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

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Welcome To My World

I thought I'd show you my backyard.

Actually, the ridge line rising above my barn is owned by the United States government. It's the Big Walker Mountain section of the Jefferson National Forest.

I had purchased a new 8-megapixel Sony Cyber-Shot digital camera (I buy soap that's larger, by the way) a few months ago and tried it out to see how it performs. Not bad, eh?

Conservatives, Take Heart!

We may yet hear of another liberal Republican retiring in coming weeks:
Warner's lack of cash fuels rumors
Senator raised $500 in 1st quarter; Democrats wonder if he'll run in '08
By Tyler Whitley, Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., raised only $500 in the first quarter of this year, leading to speculation by Democrats that he does not plan to seek re-election in 2008.

If he runs, Warner would be tough to beat, but if he doesn't, Democrats think they would have a good opportunity to pick up another Senate seat. (link)
We'll take our chances, pal. If Warner runs again, we will lose. If he doesn't we may lose. Not the best of circumstances, but them's the cards that's dealt us.

If I were Attorney General Bob McDonnell, I wouldn't make any long term plans right now. His phone may soon be ringing off the hook.

More Layoffs

In a strange coincidence, I remarked to Paula, as we were driving by the huge Volvo truck manufacturing facility up in Dublin yesterday evening, that I had never seen the on-site inventory of trucks to be so low. The lot was virtually empty. I then made mention of the recent downturn (plunge, really) in the heavy-duty truck market and Volvo's resulting layoff of over 1,000 employees.

As it turns out, Volvo's problems are being felt by others as well:

Truck company lays off 189 in Dublin
By Angela Manese-Lee, The Roanoke Times

Just months after diminished demand for heavy-duty trucks claimed the jobs of nearly a third of the 3,170 employees at the Volvo Trucks North America plant in Dublin, workers at nearby Auto Truck Transport Corp. are feeling the pinch.

The transportation company has shed 189 drivers and shop workers from its Dublin terminal. The terminal, which is visible from Interstate 81, delivers trucks made at the Volvo plant to dealers throughout the country. It currently employs 256 people.

In a statement, Auto Truck Transport President Craig Irwin said his company's layoffs were due to a "precipitous decline in new truck orders and sales in 2007." (link)

The reason for the downturn is rather interesting. It has to do with market demand, government regulation, and buyer savvy:
Emissions regulations that took effect Jan. 1 are largely credited with causing the decline.

Beginning in January, heavy-duty truck manufacturers had to start installing new technology in their trucks that reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide and soot.

The cost of the technology, coupled with customers' wariness of new products, spurred many truck buyers to purchase vehicles in 2006, before they required new, more expensive engines.
Truck buyers loaded up in 2006, not knowing how the new 2007 government-mandated EPA requirements would affect vehicle performance, but knowing that they would certainly affect price. Volvo employees, and now ATTC employees, are paying the price for that market bubble and burst.

Let's hope both quickly get back to business as usual.

Quote Of The Day

"While on the road to Damascus, Saul was struck down only to be reborn as Paul. Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria was not so exemplary.

The Damascus experience left Saul/Paul a changed and more enlightened man. Pelosi succeeded only in converting mainstream Democrats into independents."

"Road to Damascus," Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 14, 2007

Food For Thought

"It's clear that the networks fired Imus not because what he said was unacceptable but because the controversy it stirred up was not going to go away. This means that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson--two men whose bigotry has done a thousandfold more harm than Imus's--are able to declare victory and pose as moral arbiters."

"Imus and Obama's Daughters," Best of the Web Today, April 13, 2007

Hear Them Howl!

The Democrats are lining up to support tax reduction. That's right. Tax REDUCTION. The why behind the frenzy to cut taxes is interesting. And instructive. And ironic:

Democrats and the AMT
A tax designed to soak millionaires gets millions of middle-class Americans wet.
The Wall Street Journal

This year more than three million taxpayers will be hit by the Alternative Minimum Tax on their 2006 income. But next year that number could rise to 23 million unless Democrats in Congress come up with a way to halt the juggernaut that is the AMT. The fixes that have been put in place the past few years have expired, and if nothing is done nearly one in five filers will be caught short by a tax that was created in 1969 to target 21--yes, 21--millionaires who had managed to avoid paying any taxes at all.

Who are those 23 million? If you live in one of the high-tax states listed in the nearby chart, have a family with children, and make even $75,000 a year, you would probably be one of them.

The Democrats say they don't want this soak-the-rich tax to hit the middle class. But the AMT's relentless growth is largely of their making. Liberals created the AMT to punish those 21 millionaires but failed to index it for inflation. And Democrats raised the AMT tax rate in 1993--to 26% and 28% from a single rate of 24% as part of Bill Clinton's tax increase of 1993.

So nearly 90% of this problem was created the last time Democrats ran the government. (link)
Here's that chart of high-tax states:

Here's the part of this saga that you gotta love. The Democrats are howling because the AMT is "hitting the middle class." While true to a certain extent, in fact, it is having a devastating impact in those states that currently have the highest combined state and local taxes. In other words - THEIR OWN. They've socked it to millions of their own constituents.

Comparing the chart above to the 2004 red state/blue state election map, you come to realize that, of the 15 states listed above as being most affected by the AMT, twelve are blue (with only one red state in the top 10). Fully 80% are Democrat. No wonder they howl!

So the Democrats now struggle to cage the monster they've unleashed on their own citizenry.

Sit back and savor the moment. Such irony doesn't come along often.

