thinking along the same lines and had his way with the man in his Best of the Web column on the same day:
Carter Lite

In a Washington Post op-ed, Walter Mondale gives the administration in which he served credit for elevating the role of the vice president:

"But it wasn't until Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency that the vice presidency took on a substantive role. Carter saw the office as an underused asset and set out to make the most of it. He gave me an office in the West Wing, unimpeded access to him and to the flow of information, and specific assignments at home and abroad. He asked me, as the only other nationally elected official, to be his adviser and partner on a range of issues."

The rest of the argument can be summed up as follows: Cheney is bad, so it is bad that he is influential. But we love the conclusion:

"Since the Carter administration left office, we have been criticized for many things. Yet I remain enormously proud of what we did in those four years, especially that we told the truth, obeyed the law and kept the peace."

What do you call it when the U.S. sits idly by as the Soviets invade Afghanistan and a newly radicalized Iran holds Americans hostage?

Walter Mondale calls it "keeping the peace."
Carter-Mondale. The hair bristles on the back of my neck with the mere mention of those two clowns. After all these years.

A Good Choice

I suppose, if I were to be cornered today and asked who my candidate of choice is for the presidency, I'd go with Bill Bolling's guy:

Bolling to back Romney campaign
He will support ex-Mass. governor's bid for president

By Tyler Whitley, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will endorse Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today.

Bolling also will be chairman of the former Massachusetts governor's Virginia campaign.

In a news release prepared in advance of the endorsement, Bolling said, "We can trust him [Romney] to keep America safe at home by defeating the Jihadists abroad; and keep America strong by reining in government spending, keeping taxes low, protecting the values we believe in and confronting head-on the new generation of challenges facing our nation." (link)

Yes. Yes. And hell yes!

Romney has been roundly criticized - mostly by Democrats and their butt buddies in the press - for having changed his position on certain issues in recent years. Dramatically in some cases.

And then there's that whole RomneyCare thing.

While all that is fact, this can be said without prevarication: The man is right on every issue that is important to America today.

Of course, it's a long way to election day ...

Oh. Sorry, Kilo.

Positive Vibes Coming From Webb

Let's see if, in the end, James Webb decides to hold to his convictions and vote against the middle-class welfare bill working its way through the Senate:

Kaine, Webb wary on cigarette tax jump
By Peter Hardin, Richmond Times-Dispatch Washington correspondent

Washington -- Two of Virginia's top Democratic elected leaders are questioning the proposed, hefty cigarette tax hike that would pay for expanding health coverage for uninsured kids.

To expand children's health-care coverage by $35 billion over five years, a U.S. Senate bill would raise tobacco excise taxes; cigarette taxes would be raised 61 cents per pack to $1.

Sen. Jim Webb viewed "another tax increase on cigarettes to fund the program [as] both unfair and regressive," his spokeswoman, Jessica Smith, said yesterday.

About half of U.S. smokers come from the same income groups as families eligible for the children's health program, which in Webb's view "amounts to 'robbing Peter to pay Paul,'" Smith said. (link)


Or, to put it in terms I've been stating all along, a cigarette tax is essentally a tax, a crushing tax, on the poor. The same people our illustrious senators profess to be helping.

Beyond that though, and far more importantly, the upshot of expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) will be to add middle-class families to the roles of government-funded health insurance. Companies currently providing private health insurance will be encouraged to drop their plans and move their employees to SCHIP.

I know Hillary is a big believer in nationalized health care but I thought the rest of America drove her into hiding when she proposed such a plan back in 1993.

As for Webb, we'll be watching to see how he votes on this measure. He talks a mean streak, but talk is cheap, especially coming from him. The proof will be in his yea or nay. Most Democrats, and even a shameful number of Republicans, are in favor of expanding SCHIP. Will he go along?

Where will Webb be at crunch time? We wait ...

We're Heading Back Down That Road

Democratic candidate for the 22nd District state Senate seat, Michael Breiner, wants the new traffic fees that are going to help finance transportation improvements around the state repealed. Sooner rather than later.

So what does the man want to replace the fees with? Well, he's not saying.

Did I mention the fact that he's a Democrat?

Youre invited to read between the lines:
Va. Senate candidates weigh in on so-called 'abusive driver fees'
By David Harrison, The Roanoke Times

Michael Breiner, the Democratic candidate for the 22nd Senate District, said Monday that he would like to see the General Assembly hold a special session to repeal unpopular new "abusive driver fees."

The fees, which impose stiff penalties on bad drivers, went into effect July 1. Since then, they have drawn outrage from voters and some lawmakers from both parties who say they unfairly target low-income drivers while exempting out-of-state drivers.

"With me sticking up for Virginians, I hope it's going to kick the General Assembly into a higher gear and hopefully persuade the governor to call the General Assembly back into a special session and eliminate these abuser fees," he said.

He said he's "looking at a bunch of innovative ideas" to raise money for transportation but wouldn't discuss those ideas in detail. (link)
Innovative ideas. I wonder what they could be. A "bunch" of them no less.

What's that three-letter word that begins in T and ends in X?

I guess Breiner, if given the chance, will be really innovative with what falls between.

