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

Monday, June 25, 2007

The 'Big Tent' Is overrated

Stephen Moore, writing in the Wall Street Journal this morning ("Virginia's Red State Blues"), makes the argument that the moderates liberals within the Republican Party's ranks here in Virginia are destroying a once-proud and unified organization.

The money quote:
Richmond Republicans are now in the midst of an identity crisis, not unlike the one suffered by their comrades in D.C. And unless conservative primary voters steer the GOP back to its principles, it's only a matter of time before voters in the general election do it for them. Voters have already elected successive Democratic governors and last November, sent U.S. Sen. George Allen, a Republican presidential hopeful, down to defeat. At some point, Republican losses in statewide elections will stop looking like anomalies and more like evidence of growing Democratic strength.
Something to ponder:

Jerry Kilgore talked the talk and walked the walk, until he ran for governor, and then, mysteriously decided not to talk the talk any longer, suddenly becoming a moderate on issues that mattered most to Virginia's conservative majority. We are still scratching our heads.

Chichester and Potts got while the gittin' was good and Marty Williams and Brandon Bell were recently pushed out. All over taxes and government spending.

And then there's, by God Jim Gimore. Steadfast. Rock solid. Never wavering. And running for president.

What part of this lesson can't the commonwealth's "conservative" politicians get their arms around?

We Have a Fight On Our Hands

The Richmond Times-Dispatch calls on the city of Richmond to do whatever is necessary to keep the Museum of the Confederacy in town (read the editorial, reasonably well-thought out, well-expressed, here).

This despite the fact that the museum-going public wants the museum to be relocated next door to this.

Let the jousting begin.

A sight to behold ...

... but you'd better hurry if you want to catch a glimpse of a chapter in Virginia's past that is about to be lost forever:
Demolition appears set for Danville's Long Mill
By Mac McLean, Media General News Service

Danville -- Historic preservationists have vowed to do whatever they can to save the Long Mill complex from demolition.

On Friday, the city issued demolition permits allowing the property's owners to tear down its 12 remaining buildings.

The Long Mill's buildings encompass 674,000 square feet on 28 acres at the Dan River's northern bank. For more than a century, the mill buildings were a center for Danville's textiles industry, with thousands working in yarn-spinning and fabric-knitting operations.

By 1996, with the textile industry in Southside Virginia in steep decline, the mills had closed.

The buildings were left behind -- empty shells overlooking the river like ghosts.

Dan River Inc. in 1999 donated the land and buildings to the Danville Historical Society, which along with two developers announced plans to turn the buildings into a shopping, residential and tourism mecca featuring condominiums, restaurants, shops, offices, and museums commemorating the region's textile history.

That project never materialized. (link)
If you're a history buff, you need to drive over to Danville and see the Long Mill complex. All 674.000 square feet of it. Before it falls to the wrecking ball ...

... and life goes on.

Because Blacksburg Doesn't Want 'Em ...

... all those big boxes are building just down the road:

Major chain stores are coming to Christiansburg

So Blacksburg residents will drive to Christiansburg (ten minutes) in even greater numbers to do their shopping and the town of Blacksburg won't see one dime in tax revenue.

Those who worked to prevent the likes of Wal-Mart from building within Blacksburg's town limits will at least find comfort in the fact that its downtown will remain old-worlde. Emphasis on old. Emphasis on a growing vacancy rate. A ghost town.


Blame Ethanol

Darn. It seemed so perfect. An alternative - and renewable - fuel source derived from corn. A product we grow in abundance.

Well, maybe not abundant enough. Pizza prices are on the rise.

Say what?

Pizza prices topped with rising cheese cost
Associated Press

Before the dinnertime rush, Larry Lewis was chewing over business strategy at the Fat Jimmy's pizzeria he manages in Louisville, Ky. The store had absorbed sharply rising cheese prices as long as possible.

Like Mr. Lewis, pizza makers across the nation — from family-run pizzerias to national delivery chains — are feeling the pinch from escalating costs for an essential ingredient in a hotly competitive, $30-billion-plus industry.

