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

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Into The Lion's Den

Dan Radmacher, editorial page editor of the Roanoke Times, makes a valid point and asks a vital question regarding those now-infamous traffic abuser fees we suddenly despise, and about some of the people who despise them.

In an editorial this morning:

What do they want to do about transportation?
By Dan Radmacher

As an anonymous commentator on the
Bacon's Rebellion blog said, "So wait a second -- 'anti-tax conservative activists' are suing to overturn a bill that is the direct result of the refusal of 'anti-tax conservative activists' to raise needed revenue by actually raising taxes, rather than raising funds with phony stunts? Amazing."

Amazing, but true.

... I still find myself asking what these folks do want. They don't want statewide taxes. They don't want the state to borrow money. They don't want regional taxes or impact fees.
I'll not speak for "these folks." They have opened themselves up to this kind of criticism. As Jim Bacon aptly wrote yesterday: "People want the road improvements, they just want someone else to pay for them." Or so it seems.

As for me, I recognized early on that the transportation budget compromise that was hammered out by the legislature was
a bullet dodged. Key word being compromise. A word my conservative friends need to learn to love and embrace. At least in circumstances like this.

Now they find themselves in bed with those, like Radmacher, who want our taxes raised to solve a problem that has already been solved. I hope they enjoy one another's company.

As for Dan's question ("I still find myself asking what these folks do want"), I'll let Geoffrey F. Segal ("Virginia Spending and Budget Reform") answer:
The real problem facing our state is the average annual growth in spending of 8.12 percent between 1997 and 2006. If this continues we will face another tax battle in a few years and it will make last year’s “mud fight” look tame in comparison.
He wrote this two years ago and, just as he predicted, another tax battle looms. The surplus, massive a few short months ago, has apparently evaporated. Spent.

Taxes aren't the problem. Until we control the out-of-control, we will forever be fighting over funding. Forever.

A note to my conservative friends: For those of you who now want the transportation compromise revisited, the lion's den awaits. Dan will welcome you with sharpened talons and a thirst for blood.

One Of America's Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

A news item appearing in this morning's Washington Post reminded me of an ongoing mystery from a bygone era.

First the news:

A Battle Scene's Full Circle
Torched, Torn, Tattered and Trimmed, Massive Painting of Gettysburg Enjoys Restoration and Return to Prominence
By Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post Staff Writer

Gettysburg, Pa. "Everybody ready?" asks the chief art conservator, David L. Olin.

He pauses for a second, then starts the hoist. With the drone of machinery, a segment of the legendary Gettysburg cyclorama, four stories tall, begins to rise up the wall and back to life.

The depiction of the Battle of Gettysburg's climactic moment has begun the final stages of its return. The circular oil painting survived 124 years of use and abuse. It has been restored in an $11.2 million, four-year conservation program and will be the showpiece of a new $7.5 million building at Gettysburg National Military Park.

You have to stand before this massive painting to fully appreciate it. It is 359 feet long, 27 feet high and weighs an estimated 3 tons. It's called a cyclorama because it forms a 360° circle. The viewer stands in its center. It is a sight to behold.

Which brings us to America's greatest mystery - next to the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa.

Where are the Shiloh and "Battle Above the Clouds" cycloramas?
Vanished Heritage
What happened to all the other cycloramas?
By Harold Holzer, writing in American Heritage magazine
August/September 2005)

Atlanta’s original Cyclorama—now lost—was called Battle Above the Clouds and showed the fight for Lookout Mountain. Created in Berlin by the team of Eugene Bracht, Karl Roechling, and George Koch, it was promoted as “the greatest battle painting in the world” when it arrived in the United States and was assessed a $10,000 customs duty. No one knows what became of it.

A similar mysterious fate awaited the panorama of the Battle of Shiloh, painted in the 1880s, but long since lost. All that is left are a series of black-and-white photographs made while the picture was still on view and an advertising chromolithograph that showed a section of the panorama—focusing on a McCormick harvester machine that, the print shamelessly claimed, proved its durability by surviving the battle.
The Shiloh cyclorama was last seen in Chicago around the turn of the last century. It then dropped off the face of the earth.

How do you misplace a 359 foot long, 27 foot high, 3 ton painting?

Yet misplaced they are. Or worse.

A mystery waiting to be solved ...

Obama Follows In Sharpton's Footsteps

He came with such promise. He fades the more we get to know him.

A phrase made famous, upon the untimely death of President John F. Kennedy: "Johnny, we hardly knew ye?"

Barack, we know you oh so well.

George Will on the man who instilled, briefly as it turns out, audacious hope:
Sen. Barack Obama recently told some Iowa farmers that prices of their crops are not high enough, considering what grocers are charging for other stuff: "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Living near the University of Chicago, Obama has perhaps experienced this outrage, but Iowans, who have no Whole Foods stores, might remember 1987, when Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis urged Iowa farmers to diversify by raising endive. Said a farmer to a Boston reporter, "Your governor scared me just a hair."

Obama is not scary, just disappointing. Regarding a matter more serious than vegetables -- a judicial confirmation -- he looks like just another liberal on a leash. His candidacy kindled hope that he might bring down the curtain on the long-running and intensely boring melodrama "Forever Selma," starring Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It was hoped Obama would be impatient with the ritualized choreography of synthetic indignation that degrades racial discourse. He is, however, unoriginal and unjust ...
"Obama Judges a Judge," The Washington Post, August 12, 2007

Concern Grows Over Shuttle Damage

NASA To Look Closer At Troubling Gouge

Like I said ...

A Welcome Boost

This should give Mitt Romney some momentum. But how many years are we away from the presidential election?

Romney Wins Iowa Straw Poll by a Sizable Margin
By Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

Ames, Iowa, Aug. 11 — In pickups, cars and caravans of buses, thousands of Republicans converged on the Iowa State University campus here Saturday for the Iowa Straw Poll, a part-carnival, part-political event. And Mitt Romney walked away with the first prize of the campaign.

Mr. Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, won with 32 percent of the vote cast, Republican officials said. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, came in second with 18 percent.

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who had waged a concerted effort to undercut Mr. Romney among conservative voters by challenging his recent shift to oppose abortion, among other issues, drew 15 percent. (link)

This win would probably have been more meaningful had Romney's leading competitor participated. Rudy chose not to involve himself.

Still, a win is a win.

John McCain, who chose not to join the contest either, came in tenth.

Separated At Birth?