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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Murtha Earmarks: Waste Or Thievery?

Watch this video and ask yourself: Why isn't Congressman Jack Murtha in a federal penitentiary?

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

This, considering the source, is simply staggering:
A War We Just Might Win
By Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, writing in The New York Times

Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

... for now, things look much better than before.

Outside Baghdad, one of the biggest factors in the progress so far has been the efforts to decentralize power to the provinces and local governments.

... there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008. (link)
Again, this appeared in the rabidly anti-war, anti-Bush New York Times.

We are winning indeed.

We're Number 1! ... almost

Sometimes we have a tendency to dwell too much on the negative (because there's plenty of it). Today, however, we have reason to shout out something good being accomplished here in Southwest Virginia.

Our high school drop-out rates.

Check out the data* relating to Virginia's counties and municipalities and their respective student drop-out rates that I've put in graph form for ease of comprehension, information that emanates from the Annie E. Casey Foundation below. I've plotted the best ten localities along with the worst in the state - Petersburg. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Scott County is ranked second in the state and Bland County is in fourth. !!

Whatever you're doing, do more of it. And thanks.

*data is for the 2006 calendar year.

The Truth Hits Home

So how did Southwest Virginia's largest private employer react to the recent government-mandated increase in the minimum wage?

With a shrug.

Perhaps even with glee.

Area Wal-Mart stores, as it turns out, were already paying considerably more than the $5.85 an hour that is now the threshhold for adult hourly worker pay.

So which employers were affected? To the dismay of those who hate Wal-Mart and all it stands for, the increase hit the giant retailer's local competition. "Mom and Pop." The locally-owned business down the street whose virtues some love to extol.

From the Galax Gazette:

Minimum wage hike first in 10 years

Few local employers will be immediately affected by the first nationwide raise in the minimum hourly wage in 10 years, which went into effect last week.

Most employers in the area pay above the $5.15 minimum. Those earning minimum wage are mostly fast food and service industry workers, motel cleaning staff and employees of “mom and pop” stores, said Bill Webb, director of the Virginia Employment Commission office in Galax.

Christina Miller, 25, and her husband recently moved to the Twin Counties with their two children, looking for a better life.

What they found was low-income jobs and high-income living.

Miller worked at a local grocery store for $5.15 an hour while trying to support two children and a husband for nearly four months before finding a job paying a bit more. (link)
Try to picture the "mom and pop" owner of that "local grocery store" down the street from Galax's Wal-Mart Super Center. Mom and pop have been forced by the United States government to raise its rate of pay for its employees, without being able to offset the increase with price hikes - because the big box down the street is already giving it to them in the shorts with a broader assortment of products at wonderfully attractive prices, in a gleaming, spotless store chock full of friendly employees, who are all already making more money by being there instead of at mom and pop's.

If Wal-Mart didn't give them reason enough to close their doors forever, the United States government has. The last nail in mom and pop's coffin.

And don't forget: The Democrats did this to help the little guy.

Any more help and mom and pop will be working at Wal-Mart too.

Can't We Just Apologize Instead?

Surely we did something to the Monacan and Chickahominy Indian tribes here in Virginia a few centuries ago to warrant another legislative "profound regret."

In lieu, that is, of providing them with federal funds.

Somehow, I don't think a pat on the ass is what they are seeking however:

Politicians forget Va. tribes again
By Michael Paul Williams, Richmond Times-Dispatch Columnist

Karenne Wood's words in May seem prophetic.

The U.S. House of Representatives, amid the fanfare of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, had passed a bill that would give federal recognition to six Virginia Indian tribes. But Wood, a former chairwoman of the Virginia Council on Indians, felt doubt wrapping around her joy.

"I wonder if this is real," she said at the time. "I wonder if we're going to get hung up in the Senate or some other obstacle will be presented."

She now has her answer. It wasn't real. Federal recognition of Virginia's tribes isn't on the Senate radar.

"You have to wonder if the whole passage by the House was simply a way to placate during anniversary weekend," Wood, a member of the Monacan tribal council, said Friday. "Nothing's happened since then. And a lot of people in the tribe are saying, 'What was that about?'" (link)

Federal recognition? Is that all? Shoot, that ought to be easy enough.

