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

Monday, April 16, 2007

Heed Them No Mind

It's important, before you read any further, to know that the Roanoke Times editorial page led the raise-taxes-now-and-raise-'em-till-they-squeal contingent during the recent transportation budget debate in Richmond.

It's equally important for you to understand that the budget surplus that existed only days ago is rapidly disappearing, a result of state revenue not meeting expectations, and of the budget deal that was recently hammered out by the legislature and our governor, and by a rapid acceleration in the growth of state spending in recent years.

Important as well is the realization that those were the same expectations upon which our lavish government spending plans were based. Richmond is still awash in cash, but our elected representatives have quickly learned how to disgorge it - at an unprecedented rate.

We'll be hearing cries of fiscal insolvency and bond rating woes any day now.

Why do I bring this up?

Here's a snapshot of the featherbrained whims that get us into this mess. From that same Roanoke Times that was howling over state budgetary calamities only a few short weeks ago:
Selling Virginia's natural wonder
Natural Bridge is for sale. Does ownership of the landmark best rest in the hands of the state?

Roanoke Times editorial

A geological wonder, up for sale? Few people might have known that Natural Bridge, the famed 215-foot-high limestone rock formation in Rockbridge County, was even privately owned.

But whoever has pockets deep enough to buy the rock bridge and accompanying amenities -- asking price $32.5 million -- ought to preserve as much of the landmark's natural integrity as possible.

One way would be for the state to purchase at least part of the 1,600-acre property to assure that development would not impact the natural attraction and or make it inaccessible to the public. (link)
We need to buy a rock formation (or a portion thereof). A $32 million rock formation (and "accompanying amenities" - the nearby toilets). And not to make a buck from the acquisition but to prevent development.

Next time these guys editorialize about the need for the commonwealth to raise taxes in order to stave off fiscal cataclysm, you might keep in mind the deep thinking and far-sightedness that go into the thought process.

The End Of An Era

Roanoke firefighter Jarrod Fuhrman will soon be moving from Fire Station 3, which is set to close next month, and will be moving a few blocks to nice new digs. The celebration of fond memories has begun:
Roanoke firefighters celebrate Station 3
About 150 recalled the past before the station's staff moves to a more modern building.
By Ruth L. Tisdale, The Roanoke Times

Battalion Chief Bobbie Slayton remembered Fire-EMS Station No. 3 as one of the busiest of all the Roanoke stations.

"It was central in locations," said Slayton, who had worked on and off at the station since 1965. "Some of the finest firefighters Roanoke had to offer have come through these doors, and the same ones have gone out."

More than 150 firefighters gathered Sunday afternoon to share memories, laughs and celebrate the closing of the 98-year-old station on Sixth Street Southwest.

The station, which opened in 1909, is scheduled to close when the new station on Franklin Road opens in early May, said Roanoke Fire Chief David Hoback. (link)
Lt. Rhett Fleitz adds detail here.

Photo courtesy of Roanoke Fire Blog

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can't, Editorialize.

Well, I know where the underachievers in high school Civics 101 class ended up. They write editorials for the Charleston (WV) Gazette. Get a load of this gem that appears in this morning's paper:
Here's another example of America’s tangled medical insurance bureaucracy: An aging Charleston woman we know takes methotrexate for severe arthritis. She has coverage through the Public Employees Insurance Agency, but PEIA says Medicare must pay its share of the prescription cost first. Medicare says it cannot pay for methotrexate unless it’s for cancer. Therefore, neither insurer pays anything, and the woman is stuck for the full cost. Such frustrating messes wouldn’t happen if America joined other advanced nations by creating a simple, unified, universal, national health system to replace all competing insurers.
Let's parse this proposition:

● America has a medical insurance bureaucracy.

● That medical insurance bureaucracy is tangled.

● The tangle leads to frustrating messes.

● We therefore need a government-run national health care system

● That system will then make the process of receiving insurance coverage simple ...

Folks, this isn't to be found in the comics section of the paper. I think they're serious.

This is the same government, Gazette editorialists, that has produced the U.S. Tax Code, all 16,845 pages of it, the government bureaucracy-created set of regulations that not a single person alive today fully comprehends. The same government that has amassed a list of OSHA requirements that, speaking from personal experience, not one OSHA field regulator really understands in their entirety.

Add to these the millions and millions (billions?) of pages of regulations the government has created covering agriculture, elections, banking, citizenship, commerce, foreign trade, commercial practices, power, water resources, customs, employee benefits, food, drugs, highways, housing, alcohol/tobacco/firearms, labor, mining, defense, money, education, navigable waterways, parks/forests/public property, contracts, the environment, public health, public lands, public welfare, shipping, telecommunications, transportation, and wildlife. (What all did I leave out?)

