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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Those Non-Eco-Non-Friendly Nuts In Floyd

The natives over in Floyd County are sure an odd bunch.

When it was announced that a natural gas pipeline was going to be run through the area - buried deep underground - the folks there went apoplectic. Enraged. Embittered. Mad.

... over a pipeline.

... buried underground.

... that wouldn't be noticeable to the naked eye, even if one went out looking for it.

It's the thought, you see, that there's commerce flowing through the thing that set them off. Evil corporations disgorging their vile, polluting gaseous death through the very heart of Virginia's last remaining pristine Garden of Eden.

Or so it appears.

Well, in the end, the natives have won out. How proud they must be this morning:

Dominion abandons gas pipeline
Greenbrier Pipeline was to cross through the center of Floyd County
Roger Mannon, The Floyd Press

A controversial natural gas pipeline approved four years ago has been cancelled. In late January Dominion Transmission, which had been given a permit by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct and maintain the Greenbrier Pipeline through the center of Floyd County, filed a motion to vacate its certificate.

When the line was proposed, to travel 279 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina, and passing through the center of Floyd County, property owners reacted angrily.

In last month’s motion, Dominion stated “despite the patience extended by the Commission in granting the prior extension, Greenbrier does not believe that current circumstances support a request for further extension of the Commission’s authority for construction of the pipeline. The pipeline does not appear to be economically feasible at this time. Nor has Greenbrier developed the necessary market commitments to support the filed project as required by the commission’s order.” (link)
One can only assume that the residents of Floyd just didn't want the environment disturbed.*

So now the gas will be transported to North and South Carolina the old-fashioned way, by train and truck. Spewing fossil fuels the whole way. Polluting the atmosphere. Warming the globe. Every day. Up and back. Up and back. Up and back.

But at least those nasty trucks won't be going through Floyd. That's what matters most to the friends of the Earth over there. Right? They've done their part to make America ... what... cleaner?

For the love of God.

* Before I'm told by Floydians that I need to walk in their shoes, let it be understood that I once owned property in Bullitt County, Kentucky, through which ran a similar pipeline, buried similarly deep underground. Except for signs posted along the line's route (from Houston to Lake Erie) warning people to be careful when they dig, one had no idea it was even there. It and I and the environment lived in complete harmony.

Speaking In Tongues

Sometimes politicians have their talking points properly memorized. And they often deliver them with great effectiveness. And occasionally, the points are so exquisite that a politician feels impelled to spew all of them in the same paragraph, whether they make any sense, strung together, or not.

Take Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-Martinsville) for example.

He came out in opposition to the transportation funding compromise hammered out by the conference committee the other day - like the dutiful party hack that he is - for the following reason(s):

Armstrong opposes transportation plan
Too much debt, he says
By Ginny Wray, Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

Del. Ward Armstrong will recommend that Gov. Tim Kaine veto the transportation package approved by the General Assembly on Saturday if it cannot undergo a major overhaul.

Armstrong voted against the measure that authorizes $2.5 billion in borrowing by 2016, as did state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds. The area’s Republican legislators, Dels. Danny Marshall of Danville and Robert Hurt of Chatham, voted for it.

“It is too reliant on general fund money,” Armstrong said of the fund that also pays for education, law enforcement and other areas.

“It puts road building on our kids and grandkids; it’s not appropriate,” he said, adding that “future General Assemblies would have to provide money from the general fund to pay the debt.” (link)

I understand the "too reliant on general fund money" argument. Armstrong and his Democrat pals would rather we create a whole separate funding source for transportation. That funding source, of course, would be your childrens' Christmas gift fund.

And I understand the "future General Assemblies would have to provide money ... to pay the debt" point as well, although his maintaining that it must come from the general fund in future decades doesn't necessarily have to be the case.

But what does the first point about the general fund being used to finance road repairs have to do with his second - the issuance of bonds (which I think he's referring to) in order to help finance needed transportation upgrades? They are separate funding issues that Armstrong has confusedly tried to blend into one.

Key root word being confused.

And if that isn't confusing enough, try to figure out this response to a criticism from a fellow delegate:
[Del. Danny] Marshall said Saturday that Armstrong’s vote against the transportation bill was a vote against U.S. 58. The bill includes funds for the U.S. 58 bypass at Hillsville.

Armstrong responded that the bypass money would be borrowed and supported by general fund money at least in the next biennium under the bill.

“Maybe there will be money for the debt, maybe not,” he said.
So does that mean he's for it or against it?

It was at this point that I developed a splitting headache.

Ward, you'd do well to stick to the "We're taking food out of the mouths of our children and grandchildren" canard and avoid the mixing of bullet points. You do nothing but confuse your audience and make yourself appear to be, well, confused.

