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

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Worshipping At The Altar

“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“This bill is seriously flawed. No matter how you want to dice it [sic], when transportation starts competing with education and public safety, then somebody’s going to lose.”

Senator Edd Houck, R-Spotsylvania on suggestions that we use the general fund to pay for transportation expenditures along with all other necessary core services.

Meanwhile Here In Bizarroland ...

Sometimes you read the headline and find yourself scratching your head in wonder:

Bill would prohibit in-state tuition for illegal immigrants
By Dena Potter, Associated Press Writer

January 29, 2007 Richmond, Va. -- Virginia colleges and universities would be prohibited from granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants under legislation that cleared the House Education Committee Monday.

Del. John S. "Jack" Reid's bill mirrors an attorney general opinion issued last summer that says that if Virginia allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, it must do so for every U.S. citizen.

Immigrant advocates said the bill, which passed 15-5, would harm students who are going through the lengthy process of becoming a legal resident and also unfairly target a section of society that ... (link)

So, let me get this straight. Non-residents are charged considerably more for tuition at some of our state-run colleges and universities than residents, unless the non-resident is here illegally; those lawbreakers - who should be in prison - are given resident status. And a cost break.

And we have a host of citizens who argue for it to be kept that way.

The world has gone mad.

Nothing More Need Be Said

On the mindset that propels the gun control movement:
Guns kill people: Abolition is the only way to stop the madness
By Jeremy M. Burnside, writing in the Charleston (WV) Gazette

On New Year’s Eve, my friend and rowing teammate was killed by a gun in Dunbar. Regardless of who pulled the trigger, I blame the gun. (link)
No response from the profoundly grateful murderer.

A Tourist Attraction?

Would you drive thirty minutes to view an eighty foot replica of the town of Pulaski, Virginia, circa 1950? I don't know if I would either. But this is still kinda cool:

Miniature replica becomes growing issue for Pulaski
Milton Brockmeyer has spent 40 years building the model, but
putting it on display is now entangled in the town's changing museum plans.
By Paul Dellinger, The Roanoke Times

Pulaski -- It took two men some 40 years to recreate the town of Pulaski, on a miniature basis.

"Forty years, but off and on," said Milton Brockmeyer, 91, a retired dentist who has the
80-by-20-foot scale model of Pulaski as it existed around the mid-20th century in the basement of his home.

He began working on it after returning home from Navy service in World War II, during which he had two ships shot out from under him in two days.

Today, that model fills the basement, showing most of Pulaski as it existed around 1950 when the town was a railroad center. It is surrounded by rails for a number of model trains filling the outer parts of the display. (link)

Brockmeyer is wanting to donate the replica to the town but the town is cash-strapped and may not be able to take in the display for a time.

Too bad. It has to be very cool.

The Logic Escapes Me

Fact: We have lost tens of thousands of jobs in Southwest Virginia in recent decades.

How do we get them back? Do we create economic conditions that prompt employers to expand their businesses here and entice others to relocate here?


We create more green stuff. So say the experts:
Make Roanoke cool, group says
Amphitheaters and greenways are keys to attracting and keeping young professionals, members say.
By Matt Chittum, The Roanoke Times

[Valley Forward], chaired by Virginia Varsity Transfer President John Lugar, has an economic, cultural and political agenda for Roanoke it believes will give the city its needed bump in hipness.

It's about greenways, an amphitheater, making more of natural resources such as Mill Mountain and the Roanoke River, and making the whole valley more attractive to tourists.

"It's quality of life," said Valley Forward Vice Chairman Robert Fralin, a local builder and developer. "We can just do more to make this place attractive." (link)
Spoken like someone who's gainfully employed, secure in his career, and wants more amenities made available to him. But does it create jobs?

What's lost in this way of thinking, or is at least lost on me, he is the expert after all, is the fact that we have an abundance of greenways now. And a zoo. And a convention center. And museums. And hip eating/drinking places. A copious teemingness of neat things to do in the off-hours.