Is it that government that's going to simplify the health insurance delivery system?

Are you people that naive?

Some Things Never Change

During the Civil War, a union officer, having tired of his stint in the military, could resign his commission at any time and go home. At the same time, enlisted men were granted no such allowance. Those who left their posts and went home were officially declared deserters. Many were imprisoned. A handful were shot.

Today an enisted man - US Army Specialist Agustin Aguayo sits in the brig, having been convicted of desertion. He had previously declared his opposition to the war and refused to continue his service to his country. There are dozens of similar stories about other enlistees that could be cited here as well.

Today an officer - Marine Corps General John J. Sheehan writes in the Washington Post why he refuses to serve his president in time of war:
Why I Declined To Serve
By John J. Sheehan

Service to the nation is both a responsibility and an honor for every citizen presented with the opportunity. This is especially true in times of war and crisis. Today, because of the war in Iraq, this nation is in a crisis of confidence and is confused about its foreign policy direction, especially in the Middle East.

When asked whether I would like to be considered for the position of White House implementation manager for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I knew that it would be a difficult assignment, but also an honor, and that this was a serious task that needed to be done.

It would have been a great honor to serve this nation again. But after thoughtful discussions with people both in and outside of this administration, I concluded that the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically. (link)
To make a long story short, Major General Sheehan refuses to serve (all the blather about it being his "responsibility" aside). For that refusal, this officer gets feted on the op/ed page of the Washington Post, and goes home to the wife and kids. While Specialist Agustin Aguayo wastes away in the brig, for having made the same decision.

1864. 2007. Some things never change.

Why Even Vote

It seems like every other day that we get bombarded by the latest tally in the race to see which presidential candidate is compiling the most campaign cash. Like it means something. Like it meant victory for President "Howlin' Howie" Dean.

Today's scorecard update:
Clinton's Campaign Has Most In Bank
Obama Raised More for Primary, Reports Show
By Matthew Mosk and Perry Bacon Jr., Washington Post Staff Writers

Sen. Barack Obama raised more money than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for their Democratic primary clash during the first three months of the year, but Clinton heads into spring with more in her campaign account than all Republican presidential candidates combined.

Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who launched his presidential bid with no national fundraising network, raised $24.8 million for the primary campaign during the first quarter, and Clinton (N.Y.) raised $19.1 million, the campaigns reported last night. (link)
There you have it. Hillary is our next president.

As long as the people are allowed no say in the matter, that is.

Why It's The Best In The Business

The Wall Street Journal, it has been said, is the only newspaper in America that people buy just to read the editorials. Today brings us a great explanation for the phenomenon.

It has to do with World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz and the ongoing "scandal" regarding his girlfriend.

The New York Times editorialists this morning call for his resignation.

And the Wall Street Journal this morning rips them to shreds.

How To Read Newspeak

A headline in the Washington Post this morning:

Wolfowitz Says Won't Resign; Bank Says Concerned

How it's to be read:

Wolfowitz Says Won't Resign; Bank Goes About Its Business; Washington Post Concerned

Like The Proverbial Ambulance Chaser

Politics 101: When you have no ideas that will capture headlines, you chase the headlines:

Rodham & Rutgers
By Cynthia R. Fagen, The New York Post

April 16, 2007 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet today with the Rutgers women's basketball team.

The senator had reached out to the team before radio host Don Imus was fired last week for spewing racial slurs about them. (link)
Oh. Okay. It's just a coincidence that Hillary is showing up at Rutgers right after the nappy-headed hos incident.

Like it was purely a coincidence that those billing records that the law had been searching for for two years showed up in her bedroom closet. And a coincidence that she made those purchases of cattle futures at just the right moments to make a killing off of them. And a coincidence ...

Yeah. Real Smart.

It worked so well for Don Imus that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales decided he'd try the apology route too. That oughta keep the animals in their cages. For 15 minutes:
‘Nothing to Hide,’ Attorney General Insists
By David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis, The New York Times

Washington, April 15 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales offered a measured apology for his mistakes in the dismissal of eight United States attorneys, but said in testimony prepared for a Senate hearing on Tuesday that he had “nothing to hide” and that none of the prosecutors were removed to influence the outcome of a case.

In his testimony, which was released Sunday by the Justice Department, Mr. Gonzales provided an account of his actions that was largely consistent with his past assertions that his role was very limited and his recollection fragmentary.

“I am sorry for my missteps that have helped fuel the controversy,” he said. (link)
Senators Leahy and Schumer and their ilk are all leering smiles this morning.