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

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quote Of The Day

From Instapundit:
I liked Arnold better before he became a girly-man himself. And I'd have more confidence in the California legislature's ability to run people's lives if it were better at running California.

A Star Is Born

Comes A Reckoning

I want all you folks living here in Southwest Virginia to take a moment and think about your neighbors. How many of them are connected to the tourism imdustry? That tourism industry that we've spent millions on in recent decades (actually going back to 1925 when the Appalachian Trail went into planning stage).

I dare say the answer is zero.

By the same token, how many of your neighbors are or were in the textiles industry? Furniture manufacturing. Tobacco. Those segments of the American economy that have been so critical to the vitality of this region for so many years but that we decided to walk away from because we were told that they were the past and we needed to be looking to the future.

I'd venture to guess your answer is lots of neighbors. Here's a story about some of them, one of many tragedies being told these days:

Workers say plant closing to break up Hooker 'family'
By Charles Boothe, Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

Workers at Hooker Furniture in Martinsville said Friday that when the wood production plant shuts down the machinery and assembly lines and closes its doors in March, they are losing far more than a way to make a living.

They are losing a family.

“It’s like a big family here,” said Leon Swanson, a supervisor who has been at the plant for 32 years. “I really look forward to coming to work (every day). I’m going to miss the people.”

Swanson said the family atmosphere at Hooker has been a part of his life since he started on ...

“I thought it wouldn’t (close),” he said. “But I always hope for the best. I sure enjoyed working here for the time I was here.” (link)

We taxed the living hell out of Hooker Furniture and Leon Swanson to pay for hiking trails and bike paths. Millions of dollars worth of trails and paths that meander through Southwest Virginia's pristine forests and lead ... nowhere.

Now Hooker Furniture is a shell of its former self and Leon Swanson is out of work.

Our neighbors. They deserved better from us.

I'd Be Questioning It Too

It's about time questions were asked:
County questions tax hike for tourism
By Jim Talbert, Richlands News-Press Staff

Tazewell -- County leaders apparently want some answers before they provide financial support for the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority.

The county's tourism committee voted Jan. 11 to request financial records for the past three years from the organization. The committee asked County Administrator Jim Spencer to make the request.

The authority serves Buchanan, Russell, Dickenson, Lee, Scott, Wise and Tazewell County as well as the City of Norton. Delegate Bud Phillips has introduced legislation to tax motels rooms in the region $3 per night with $2 going to the Heart of Appalachia and the local tourism committees getting $1. (link)
The concern, apparently, has to do with the fact that the proposed tax would make area motels non-competitive. True enough. I'd be more inclined though to question the authority's very existence. What purpose does it serve? What does it accomplish - in hard dollars - that couldn't be accomplished if it were to be defunded? When do we start benfiting from the actions of the authority?

When will the area see its first tourist?

There Goes My Best Pick-Up Line

... not that I use it anymore, honey:

Man arrested for trading drugs for sex according to Officers
Bristol Herald-Courier

Unicoi County deputies have arrested Gregory Baucom at his home on Seventh Street in Erwin.

Authorities say they believe Baucom gave 10 Xanax pills to a woman in exchange for sexual favors. (link)

Well, fellas, it appears you can't ply them with Xanax anymore, so you're going to have to go back to that which worked before: Charm. Conversation. Communication. Empathy. Commiseration. They love commiseration. All that stuff.

Or money. Money often works too.

Editor's Note

If I've seemed a little out of sorts in recent days, it's because I blew up my primary laptop computer on Friday morning. The one that had at least 400 spreadsheets saved to the hard drive. Countless .jpg's and .pdf's. Business email. All my saved jokes.

Now I feel vulnerable.

O Ye Of Short Memories And Evil Intentions

My jaw dropped when I read this howler:

A case of Justice that stinks
The administration's forced resignations among U.S. attorneys tell the tale of the corrupting influence of unchecked power.
Roanoke Times editorial

This is a new old story, about one of those "little-noticed" provisions in complex legislation that draws attention only when it starts to stink.

The complex law is the Patriot Act. The smelly provision -- one of many, but a noticeable one of late -- is an innocuous-seeming change in the way the executive branch makes interim appointments of U.S. attorneys.

In effect, the change allows the attorney general to replace federal prosecutors without Senate approval.

Congress should act quickly to strip the law of a provision so ripe for abuse. (link)

One is justifiably shocked at this brazen attempt at altering longstanding policy on judicial department appointments ...

... if one knew nothing about American history

... and one had been drug-crazed for the last 20 years

... and one couldn't comprehend the "complex" nature of Google.

Want to see how the law was really abused? Let's go back in time to one of Bill Clinton's first official acts as our new president in 1993:

In the history of the Republic, the names of Bill Clinton and Janet Reno will be forever linked, a prospect that ought to appall Miss Reno.

