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

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It Takes One To Know One

I wanted to comment on this newspaper columnist's literary fulmination relating to surface mining in West Virginia but I have to be honest, I don't have a clue where he was trying to go with it. A rambling mess of a disputation and a sincere waste of trees it is:
'Better than it was before' not a valid argument
By John McFerrin, The Charleston (WV) Gazette

Of all the claims made by the proponents of mountaintop removal strip mining, the suggestion that it leaves the land “better than it was before” is the most bizarre.

That the coal industry is necessary to support the state’s economy? Questionable, but someone could still say it with a straight face. That we have become addicted to the electricity that coal provides? True in the short run, although there are better ways to deal with an addiction than continuing to do the thing that caused the addiction. But better than it was before? Can anybody say this with a straight face?

Like beauty, better is in the eye of the beholder. (blah, blah, blah)
You'll have to read the whole thing. But have your daily shot and beer before you make the attempt. Otherwise you'll have no excuse for the resulting sense of bewilderment.

Mr. McFerrin goes on to ... well, I wish I knew where he went off to. But there is one telling passage in this tortured missive that is illuminating, one that says a lot about this "columnist," I think:
Anyone who wants to argue about mountaintop removal mining can argue that coal mining is necessary for the economy. Argue that we are addicted to it. Argue that Britney Spears has judgment or that Paris Hilton has underappreciated talents. Argue the former Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi was a base stealing threat. Just don’t argue that mountaintop removal mining makes the land better. It makes you sound like a flake.
Gimme that again?

Get the feeling this guy knows a flake when he sees one?

Where Jobs Were Plentiful & Hearts Were High

There's a metaphor here. Give me time. I'll think what it is.

Right now though, I'm so damned mad I can't think straight.

Boucher, Goode to attend trail ceremony
By Ruth L. Tisdale, The Roanoke Times

Congressmen Rick Boucher, D-Abingdon, and Virgil Goode, R-Rocky Mount, will attend the opening of the Fieldale Walking Trail in Fieldale today.

The congressmen, along with local officials, will begin walking the trail at 9:30 a.m.

The trail is the first part of a planned system of trails, parks and river access points to the Smith River, said Katherine Hebert, community planning coordinator.

Hebert said the planning and building of the trail took nearly two years to complete and cost $30,000.

"The Fieldale Walking Trail is a beautiful trail along the Smith River that has already received a lot of attention from area walkers and bikers," Hebert said. "Although it is currently only one-mile long, it is just the first phase of a much more extensive trail system that will be a wonderful asset to this community and Henry County as a whole." (link)
Swell. You guys walk that trail. And keep walking ...

This, as we are all painfully aware by now, is the first phase in a long line of phases that will link all sorts of hiking trails and bike paths that are intended to allow the unemployed to pass the time.

Why is this news particularly infuriating?

Because it happens to be Fieldale, Virginia where nearly 1,000 Pillowtex employees were all given the axe on the same day a few short years ago.

We lose a factory; we build a trail. We send 1,000 Southwest Virginians to the unemployment line; we celebrate a network of paths that will lead nowhere.

Somebody hand me my gun. I may shoot myself.

Let's Make Roanoke One Big Conservation Easement

A drive through certain parts of downtown Roanoke will leave one with the impression that this bunch got its way and the city has become one great big conservation easement:

Land trust eyes mountain, cove
A group voted to ask Roanoke to conserve Carvins Cove and parts of Mill Mountain.
By Tim Thornton, The Roanoke Times

The Western Virginia Land Trust Board of Trustees voted this week to ask Roanoke to put conservation easements on most of Mill Mountain and all of the Carvins Cove Natural Reserve. The easements would cover more than 13,500 acres -- more than three times the size of the state's largest conservation easement.

Land Trust Executive Director Roger Holnback said that Roanoke County, the Western Virginia Water Authority and other local public entities also have resources that should be protected with easements in the near future.

"We're starting with the city of Roanoke because of the current debate over the future of Mill Mountain," Holnback said. "We're hoping that the city can accomplish something that will serve as a model for the rest of the region."

Conservation easements are negotiated agreements that permanently restrict development and land use. Roanoke City Council has already approved plans that call for easements on the mountain and the cove. (link)

First, a side note - A land conservation group votes for land conservation and that's news?

But to the more important matter of what ails Roanoke, and Southwest Virginia. And what doesn't:

It ain't a lack of trees and boulders, guys.

It's a lack of economic vitality. A lack of competitiveness.

If we count weeds growing in parking lots and those sprouting through the foundations of what's left of abandoned factories, nature has actually been gaining ground in recent decades. Preservation? I'm all for it. Let's start preserving jobs for those citizens remaining in the area.

For the love of God. While the economic outlook for Roanoke, according to experts, looks bleak, offering little or no hope for the future, we fret over trees and bushes.

You want Roanoke to be viewed as a "green" city? You're getting your wish. As more weeds spud where citizens once labored, where careers were once being made, where families thrived and generations prospered, you're getting that for which you've endeavored - a city devoid of human habitation.

This Is Not Encouraging

Why do I get the feeling that we are going to be enduring a lot more 9/11's before too long?

White House hopefuls seen more attuned to gay issues
By Christina Bellantoni, The Washington Times

The Human Rights Campaign says that White House contenders are a more "gay friendly" bunch than in 2004 and that nearly all the Democratic hopefuls plan to attend the homosexual rights group's televised forum next month.