Prices for milk, a key ingredient in cheese, have gone up — a result of higher feed grain costs for dairy cattle herds, said Rob Hainer, spokesman for the Atlanta-based Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. In particular, corn prices have risen with growing demand for ethanol fuel, he said. Also fueling higher cheese costs has been strong U.S. and global demand for dairy products, he said. (link)
Capitalism 101: Demand for ethanol goes up, ethanol production increases → demand for raw materials increases → corn prices go up → feed grain prices go up → cattle prices go up → milk prices go up → cheese prices go up → pizza prices go up.

Mega-farmers make out like bandits and you have to take out a second mortgage in order to get that deep-dish Sicilian delivered to your doorstep.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

And If you thought that was bad ...

... Congress is poised to make ethanol prices go even higher:
False advertising on energy
By Ben Lieberman, The Washington Times

Like the idea of paying more for less? If a certain piece of legislation just passed by the Senate becomes law, we might have no choice.

Despite having the words "consumer protection" in its original title, the Senate energy bill would actually boost the cost of gasoline, electricity, food, cars and home appliances. In fact, virtually everything touched by the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 will go up in price and down in quality.

Notwithstanding public outcries over $3-per-gallon gas, the bill's main provision would increase Americans' required use of costly ethanol and other renewable fuels. The 2005 energy bill mandated that agricultural-based renewable fuels — mostly ethanol made from corn — be mixed into the gasoline supply. Ethanol usually costs more than gasoline and dramatically lowers fuel economy, so the mandate has hurt drivers. And the competition for corn has driven up prices of food items such as sweeteners, corn-fed meat and dairy products. (link)
You thought that jump in the price of your pizza was outrageous? Stick around. Your government is about to make it far worse.

What was that saying that Ronald Reagan had for government being here to help?


By the way, Senator James Webb's silly amendment to the energy bill ("To establish a program to provide loans for projects to produce syngas from coal and other feedstocks while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reliance of the United States on petroleum and natural gas") that called for paying researchers to find a way to pump carbon dioxide into the ground so as to avoid global warming failed miserably.

On the energy bill vote itself, our "conservative" senator voted in favor of raising our fuel costs and our "really conservative senator" voted in favor as well.

A peerage it ain't

Good news here in Virginia, perhaps:
Mum Warner likely to move on
By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times

Virginia Sen. John W. Warner has said little about whether he will run for re-election, but the 80-year-old Republican is giving clear indications that he will not return for another term and that his coyness is merely an attempt to help Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a fellow Republican, replace him.

"There has been considerable discussion about the possibility that [Mr. Warner] might delay an announcement of candidacy, then announce he wasn't going to run, to allow Congressman Tom Davis to build up at the beginning of the campaigns, which would give Davis an advantage," said Morton C. Blackwell, chairman of the Virginia's Republican National Committee and leader of the conservative Leadership Institute.
This is a good beginning for Morton Blackwell. You can tell he's perfect for the role of committee chairman just by the fact that that sentence, being so cryptic, must mean he's a really smart guy. Us laypersons are having a tough time even understanding it. Tom Davis can build up in order to ... what?

I guess he's saying that John Warner is scheming behind the scenes to have Tom Davis coronated as our next senator.

Fellas, we'll see about that.

If You Can't Kill them ...

... "idea" them to death:
Brits Change Course
New Leader Cites Ideas as Weapon Against Terror
By Rob Harris, The New York Post
Against a crazed band of Islamic fanatics bent on restoring a 9th century caliphate.

I don't want to sound skeptical, but ...

Get Your Gun Stolen; Go To Prison

In the liberal enclave of Connecticut, where worries abound within the fabulously wealthy and high-culture classes that George Bush is coming to take them away any day now, they choose to restrict their own freedoms, and applause goes up.

I worry for these people:

Conn. Law Targets Guns

June 25, 2007 -- Hartford, Conn. - Gov. Jodi Rell has approved a law that will penalize gun owners who fail to report a lost or stolen firearm to police within 72 hours of discovering it is missing.

The legislation was the culmination of a three-year effort to reduce the number of stolen guns being used in crimes across Connecticut.

Under the new law, a first-time failure to report a lost or stolen gun within 72 hours of discovering it is missing is an infraction, punishable by a fine up to $90.

Any subsequent, unintentional failure to report a lost or stolen gun is a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.

If gun owners intentionally fail to report lost or stolen guns, they could be sent to prison for up to 10 years.
Not mentioned is what's done to the thief. If anything.

