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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tough Love

Many won't agree but these guys are right:
Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial

Officials in Southwest Virginia have asked Gov. Tim Kaine for disaster assistance so farmers can cope with the loss of crops they have endured. Corn and hay have been hit by lack of rain. It's a tough situation to be in.

But is it something cab drivers in New York or waitresses in Seattle should have to pay for?

The farmers want Kaine to ask Washington for federal assistance. Already, federal aid will help them make up for the loss of crops and feed during the previous two years. But why should Washington bail out farmers?

Disasters like Katrina happen rarely. "Disasters" in farming happen regularly: three years in a row, in Southwest Virginia. That's something farmers should plan for -- not something the federal government should pay for. (link)
I lost money last week on my investments when the stock market went south. Should I apply for federal compensation?

I invest in stocks. Farmers invest in their crops. We gamble on success. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.

Key word being we.

A Question That Needs No answer

A Roanoke College professor asks a valid question this morning of the folks at the Roanoke Times ("A Coming Abortion Earthquake," by Gerald McDermott):

"The Times is well-known for its vigilant concern for women seeking abortions. But where is its "profound respect" for the unborn?"

Perhaps the publisher could provide the answer. She was chair-elect of Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge when chosen to run the paper. She should be well versed in the subject. Her little group makes a tidy profit disrespecting the unborn, in the most gruesome manner known to humankind.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a response though.

It's a Tax. You guys like taxes.

I must be missing the point here. The Roanoke Times squealed for months that we needed to raise taxes in order to fix all those roads around the commonwealth that were crumbling before our very eyes - or not - and now the boys on the editorial team complain because taxes are being raised for that very cause, but they're being called fees.

Well, spank my backside. That's downright awful.

Read on and tell me if I'm missing some nuance:
Driving fast never cost so much
Traffic fees?! That was the grand plan to fund transportation?


Attention all demons on wheels: Starting Sunday, jamming down the pedal like you're never coming back will become obscenely expensive. Motorists can thank the General Assembly's anti-tax ideologues in the House of Delegates who refused even to consider tax increases to pay for the state's needed highway improvements.

"Civil remedial fees" kick in on July 1. Virginians caught driving recklessly, under the influence or committing most other vehicle crimes -- but not mundane violations like moderate speeding -- will pay additional fees on top of existing fines and court costs.

These fees have nothing to do with safety. A dysfunctional assembly approved them to fund transportation improvements without doing something sane like raising the embarrassingly out-of-date gas tax. (link)
Wow, these guys seem really pissed.

Tell me though, if taxing speeders isn't viewed as a wise safety measure, why do we fine them at all? Because it's viewed as a deterrent to speeding. The higher the fine, the greater the deterrent. You fellas should be shouting with joy.

Beyond that, there's never been a tax you guys haven't supported; why do you get all contorted and tempestuous over this one? Sour grapes over your failure to get the legislature to do it your way? Are we spoiled little children?

In the end, you have your new tax. Bask in it. Savor the moment. And quit acting like brats.

You Wouldn't Understand

Because the principles are enjoined in the Bible, and the geniuses in the Charleston (WV) Gazette editorial department come across like they've never read the Book (or any book for that matter), the fundamental concepts of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, and innocence vs. guilt escapes them.

Thus they write crap like this:

"Longtime legislator John Overington of Martinsburg wants to restore the death penalty in West Virginia. It’s remarkable that so many pro-life Republicans are also pro-death."

Why even try to explain it to them.

the question we all want answered

All Right. Who's pooping in the lake?

High E. coli levels found at Smith Mountain Lake
High levels of the bacteria were found in the water near Bernard's Landing. The resort's manager suggested a houseboat was the culprit.
By Ruth L. Tisdale, The Roanoke Times

E. coli bacteria is common in the areas of Smith Mountain Lake where ducks and geese congregate.

But not at Bernard's Landing.

"We just don't have that type of thing here," said Carl Smith, general manager for the luxury resort. "We keep a pristine place. In my two and a half years of being here, this is the first time that we've had a problem like this."

Smith said the contamination might have come from a houseboat that was in the area during the weekend before the testing. (link)
Aha! It was one of those damned houseboats.

Time for another law. "Pooping on houseboats is hereby ..."

How To Judge a Columnist's Veracity

I read the first sentence of a Sally Quinn column in the Washington Post this morning ("A GOP Plan To Oust Cheney") and made the following declaration:

If she doesn't name those who are behind the "plan," she's just blowing smoke.

I then proceeded to read the column.

Except for a plea to our own Senator Warner to step up and lead the putsch (he being a usually reliable stooge on such occasions), Quinn names no one.

So much for credibility.

Here's her silly - and contrived - conspiracy theory:
The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week's blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising.

As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration's leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party -- including the presidential nominee -- in next year's elections.
Cheney is viewed as "toxic." By Republicans. She says.

Discontent in GOP ranks is rising. She says.

A plan is afoot to oust him. She says.

Because not one Republican is quoted in this fable, a dime is worth ten cents more than anything she says.

The Find of the millenium

Breaking news on the ancient history front:

Mummy Dearest Found

June 26, 2007 -- Cairo - Egyptologists think they have identified with certainty the mummy of Hatshepsut, the most famous queen to rule ancient Egypt, found in a humble tomb in the Valley of the Kings, an archaeologist said yesterday.

The archaeologist said Egypt's chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, would present at a news conference tomorrow new evidence for an identification. (link)
Great stuff.

Why Should they be any different?