A Winning Strategy

What do these guys know that everyone in Washington D.C., including all those really brainy pundits, seems unable to grasp:
GOP resolution rejects amnesty for illegal aliens
By Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times


State Republican officials from across the country on Thursday will formally break with the desire of President Bush and other top Republican leaders to include amnesty and other benefits for illegal aliens in immigration-reform legislation.

So far, 47 members of the 168-member Republican National Committee have signed a resolution that unequivocally opposes the Bush-backed policy that would grant legal residency to millions of illegal aliens. (link)
If these Republicans don't waver, if they shout this message without equivocation or apology, they'll bring mainstream America into the fold. A mainstream that is torn right now between wanting to uphold the law and helping all those poor Mexicans among us. We can help them, but not as long as they defy the rule of law in towns and cities across the land.

As that famous lady once said, "Don't go wobbly, fellas."

A Winning Message

Drive it home, big guy!
Sack The 'Nannies' Says Rudy
By Carl Campanile, The New York Post

July 31, 2007 -- Rudy Giuliani yesterday accused Democrats of wanting to create a "nanny government" that "controls your life."

Giuliani, campaigning in New Hampshire, said Democrats are out to siphon wealth from the economy by raising taxes and pitching "socialized" health-care programs.

"Democrats are kind of falling over each other seeing who can raise taxes faster," he said during a campaign stop in Meredith.

Aside from supporting lower taxes, Giuliani said he backs a dramatically different health-care policy that leans more heavily on tax breaks and consumer choice than government edicts. Details of the policy will be released today. (link)
Kiss me, Rudy.

(Sigh) If the man would just come to Jesus on social issues ...

I Get So Confused

If they weren't children, was there a crime?
Bodies of 4 Infants Found at Maryland Home
By The Associated Press

Ocean City, Md., July 30 (AP) — Police officers with cadaver-sniffing dogs, shovels and a backhoe dug in the backyard of a home Monday where the bodies of four infants have been found since last week.

The police say the infants belong to Christy L. Freeman, 37, a taxi company owner and mother of four. Ms. Freeman has been charged with murder in the death of one of the infants, a male fetus in the 26th week of gestation found in a vanity under a bathroom sink.

Two other corpses were found in plastic bags in a trunk in Ms. Freeman’s bedroom, and another in a bag in a small recreational vehicle parked in her driveway. None of the bodies appeared to be full term, the police said.
(
link)
I'm sure the police are investigating to see if any of these "children" were born and murdered, as opposed to being murdered before they were able to be born, which means, since they weren't born, they were never children, which means they couldn't have been murdered, which means there was no crime.

The little tikes never existed. Just refuse in garbage bags.

Expect a host of feminist groups to put this mother on a pedestal. Woman Of The Year.

I Get So Confused II

But ... But ...
'Gay White Males' Suit
By Kati Cornell, The New York Post

July 31, 2007 -- Three veteran workers at the state's Human Rights Division have lobbed federal lawsuits at the agency, charging a bizarre pattern of discrimination that hurts women and blacks in favor of gay white men.

A recent lawsuit by human-rights worker Veanka McKenzie, claims a "calculatedly sexist dress code" forbids females from wearing jeans, while giving special treatment to gay white men - who are also known to wear cowboy hats in the office. (link)
Let me see if I understand this. Discrimination in favor of white guys is bad. Unless they're gay. Then it's good. Unless they receive preferential treatment to the detriment of women and black people. Then it's bad. Unless the women were white. Then its not quite so bad. Unless they were once men. Then it's really bad.

Okay. I got it.

Can Leavenworth Hold Another Politician?

I can picture it now. Congressman Jack Murtha and Senator Ted Stevens sharing a wet, dank, refuse-littered cell. Both clothed in soiled rags. Bickering over pubic hairs in the commode. Arm-wrestling to see who gets to eat the dead rat. Couldn't happen to a more deserving pair.

Yesterday we were treated to one of the many foul deeds perpetrated by John Murtha (D-PA) that should land him in prison. Today we get this news:

FBI searches U.S. senator's home amid corruption probe
CNN

Washington (CNN) -- FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents searched the Alaska home of veteran Sen. Ted Stevens Monday amid a corruption probe that has already snared two oil-company executives and a state lobbyist.

Stevens, 83, and the most senior of Republicans in the Senate, has been under federal investigation for a 2000 renovation project more than doubling the size of his home in Girdwood, Alaska, near Anchorage, The Associated Press reported. (link)
One has to ask:

Are there any honest politicians remaining in Washington?

Do we need to build more prisons? Would executing a few of these jokers serve as a deterrent to others?

Can we get our country back?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Murtha Earmarks: Waste Or Thievery?

Watch this video and ask yourself: Why isn't Congressman Jack Murtha in a federal penitentiary?

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

This, considering the source, is simply staggering:
A War We Just Might Win
By Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, writing in The New York Times


Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

... for now, things look much better than before.

Outside Baghdad, one of the biggest factors in the progress so far has been the efforts to decentralize power to the provinces and local governments.

... there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008. (link)
Again, this appeared in the rabidly anti-war, anti-Bush New York Times.

We are winning indeed.

We're Number 1! ... almost

Sometimes we have a tendency to dwell too much on the negative (because there's plenty of it). Today, however, we have reason to shout out something good being accomplished here in Southwest Virginia.

Our high school drop-out rates.