Liberals. This is the same bunch that argues that democracy may not be right for the Iraqi people. They make a pretty strong argument that it may not be right for them either.

Segregation is alive & well

We all know that Asian-Americans are discriminated against when they try to enter many of America's elite colleges and universities. They're just too damn smart and skew the quota arrangement.

But high school? Indians?

Welcome to George Wallace's America, 2007:

Color-Barred Student
By Dan Mangan, The New York Post

June 25, 2007 -- A Brooklyn mother and father got the shock of their lives when school officials informed them their brilliant 11-year-old girl was denied admission to an elite public school - solely because she's of Indian descent.

"I feel bad because I would have gotten in if I was white," Nikita Rau lamented over her failed bid to attend the Mark Twain School, IS 239, in Coney Island, a magnet school for gifted students.

It turns out Mark Twain - unlike all but one other city public school - admits students according to racial quotas established in 1974 by a federal judge who ordered the school's desegregation.

Under those quotas - which originally were intended to boost minority enrollment - 60 percent of Mark Twain's student body is set aside for white students, while 40 percent is set aside for minorities. (link)

A judge set the racial quota.

America, 2007.

Think we'll be treated to scenes on TV of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton marching in front of the school demanding an end to the racism?

Nahhhh. This little girl is an Indian-American. Just as with all those Chinese and Japanese kids who are routinely discriminated against, she deserves to be sent to the back of the bus.

America, 2007.

A Slight Problem, But What the hell

Who could argue with the New York Times on this?

Raising Taxes on Private Equity

So much for the argument often made by managers of hedge funds and mavens of private equity that higher taxes would cripple their business.

The prospect of higher taxes did not dent, in the least, the initial public offering on Friday of the Blackstone Group, the giant private equity firm. The week before, a bill was introduced in the Senate to raise taxes on private equity firms that go public. On the day of the offering, a House bill was introduced that would raise their taxes, whether they’re publicly traded or not.

And yet, Blackstone had a debut that was one of Wall Street’s biggest, its thunder muted only by the announcement by its longtime rival, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, that it, too, planned to go public.

The bills in Congress take aim at a provision of the tax law that has allowed private equity and hedge fund operators to pay a lower capital-gains tax rate of 15 percent, instead of the ordinary top income-tax rate of 35 percent, on the performance fees that make up the bulk of their huge paychecks. (

The fact that the monies involved are dividends, and are therefore subject - traditionally - to capital gains taxes makes no difference. Tax the livin' hell out of 'em anyway!

And don't let the fact that the owners of those gains have already paid income taxes on them get in your way. Tax 'em. Make 'em bleed. They're rich. They deserve to be punished.

Unlike the millions who actually make a profit off of the tax system.

Doing What They do best

France Hosts Meeting on Help For Darfur, Chad

So Is That a Good thing or a bad thing?

Absence of Major Disaster in ’06 Affected Giving

Playing The Game

This is hilarious. And speaks volumes about the puerile groupthink of the environmentalist left:
At Home Depot, How Green Is That Chainsaw?
By Clifford Krauss, The New York Times

Atlanta — Home Depot sent a note a few months ago to the companies that supply the 176,000 products it sells, inviting them to make a pitch to have their products included in its new Eco Options marketing campaign.

More than 60,000 products — far more than obvious candidates like organic gardening products and high-efficiency lightbulbs — suddenly developed environmental star power.

Plastic-handled paint brushes were touted as nature-friendly because they were not made of wood. Wood-handled paint brushes were promoted as better for the planet because they were not made of plastic.

An electric chainsaw? Green, because it was not gas-powered. A bug zapper? Ditto, because it was not a poisonous spray. Manufacturers of paint thinners, electrical screwdrivers and interior overhead lights claimed similar bragging rights simply because their plastic or cardboard packaging was recyclable. (link)
And every one of them is right. Each manufacturer used arguments variously put forth by the environmentalist crowd to promote his products.

Cutting down our pristine forests is bad, unless the wood is used for shopping bags (which are good because they biodegrade rapidly in the landfill), except that they aren't reusable, which is bad, so plastic shopping bags are recommended because they can be reused, and that's good, except that plastic comes from petroleum, which is bad. So they adopt Al Gore's recommendations and promote the idea that you shouldn't shop at all.

I love it.