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

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Astounding Data

For those of you who survived the 70's, with its news, seemingly every week, of a strike being called here and a union wildcat walk-out being executed there, this has to be startling:
Union membership in Va. hits historic low
Membership dropped by 26,000 workers in 2006, and it could drop further this year.
By Rob Johnson, The Roanoke Times

Union membership in Virginia has fallen to its historic low since the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the figures in 1989.

The 26,000-worker drop to 139,000 members in 2006 left unions with 4 percent of the overall Virginia work force, down from 4.8 percent in 2005.

Virginia's decline in union membership in 2007 could be sharp again, led by the scheduled closing of Norfolk's 2,300-worker Ford Motor Co. truck assembly plant, starting in July. (link)
Ouch. 26,000. In one year.

Sad thing is, this didn't have to be.

Had the union bosses taken my advice back when (and that of the Wobblies years prior) and devoted all their efforts - and considerable cash - to organizing labor around the globe, instead of trying desperately to hang on to the dwindling labor market share they controlled here in the USA, they would be thriving today.

Instead, the way things stand and are trending, America's labor unions will be able to hold their next annual convention at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Bristol Convention Center. With every union member in America in attendance.

A shame in a way.

A Distinction Without a Difference

The Washington Post tries mightily this morning to make the argument that Bill Clinton's wholesale firings of ALL his U.S. attorneys at the same time in 1993 were unlike George W. Bush's recent firing of seven (or eight):
The Reno Precedent
Washington Post editorial

The latest they-do-it-too excuse for the undeniably botched and increasingly suspicious firings of U.S. attorneys involves the 1993 episode in which President Clinton's new attorney general, Janet Reno, unceremoniously dismissed the first Bush administration's holdover U.S. attorneys.

The Reno precedent is a red herring, not a useful comparison. The summary way she announced the move was, indeed, unusual if not unprecedented. But a turnover in the top prosecutorial jobs with a new administration taking power -- especially one of a different party -- was not. As we wrote at the time, "These are political appointees who owed their jobs to the last administration and have expected to be replaced ever since last November's election. (link)
That second paragraph in itself is torturous to read. Clinton's actions were not unusual or unprecedented; Janet Reno's press release was.

This despite the fact that the child President's executions were never performed in such a manner by any President in the history of the USA. Which, by definition, made them both unusual and unprecedented.

But to the larger point, Clinton fired Republican appointees (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and accept the fact that he didn't fire every U.S. attorney so as to mask his real intention - firing the U.S. attorney in Little Rock who was investigating his Whitewater ass) so as to be able to hire his own.

That's how politics plays out in the big city.

George Bush has done the same (if he'd just grow a pair of gonads and simply state such and tell the Democrats to shut up). No more. No less.

And, it should be noted, the weak-of-mind at the Washington Post are doing their part in the political process as well. They are making up a silly fabricated story about dishonesty and subterfuge so as to discredit a politician with whom they have political differences.

It's as old as politics itself.

Republicans Are Wienies

A quote from the Republican Party playbook:

"When the going gets tough ... flee."
Republican Says Gonzales Should Be Fired
By Laurie Kellman, Associated Press Writer

Washington (AP) -- A Senate Republican is calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' dismissal as Democrats weigh subpoenaing President Bush's top aides in the escalating political furor over the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire, a longtime Bush administration critic facing a tough re-election campaign, called for Gonzales' ouster Wednesday just hours after Bush expressed confidence in the attorney general, who is a longtime friend.

"I think the president should replace him," Sununu said in an interview. "I think the attorney general should be fired." (link)


Or, As The Times Puts It ...

Weak knees at Justice
Washington Times editorial

The only thing stranger than watching congressional Democrats scold the Bush administration for firing eight U.S. attorneys is the response from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He's now "accepting responsibility" for a Democratic campaign to paint Republicans as unfriendly to civil rights. We rarely criticize the Bush administration for failing to stand up for its executive prerogatives (except on immigration). But Mr. Gonzales is enabling Congress to walk all over the president's agenda at the Department of Justice for reasons we can't fathom.

U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president who appoints them. President Bush, like Republican and Democratic presidents before him have done, can hire, fire or rehire when he chooses. This includes firing attorneys who fail to fit within the president's policy agenda.

Mr. Gonzales should have said the obvious: "These appointees do not fit the president's vision for America, and we're firing them to make room for those who do." Then he should have stopped explaining himself. (link)

How Not To Grow Southwest Virginia

This sounds so wonderful:

Google Is Reviving Hopes for Ex-Furniture Makers
By Shaila Dewan, The New York Times

Lenoir, N.C. — Almost 40 years ago, when Irene Marsh was a young woman, she took a few months of computer science courses. But when Ms. Marsh realized that would not help her find a job in this Appalachian furniture region, she dropped out and went to work in a factory making tabletops.

Then, like thousands of other furniture makers here in the last five years, she lost her job to workers overseas, after 37 years at one company. But Ms. Marsh, who recently sat with a mouse and keyboard in a basic-skills classroom at Caldwell Community College a few miles south of here, may yet have her chance at a computer job.