Check out the data* relating to Virginia's counties and municipalities and their respective student drop-out rates that I've put in graph form for ease of comprehension, information that emanates from the Annie E. Casey Foundation below. I've plotted the best ten localities along with the worst in the state - Petersburg. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Scott County is ranked second in the state and Bland County is in fourth. !!

Whatever you're doing, do more of it. And thanks.

*data is for the 2006 calendar year.

The Truth Hits Home

So how did Southwest Virginia's largest private employer react to the recent government-mandated increase in the minimum wage?

With a shrug.

Perhaps even with glee.

Area Wal-Mart stores, as it turns out, were already paying considerably more than the $5.85 an hour that is now the threshhold for adult hourly worker pay.

So which employers were affected? To the dismay of those who hate Wal-Mart and all it stands for, the increase hit the giant retailer's local competition. "Mom and Pop." The locally-owned business down the street whose virtues some love to extol.

From the Galax Gazette:

Minimum wage hike first in 10 years

Few local employers will be immediately affected by the first nationwide raise in the minimum hourly wage in 10 years, which went into effect last week.


Most employers in the area pay above the $5.15 minimum. Those earning minimum wage are mostly fast food and service industry workers, motel cleaning staff and employees of “mom and pop” stores, said Bill Webb, director of the Virginia Employment Commission office in Galax.

Christina Miller, 25, and her husband recently moved to the Twin Counties with their two children, looking for a better life.

What they found was low-income jobs and high-income living.

Miller worked at a local grocery store for $5.15 an hour while trying to support two children and a husband for nearly four months before finding a job paying a bit more. (link)
Try to picture the "mom and pop" owner of that "local grocery store" down the street from Galax's Wal-Mart Super Center. Mom and pop have been forced by the United States government to raise its rate of pay for its employees, without being able to offset the increase with price hikes - because the big box down the street is already giving it to them in the shorts with a broader assortment of products at wonderfully attractive prices, in a gleaming, spotless store chock full of friendly employees, who are all already making more money by being there instead of at mom and pop's.

If Wal-Mart didn't give them reason enough to close their doors forever, the United States government has. The last nail in mom and pop's coffin.

And don't forget: The Democrats did this to help the little guy.

Any more help and mom and pop will be working at Wal-Mart too.

Can't We Just Apologize Instead?

Surely we did something to the Monacan and Chickahominy Indian tribes here in Virginia a few centuries ago to warrant another legislative "profound regret."

In lieu, that is, of providing them with federal funds.

Somehow, I don't think a pat on the ass is what they are seeking however:

Politicians forget Va. tribes again
By Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch Columnist

Karenne Wood's words in May seem prophetic.

The U.S. House of Representatives, amid the fanfare of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, had passed a bill that would give federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. But Wood, a former chairwoman of the Virginia Council on Indians, felt doubt wrapping around her joy.

"I wonder if this is real," she said at the time. "I wonder if we're going to get hung up in the Senate or some other obstacle will be presented."

She now has her answer. It wasn't real. Federal recognition of Virginia's tribes isn't on the Senate radar.

"You have to wonder if the whole passage by the House was simply a way to placate during anniversary weekend," Wood, a member of the Monacan tribal council, said Friday. "Nothing's happened since then. And a lot of people in the tribe are saying, 'What was that about?'" (link)


Federal recognition? Is that all? Shoot, that ought to be easy enough.

Oh. Wait. It's not really about recognition, is it? It's about glomming on to one of the government's many money teats:

"Recognition would allow tribes to receive increased housing, health care and education benefits."

Sorry, fellas. We're sucked dry.

How about that profound regret instead? If it was good enough for our black activists here in the commonwealth, it ought to be good enough for you.

Finally, It Comes Out

Many people here in Virginia keep asking: What's with all the fuss over those punitive traffic fees if only 2 to 3 percent of us (the 2-3% who navigate the state's highways and are habitual lawbreakers and dangerous drivers) will ever have to pay them?

The fuss, when it comes down to it, has little to do with the fees that are going to be assessed when a motorist is convicted of drunk driving or when he has accumulated too many speeding tickets.

It has everything to do with raising your taxes again.

A Democrat in the House of Delegates is the first to spill the beans make the case that the transportation budgeting debate needs to be reopened, and that another look at alternative sources of tax revenue needs to be taken.


Bad-driver fees only part of the problem
John S. Edwards [D-Roanoke], writing in the Roanoke Times


The ill-conceived Transportation Act of 2007 -- negotiated in secret* by House and Senate Republican leaders -- is only now receiving the public scrutiny it should have received during the legislative session last winter. And the public is making clear that it does not like what it sees.

The dramatic increase in fees is intended to raise funds for road improvements, never mind that this source is inadequate and not designed to fund road building.

The bark has now been stripped from the pretense that this legislation fixes Virginia's transportation crisis. At best, it is a short-term, stopgap measure. At worst, it is unfair to Virginians and unworkable.

Virginia's transportation funding crisis is real.

Most people agree an additional $1 billion annually -- from a permanent, reliable, long-term revenue source -- is needed to solve this crisis. The 2007 transportation legislation neither raises sufficient funds to fix the problem nor is fair to Virginians. (link)
The message can't be more clear. Nor can the motive.

The Democrats lost the debate in 2007 when they tried to raise your taxes and failed.