Upon taking office, in an unexplained departure from the practice of recent administrations, Miss Reno suddenly fired all 93 U.S. attorneys. She said the decision had been made in conjunction with the White House. (
If I were that interested, I'd go back and find out if the editorialists at the Times were as appalled by Clinton's brazen actions in 1993 as they pretend to be by some innocuous change in the language in the Patriot Act being made in 2007. But I think we all know the answer to that one.

But how can they be so uninformed?

Virginia, A Growing Nanny State

You need money. Your paycheck is days away. You determine that you'll have to take out a loan to cover your bills. You go to the local payday lender and, for a fee of $45, you obtain the money necessary to get you through to your next payday, when you're required to pay the money back. You survive.

But not for long. Those who know better than you do what's best for you are working to take away that opportunity. That option. That choice:

State Weighs Curbs on Payday Loans
By Chris L. Jenkins, Washington Post Staff Writer

The rite of borrowing modest amounts of cash against a future paycheck -- known as payday lending -- has become an increasingly popular practice for working families in Washington's suburbs. It has also become big business across Virginia.

But the routine is under increasing scrutiny in the commonwealth, where a broad coalition of religious and consumer advocacy groups say they are concerned that the practice enables low-income earners such as Reyes to unwittingly take on more debt than they can handle. They are joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the General Assembly that wants to reverse a 2002 law that eased restrictions on the payday loan industry. (link)

The growing multitude of busybodies in the state of Virginia would rather those low-income workers go into default and file bankruptcy rather than seek out one of these short-term lenders. Either bankruptcy or they be forced to sell their worldly possessions to make ends meet. And the nannies do it in the name of compassion. It's for their own good.

Why not just put a bullet to their brainpans and get it over with?

Taken to its logical conclusion, that's the ultimate compassion.

I've Entered The Twilight Zone

A Republican president will call for a tax increase on the middle class, and the Democratic chairman of the Ways and Means committee criticizes the plan to raise taxes on the middle class. Scotty, beam me up. This planet has gone mad.

If the New York Times is to be believed ...

Bush to Urge New Tax Plan for Health Care Coverage
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear, The New York Times

Washington, Jan. 20 — President Bush intends to use his State of the Union address Tuesday to tackle the rising cost of health care with a one-two punch: tax breaks to help low-income people buy health insurance and tax increases for some workers whose health plans cost significantly more than the national average.

The basic concept is that employer-provided health insurance, now treated as a fringe benefit exempt from taxation, would no longer be entirely tax-free. Workers could be taxed if their coverage exceeded limits set by the government. But the government would also offer a new tax deduction for people buying health insurance on their own.

“It’s a bad policy,” Representative Charles B. Rangel, the New York Democrat who is chairman of the House committee that writes tax legislation, said in an interview Friday night. “We are trying to bring tax relief to the middle class. The president is trying to increase their tax liability. (link)

Rhetoric aside, my guess is Rangel will eventually go along with the tax increase. He is, after all, a Democrat.

Regarding the plan itself, to those of you who still believe the government can solve our health care problems (problems of its own making), this ought to be a wake-up call. Our president is proposing that we single out those individuals who have decent coverage and tax them so that they won't.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Let's Not Get Carried Away

Hillary is "exploring her opportunities." And the New York Times is exploring the ways in which her woefully meager background and résumé can be made to look more impressive than they actually are. Check out this howler:
Clinton’s Success in Presidential Race Is No Sure Thing
By Patrick Healy, The New York Times

Compared with the other Democrats who plan to run for president in 2008, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most battle-tested, has the biggest fund-raising network and can walk into the job with a unique set of skills and perspectives gleaned from eight years in the White House as first lady.

“I have never been afraid to stand up for what I believe in or to face down the Republican machine,” Mrs. Clinton said ... (link)
Mrs. Clinton is the most battle-tested candidate in the Democratic field? Please. She's run for public office exactly twice in her entire life. And she picked New York as the battleground on which to run specifically because she was assured victory without the threat of even a hangnail from any Republican foe.

In fact, she's the least battle-tested of all the candidates.

Unless Paris Hilton declares her candidacy. Then it would be a tie.

Unless the reporter was referring to the legendary battles that took place in Hillary's bedroom.

And you know he was reaching for something positive to say about Hillary when he wrote that she would bring "... a unique set of skills and perspectives gleaned from eight years in the White House as first lady." First lady? That's a qualification to be the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military force on the planet? Say what you will about George Bush's experience in the Air National Guard. At least he knew fighter jets. Our former first lady knows ... what? Tea parties?

You guys need to go back to the drawing board and come up with something better than this. It was good for a chuckle, but beyond that ...