Last month, the Internet search giant Google announced that it would take advantage of the area’s underused electric power grid, cheap land and robust water supply to build a “server farm” — a building full of computers that will become part of the company’s worldwide network.

Google says it hopes laid-off furniture workers, most of whom never graduated from high school, will be among the 250 employees at two facilities on the 215-acre site,
much of which was once a lumberyard. (

So Google decided to locate in Lenoir so as to be able to "take advantage of the area’s underused electric power grid, cheap land and robust water supply."


I wonder.

The reason couldn't also have had something to do with this?
Since the deal in Lenoir ... was announced in February, city and county officials have found themselves on the defensive, criticized for the secrecy of the negotiations and the package of incentives, potentially worth $260 million, that Google will receive.

At Google’s request, the state legislature passed a law exempting some high-tech businesses from paying sales tax on electricity — a tax the company says it would not pay in many other states. And as long as the server farm is operational, the city and county will forgive 100 percent of the company’s personal property taxes and 80 percent of its real estate taxes for up to 30 years.

The deal’s critics point out that although Google said it would invest $600 million and create 250 jobs at an average salary of $48,000, it made no minimum guarantees, often considered an important part of shielding economic development deals from accusations that they are corporate giveaways. The incentive package is one of the largest ever in the state, and when it is broken down per job, it is as much as $1.24 million each.
State and local governments are paying $1.24 million for every job created.

In order to compensate, those same state and local governments will have to raise taxes on others. Those others will shut down. And move to China.

This is the problem with government trying to control growth. In the end, it will only grow unemployment.

When will we learn?

Another Day, Another Plan

The Democrats are starting to give me a migraine. Today? Hillary has changed her mind about Iraq. Again:

Clinton Says Some G.I.’s in Iraq Would Stay
By Michael R. Gordon and Patrick Healy, The New York Times

Washington, March 14 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military.

In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence — even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clinton articulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at her campaign events, where she has backed the goal of “bringing the troops home.” (link)

These reporters and their editor must have struggled mightily - well, actually they twisted themselves in knots - to come up with that phrase, "Mrs. Clinton articulated a more nuanced position." In fact, she reversed course.

But that's nothing new.

One thing Hillary and her Democratic ilk will never be accused of: Staying the course.

So Much For Animal Rights

These people are starting to give me a migraine.

They work day and night to save the lives of every little fuzzy creature, winged arthropod, and innocent quadraped on the planet, until ...frogs get in the local pond.

Then it's: Kill every one of them sunsabitchas!

Animal activists call for deaths of pesky frogs
By Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times

There hasn't been this much fuss since Frankenfish: 10,000 greedy, ill-mannered frogs are now vexing the city of San Francisco.

But these are not just any frogs. These are feisty African clawed frogs, as big as a brick and armed with barbs on their hind feet. The croakers mysteriously took up residence in Golden Gate Park's delicate Lily Pond four years ago and, well, froggy's been a-courting ever since.

However, it's an animal rights activist who insists that the pond be rescued from its frog plague.

"We've got to drain that pond, euthanize those frogs, the tadpoles, the eggs. These things are dangerous and aggressive. They carry a fungus which kills other frogs," said Eric Mills of Action for Animals, an Oakland, Calif.-based animal-protection group. (link)

Blood-thirsty knuckle-dragging animal rightsist. Shame on you.

The Governor Must Be Blind

I'm losing patience with Governor Kaine over this transportation funding debate (and with his cowardly "input-seeking" tour of the state that took him down to Hillsville yesterday). The bill is on his desk. The legislature is behind the bill. The people are good with it - flaws and all. The deal is done.

But, like Hamlet hesitating interminably so as to "catch the conscience of the King," Kaine dithers.


He fears for the fate of our schools. And for our law enforcement agencies. And the health of our little children. The planet. The cosmos ...

Transportation debate keeps moving
By Michael Sluss, The Roanoke Times

Hillsville -- Gov. Tim Kaine and Republicans in the House of Delegates moved their debate over transportation funding to Southwest Virginia on Wednesday, continuing an ongoing argument about whether the state can build roads with revenue normally used for other programs.

Kaine met with community leaders in Hillsville to promote the fact that ...

Kaine argued that the bill is flawed because it relies on revenue from the state's general fund to retire debt on $2.5 billion in bonds. Kaine said the proposal could jeopardize funding for other services supported by the general fund, such as education, health care and public safety.

"Taking this amount of money out of the general fund would put significant pressure -- in my opinion the pressure is too significant -- on education funding, health care funding, public safety funding," Kaine said. (link)

Would someone hand this guy a copy of the budget that's sitting on his desk back in Richmond? And then read it to him? Slowly?

Education, "health care," and public safety needs, as anticipated by our august legislators, have been met. And the general fund still has a massive surplus. There are no pressures being exerted. None.

And does anyone in his right mind believe that if the state of Virginia ever ran short of cash that it couldn't somehow raise more? Ever? Some how?

Get this guy out of Southwest Virginia. He's upsetting my morning Wheaties.

And he's giving me a migraine ...