Oh. Wait. It's not really about recognition, is it? It's about glomming on to one of the government's many money teats:

"Recognition would allow tribes to receive increased housing, health care and education benefits."

Sorry, fellas. We're sucked dry.

How about that profound regret instead? If it was good enough for our black activists here in the commonwealth, it ought to be good enough for you.

Finally, It Comes Out

Many people here in Virginia keep asking: What's with all the fuss over those punitive traffic fees if only 2 to 3 percent of us (the 2-3% who navigate the state's highways and are habitual lawbreakers and dangerous drivers) will ever have to pay them?

The fuss, when it comes down to it, has little to do with the fees that are going to be assessed when a motorist is convicted of drunk driving or when he has accumulated too many speeding tickets.

It has everything to do with raising your taxes again.

A Democrat in the House of Delegates is the first to spill the beans make the case that the transportation budgeting debate needs to be reopened, and that another look at alternative sources of tax revenue needs to be taken.

Bad-driver fees only part of the problem
John S. Edwards [D-Roanoke], writing in the Roanoke Times

The ill-conceived Transportation Act of 2007 -- negotiated in secret* by House and Senate Republican leaders -- is only now receiving the public scrutiny it should have received during the legislative session last winter. And the public is making clear that it does not like what it sees.

The dramatic increase in fees is intended to raise funds for road improvements, never mind that this source is inadequate and not designed to fund road building.

The bark has now been stripped from the pretense that this legislation fixes Virginia's transportation crisis. At best, it is a short-term, stopgap measure. At worst, it is unfair to Virginians and unworkable.

Virginia's transportation funding crisis is real.

Most people agree an additional $1 billion annually -- from a permanent, reliable, long-term revenue source -- is needed to solve this crisis. The 2007 transportation legislation neither raises sufficient funds to fix the problem nor is fair to Virginians. (link)
The message can't be more clear. Nor can the motive.

The Democrats lost the debate in 2007 when they tried to raise your taxes and failed.

They are going to try again. That "transportation crisis," like the decayed, decomposing, offensively malodorous cadavers in "Dawn of the Dead," has returned from the grave (to strip away the bones and eat your flesh, if I can continue the simile).

And the Democrats will succeed in raising your taxes - for no good reason - if we let them.

Be vigilant. Don't buy into the whining and scare tactics about traffic fees being too harsh. These guys don't give a damn about them. They only want what's in your wallet. Stop them. Again.


* Either Delegate Edwards was asleep during the proceedings or he is here lying. As another delegate, Sam Nixon (R-Chesterfield), pointed out in a column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch a week ago ("Avoid Egregious Offenses, and Fees Will Pose No Problem"), there was no secrecy to the negotiations whatsoever. He wrote:

"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."

So much for secrecy.

Two Men Made For Each Other

I had to chuckle this morning when I read former Vice President Walter Mondale's letter to the editor of the Washington Post ("Answering To No One"). Not because the man sees dark, sinister forces at work behind the scenes in the nation's capital to create some kind of jack-booted dictatorship in the office he once held, which is the main thrust of the column (I'm sure Dick and Lynn Cheney get plenty of chuckles when reading such lunacy).

No, I laughed when I read Mondale's assertion that the office of the vice presidency was of no particular significance until ... drumroll ... he occupied it:
... it wasn't until Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency that the vice presidency took on a substantive role. Carter saw the office as an underused asset and set out to make the most of it. He gave me an office in the West Wing, unimpeded access to him and to the flow of information, and specific assignments at home and abroad. He asked me, as the only other nationally elected official, to be his adviser and partner on a range of issues.

Our relationship depended on trust, mutual respect and an acknowledgement that ...
Okay, enough. I'm getting nauseous.

I think Mondale is trying to convince us that he and Jimmy were birds of a feather. On that we can all agree.

Both have - to this day - delusions of importance. Both believe they did good. In fact, both brought only shame and humiliation upon this great nation.

Mondale and Carter are certainly a pair. God, may they do their coupling somewhere else and get out of our lives forever. They conjure only bad memories of our worst days.