Twisting The Story

This seems, on the face of it, to be aboveboard:

FEMA Doubles Estimate of Lost Meals to 13 Million
By Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post Staff Writer

The Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday more than doubled its estimate of the number of prepared meals lost during the 2006 hurricane season because of storage problems to 13.4 million, up from the 6 million it reported earlier.

The lost food consisted of civilian box lunches, said FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker, not versions of the military's Meals Ready to Eat, as officials had said.

The revised figures bring the estimated loss to taxpayers to $70 million for food that was bought in anticipation of a severe hurricane season but went unused when no major storms made landfall. The Washington Post reported on the waste yesterday. (
Wow. $70 million wasted. That ain't good.

But I have to wonder. The fact that FEMA is the favorite punching bag of the mainstream press these days is no secret to anyone. That being the case, might this report be a bit slanted?

Without question. Here's the next paragraph:
FEMA donated most of the food to America's Second Harvest, a U.S. hunger-relief group, which reported sending about 90 percent of it to shelters and food banks and throwing away the rest. FEMA itself discarded another 400,000 spoiled meals, or $2.2 million worth, officials said.
Were the meals "lost" if they fed the needy? Because the meals were intended for hurricane victims but were used to feed the poor instead, did they go "unused?"

Let's do the math that the Washington Post should have done, had it not its uncontrollable animus toward President Bush:

FEMA buys $70,000,000 worth of food. Of that, it donates $67,800,000 to charity. It destroys $2,200,000. The charity is able to use $61,020,000. The charity has to destroy meals worth $6,780,000.

- $2,200,000
- $6,780,000
$61,020,000 actually fed people in need.

$8,980,000 The true amount that was "lost."

$70 million. $9 million. Quite a difference.

You guys really need to be more professional.

Count Me In. It's Supposed To Snow Tomorrow.

Climate protest set today in Blacksburg

This Seems A Bit Over-The-Top

The governor of New Jersey is in critical condition in the hospital, having sustained massive injuries in a horrific car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike Thursday evening. Though his injuries aren't life-threatening, Jon Corzine is suffering and is heavily sedated.

A preliminary investigation has revealed that he wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, prompting this headline in the on-line version of this morning's New York Post*:

Uh, isn't that just a tad harsh, under the circumstances?

* The headline is valid as of this posting at 6:29am

The Politics Of Personal Destruction

The liberals in this country for decades have been able to develop and perfect their penchant for destroying people. Make that conservative people. Judge Robert Bork was the first to be (unfairly) crucified. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Congressman Tom Delay were the last. With Attorney General Alberto Gonzales currently being ground up (here's today's assault).

But there is one man the liberals have had in their sights for years but, probably because his role in formulating national policy is too obscure for the average American to acquire an interest in him, has escaped their attempts at overthrow.

But that doesn't mean they don't still try to destroy him. Here's the New York Times' latest assault:

Wolfowitz Fight Has Subplot
By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

Washington, April 13 — When President Bush appointed Paul D. Wolfowitz as the president of the World Bank two years ago, the White House had to put down an insurrection among European nations that viewed the administration’s best-known neoconservative as a symbol of American unilateralism and arrogance.

For a while, Mr. Wolfowitz seemed to defuse those fears, even taking on the Bush administration over how best to aid the poorest nations of Africa. But now it is clear that the chorus of calls in recent days for Mr. Wolfowitz’s ouster is only partly about his involvement in setting up a comfortable job, with a big pay raise, for a bank officer who is Mr. Wolfowitz’s companion.

At its core, the fight about whether Mr. Wolfowitz should stay on at the bank is a debate about Mr. Bush and his tumultuous relationship with the rest of the world, particularly the bank, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which have viewed themselves — at various moments since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — as being at war with the Bush White House and its agenda. (
You might be surprised to learn that this comes from a Times reporter, not from the editorial page. Such is the age we live in.

You shouldn't be surprised to find that none of this is true, however. Except perhaps the part about Wolfowitz helping his girlfriend land a cush job*, which he's admitted he did.

This is a rather blatant attempt (and an inept one at that) at raising the issue to a level that will allow for the destruction of one of those "neo-cons" we've heard and read so much about in recent years.
And the attempt will succeed.
And the liberals will move on to another target.
And we will be none the better for it.

* By this measure, was the appointment of Hillary by her husband to the position of health care czar not the same thing? Just asking.

The Democrats' Dilemma

The Democratic Party is still committed to fighting Al Qaeda.
The Democrats are committed to leaving Iraq.
Al Qaeda is in Iraq.
Qaeda Group in Iraq Says It Led Attack on Parliament
By Edward Wong, The New York Times

Baghdad, April 13 — An umbrella insurgent group that includes Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia claimed responsibility on Friday for a brazen suicide bombing the previous day inside the Parliament building. The attack killed one legislator and wounded at least 22 other people.

The group, the Islamic State of Iraq, has a longstanding goal of toppling the government and driving the Americans from the country. (link)
Are the Democrats still committed to fighting Al Qaeda? If so, Al Qaeda is letting them know where they can be found.

Out Of The Philippines!

Well, it looks like we need to flee the Philippines now. There are terrorists there:
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Missing
By Oliver Teves, Associated Press Writer

Manila, Philippines (AP) -- The Philippine police and military are searching for a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer missing for nearly a week in a mountainous northern area, officials said Saturday.

Julia Campbell, 40, was last seen on April 8 in the town of Banaue in Ifugao province, where she had planned to hike alone, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop.

The area, about 160 miles north of Manila, is famed for its mountainside rice terraces and pine forests. The armed wing of the Communist Party - the New People's Army - also operates there. (link)
In all seriousness, let's hope she just got lost and finds her way back to town.