They are going to try again. That "transportation crisis," like the decayed, decomposing, offensively malodorous cadavers in "Dawn of the Dead," has returned from the grave (to strip away the bones and eat your flesh, if I can continue the simile).

And the Democrats will succeed in raising your taxes - for no good reason - if we let them.

Be vigilant. Don't buy into the whining and scare tactics about traffic fees being too harsh. These guys don't give a damn about them. They only want what's in your wallet. Stop them. Again.

---

* Either Delegate Edwards was asleep during the proceedings or he is here lying. As another delegate, Sam Nixon (R-Chesterfield), pointed out in a column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch a week ago ("Avoid Egregious Offenses, and Fees Will Pose No Problem"), there was no secrecy to the negotiations whatsoever. He wrote:

"Of all the components of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007, abuser fees enjoyed the most widespread support in the General Assembly. They were included in Gov. Kaine's transportation plan, the House's transportation plan, and the Senate's transportation plan. With such bipartisan agreement, it is little wonder that these fees were included in the final compromise."

So much for secrecy.

Two Men Made For Each Other

I had to chuckle this morning when I read former Vice President Walter Mondale's letter to the editor of the Washington Post ("Answering To No One"). Not because the man sees dark, sinister forces at work behind the scenes in the nation's capital to create some kind of jack-booted dictatorship in the office he once held, which is the main thrust of the column (I'm sure Dick and Lynn Cheney get plenty of chuckles when reading such lunacy).

No, I laughed when I read Mondale's assertion that the office of the vice presidency was of no particular significance until ... drumroll ... he occupied it:
... it wasn't until Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency that the vice presidency took on a substantive role. Carter saw the office as an underused asset and set out to make the most of it. He gave me an office in the West Wing, unimpeded access to him and to the flow of information, and specific assignments at home and abroad. He asked me, as the only other nationally elected official, to be his adviser and partner on a range of issues.

Our relationship depended on trust, mutual respect and an acknowledgement that ...
Okay, enough. I'm getting nauseous.

I think Mondale is trying to convince us that he and Jimmy were birds of a feather. On that we can all agree.

Both have - to this day - delusions of importance. Both believe they did good. In fact, both brought only shame and humiliation upon this great nation.

Mondale and Carter are certainly a pair. God, may they do their coupling somewhere else and get out of our lives forever. They conjure only bad memories of our worst days.

Send Them To Arlington

Who'd have thought it would come to this? The federal government is making it known that it cannot control the rampant lawlessness that has invaded towns and cities across this land:
Virginia's bid for help with illegals nixed
By Natasha Altamirano, The Washington Times


Federal immigration officials say they lack the resources to fulfill a proposed mandate by Virginia lawmakers to train staff at every state jail to start deportation procedures for illegal aliens.


"I cannot make that commitment to Virginia," said William F. Reid, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Washington field office. (link)
The United States of America is admitting that it is powerless to do anything about the millions of lawbreakers in our midst. What kind of signal does that send to those who are wanting to commit other crimes across the spectrum? The implications are frightening.

As for the illegal Mexicans that our northern counties are trying mightily to evict, if we can't send them home, how about we send them where they're welcome?

It Gets Worse

If it's not bad enough that the federal government has finally admitted that it has surrendered to the illegal aliens in our midst (see above), now the Democrats in Congress want to invite more - millions more illegals - to cross our border and join them:
A new entitlement for illegals
Washington Times editorial

Unsatisfied with thwarting a Republican effort to authorize $3 billion for a border fence, congressional Democrats are trying to enhance the incentive for illegal aliens to enter the United States by removing the citizenship requirement from the popular State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The Republican Congress in 1996 passed legislation blocking people who are in the country illegally from claiming benefits from the federal government, and when SCHIP was created in 1997, states were required to verify citizenship. But Democrats want to take that sensible requirement for Medicaid and SCHIP and leave it to the discretion of each state. (link)
Another day. Another Democratic outrage.

They Don't Deserve Him

As we approach that moment in time when Hank Aaron's homerun record - once thought to be unbreakable - is shattered by a bulked-up, steroid-mutated "athlete," playing in a league full of drug-enhanced, drug-induced jocks, major league baseball took time out yesterday to honor a man who did it the natural way. With good old-fashioned athleticism and skill. Oh, and a lot of hard work:
The Iron Man has his golden moment
By Dick Heller, The Washington Times


Cooperstown, N.Y. — In this picturesque village on the shores of Lake Otsego, Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr. became a baseball immortal yesterday.

Before a record throng of 75,000 at Clark Sports Center, the former Baltimore Orioles star was inducted along with former San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (link)
Not mentioned is why Ripken would lower himself to such a level as to show up for the event.

I Don't Know About You, But ...

Question: How much time do you spend on your hair each day?

Me? 10 minutes. Maybe.

So what's up with this?

Nervy Judith Rattled Hillary
Page Six, The New York Post

July 30, 2007 -- Judith Giuliani is an opportunistic, puppy-killing homewrecker who has a full-time hairstylist and needs an extra seat on planes for "Baby Louis," her Louis Vuitton handbag - at least according to a hatchet job on the former mayor's wife in the September issue of Vanity Fair. (link)
The article goes on to describe an incident in which Senator Hillary got manhandled at a 9/11 memorial ceremony by a gang of Giuliani bodyguards, an event that half of America would pay to watch.