Yet we continue to lose employers. And jobs.

Something is missing in this equation. Something probably to be found in the profit and loss equation. The statement of cash flows. The income statement. The balance sheet.

We need more trees? I don't think so.

We need cost reduction. A welcoming, nurturing business climate. The opportunity to prosper.

If you build it, they will come.

A Match Made In Heaven

Now that we got us an official apology for slavery, "profound regret" accompanying, we should have this guy read it to an anxious commonwealth:

Biden Sorrier

February 4, 2007 -- Washington - Delaware Sen. Joe Biden continued yesterday to try to stem the damage from the botched launch of his presidential campaign, as the Democratic National Committee concluded a three-day meeting.

Biden, ripped for having called Illinois Sen. Barack Obama "the first mainstream African-American [presidential candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean," said, "I truly regret that the words I spoke offended people I admire very much." (link)

He regrets truly. Profoundly too, I'd bet. A trend.

Post Partem Abortion

At one moment in a newborn child's life, it's perfectly legal to kill her and toss her lifeless body into a dumpster. But in the next moment, if the same occurs, it's considered manslaughter.

The America we have created:

Newborn Tossed To His Death
By Erika Martinez, The New York Post

February 4, 2007 -- A 14-year-old Brooklyn girl was in police custody yesterday after admitting that she tossed her newborn son out a third-floor window, police sources said.

The girl, whose name is being withheld because of her age, gave birth at her Ralph Avenue home in Crown Heights between 4 and 5 a.m., then tossed the baby to his death, the sources said. (link)

Had she used a coathanger ...

The Enemy Within

Is there any other way to view it?
A Ban On 'Victory'
New York Post editorial

February 4, 2007 -- Question: When is a U.S. military victory not a victory?

Answer: When it's reported by The New York Times.

Read the account from Baghdad in the Jan. 30 Times about a battle the previous weekend in the city of Najaf - one of the biggest engagements of the war - and you'd think that U.S. and Iraqi forces had suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of what was described as "an obscure renegade militia."

Not until the article's sixth paragraph - 200 words into the 1,100-word piece - did this sentence appear: "The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle."

So why wasn't this the lead of the Times' story? Given the way things have been going, it would seem to be an unusual enough development to warrant prominent attention.

Maybe because the Times doesn't want America to win in Iraq. (link)
Who would have ever thought that it would come down to this?

Simulated Sorrow

Now they're charting the deaths on calendars. With little handguns denoting the day of the month. And stick figures representing those who have lost their lives.

There are even stick figures representing American soldiers who lost their lives.

Is this a depiction of the violence that is going on in the streets of Ramallah? Is this all about the slaughter that is taking place in the war between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine? Darfur? Somalia? No. Of course not. George Bush isn't involved in those conflicts. So we don't give a damn about the murder rate in Palestine. Or Ethiopia. Or Kenya. Or Morrocco. Or ...

Iraq, on the other hand, involves Bush. So we anguish over the loss of life. We cry out in sorrow. The tears flow freely.

Or so it would seem:

Op-Chart: 31 Days in Iraq
By Adriana Lins de
Albuquerque and Alicia Cheng, The New York Times

In January more than 1,900 people — soldiers, security officers and civilians — were killed in the insurgency in Iraq, up from 800 in January 2006. Many corpses showed signs of torture, meaning the victims were probably killed ...

Given the vast size of Iraq and the communications difficulties inherent in war, the information may be incomplete. Nonetheless, it is our effort to visually depict the continuing human cost of the Iraq war. (link)

It's all about the human cost.

Stick figures.

Chart courtesy of The New York Times
Click on image to enlarge

Where's FEMA? We're All Going To Die!

Odd. Nobody's standing on his rooftop, waving HELP signs. No masses of people waiting for days for the government to bring them food and water. No whining from local and state officials about how the federal government isn't doing the jobs those local and state functionaries were paid to do.

