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

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Movin' On Up

Wise County prosecutor, and once-renowned conservative blogger, Chad Dotson, has been awarded a judgeship:
County gets circuit, district court judges
The Coalfield Progress

Changes are on the horizon in the Wise County judicial system.The General Assembly has promoted county General District Court Judge Joseph Carico to an eight-year term as a circuit court judge.

Also, county Commonwealth Attorney Chad Dotson was chosen to fill Carico’s seat for a six-year term as a general district court judge.

Further, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Elizabeth Wills has been re-appointed for a six-year term.

Carico, Dotson and Wills will start their terms Feb. 1. (link)
Congratulations, Chad. Make us proud, man.

hat tip to Kilo
photo courtesy of the Coalfield Progress

Quote Of The Day

From Jeff Schapiro:

It's been said before, it should be said again: John Warner is a better actor than his ex-wife.

A former husband of Elizabeth Taylor, Warner performs in the Senate with the timing and presence of that known thespian. Washington is his stage.

The Republican's latest boffo role is consistent with his central-casting mien: wise guardian troubled by petulant ward's perceived recklessness -- this time, on Iraq.

Warner is breaking with Dubya on the troop surge, pressing the Senate to go on record against the buildup. It's an alternative to a Democratic resolution. Both are equivalent to a strong letter -- all words, no action.

Warner's resolution does what so many of his previous theatrics have done: charm Democrats, enrage Republicans and probably get him re-elected.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, "The Oscar goes to . . . Sen. Warner," January 28, 2007

Asking The Wrong Question

Some ask why. I ask: Why ask?
Race at Virgina Tech: An uphill struggle
Despite multiple diversity programs, Virginia Tech continues to grapple with low enrollment of blacks.
By Greg Esposito, The Roanoke Times

In the past decade Virginia Tech has created multiple positions, programs and committees to address issues of diversity and racism. It published a declaration in support of tolerance and diversity in 2005, signed by various campus leaders, including President Charles Steger. And it saw significant increases in black enrollment early this decade.

But that same university has seen the percentage of black faculty and students dip below 5 percent in recent years. It also has dealt with multiple incidents of racist and homophobic graffiti. And the administration has had to address concerns from students and faculty who believe a racist culture exists at Tech.

Is Tech a university making strides toward real results or do the efforts amount to little more than lip service? (link)
To those of us who actually listened to, and live by the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Virginia Tech should be judged by the content of its students' character, as well as the quality of the graduates it turns out, not by skin coloration.

That means, if Tech turned out only graduates with an Asian background, because they proved to be the most prolific, the most intellectually productive of all students who enrolled or attempted to enroll there, then we are the better for it. And I would celebrate the fact.

If, by the same token, the school set aside degrees and faculty positions for people who were less than qualified for them, who haven't earned them, the effort would be recognized for what it is: Tokenism. Quotas. Affirmative action in its ugliest sense.

Whine about the lack of effort on the part of the university if you choose. To some of us, the effort goes well beyond anything it is obligated to do, and flies in the face of that which we've all been taught to be the right thing to do.

Some ask why. I ask: When will it stop?

The Hard Numbers Reveal The Hard Times

With regard to economic trends here in Southwest Virginia, there are those who see - and tout - great progress being made.

In certain enclaves, they are supported by the facts.

In much of the region, though, the opposite is true. Conditions, in fact, are worsening. And the citizens of Southwest Virginia are proving it. With their feet. And their U-haul rentals.

The latest population estimates have been released by the
Weldon Cooper Center For Public Service at the University of Virginia. The numbers reflect a burgeoning populace in Northern Virginia as well as modest gains in a small handful of area counties but, as we've been saying for too long a time, a steady migration out of most of Southwest Virginia by people seeking gainful employment.

First, a map showing population growth - and decline - by county. Those that have lost population in the last six years (since the 2000 census) are shown in white:

And the supporting numbers:

It should be noted that the loss in population in those counties and cities shown to the right are, in nearly every case, due to out-migration. To no one's surprise who lives in the area.

What may surprise some is this bit of good news:
Suburbs' population swelling since 2000
According to a study, inner cities and rural areas are struggling to retain young people.
By John Cramer, The Roanoke Times

In Western Virginia, Franklin, Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke counties continued to have population gains as open spaces give way to new homes.

That demographic shift is reflected in the population numbers in Roanoke and Roanoke County. While the city lost nearly 2,600 residents over the past six years, the county gained more than 4,300. If the trend continues, the county's population will exceed the city's in 2008 or 2009. (link)

Three cheers for Franklin, Bedford, Botetourt and Roanoke counties.

As for the rest of us ...

