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

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Whole Premise Is Preposterous

Christian Trejbal, writing in this morning's Roanoke Times, does a darn good job of exposing the weaknesses in Southwest Virginia politicians' relentless - and costly - efforts to lure tourists to the area (in his case to Montgomery County):

The chamber hasn't delivered tourists
By Christian Trejbal

The New River Valley is ripe for tourism, but so are hundreds of communities around the country. There are plenty of places with stunning landscapes and bountiful recreational opportunities. The trick is standing out.

Montgomery County, Christiansburg and Blacksburg hope better marketing will catch tourists' eyes and have hired the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to get it done. The chamber, however, has not been up to the task.

The three governments have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the chamber for tourism promotion.

Data from The Virginia Tourism Corp., the state's tourism arm ..., reveal that tourism growth in Montgomery County was sluggish compared to the rest of the state. (
link)
Christian, being the consummate skilled professional, has to keep his criticisms above-board. What he means to say is:

We have failed. Tourism sucks. Our tax dollars have been wasted.

Beyond that, I want to make this point ... again: The data that the Chamber of Commerce uses and that Trejbal analyzes is not tourism data; it's clearly defined as being travel data, a different animal. A deceptively different animal. Read all about the distinction
here.

In a nutshell, the report allows for (at least) these three types of "travelers" to be considered "tourists":

● Vacationers on their way to Dollywood who stop over and spend the night at the Hampton Inn in Christiansburg. That $110 (plus tax) they spend on the room?

Tourism dollars.

● Businessmen who spend the day in Blacksburg and who get a bite to eat at Outback? That lunch tab?

Tourism.

● Jerry Fuhrman when he travels to the Home Depot from Bland County to buy some 16 penny nails?

Yep. A by-God tourist. (You think I'm making that up. The report specifically allows for any trip from one's home that exceeds 50 miles to be considered "travel," thus my journey becomes a "tourist trip." I feel like I should take photos for my album and buy a souvenir while there.)

The whole thing's a joke. And thanks go out to Christian Trejbal for bringing it to everyone's attention.

We Heard All This Before

This is exactly what the argument in favor of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform was only five years ago. You'd think these people would have learned from their mistake ...
Campaign for Sale
New York Times editorial


By next Election Day, the two presidential nominees are expected to break the $1 billion mark in combined spending — a 50 percent rise over the outrageously high price of the 2004 campaign. Congressional races will total out at hundreds of millions beyond that, while party organizations and their mushrooming stealth operations will run up their own deluxe tabs.

Even if the Supreme Court has started treating the cash of wealthy corporations and special-interest groups as free speech, there are responsible ways to put brakes on a runaway money train that promises to generate little in the way of voter turnout or issue elucidation.

A worthy bill to restore public financing’s relevancy is scheduled to be introduced ... (link)
There are those who argued from day 1 that Congress's attempt at reining in campaign financing (McCain-Feingold), besides restricting our fundamental right to free speech, was a complete waste of time; that you'll never take money out of politics. They were right. These guys - John McCain, the New York Times edtorial staff - push forward blindly anyway, willing to waste even more time.

The definition of the word stupidity is ...

A Follow-up

On that Roanoke firefighter who collapsed while fighting a house fire and was rushed to the hospital the other day:
Firefighter listed in good condition
By Mason Adams, the Roanoke Times

A Roanoke firefighter who suffered cardiac arrest while battling a house fire on Friday afternoon has been upgraded to good condition.

Scott Hetherington, 39, ... was listed in stable condition on Friday night, but on Saturday Carilion Clinic spokesman Eric Earnhart said he'd been upgraded to good condition. (link)
Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

How Will We Survive?

Wintry Storm Curbs Campaigning in Iowa

Flight Of Fancy

I'm not sure what this says about the Republican Party of Virginia, other than the fact that a portion therein who gathered together in Arlington yesterday are as nutty as the man they apparently support for president:

Paul easily wins GOP straw poll
By Seth McLaughlin, The Washington Times


The "Ron Paul revolution" swept into the Old Dominion yesterday as the congressman from Texas won the Republican Party of Virginia's presidential straw poll.