Salem electric bills will increase

The Rules Don't Apply If You're Gay

I read the story yesterday about the public school that had redacted a photo in its yearbook that showed a gay teenager* kissing his boyfriend. My thought was, well, there has been a rule regarding such things (kissing in yearbook photos) since the beginning of time. It's called decorum.

My thought was that the school administrator had done the right thing.

I forgot the "gay" part.

Today's follow-up story:

School Official Apologizes for Removing Photo of Kiss
By Kareem Fahim, The New York Times

His high school apologized for blacking him out, but Andre Jackson, a graduating senior whose kissing summoned the censors, remained unsatisfied.

Last week, a picture of Mr. Jackson kissing his boyfriend was deemed “suggestive” by the superintendent of the Newark public schools and redacted, with black marker, from the yearbook of East Side High School. Yesterday, the school district reversed course, and released a statement apologizing to Mr. Jackson and saying the yearbook would be reissued with the picture unmarked.

“Superintendent Marion A. Bolden personally apologizes to Mr. Jackson and regrets any embarrassment and ... (link)
Superintendent Marion A. Bolden would have done this kid a favor by getting him counseling. But society dictates that he grovels instead. Apologizes. Begs forgiveness. You don't screw with homosexuality.

It's the age in which we live.

* In reality, this kid doesn't have any idea yet who he is. He has just come of an age where he's learning that that appendage he's holstering has other uses beyond that which he grew to accept in babyhood but is still way too young to know exactly what it means - or what he is. But he has, for now, decided he's gay.

How Many of them choose to be?

That's the question that always goes unasked and therefore unanswered in this worn-out story:

Survey Finds 43.6 Million Uninsured in U.S.
By Reuters

Washington, June 25 (Reuters) — About 43.6 million people in the United States, or 14.8 percent of the population, had no health insurance in 2006, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Monday.

The finding, based on a survey of 100,000 people, is lower than previous federal estimates of 46 million.
It's fair to say that those who need it most - the elderly through Medicare and the disabled through SSI - have (or should have) health care being afforded them by the taxpayer today. 100%.

Of those remaining, a huge block consists of young, healthy people in the workforce who'd rather spend their money on bungy jumping and dope than health insurance. And, if one studies the actuarial tables, one comes to understand that they are probably not wrong in doing so (except for the marijuana part). They by-and-large don't need insurance. Chances are great that they will not use it.

The notion that they do need coverage, want it or no, gives the Democrats in Washington something to do, though, so it's not a complete waste of time.

Expect this story to appear again next month. Same time, same venue.

The Illegals Must Be Laughing

We may not have nearly as many border guards as we need to keep tens of thousands of illegal Mexicans from crossing our southern border each day but, by God, we'll soon have the most sophisticated equipment money can buy in place to count them as they cross. And maybe provide each with an 8 by 10 glossy on his way past.

Is it any wonder we have a problem:

28-Mile Virtual Fence Is Rising Along the Border
By Randal C. Archibold, The New York Times

Sasabe, Ariz., June 21 — If the effort to catch people illegally crossing the border here in the southern Arizona desert is a cat-and-mouse struggle, the Homeland Security Department says it has a smarter cat.

It comes in the form of nine nearly 100-foot-tall towers with radar, high-definition cameras and other equipment rising from the mesquite and lava fields around this tiny town.

Known as Project 28, for the 28 miles of border that the towers will scan, the so-called virtual fence forms the backbone of the Secure Border Initiative, known as SBInet, a multibillion-dollar mix of technology, manpower and fencing intended to control illegal border crossings.

If successful, hundreds of such towers could dot the 6,000 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders. (link)

The downside: The article isn't clear as to how these hundreds of towers actually reach out and snatch those breaking the law. It's fair to expect that it will be business as usual along our borders.

The upside: Should make for some cool footage on YouTube.

This Gets To Be a joke

We read this morning that North Korea has made another in a long series of promises that it has no intention of keeping. But this time we're forking over wads of cash in return for the soon-to-be-broken commitment.

What chumps we are.
North Korea Receives Funds and Says It Will Shut Down Its Main Nuclear Reactor
By Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times

Seoul, South Korea, June 25 — North Korea said Monday that its dispute with the United States over $25 million frozen in a bank in Macao had been resolved, and that it would begin to carry out its much-delayed promise to shut down its main nuclear plant.

The first test of the North Korean commitment ... (link)
In fact there will be no first test. The North Koreans will break this promise just as they have every other. But it keeps the New York Times off George Bush's back for a while (all he needs to do is keep up the fruitless talks) so there is an upside to this sad affair.

I give it a week ...

Setting The Ship Back On Course

The Supreme Court, now that it has a few more level heads guiding it, has begun the process of unraveling John McCain's dirty work that clamped down on Americans' right to open political dialogue:

Justices Loosen Ad Restrictions in Campaign Law
By Linda Greenhouse and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

Washington, June 25 — The Supreme Court on Monday took a sharp turn away from campaign finance regulation, opening a wide exception to the advertising restrictions that it upheld when the McCain-Feingold law first came before it four years ago.

In a splintered 5-to-4 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that as interpreted broadly by federal regulators and the law’s supporters, the restrictions on television advertisements paid for from corporate or union treasuries in the weeks before an election amounted to censorship of core political speech unless those advertisements explicitly urge a vote for or against a particular candidate.

“Where the First Amendment is implicated,” the chief justice said, “the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.” (link)

"... censorship of core political speech." A brazen attack on the most fundamental aspect of our 1st amendment right to free speech. Direct and to the point.

Slowly, too slowly, they're making right the damage that McCain and Feingold have inflicted.