Data and charts courtesy of Weldon Cooper Center For Public Service

The Real Problem That Congress Can't Fix

I heaped scorn in recent weeks on Nancy Pelosi's breathtakingly unimportant "First 100 Hours" maneuver in which she vowed to pass sweeping legislation relating to the minimum wage, lobbyist lunch etiquette, and the now-unnecessary embryonic stem cell spoof. Lobbyists, so you know, are forbidden to offer Pelosi certain gifts. But she's not forbidden to receive them. Hmm.

One of the pieces of legislation about which America held its collective breath had to do with reducing the interest charged on federal college loans. My question at the time was: Who cares?

In the big scheme of things, when it comes to the cost of sending our children to college, interest to be repaid at some later point in time is the least of our concerns.

What's uppermost?

Forget Yale -- Go State
Shocking Prices Force A Reality Check on Families' College Plans
By Kathleen Day, Washington Post Staff Writer

As the price of college has skyrocketed, millions of middle- and upper-middle-class families ... have juggled to find ways to keep pace.

In the past 10 years, tuition, fees and the cost of room and board have increased 31 percent at private four-year colleges and 42 percent at public four-year institutions, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. For the 2006-2007 academic year, for example, living on campus at a private university such as Georgetown costs more than $180,000 over four years. Four years on campus at a state school can also be daunting -- $68,000 over four years to attend the University of Virginia for state residents, $130,000 for out-of-state students. (link)

A $180,000 bill. And we're to get excited because Nancy Pelosi reduced the interest to be tacked on to that amount by 1.6%?

Over the period of a 15-year loan, one ends up paying, with interest, with Pelosi's help, $202,582.80.*

For a 4-year degree.

Thanks, Nance, for cutting down that tree, but what say someone do something about the forest?

* 180 months compounded at 1.6% per month on $180,000. That's $1,125.46 per month.

At Least She's Consistent

Jane Fonda, the traitor who helped bring about the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, is at it again:
Fonda Reprises A Famous Role At Peace Rally
The Actress Speaks Out Against the War in Iraq
By Linton Weeks, Washington Post Staff Writer

For her next act, Jane Fonda has entered the war against the Iraq war. At the tail-end of yesterday's on-the-Mall rally, organized by United for Peace and Justice, Fonda stood onstage with the Capitol behind her and addressed the sun-drenched thousands. "I haven't spoken at an antiwar rally in 34 years," she said. But, "Silence is no longer an option."

The first time Fonda, 69, spoke out for peace, the country ... (link)
Though a good argument can be made that she should be sitting in prison for her treasonous actions back in the '60's, it can also be argued that she has at least held to her convictions.

The same cannot be said about some of her fellow anti-warriors. Take Virginia's new senator, Jim Webb, for example. How much he seems to have changed his tune over the years. From an October article in The New Yorker:
Webb, who is sixty, returned to Virginia, where he is running as an antiwar candidate, under the banner of the party of Hillary Clinton and the former protester John Kerry, whose handshake he refused for twenty years.

Webb declared Jimmy Carter’s blanket pardoning of draft resisters a rank betrayal and an abuse of Presidential power. When President Clinton left office, he wrote, “It is a pleasurable experience to watch Bill Clinton finally being judged, even by his own party, for the ethical fraudulence that has characterized his entire political career.”
Webb even held less than kind feelings for Ms. Fonda not that long ago, as it turns out:
According to Robert Timberg’s book “The Nightingale’s Song,” Webb was recruited into the Reagan Administration by a Republican official who had once heard him being interviewed on the radio. The interviewer, talking to Webb about “Fields of Fire,” mentioned that Jane Fonda was in town and asked Webb whether he might wish to meet her. “Jane Fonda can kiss my ass,” Webb replied. “I wouldn’t go across the street to watch her slit her wrist.”
Now Jim Webb walks arm-in-arm with this Scum of the Earth. He locks arms with the "ethically fraudulent" Bill Clinton. And he can be found on a regular basis swapping sloppy kisses with Kerry and the other Democrats he once, not long ago, loathed with a passion.

It can be said that Jane Fonda has held to her principles all these many years. For that, she has rightfully gained a small bit of esteem.

As for our new senator, the same hardly holds true. He has turned out to be nothing more than a politician - in the worst sense of the word. What an embarrassment.

Count Me Out

Most everyone agrees the planet is warming, though some of us believe it is a temporary phenomenon that proves to be part of an age-old cycle.

Most of those who have decided that the globe is heating up have also decided that it is necessarily a bad thing. Some experts, though, have made a good case for it being actually quite beneficial. Guess we'll find out.

But where these frightened people start getting dangerous is when they make proposals to stop the warming. Take the Europeans, for instance, a great example of a frightened group of human beings who are renowned for overreaction (you may recall the problem they addressed and the draconian methods they adopted a few decades ago with regard to die Endlösung der Judenfrage). In this case, they are hell bent on bringing economic ruin on themselves:
Eco-protection or economic suicide?
By Paul Driessen, The Washington Times

Europeans have set themselves up for a head-on collision between ecological purity and economic reality.

