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

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Voice Rises Above The Din

A vocal and impassioned minority of Virginians are outraged outraged outraged! over the hefty traffic fees that have gone into effect that will be levied should a driver habitually violate the law, a change brought about in the transportation funding package that was hammered out in Richmond in the spring. In certain circles, mass hysteria has seized a normally sober populace. Shouts of Off with their Heads! can be heard reverberating throughout the commonwealth.

Gosh. This over a punishment being assessed against those who, in truth, shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car in the first place.

It's time for an adult to explain all this. Delegate Sam Nixon (R-Chesterfield), to the podium:
Avoid Egregious Offenses, and Fees Will Pose No Problem
By Sam Nixon, Richmond Times-Dispatch Guest Columnist

There's been a lot of discussion about Virginia's newly enacted abusive-driver fees lately. Disappointingly, much of the information that has been distributed casually through Internet blogs and elsewhere has been incomplete, misleading, and -- in some cases -- completely false.

Only about 2.5 percent of Virginia's motorists will ever be subjected to abusive-driver fees. The overwhelming majority of offenses subject to abuser fees are felonies or misdemeanors involving the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs while driving, vehicular homicide, reckless driving, driving after being declared a habitual offender, or driving on a revoked license. These are offenses that are so serious they are punishable by jail time and will never be committed by the vast majority of Virginia

Because these fees are strictly limited to those drivers committing the most egregious offenses and to those who show a repeated disregard for the laws of Virginia's roadways, more than 97 percent of Virginia's drivers will never have to pay a single cent in abuser fees. (link)
Those of you, after reading this, who still believe the fees to be an affront to everything we hold dear should take into account the alternative proposed by non-politicians like me: These reckless, mindless, heedless owners/operators of seriously dangerous weapons - automobiles - should be imprisoned for having proven to be - over and over again - incapable of, or unwilling to obey our laws. Fees schmees. Get 'em off the road! They kill!

And for those newspaper editorialists who believe that these fees came about (whether suggested by Governor Kaine or by someone in the Republican-controlled legislature) as "part of a compromise transportation package cobbled together during the last General Assembly session," this will come - apparently - as a complete surprise:
Of all the components of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007, abuser fees enjoyed the most widespread support in the General Assembly. They were included in Gov. Kaine's transportation plan, the House's transportation plan, and the Senate's transportation plan. With such bipartisan agreement, it is little wonder that these fees were included in the final compromise.
This wasn't some backroom "cobbled compromise." The abuser fees were part of the transportation plan(s) all along.

My suggestion to all of you is this: Learn the facts. This is a good thing. Lives will be saved. And take your medications.

A Ray Of Light

Buried in a column in this morning's Richmond Times-Dispatch by Jeff Schapiro ("Unlocking the GOP Code") about Republican doings of late here in the commonwealth is this nugget:
Republicans are talking up a back-to-the-future approach for '09, returning to the caucus-and-convention nominating process that leaves it to, maybe, 15,000 activists -- usually ideological purists and the easiest to control -- to pick the ticket largely out of public view.

The process is relatively cheap and can be very nasty.

That's in contrast to, say, the nearly 200,000 Virginians -- a sliver of the state's 4.4 million voters -- who cast ballots in the y'all-come primary in which McDonnell and Bolling were nominated in 2005.

The process was relatively expensive and very nasty.
Nasty or no, Republicans should choose who the Republican candidates for statewide office will be. Not independents. Certainly not Democrats.

Let's hope Schapiro knows what he's talking about.

So It Comes Down To This

32 students were slaughtered by a deranged psychopath on the Virginia Tech campus back in April. Today, just three months later, certain relatives of those killed begin the task of doing what is often done in situations like this - they assign blame, put a dollar value on the carcasses, and demand money.

So reprehensible. So American.

I learned of this development from a Roanoke Times editorial:

No price tag on Tech shootings

Families of the April 16 victims suffered irreparable losses. The 9/11 payout, though, should not serve as a model for horror relief.

Some families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings reportedly want at least the same compensation as victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Who could doubt that the survivors of the 32 murdered on campus suffered as deep a loss as the survivors of the murdered 3,000?

A lawyer who says he represents the families of 22 of the students who died said Wednesday they are not demanding money from the state -- but it is up to the state to come up with a way to provide more.

Lawyer Thomas Fadoul was quoted the same day in The Washington Post saying that Gov. Tim Kaine and the General Assembly should set up a September 11th-type fund in Virginia to ensure that relatives get "at least what the 9/11 people got." (link)

Lawyers are paid vultures so Fadoul shouldn't be blamed for wanting to pick through the bones and negotiate the monetary value of the lives lost on April 16 in Blacksburg. But how do these parents and loved-ones look in the mirror?