Vanity Fair, for those of you not familiar with the rag, is a left-leaning magazine for and about liberal Democrat New Yorkers. So there may be something more to this hatchet job than meets the eye.

But if it's accurate, a full-time hairstylist? The mind reels ...

Don't Believe Me?

Who was it said John McCain would never get the Republican nomination for president. Ever.

Well, old Newt is of the same opinion:
Newt Ging-Rips McCain
By Geoff Earle, The New York Post


July 30, 2007 -- Washington - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it would be nearly impossible for Sen. John McCain to be president, piling on criticism of the former Republican front-runner.

McCain (R-Ariz.) "has taken positions so deeply at odds with his party's base that I don't see how he can get the nomination," Gingrich said on "Fox News Sunday." (link)
John Warner would do well to take the lesson being taught here and seek the easy out. Retirement should be looking pretty good about now.

We'd hate to have to McCain him.

But we will. His day too is done.

Isn't That What Climate Change Is?

Two headlines, back-to-back, on The Drudge Report:

Atlantic Storms Have Doubled...

Study blames climate change...

Blame might not be the right word. The doubling of the number of Atlantic storms IS a change in the climate, not because of one.

I think the fearmongers should stick to "global warming." It makes more sense.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Someone Needs To Look To Covington

According to data released by the Annie B. Casey Foundation regarding America's children, their health, and well-being, a disturbing statistic relating to lead should have folks over in Covington (Alleghany County) very concerned.

If this information is accurate***, and if the number of those tested is of significant size, Covington, Virginia has a serious problem with lead in childrens' bloodstreams.

To better understand the magnitude of the problem, I've taken the numbers for the worst ten counties/municipalities in the state in terms of lead content - as tested - along with, for comparison's sake, that which came in with the best score, and converted them into graph form: Click on the image to enlarge it.

The accompanying statistics provided reveal the fact that, among the children tested over the last four years, Covington's rate of elevated lead levels in the bloodstream has gone from 9.7% (in 2002) to 15.7% to 36.6% to 75.1% (in 2005).**

If this is right, Covington has a serious and growing problem.

* "These rates were calculated using populations for 0-5 matching the year of the lead testing. Rates on VDH website use 2000 populations. Results based on one test per child per year. A confirmed elevated blood lead level (EBLL) is defined as a single elevated venous test ≥10 µg/dL or two elevated capillary tests within 84 days/12 weeks and is only counted once in the year in which it initially occurred. The reporting of elevated blood lead levels is required under the Regulations for Disease Reporting and Control. Effective July 1, 2001, regulations require the reporting of all lead tests performed on children under 72 months of age. The number of children tested each year is influenced by several factors that include the number of children born in Virginia each year, migration of children into and out of the state or to a different locality, and the number of children tested in compliance with the regulations. Regulations only require testing at 1 and 2 years of age if determined to be at risk. These statistics are preliminary, as the database will accept historical data as made available and continuous data quality control may depict minor changes in data."

** The last year for which data is provided.

*** In the world of statistics, this would be viewed as an outlier (an extreme deviation from the mean). How about we find out if that's the case.

Alms For The Poor

Here's great news for those who support the notion that tourism jobs will replace all those manufacturing jobs we've lost in the last decade:

Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Interpretive Center gets grant
By Clifford Jeffery, Kinsport Times-News

Gate City - Scott County economic development and tourism officials are one step closer to full funding for an ambitious project designed to promote a historic trail through Southwest Virginia.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority awarded a $200,000 tourism capital improvement grant to the Scott County Economic Development Authority for the development of a historical interpretive center near Duffield. (link)
The expenditure is apparently going toward the construction of a building in which "the history surrounding the route used by Daniel Boone when he crossed Kane Gap into Powell Valley" will be outlined.

Why a paragraph in a chapter in a history book won't do isn't made clear.

Who the interpretive center is going to interpret for isn't either.

How many interpretive centers we're going to end up with here in Southwest Virginia when all this finally runs its course is anyone's guess.

Quote Of The Day

From Jeff Schapiro:

"It's a good time to think badly of lawyer-legislators."

Amen to that, brother.

Still, every day is a good day ...

There Is a Place ...

... just not in our government buildings.

Both the Roanoke Times and the Richmond Times-Dispatch have editorials this morning calling on the government in Richmond to keep the Confederate Battle Flag from being reinstalled in the Old House Chamber, now that the room has been remodeled. Apparently the flag was on display there for some 80 years as a memorial to Robert E. Lee and those who fought alongside him.

General Lee and his exploits have been relegated to the history books. And to museums, where he is honored as a Son of the Old South. The Confederacy itself is long gone, with its many flags now collecting dust in repositories far and wide. That's where they belong.

Just as we didn't need to go through the silly exercise in February of apologizing for the institution of slavery, an economic system and a culture long dead, one we know little about, an exercise in futility if there ever was one, we need to put the Confederate Battle Flag in its proper place.

And move on.

Breaking News

Muslim community stands up for peace

More Breaking News

DC Area Faces Affordable Housing Crunch

Talking Counterpoint

In today's Roanoke Times:

Editorial: Talking point

"He tells the half-truth, the partial truth and anything but the truth."

-- Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales of perjury in his recent congressional testimony.
(
link)
Talking Counterpoint

"[H]alf-truth, the partial truth and anything but the truth" doesn't constitute perjury.


Perjury, in so many words, is the criminal offense of making false statements under oath. What Schumer, and presumably the jokers at the Roanoke Times, are complaining about is the fact that they didn't get the answers from Gonzales they wanted. Nothing more.

If that's perjury, we're all in trouble.

It All Gets So Confusing

A question:

In a state where sexual deviancy is championed (the city of San Francisco has a new president of its police commission who is neither male nor female, or is both), should it be a punishable offense if a man wants to have sex with children?

Are there good deviants and bad deviants?

Just asking.

There's Always Breast Augmentation

It seems Hillary is sensitive about her cleavage, or lack thereof. The Washington Post reveals the news that she's got her grunts out there trying to squelch the discussion that came up in the same newspaper on Friday about her revealing herself (there'll be a metaphor flow from this; I can see it coming) while making a speech on the senate floor.

On this, I agree with Hillary. Enough is enough. I've seen all of her I want to see.

This Is Not Encouraging

One of these two Democrats may be our next president:

The Kow-Tow Club
New York Post editorial

... Sen. Barack Obama last week displayed an astonishing lack of depth - giving Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a chance to show again that she's capable of taking five positions on just about every issue.

It all happened during Monday night's debate, when the candidates were asked whether, as president, they'd be willing to meet personally - and without preconditions - with the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

Obama's response: Absolutely.

Obama's response, she maintained, was "irresponsible and, frankly, naive."

But here's where it gets complicated.

Even while ridiculing Obama's position, Clinton repeatedly has ripped the president for saying "he will not talk with bad people." Indeed, she complained, "you don't make peace with your friends - you have to do the hard work of dealing with people you don't agree with." (link)

This illustrates once again the fact that Obama is proving to be the lightweight that many said he is.

But Clinton. She's reminding me more and more of her husband. He too could claim, at any given time, to be on every side of any issue. With a straight face.

Surely we can do better than this.

You Gotta Love The New York Times

How about this for chutzpah. The editorial page of the New York Times is concerned that President Bush hasn't paid enough attention to a post-war Iraq.

Unbelievable ...
Saudis Going South on Iraq
editorial

So far, neither Washington nor Riyadh is spending any time thinking about containing the chaos that will follow the inevitable American withdrawal. (link)
These guys chastise the president for not giving the issue enough consideration, and call for serious study about that which will occur when our troops leave Iraq, three months after this same bunch called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

Do they deserve any credence?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We're Number 1! When We Don't Want To Be

According to data recently released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Giles County has the distinction of leading all others in the state of Virginia last year in the relative frequency of child abuse and neglect.

A distinction I'll bet folks there would rather do without.

Included in the top ten counties/municipalities in the child abuse hall of shame were Wythe (2), Bland (3), Pulaski (5), the city of Roanoke (6), the town of Galax (7), and Campbell (8).

Here's how they compare to each other, with Giles to the left at 19.3 cases per 1,000 population, and compared to Fairfax County, to the far right in yellow, at 0.8:

Say what you will about the causes for this, the effects are still the same. Our children are being neglected and abused in intolerable proportions.

Click on image to enlarge.

When They Have No Other Answers

When you as a politician feel obligated to "create jobs," what do you do? How do you go about it? Well, if you were state Senator Phil Puckett (D-Tazewell), you might work toward the acquisition of funds for the construction of an industrial park.

But what if that industrial park, once built, heaven forbid, sits idle?

Why, you build another one ...

... and another one ...

... and another one ...
Bland gets grant for park
By Wayne Quesenberry, Wytheville Enterprise Staff


A grant to develop a 22-acre industrial park has been awarded to the Bland County Board of Supervisors and the Economic Development Authority. The $200,000 is from the Virginia Indemnification and Community Revitalization for site development at Commerce Park. The property is located just off Exit 58 of Interstate 77.

Sen. Phillip Puckett, a member of the tobacco commission, stated, “We are always pleased to work and partner with the County of Bland in bringing economic development and new jobs to the county. The tobacco commission is very glad to help finance the development of the Bland County Commerce Park and looks forward to working with the Economic Development Authority in the future to bring new jobs into the county.” (link)
Funny thing is, Bland County already has an industrial park. In fact, we have more than one. We have four, all told.

Funnier still, we already have one in Bastian.

We'll call that one Bastian I and the new one Bastian II.

And, if you can handle a bit more humor, the existing one there off I-77 exit 58, last time I looked, had one tenant.

One.

So now we are going to have five industrial parks in tiny, remote Bland County. Paid for by the gu'mint (uh, that would be you all) ...

We may not have full employment here but, by God, with Phil Puckett's help, we're prepared for that eventuality to occur any day now.

Bring on those jobs!

Leave It To The Politicians

Only Governor Kaine could think something like this up:
Reimbursing drivers for fees a possibility
Associated Press


Richmond -- Amid ebbing legislative support for the state's new abusive-driver fees, Gov. Tim Kaine said Friday that reimbursing those who have paid them is an option the General Assembly can consider in 2008.

"We have a chance to fix it," the Democratic governor told reporters.

