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

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On The Road

Hey, I was in Atlanta yesterday. Nothing has changed since my last visit.

And I can now say I've been to Athens, GA. Once.

Boucher Endorses Loser

Okay. Not nice.

The news:

Va. Rep. Boucher endorses Obama
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher, D-9th today endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Boucher, citing what he called Obama's broad appeal, said the Illinois senator can win in rural and urban areas. Boucher's popularity in Southwest Virginia could aid Obama in Virginia's Feb. 12 primary. (link)
This startling development may be just what Obama needs to turn his flagging campaign around.

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To give him his due, Boucher could be right about this: "I believe that Sen. Obama can carry my district in 2008, and carry Virginia in 2008, and none of the other [Democratic] candidates can."

Free Up The Booze!

Anyone else find it bizarre that in 2008 the state of Virginia still prohibits package liquor from being sold over the counter, except in state-run stores? What is up with that?

The boys at the Roanoke Times are scratching their heads as well:
End Virginia's Sunday prohibition
If lawmakers won't privatize liquor stores, at least they should allow them to sell booze on Sundays.

The prohibition of liquor sales on Sundays is one of the commonwealth's throwbacks to its teetotaler past. Beer and wine are fine; one can buy those at a grocery store any day. The harder stuff, though, is not for sale one day of the week because some people go to church.

Many lawmakers who praise privatization and market forces consistently fail to support them when it comes to booze. They perpetuate a state monopoly in an industry that is far from a basic service essential to the well-being of the commonwealth.

Selling off Virginia's ABC stores could be a financial boon for the state. The initial sale alone would generate gobs of cash, and ongoing licensing fees and taxes would maintain revenue.

In return, the drinking public would enjoy competition in the marketplace, which would likely lead to lower prices and greater convenience. (link)
Yeah, let me state that which you're all thinking about now: The Roanoke Times is promoting our capitalist free-market system? I'm perplexed as well.

But to the point: Look, I'm not suffering. I've got West Virginia just up the road, where there is booze aplenty and friendly proprietors beckon. It's for the rest of you who have to endure the heavy hand of government - where it has no business being (key word being business) - that I fret for.

You too should have a Pakistani-owned liquor store down the street like the rest of America.

A Path To Victory

But will the GOP here in Virginia blow it again?

The people speak:
Cut transportation funding, poll says
The Roanoke Times

Richmond -- Boosting taxes or tapping the state's "rainy day" reserve fund is not the way a majority in a new statewide poll wants the state's strained budget to be reconciled.

Fifty-six percent of those questioned in a Christopher Newport University survey said they prefer that the General Assembly and Gov. Tim Kaine slash state spending to offset a projected revenue shortfall.

When asked what they would cut first, 55 percent of the 700 registered voters questioned said it should be transportation funding, the legislature's signature achievement last year. (link)
That's debatable, of course. All the experts (no, that does not include the crowd at the Washington Post) tell us we are in desperate need of cash to improve the roads up in northern Virginia. So be it.

But the fact that the people of Virginia know full well what's going on in Richmond with the mushrooming budget should provide a wake-up call. They want the profligate spending to stop.

Republicans - especially those in the off-the-reservation senate - should take heed. This remains a path to victory.

Let the Democrats talk about raising taxes again.

Whether You Like It Or Not

All you effete snobs out there who trash Wal-Mart at every turn because it drives "the little guy" out of business when it moves into a new neighborhood, I want you to compare the following to Ernie's Bait & Tackle and Bill's Bulging Bargain Basement:
Wal-Mart touts employee health coverage
By Jen Haberkorn, The Washington Times
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said yesterday that, for the first time, half of its employees are covered by its health care plan and that 92.7 percent of employees have insurance, whether through the company or another provider.

The world's largest retailer and the country's largest private employer said the number of uninsured employees fell from 9.6 percent a year ago to 7.3 percent after its most recent open enrollment period.

Wal-Mart has made changes to its plan that allow employees to alter their health care coverage based on their needs and expanded benefits to include coverage for families, $4 generic drugs and pre-deductible health care credits. It also sent all employees DVDs about how to enroll and posted that information online.

In last fall's open-enrollment period, 79 percent of Wal-Mart's approximately 1.3 million employees were eligible for benefits, according to the company. (link)
1.3 million employees and their families eligible for health care benefits.