Mr. Paul won the straw poll with 182 votes. Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee came in second with 112 votes. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in third with 51 votes. His wife, Janet, spoke on his behalf.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took 45 votes, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got 43 votes, Sen. John McCain of Arizona won 23 votes, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California got 19 votes, and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado got four votes.

The straw poll highlighted a weekend in which more than 600 Virginia Republicans talked about the need for the party — which has suffered three straight losses in races for top statewide office and the recent Democratic takeover of the Virginia Senate — to come together. (link)


It's heartening to think that the libertarian wing of the GOP here in the commonwealth is gaining strength. But the standardbearer of that wing - Mr. Paul - an entertaining conspiracy theorist at least, leaves a lot to be desired. Surely there's someone out there better able to represent those with anarchical tendencies who doesn't come across as being in the latter stages of dementia.

Quote Of The Day

From the master:
Last Tuesday, Bill Clinton, trying to whet Iowans' appetites for another Clinton presidency, announced/discovered/remembered that he opposed the Iraq war "from the beginning," thereby revealing disharmony with his spouse, who voted for it. Backward reels the mind, to 1992, when Gov. Clinton explained his opinion of Congress's 1991 authorization of the Persian Gulf War: "I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But I agree with the arguments the minority made."

Such muddiness clarifies: Do voters who are weary of the scary clarity of the current president's certitudes really want to replace them with a recurrence of the hairsplitting evasions that created the adjective "Clintonian"?
George Will, "None of The Below," The Washington Post, December 2, 2007

Good Grief

I guess I should have seen this coming. A commenter to this weblog yesterday had made mention of the fact that Hillary is being portrayed in the mainstream press as having become some kind of hero for having dealt with the hostage crisis that had taken place in one of her thousand local campaign offices with great forcefulness and awe-inspiring mastery. My reaction: You must be joking.

He/she wasn't joking.

This is - purely - simply - ridiculous:
Analysis: Clinton Calm in Hostage Crisis
By Glen Johnson, The Associated Press

Portsmouth, N.H. (AP) - When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.


The image, broadcast just as the network news began, conveyed the message a thousand town hall meetings and campaign commercials strive for - namely, that the Democratic presidential contender can face disorder in a most orderly manner.

... the woman striving to move from former first lady to the first female president was eager to convey that she knew the traditional lines of command and control in a crisis ...

Along with taking charge while giving the professionals free rein, Clinton offered up a third dimension to her crisis character: humanity.

Clinton sought to use the sad moment as a national teaching opportunity. (link)
We'll pause for a moment while the author of this pitiable AP "news" item retracts his tractile lips from Hillary's rotund butt.

Look. Hillary was no closer to this "crisis" than you and I were. She knew the people involved no more than you or I do. She was in no decision-making capacity whatsoever. And for this "reporter" to suggest that she didn't fall apart in that period of time during which this saga unfolded says a great deal about the level of trust and confidence this reporter actually has in Hillary's ability to weather crises in the future. A rather low threshhold of faith, obviously.

Journalists everywhere ought to be ashamed of the fact that they work the same universe as this journalist, Glen Johnson.

It Breaks My Heart

Robert Redford's anti-Iraq War movie, "Lions For Lambs," is going to cost investors a bundle. Shucks.
"Lions for Lambs" fails to roar for United Artists
By Steve Gorman, Reuters

Los Angeles (Reuters) - "Lions for Lambs," the star-studded first film from United Artists since Tom Cruise and his longtime producing partner took over the fabled studio, has so far generated more yawns than roars at box offices.

After three weeks in theaters, the antiwar drama directed by Robert Redford with an A-list cast featuring Redford, Cruise and Meryl Streep, has grossed a meager $14 million in North American ticket sales and about $26 million more overseas.