Greg Letiecq, Power Broker?

A member of our venerated Old Dominion Blog Alliance has gotten a favorable write-up (it is favorable I think ....) this morning in the Washington Post. Should we be worried that he's lost his edge? With friends like these, will he now be turning into some left-wing, namby-pamby wienie boy?

Answers to those questions will have to wait.

Greg, who authors the powerful, take-no-prisoners Black Velvet Bruce Li weblog brings himself down a notch this morning and allows the mainstream press to confer divine status on him, if only for a moment:

Muscling a Web Site Into a Social Movement
Va. Blogger Taps Into Illegal-Immigration Ire
By Nick Miroff, Washington Post Staff Writer

Illegal immigrant ice cream vendors might be spreading leprosy in Manassas. Prince William County has been infiltrated by "unassimilated marxist radicals." Manassas Park police covered up the predations of five Hispanic men who gang-raped a woman in the street in June.

These claims, among others, have been made in recent months by Greg Letiecq, whose popular blog, Black Velvet Bruce Li, offers "Blog-Fu for Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park politics" -- often making up in passion what it lacks in proof.

But Letiecq ... is not some mouse-pushing crackpot with a keyboard and an Internet connection. In the past 18 months, Letiecq has leveraged his blog to help elect allies, kill off opponents' campaigns and shape local public policy. Peers call his site the most influential local blog in Virginia. (link)
Well, calling Greg the most influential local blogger in Virginia may be a stretch. I can think of others who are more deserving of that claim. But why be a braggart.

In all seriousness, I encourage you to read the article. It has to do with the illegal immigration debate and Greg's effort to do that which the president of the United States refuses to do.

Knowing Greg like I do, I can only say: I wish our elected officials came to the arena with the kind of passion - and love of country - that Greg does.

Good stuff. Keep it up, Greg. Never surrender.


Ben over at Not Larry Sabato, skips the detail and wonders if Greg's choice of shirt in the accompanying photo has some ulterior meaning. That would be Ben. This is the same guy who avoided all discussion of substantive issues in the 2006 senatorial race here in Virginia and focused on the more important issues swirling around the true meaning of the word macaca.

So Many Darfurs

Those of you who plead for the U.S. government to get involved in the genocide taking place in Darfur need to understand something. There are a lot of Darfurs out there:

Ethiopia Is Said to Block Food to Rebel Region
By Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times

Nairobi, Kenya, July 21 — The Ethiopian government is blockading emergency food aid and choking off trade to large swaths of a remote region in the eastern part of the country that is home to a rebel force, putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of starvation, Western diplomats and humanitarian officials say.

The Ethiopian military and its proxy militias have also been siphoning off millions of dollars in international food aid and using a United Nations polio eradication program to funnel money to their fighters, according to relief officials, former Ethiopian government administrators and a member of the Ethiopian Parliament who defected to Germany last month to protest the government’s actions. (link)

Some will say we need to send troops into Ethiopia to stave off mass starvation. They might want to remember that it wasn't that long ago that we sent the United States military into neighboring Somalia on the same mission, and found ourselves in ignominious retreat when Bill Clinton ordered our forces there to turn tail and run when confronted by a band of thugs.

Darfur. Ethiopia. Somalia.

Congo. Zimbabwe. Chechnya ...

What To Do? What To Do?

This is getting to be like a broken record:
Gas Prices Rise on Refineries’ Record Failures
By Jad Mouawad, The New York Times

Oil refineries across the country have been plagued by a record number of fires, power failures, leaks, spills and breakdowns this year, causing dozens of them to shut down temporarily or trim production. The disruptions are helping to drive gasoline prices to highs not seen since last summer’s records.

These mechanical breakdowns, which one analyst likened to an “invisible hurricane,” have created a bottleneck in domestic energy supplies, helping to push up gasoline prices 50 cents this year to well above $3 a gallon. A third of the country’s 150 refineries have reported disruptions to their operations since the beginning of the year, a record according to analysts. (link)
This is bad. Our refineries are maxed out and any shutdown causes irreparable harm. Something needs to be done.

Let's see. We could devote more R&D money to solar energy development. Or we could promote conservation by requiring that Detroit raise its fuel economy standards. Or we could bicker over windmills.

Or we could build more refineries and ease the capacity and bottleneck problems.

I have a hunch which we'll do.

Get comfortable with the thought reality of $4.00 gasoline.