In Florida, they're simply rolling up their sleeves and setting to the task of cleaning up the wreckage and rebuilding:
Fla. Picks Up Pieces After Deadly Storms
By The Associated Press

Lady Lake, Fla. (AP) -- President Bush designated four central Florida counties as disaster areas, releasing millions of dollars in aid as residents began recovering from tornados that ripped through the region, leaving at least 20 people dead.

National Guard troops, neighbors and residents cleaned up in the rain Saturday, pulling blue tarps over houses that still had walls.

The governor, handling the first natural disaster since he took office, said some stricken areas looked like ''the surface of the moon.'' Crist canceled plans to attend Sunday's Super Bowl in Miami to stay in central Florida.

Crist praised the residents and charitable groups who pitched in to help clean up. Neighboring Marion County sent a group of low-risk inmates, dressed in green-and-white striped jail clothes. Some religious groups served food to rescue workers and victims, while about 40 National Guard members distributed blankets, food and water.

''This is not just government. This is people helping people and doing what's right,'' Crist said ... (link)
Someone should load every Louisiana and New Orleans bureaucrat, at least those who haven't fled the area, on a bus and haul them over to Florida, and show 'em how it's done.

It's not about FEMA. It's about people helping people. And people helping themselves.

Journalistic Arson

When there is no conflagration, make one.

The New York Times this morning "reports" on sectarian strife between Sunni and Shia. In Dearborn, Michigan. That may exist. Or not:

Iraq’s Shadow Widens Sunni-Shiite Split in U.S.
By Neil MacFarQuhar

Dearborn, Mich. — Twice recently, vandals have shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses popular among Shiite Muslims along Warren Avenue, the spine of the Arab community here.

Although the police have arrested no one, most in Dearborn’s Iraqi Shiite community blame the Sunni Muslims.

Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are rippling through some American Muslim communities, and have been blamed for events including vandalism and student confrontations. (link)

Let it be noted: Two acts of violence. Nobody was caught. No suspects.

Up until now, mosque vandalism has been attributed to redneck white boys. Now it's Sunnis.

Attribution is easy though. Having supporting facts gets a bit tougher, as the reporter must have found out when researching this piece, since he was unable to provide us with any documentation to support the contention that the mosque windows were broken by a Sunni rather than a drunken Detroit bum.

Might there be a growing problem in America's Muslim communities between Islam's two largest sects? Yes. Might there not be? Yes.

We don't know.

We're Phasing Out Gov't?

More hyped up exaggeration from the New York Times this morning:

In Washington, Contractors Take on Biggest Role Ever
By Scott Shane and Ron Nixon

Without a public debate or formal policy decision, contractors have become a virtual fourth branch of government. On the rise for decades, spending on federal contracts has soared during the Bush administration, to about $400 billion last year from $207 billion in 2000, fueled by the war in Iraq, domestic security and Hurricane Katrina, but also by a philosophy that encourages outsourcing almost everything government does.
Though not literally wrong (the weasel words "philosophy that encourages" gets 'em off the hook), the thought that the government is outsourcing "almost everything" it does is preposterous.

Have we reduced the size of the federal workforce now that we are outsourcing "almost everything?" Let's look at the numbers:

In 1999, before George W. Bush and his "philosophy" came to the White House, our federal government employed 1.9 million civilian workers. (
source) That number did indeed drop to 1.82 million in 2002. But, as the chart below shows, that number increased once again to 1.87 million by 2005, nearly back to what it was when Bush arrived.

In fact, as the chart reveals, we have the worst of all worlds - a rising federal workforce (with the fabulous pay, benefits, and civil service rules that accompany it, and a burgeoning contractor force as well (what the chart doesn't reveal is the fact that we are, as of September 11, 2001, in a state of war and much of that contractor force is in the business of making and supplying war materiale).

So spare us the "outsourcing almost everything government does" silliness. We still have a bloated - and expanding - federal workforce.

You guys should be tickled pink.

Chart courtesy of The Washington Post
Click on image to enlarge