Entertainment trade paper Daily Variety said the film was unlikely to gross more than $60 million in theatrical revenues worldwide and reported some industry watchers projecting the movie could lose as much as $25 million. (
link)
And what do Unied Artists studio heads think of this debacle?
[CEO Paula] Wagner acknowledged that "Lions for Lambs" failed to live up to expectations but defended the movie as worth making, both commercially and artistically.
Her idea of "worth," it seems to me, is a bit warped. I wonder if those who invested in the flick in order to garner a return on that investment might disagree with her.

(Can anyone be a Hollywood CEO these days?)

Perhaps Newt Is Right ...

... on the illegal immigrant problem being such a hot-button issue in 2008 when he wrote:

Most Americans are open to people who want to become American, who will work hard, obey the law, and who are willing to learn English and American history. Within this framework of patriotic integration it is possible to be both pro-conservative and pro-immigrant.

But this framework cannot stand unless it is built upon the solid foundation of the rule of law. (source)
Hillary got a taste of some seething bitterness in this regard yesterday:

Clinton Booed at Heartland Forum
By Eloise Harper, ABC News.com

A day after dealing with a hostage crisis, Sen. Hillary Clinton faced a tough crowd in Iowa. Clinton did not receive the warmest of welcomes at the Heartland Form in Des Moines, IA, and although the hostage scare was mentioned, the announcer brushed it off quickly in order to get to questions. Clinton, who was forced to call in to speak to the crowd of thousands because of weather difficulties, took questions on topics from healthcare to illegal immigration.

The senator was asked if she would "make a decision to give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship" during her first 100 days in office. Clinton responded saying, "I have been favoring a plan to citizenship for years. I voted for it in the Senate, I have spoke out about it around Iowa and the country and in my campaign. And as president comprehensive immigration reform will be a high priority for me."

Soft booing could be heard from the audience. The man repeated his question about the first 100 days. Clinton replied, "Well you've to get congress to pass the legislation and the president to do as much as possible, which I will do." Louder boos came from the crowd.

Clinton was thanked for her appearance and the moderator expressed sympathies for the ordeal she suffered yesterday. Clinton thanked the moderator. More booing could be heard from the crowd again after she hung up the line. (link)


As Newt says above - and I have made clear in the past as well - Washington created this colossal mess. Until Washington fixes that which it broke, there'll be no talk about "comprehensive immigration reform," which is accepted in the heartland as doublespeak meaning: more of the same, what's broke will become ... broker.

A Democrat Endorses Hillary

Why? To quote Perry County, Alabama Commissioner Albert Turner:

"The question you have to put forth to yourself is that whether or not in this racist country a black man named Obama — when we are shooting at Osama — can win the presidency of the United States?"

Turner said Clinton is the Democrat most likely to win in November "because of her husband and because of some other things, mainly because she's white." (source)
What's particularly rich here is that 90% of black Americans are going to vote Democrat anyway, despite this sort of invidious baseness within the Democratic Party. (We all know Republicans are racists, after all ...)

Whatever floats your boat.

History Worth Remembering

The Right-Wing Liberal offers up (in "Two more Republicans who DON'T get it are blogging") a valuable lesson to those political elites (and ex-politicians) who think Jim Gilmore is too divisive to win next November and who feel that we need a more "moderate" Republican candidate for the Senate):
I have ... been a Virginia voter since 1993, so I know a little about those "hard-fought majorities" you [state Senator Marty Williams] claim. You might not like to hear it, but your first Senate majority (1998) came courtesy of Jim Gilmore, the only politician in Virginia to lead a successful tax revolt. It was voter anger at the car tax that (a) elected Gilmore, and enabled him to appoint Charles Waddell into his cabinet, which got the GOP its 21st Senate seat in the ensuing special election and (b) also elected John Hager Lieutenant Governor, thus giving the party control over the Senate even when it was split 20-20 (prior to Bill Mims winning Waddell's seat). The House majority was once again due to Gilmore, who moved heaven and earth in 1999 to get the GOP to 53 Delegates.
Is Jim Gilmore too conservative? Only to those who found out the hard way that the people of Virginia feel differently.