All those jobs (okay, it's only twelve so far) that have been created here in Southwest Virginia in the bicycle and canoe livery businesses as a result of government largesse (re the tourism industry) - how many of those employees are being offered health coverage?

Here's to Wal-Mart. Make that plural. Lots and lots of Wal-Marts.

Let It Be Duly Noted ...

... that all this internecine warfare over race and gender we're seeing play out on the evening news is occurring during the Democratic Party nominating process, where America's racists and sexists have resided for decades but preferred to have us think otherwise all along:
For Clinton and Obama, the Burden of Identity
By Judith Warner, writing in the New York Times

The “biggest fairy tale” in this year’s Democratic contest may be the hope, expressed with renewed vigor by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, that, as the campaign moves forward, they will be viewed as “individuals” and not as representatives of their gender or race.

Can progressives part ways with identity politics? Is it a betrayal of their liberal principles to do so? Or is it time, as Obama has consistently suggested, for a new generation to redefine what is truly, productively, “progressive”? (link)
Good question(s). Why don't you ask Democratic Party luminaries like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Eleanor Smeal of NOW. And Kate Michelman of NARAL.

Can progressives part ways with identity politics? When pigs fly.

Painful But True

First, before anyone explodes, a definition:

Adjective: false fols
1. Not in accordance with the fact or reality or actuality
2. Arising from error
3. Erroneous and usually accidental
4. Deliberately deceptive

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The folks at the New York Times, I'm guessing, want us to lean on number (4) when reading the following article, but historians will agree that it is without doubt true that (1) through (3) certainly apply when talking about the lead-up to the Iraq war:
Study: False Statements Preceded War
By The Associated Press

Washington (AP) -- A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements ''were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.''

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

''The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world,'' Stanzel said. (link)
Stanzel is correct, of course. Which means all the declarations made by President Bush and his people (the study actually recounted 935 "false" statements made in the two-year period before the war began) proved over time to be inaccurate.

Historians will also note that "inaccurate" is a far cry from "Bush lied ..."

Fred Thompson Calls It Quits

This is a disappointment. A not unexpected disappointment:

Thompson Ends Campaign for G.O.P. Nomination
By Adam Nagourney, The New York Times

Coral Beach, Fla. — Fred D. Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee, dropped out of the Republican race for president on Tuesday after a third-place primary showing on Saturday in South Carolina, a state he had hoped to win when he entered the race riding a wave of optimism among conservatives looking for a strong general election candidate. (
I think, as the field started to narrow, that conservatives began rallying around Thompson. But it was a case of "too little too late."

So we move on.

I'm putting the best possible spin light on this development: With Thompson out, there is a better chance that the conservative vote that was being split between Thompson, Giuliani, and Romney will now go to the other two, with the lion's share going to ol' Mitt.

Witnessing the highlights lowlights from the most recent Democratic debate in South Carolina, all I can say is: We could do a lot worse than either Republican.

On The NY Times Veteran Murderer Story

If you're not completely familiar with the story, go here and bone up.

John Hinderaker has taken a look at the methodology the Times used in deriving its statistic of 121 "killings" by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and determined this:
The Times was completely silent as to its methodology, which in itself refutes any pretension to scientific method. But does anyone think that the Times dispatched reporters to small towns all across America, hunting through old microfiche records for references to veterans? I don't. I'd bet that all or substantially all of the Times' research was done on the internet, by googling combinations of words like "veteran," "soldier," "Iraq," "murder," and so on. A reader with time on his hands could probably duplicate the Times' research and come up with their 121 instances in a couple of hours.
And this:
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the local paper was intrigued by the Times' claims and decided to check its own archives for evidence. Fayetteville, located near Fort Bragg, home to the 82nd Airborne and special operations units, is an excellent place to conduct the experiment; few localities, if any, have been home to as many soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Fayetteville Observer checked its own archives, with predictable results:

"Twelve Fort Bragg soldiers have been accused of killing 13 people in the six-plus years since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Observer records. In the six years before the terrorist attacks, 16 Fort Bragg soldiers were accused of killing 18 people."

There you have it: wartime and peacetime yield the same low homicide rates for soldiers.
The final word on this shocking exercise in ineptitude from Instapundit:

"If you published a similarly anecdotal and unfounded piece about black people and murder, the NYT would call you a racist."

Sad. True.