"Look, we might have the ability to do reimbursements," he said. "I'm not going to commit to that, but if there's a decision made by the legislature, that's one option they could consider." (sic) (link)
Government bureaucrats will collect the fees, and government bureaucrats will reimburse the fees. Any wonder Richmond is awash in government bureaucrats?

---

Notice to those who are "outraged," over the traffic fee issue: We are not going to revisit the transportation budget argument. We are not going to raise taxes. So stop the subterfuge.

You are not going to raise our taxes.

A Fight They're Certain To Lose

Virginia's Mexican contingent is rallying around the illegals among us.
Latinos Unite to Turn Fear Into Activism
Pr. William Policy on Illegal Immigrants Prompts Call for Boycott, Other Actions
By Pamela Constable, Washington Post Staff Writer


Latinos in Prince William County, angered and panicked by a county resolution to crack down on illegal immigrants, are swiftly banding together against what they see as an assault on their community. They vowed this week to block the resolution through a boycott, a petition drive and possibly a labor strike or lawsuit.

At packed public meetings in three towns this week, organizers signed up volunteers, circulated petitions, set up a hotline for reports of discrimination and announced a campaign of phone calls and e-mails to county officials. They also said they would organize caravans to visit Loudoun County and other communities where Latinos feel targeted. (link)
It's no accident that these "activists" are claiming that "the Latino community" is being targeted for harrassment and intimidation. It plays better in the press than would a push to have the thousands of lawbreakers in our midst be given full citizenship rights, accompanied by a myriad of handouts that those who don't have to foot the bill demand that the rest of us pay.

Hopefully "the Latino community" will do us a favor and bring those who break our laws and thumb their noses at us - every day they are here - out into the open so that they can be deported, once and for all.

You want a fight? Bring it, Pancho.

On Hillary & Her Boobs

First, let it be recorded for all posterity that this originated at the liberal Washington Post, not with that vast right-wing conspiracy, in which I play an integral part.

That having been stipulated, this must be said: Are these people joking?

Hillary Clinton's Tentative Dip Into New Neckline Territory
By Robin Givhan, Washington Post Staff Writer

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

It was startling ...
(
link)
It may have been startling, or it may have been an illusion. Bad drugs.

Can we be real? The woman has no breasts. In fact, I have more cleavage than does Mrs. Clinton (Is Bill a breast man? Is that why he cheated so often? Was he out trolling for that which he couldn't find at home?).

If it weren't for her wonderbra and some architectural legerdemain, Hillary Clinton would have negative boobs.

Not meaning to criticize, of course. It's just going to take time for me to get used to the idea that our commander-in-chief has bosoms. Or should have bosoms. Or has neoprene facsimiles of bosoms.

Besides, it's not about physical appearance or what a president looks li ...

Okay, maybe it is.

Hillary, you're going to need more than a wonderbra.

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

Few people watched the YouTube Democratic debate the other night. Perhaps we should have.

Terence P. Jeffrey, writing in this morning's Washington Times, outlines the reasons why:

During the debate, various candidates suggested increasing government by mandating universal health-care coverage, health-care coverage for illegal aliens, a massive increase in the minimum wage, a minimum salary for school teachers, more spending on public schools generally, cars that get 50 miles per gallon and even reparations for slavery.

They also suggested increasing government revenue by imposing a carbon tax on the U.S. economy, increasing taxes on oil companies, increasing the amount of personal income subject to the Social Security tax, increasing the tax rates on the top 1 percent of earners and increasing taxes for virtually everyone by terminating the Bush tax cuts. (link)
You'd better hide your wallets ...

They Live In Their Own World

Impervious to reason or to criticism of impropriety or to constituent dispositions, the House of Representatives voted to enrich America's wealthiest farmers yesterday. To the tune of a quarter of a trillion dollars ($286,000,000,000). This on top of the quarter trillion that was shelled out to the same farmers over the last five years.

The deplorable news:

House Passes Farm Bill, Expanding Food Stamps
By David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times


Washington, July 27 — House Democrats voted on Friday to approve a farm bill that would continue generous farmers’ subsidies at a time of record crop prices, ignoring a veto threat and yowls of protest by Republicans over a tax provision that they said spoiled bipartisan support for the bill.

The bill passed, 231 to 191, with 19 Republicans joining 212 Democrats in favor, after a morning of rancorous debate and some hooting and howling that focused not on agriculture policy but on the tax provision inserted to pay for a $4 billion increase in food stamps.

The relatively swift passage of the bill, which is projected to cost about $286 billion over five years, was a victory for Speaker Nancy Pelosi ... (link)
Voting in favor of the bill was our own Rick Boucher.

I think it might be nice if you all dropped him a note after you return from your next trip to the grocery. That price increase on bread and milk? You can thank Rick, and the wealthy farmers he's there in Washington to please.

Come next April, when you're struggling to meet your tax obligation to the federal government, well, you might thank Rick Boucher for that as well.

But why wait. You can send him an email message right now. Click here.

I'm Awaiting My Marching Orders

Democratic candidate for the insane asylum president John Edwards thinks there's some kind of vast right-wing conspiracy that has targeted him for ... something. Apparently it has to do with all the criticism about his perfectly styled hair ... or something. And with our wanting the man silenced.