Europe is finally realizing it cannot meet even current Kyoto Protocol commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels, by 2012. Economic ministers are worried Kyoto will impact living standards, and send facilities and jobs to China and India, which aren't required to cut emissions.

Spain is some 20 percent above its target, Italy 15 percent -- Austria 25 percent. Germany is "just" 7 percent above its target but faces a future with no nuclear power (by law it must shut down all reactors by 2020), no coal-fired generators (greenhouse gases), little hydroelectric (4 percent of its total electricity), unreliable natural gas (Russia controls the spigots), and forests of gigantic, undependable wind turbines.

But the European Commission wants still more draconian reductions by 2020, since even perfect compliance with Kyoto would keep global temperatures from rising only 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. That's why alarmists now say we must slash total global emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050, to keep CO2 at a "safe" level and "stabilize" a climate that has never been stable. (link)
An 80% reduction in emissions, folks, means we would have to eliminate all modes of transportation currently in use, all air conditioning and heating systems (other than solar), and nearly every method of crop production. In other words, we'd have to revert to the Dark Ages.

To solve a problem that may not exist.

That, if it exists, may not be harmful.

Are we prepared to follow the Europeans off this cliff?

Good For Them, Bad For Us

The following article originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on December 17, 2006

What’s Good For Them Is Bad for Us
By Jerry Fuhrman

I read with dismay in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Monday that Governor Kaine intends to propose another series of tax increases next year in order to fix the roads up north.

It’s dismaying for two reasons: (1) the state is already so awash in cash that it is incapable of spending it fast enough and (2) the transportation issue is, by and large, a Northern Virginia issue, one that, in its being solved through higher taxes, will have an adverse effect on this area. While Northern Virginia gains nice roads, Southwest Virginia loses more jobs.

Up north, the issues of the day revolve around businesses being stacked atop one another. Smart growth (sometimes called growth management or land management), and mass transit, along with alternative fuels, are the primary topics of discussion.

Here in Southwest Virginia, our most pressing issues relate to employers and how we might gain a few. And to hold on to the few we have. We talk here of improving the quality of a woefully inadequate public education system. And of improving the quality of the drinking water. In Southwest Virginia - in 2006 – we talk about putting sewer systems into communities that have never had them.

It’s not that we don’t have our own transportation wish list. There is certainly discussion in some circles about the necessary completion of the Coalfields Expressway and about much-needed improvements to U.S. 58. Then there’s the ongoing debate about
I-81 from Roanoke to Wytheville and whether it needs to be upgraded, or converted into some kind of traffic-congesting toll road.

That's all, in the big scheme of things, probably important. But generally, transportation issues aren't uppermost in the thoughts and discussions of folks around here.

What’s uppermost? Paychecks. Food. Clothing. Shelter. The kinds of things taken for granted in the fabulously prosperous north. We think about our small communities like Chilhowie and Galax and the Narrows being decimated by the loss of thousands of jobs in recent years.

What we need in order to solve our job-loss problems are employers, pure and simple. What we don’t need are more taxes adding to an already heavy burden being carried by those who provide us with an ever-dwindling number of jobs.

A message for state Senators Phil Puckett and Roscoe Reynolds, both of whom can be called upon to loyally carry the Democratic Party’s water when it’s time to vote in favor of another tax hike to solve transportation issues that are, overwhelmingly, northern Virginia issues: Your allegiance is not to Fairfax or Alexandria. You owe it to your constituents here to vote in their best interests. In fact, it goes beyond that. Your votes in favor of tax hikes do considerable damage to those who are most in need of your help.

There are those who argue that we shouldn’t be trying to pound a wedge between north and south; that we’re all ultimately in this together. Really? It’s fair to suggest that higher taxes will drive more Southwest Virginia employers out of business and our governor and most state legislators are arguing in favor of raising them and raising them again. We are all in this together to benefit whom?

We’re going to raise taxes here to pay a quarter of a billion dollars to construct a tunnel for a small stretch of rail line from Tyson’s Corner to Dulles airport (that amount is just to run it underground; the four-mile railroad extension project will cost $4 billion in its entirety) so as to not affect property values and to preserve Tyson’s scenic ambience?

We’re willing to vote people out of work in Saltville and Pulaski and Hillsville for that?

People in the state’s poorest county, Lee, are going to pay for a tunnel in Fairfax County, the state’s wealthiest, so people don’t have to look upon an unsightly train track when they stroll over to Starbuck’s for their daily Venti Peppermint Java Chip Frappuccino?

I don’t think so.

It’s time our elected representatives were on our side. That means voting to create jobs. And that is accomplished, in part, by reducing the tax burden on Southwest Virginia’s employers.

Folks up north want their roads repaired? Ain’t nobody stopping them.