The three Democrats now leading in the polls — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina ... have said that same-sex couples should not be allowed to legally exchange "wedding" vows. But each front-runner, along with the other contenders, supports civil unions and is giving unprecedented attention to homosexual rights on the campaign trail. (link)

Won't it be great to get back to the important stuff after eight years of wallowing in terrorism talk?

Why Not Just Skip The Election Process?

Hillary is starting to believe her headlines in the mainstream press. She now senses that she's on her way to a coronation. Ascendency is a sure thing.

So why are all these little people getting in her way?

Hill Whispers: Dump The Debate Also-Rans
By Ian Bishop, New York Post Correspondent, Post Wire Services

July 14, 2007 -- Washington - Hillary Clinton and John Edwards came under fire yesterday after they were caught unaware on an open microphone conspiring to cut the lesser-known Democratic candidates out of debates.

"We should try to have a more serious and smaller group," Edwards was caught whispering to Clinton.

"We've got to cut the number," Clinton replied. "Our guys should talk."

She complained that the current debate format, with an unwieldy eight candidates, "trivialized" the discussions.
It must be frustrating. Or at least off-putting.

All these nobodies - what are their names again? - cluttering up her landscape.

My suggestion to She-Devil is to take a page out of Joseph Stalin's playbook and have her goons escort Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd, and Bill Richardson out back and have them summarily shot. After all, they are just jamming the process, confusing the public, sucking up her oxygen, crowding her stage, and stepping on her train. Eliminate 'em!

Or she might just take the advice of the Queen in Through The Looking Glass:

Off With their Heads!

Don't discount the notion ...

Congress To Raise Tax On Poor

If you look at the demographics of cigarette smoking, you find that the preponderance of those who partake of tobacco these days are in the lower classes. So understand who gets hit - by far - the hardest when Congress and the states, whenever they get the urge to "do what's right," raise cigarette taxes. Those least able to afford it.

In Washington, the Democrats are in charge. So a host of tax increases are in the offing. And, in the case of tobacco, their favorite voodoo doll, taxes on the poor are going up, big time:

Panel Accord on Increasing Cigarette Tax
By Robert Pear, The New York Times

Washington, July 13 — Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee reached agreement Friday on a bipartisan plan calling for a big increase in the cigarette tax to pay for a $35 billion expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program over the next five years.

Under the proposal, the federal excise tax on cigarettes would be abruptly increased by 61 cents a pack, to $1 a pack. The plan calls for proportional increases for other tobacco products. (link)
Want some irony?

Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, said, “This plan will get coverage to three million more low-income children — more than a third of the kids who are uninsured today.”
Who are all those kids who are uninsured? They are the children of those who will be paying this massive increase in taxes. The same people who can't afford insurance.

But Washington doesn't care.

To those who reside in the ivory tower (Republicans and Democrats alike), cigarettes present the best of both worlds - a never-ending (they hope) stream of tax revenue and the ability to "put it to Big Tobacco."

In fact, the face of Big Tobacco can be found at your nearby local trailer park.

Way to go, guys.


Just to show that she doesn't single out the poor for retribution,we find in the news a story outlining the fact that Hillary supports a massive tax increase on the wealthy as well.

I Knew It Had To Be Warner

What, does John Warner think the mainstream media voted him into office?

I knew, when I read this headline (report by Jeff Zeleny, New York Times), that Warner would be the culprit:

G.O.P. Senators Press to Change Strategy in Iraq

Here's the sad news involving our sorry United States senator:
Washington, July 13 — With the Senate stymied so far in its bid to assemble enough votes to sway the White House on Iraq, two leading Republicans offered a new approach on Friday that would require President Bush to present a strategy by October that began limiting the involvement of American forces.

In offering the proposal on Friday, Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana were seeking to reach that elusive goal when the Senate resumes its debate next week. The two senators, among the most respected Republican voices of military and foreign policy, are seeking to attract Democrats as well to the plan, which also urges Mr. Bush to seek a new war authorization from Congress in September.
It's fair to say the only support these two will get will be from Democrats, who will do anything to undermine the war effort, particularly here at home.

When the votes are cast on this misguided attempt at pandering to the New York Times, Warner (as well as Lugar) should take a look around and see who his friends are. It should frighten him.

It won't of course. But it should.

Somebody tell me, has Congress set up an early retirement program for its members? Warner would do us a big favor and give it active consideration.

On That Tiahrt Amendment

Good news regarding the Democrats' effort to trash the amendment that prevented trial lawyers from sifting through gun purchase data in order to conjure up class action lawsuits against gun manufacturers. They lose. It is preserved:

From an NRA press release:

U.S. House Appropriations Committee Preserves Tiahrt Amendment!

On Thursday, July 12, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted to protect language commonly known as the “Tiahrt Amendment,” rejecting two separate amendments designed to strike and gut the language, in the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008. This language maintains firearm trace information within the law enforcement community and out of the hands of politicians, trial lawyers and special interest groups.

Rep. James Moran’s (D-VA) amendment that would have completely eliminated the Tiahrt language was defeated on a voice vote. Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s (D-RI) so-called “compromise” amendment was overwhelmingly defeated by a strong bipartisan vote of 26-40. The Kennedy Amendment would have allowed trace information to be disclosed to anyone who asks for it under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). (link)
Here's the part of this story that you'll never read in the mainstream press:
The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) all support the effort to maintain trace information exclusively within the law enforcement universe. The Tiahrt Amendment has been public policy since 2003.

Law enforcement agencies have cited concern that giving politicians access to this information will compromise the safety of all their men and women, particularly those involved in undercover work, and severely impact the integrity of on-going criminal investigations.
Good work, fellas.