Or worse ...

The Politico brings us a portion of a tirade the man launched into out in Iowa on Thursday:

This stuff's not an accident. Nobody in this room should think this is an accident. You know, I'm out there speaking up for universal healthcare, ending this war in Iraq, speaking up for the poor. They want to shut me up. That's what this is about. "Let's distract from people who don't have health care coverage. Let's distract from people who can't feed their children.... Let's talk about this silly frivolous nothing stuff so that
America won't pay attention."


They will never silence me. Never.

If we don't stand up to these people, if we don't fight em, if we don't beat them, they're going to continue to control this country. Thye're going to control the media. They're going to control what's being said. They do not want to hear us talking about health care for everybody.

The loonies at MoveOn.org will eat this stuff up. They're big on surreal conspiracy theories. The sillier the better.

For those of us who reside in a more grounded world, however, where we can draw distinctions without having to await orders from some higher power within our tentacled, multi-layered right-wing organization, his rant comes across as being ... well, goofy.

Mr. Wonderful feels he needs $400 haircuts. For that he deserves derision.
He wants to socialize our health care system. For that he deserves contempt.
He wants to redistribute the nation's wealth (that's why he's waiting to redistribute his) the likes of which this country has never seen before. For that he deserves condemnation.

In reality, John Edwards should hope and pray that we only concentrate on his hair.

Silence John Edwards? I want to give this fossilized holdover from the 60's a soapbox.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The 'Truth' As Only They See It

I had a fascinating conversation with a female acquaintance over before-dinner drinks Tuesday evening (at Angelo's, Atlantic City; try the mussels) ... no, let me be accurate ... a LIBERAL female acquaintance, who proceeded to cite a "fact" regarding the man she hates more than any other on this planet (Osama Bin Ladin isn't even a close second, Cheney is).

She told me that, according to a recent poll, 50% of the American people want George W. Bush impeached.

I burst out laughing (not a good-mannered thing to do in such a genteel and tasteful setting) and told her she was out of her mind (which would explain why she's a die-hard Democrat). She asked me:

"Have you read the book 1984 in recent years?"

In fact I had re-read it just months ago and told her so.

"Do you realize how we are now facing the exact same kind of oppression here in the United States, as a direct consequence of the machinations (behind the scenes, in the dark of night) of Bush/Cheney, that Orwell outlined in his book?"

Again I disturbed the social hierarchy seated around me with uproarious laughter (and nearly spewed my appetizer).

We are all being spied upon ... Our neighbors are disappearing into re-education camps ... There are spooks in our television sets ... Repressiveness ... Control ... Control ...

Uhhhh.

Is this the same George Bush who can't get an immigration bill passed?

I started to explain the fact that George Orwell's book was a story about the absolute control of communication within, and freedom-of-action of, the masses, us proles, and about a pervasive, all-seeing government having perfected the ability to monitor the daily actions of the citizenry (right down to the personal journal that the protagonist, Winston, kept), even into the bedroom. Totalitarianism in its purest form.

But I stopped. And simply told her that she'd lost her freaking mind. And changed the subject.

To try to reason with people like this is an act of futility. And I wanted to enjoy my alcohol.

I was reminded of that conversation when I read this letter to the editor of the Roanoke Times:
Bush can't handle the truth

What does it mean to win in Iraq? What will it take to win?

Bush demands we follow the military lead. But do we know what the military thinks?

Bush has punished those who disagree with him. He has pressured people in various agencies to his own political whims, no matter the facts.

Also, as in the Valerie Plame case, the White House campaigns to discredit those who disagree with him. For Bush, there is only his reality and no other. Whether he knows reality or not, he is deceptive.

Bush says wars are hard and demands sacrifice, but what is hardest for a nation to bear is when the casualty is truth and they can no longer trust the people who presume to call themselves leaders of the country.

With such a dishonest man overseeing the war, how can we know what the military truly thinks about what it means to win, or what it will take to win?
The truth.

Doublethink
Noun: doublethink

"To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth." *
* Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd, London, pp 35, 176-177

Are There Buses Running To Arlington?

County leadership in Arlington County (pro-gay marriage by 15%) thinks that those trying to solve the illegal immigration problem over in Prince William County are being too hard on the many Mexicans breaking our laws every day they are there:

Prince William's efforts attacked
By Kiran Krishnamurthy, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Fairfax -- Hours after a federal court struck down a Pennsylvania town's attempts to crack down on illegal immigration, several Northern Virginia leaders attacked Prince William County's recent efforts targeting undocumented residents.

"What you have done is strike fear," J. Walter Tejada, a member of the Arlington County Board, told Prince William County Board of Supervisors member Michael C. May. "The damage has been done."

Barbara F. Favola, a Arlington supervisor, cautioned Prince William officials to flesh out unintended consequences, both in terms of community relations and possible health consequences if services funded only by local dollars, such as vaccinations, are denied to illegal immigrants.

"You'd be extremely foolish" to make undocumented families go through hurdles for vaccinations and well-baby visits, she said. (link)


Sounds to me like we've found a temporary home for Virginia's 103,000 illegal immigrants. Arlington County, where no benefit will be denied, where no cost will be too great, where no burden on the local taxpayers will be too steep.

The bus leaves at 9:15. Bienvenido a Arlington!