Send Them To Arlington

Who'd have thought it would come to this? The federal government is making it known that it cannot control the rampant lawlessness that has invaded towns and cities across this land:
Virginia's bid for help with illegals nixed
By Natasha Altamirano, The Washington Times

Federal immigration officials say they lack the resources to fulfill a proposed mandate by Virginia lawmakers to train staff at every state jail to start deportation procedures for illegal aliens.

"I cannot make that commitment to Virginia," said William F. Reid, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Washington field office. (link)
The United States of America is admitting that it is powerless to do anything about the millions of lawbreakers in our midst. What kind of signal does that send to those who are wanting to commit other crimes across the spectrum? The implications are frightening.

As for the illegal Mexicans that our northern counties are trying mightily to evict, if we can't send them home, how about we send them where they're welcome?

It Gets Worse

If it's not bad enough that the federal government has finally admitted that it has surrendered to the illegal aliens in our midst (see above), now the Democrats in Congress want to invite more - millions more illegals - to cross our border and join them:
A new entitlement for illegals
Washington Times editorial

Unsatisfied with thwarting a Republican effort to authorize $3 billion for a border fence, congressional Democrats are trying to enhance the incentive for illegal aliens to enter the United States by removing the citizenship requirement from the popular State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The Republican Congress in 1996 passed legislation blocking people who are in the country illegally from claiming benefits from the federal government, and when SCHIP was created in 1997, states were required to verify citizenship. But Democrats want to take that sensible requirement for Medicaid and SCHIP and leave it to the discretion of each state. (link)
Another day. Another Democratic outrage.

They Don't Deserve Him

As we approach that moment in time when Hank Aaron's homerun record - once thought to be unbreakable - is shattered by a bulked-up, steroid-mutated "athlete," playing in a league full of drug-enhanced, drug-induced jocks, major league baseball took time out yesterday to honor a man who did it the natural way. With good old-fashioned athleticism and skill. Oh, and a lot of hard work:
The Iron Man has his golden moment
By Dick Heller, The Washington Times

Cooperstown, N.Y. — In this picturesque village on the shores of Lake Otsego, Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr. became a baseball immortal yesterday.

Before a record throng of 75,000 at Clark Sports Center, the former Baltimore Orioles star was inducted along with former San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (link)
Not mentioned is why Ripken would lower himself to such a level as to show up for the event.

I Don't Know About You, But ...

Question: How much time do you spend on your hair each day?

Me? 10 minutes. Maybe.

So what's up with this?

Nervy Judith Rattled Hillary
Page Six, The New York Post

July 30, 2007 -- Judith Giuliani is an opportunistic, puppy-killing homewrecker who has a full-time hairstylist and needs an extra seat on planes for "Baby Louis," her Louis Vuitton handbag - at least according to a hatchet job on the former mayor's wife in the September issue of Vanity Fair. (link)
The article goes on to describe an incident in which Senator Hillary got manhandled at a 9/11 memorial ceremony by a gang of Giuliani bodyguards, an event that half of America would pay to watch.

Vanity Fair, for those of you not familiar with the rag, is a left-leaning magazine for and about liberal Democrat New Yorkers. So there may be something more to this hatchet job than meets the eye.

But if it's accurate, a full-time hairstylist? The mind reels ...

Don't Believe Me?

Who was it said John McCain would never get the Republican nomination for president. Ever.

Well, old Newt is of the same opinion:
Newt Ging-Rips McCain
By Geoff Earle, The New York Post

July 30, 2007 -- Washington - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it would be nearly impossible for Sen. John McCain to be president, piling on criticism of the former Republican front-runner.

McCain (R-Ariz.) "has taken positions so deeply at odds with his party's base that I don't see how he can get the nomination," Gingrich said on "Fox News Sunday." (link)
John Warner would do well to take the lesson being taught here and seek the easy out. Retirement should be looking pretty good about now.

We'd hate to have to McCain him.

But we will. His day too is done.

Isn't That What Climate Change Is?

Two headlines, back-to-back, on The Drudge Report:

Atlantic Storms Have Doubled...

Study blames climate change...

Blame might not be the right word. The doubling of the number of Atlantic storms IS a change in the climate, not because of one.

I think the fearmongers should stick to "global warming." It makes more sense.