Every Child Left Behind

If this were the private sector, and I was the manager, I'd padlock the doors, liquidate the assets, apologize, and refund the stockholders' money:
A Bad Report Card
New York Times editorial

The news from American high schools is not good. The most recent test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the national report card, finds that American 12th graders are actually performing worse in reading than 12th graders did in 1992, when a comparable exam was given. In addition, 12th-grade performance in reading has been distressingly flat since 2002, even though the states were supposed to be improving the quality of teaching to comply with the No Child Left Behind education act.

The new scores, based on tests given in 2005, show that only about 35 percent of 12th graders are proficient in reading. (link)
Twelve years of study and 65 out of 100 American high school students can't read. A national disgrace.

Shut 'em down. Now.

There Are Minorities And Then There Are Asians

If I were to involve myself in the argument that's been in vogue since, well, the beginning of time, over the plight of racial minorities in this country, I'd come down on the side of that minority most discriminated against by the United States government - Asians. Public schools of higher learning routinely turn away Asian applicants in favor of less qualified Hispanics and black students in order to meet certain racial quotas (though they'll never admit it). And they do it with the blessing of the USA. In the workplace - public and private - minority development programs are never geared toward cultivating an Asian contingent. They always target blacks and Hispanics (and Aleuts and Native Americans ...).

Well, Asian-Americans are starting to organize. And more power to them:

Asians Flex Muscles in California Politics
By Cindy Chan, The New York Times

California’s 4.4 million Asians constitute the state’s second-largest ethnic minority group (after Latinos) and the largest Asian population in the country, but they have been underrepresented in elected office. Now they are moving beyond fund-raising, where they have long been a force, to elect representatives of their own.

Last year for the first time, Asian candidates across the state were supported by a major political action committee, the Asian American Small Business P.A.C. In addition, the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, a coalition of Democratic legislators of Asian ancestry, helped organize crews of bilingual volunteers to knock on doors and make sure Asian voters made it to the polls.

There are now nine Asian-Americans in the State Legislature, compared with one 10 years ago. (link)

So why would I champion this kind of racial politics? Because Asians in this country succeed in spite of the best efforts of our government to block their achievements. And their success makes for a better future for the rest of us.

I've never bought into this whole "diversity enriches us all" horseshit. Give me a leadership team (white, black, or indifferent) every time that is driven to succeed, that has the necessary intellect, that is prepared to overcome fantastic odds to get ahead, that doesn't wait for someone to hand them opportunity in a bottle, that's focused and disciplined, that wins.

While the rest of us turn our attention to (American Idol and ...) issues relating to just how profoundly we regret the institution of slavery that existed 200 years ago, and whether Barack Obama gets to be a black guy or not, and whether we should ever use the n-word or not, Asians strive to succeed.

For that reason, they will take over the world.

I don't know why they would want it, but they certainly deserve it.

On Those 'Jobs That Americans Won't Do'

Illegal Mexicans are willing to (cheerily) pick strawberries out in the hot sun. Americans aren't. Americans are too good for that because they are all waiting to be the next American Idol. Or so the argument goes.

Well, there is, in fact, another reason - a very simple reason - why Americans don't flock to the farm fields to pick that cotton and tote those bales. It doesn't pay well.

But don't think for a minute that they won't if it did. A case in point:

Labor Shortage Pushes Mining Companies to Recruit and Pay More
By Wayne Arnold and Heather Timmons, The New York Times

Every time Sue Gogilis starts her shift driving the company truck she gives her steering wheel a good rub with a few disinfectant wipes.

Ms. Gogilis, a 34-year-old mother of two, was a dental assistant until last May. Now she drives a mammoth dump truck at one of Rio Tinto’s iron ore mines, hauling 230 tons of rock and dirt across the scorching Pilbara region in the outback of Australia.

“They need the bodies,” she said. “And so if there’s a body, they don’t care if it’s male or female as long as it can drive the truck.”

From the pits of Australia to the coal fields of Wyoming, mining companies like Rio Tinto are hunting for people to address a dire shortage of workers. A decade ago, with prices slumping, the sense of mining as a sunset industry left it with a workforce with a lot of gray hair under its hardhats. But these days the industry is struggling to meet rapidly growing global demand for iron, copper and other essential commodities.

The reason our megafarmers pay such low wages - to illegals - is because they can. Take away the illegals and the growers will have to pay more in wages. It's as simple as that. As evidenced above.

But, you say, that doesn't address the critical shortage of available labor, particularly skilled labor. So boost legal immigration. Inflate the allowable number of green cards. Expand the work visa program.

But stop the migration of lawbreakers crossing our borders. It - and those who turn a blind eye to it - make a mockery of our way of life.

Y'all Don't Have Spell Check?

Headline from the Associated Press:

The question is: Did he trie hard enough?