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

Friday, January 25, 2008

When Good Power Tools Go Bad

Run for your lives!

Put 'Em To The Test

Read carefully this Roanoke Times editorial ("Shooting down a gun sales reform") that chastises two Southwest Virginia Democratic senators (Reynolds and Edwards) for voting against closing that non-existent "gun show loophole" and ask the following questions:

1) Why do they want it closed?
2) What problem - real, not imagined - exists that would be remedied by passage of the bill?
3) What statistics are provided to bolster the argument that sales of firearms by private individuals in this state or country need to be curtailed?

For those of you who choose to not waste your time, it boils down to this:

The two senators "ignored the pleas of bereaved families touched by the Virginia Tech shootings in April."

No stats. No clearly defined problem. Just:

Though all evidence points to the contrary, if certain ill-defined perameters were to exist, a problem of unknown magnitude may someday develop and we need to be prepared for that remote possibility.

The stuff Roanoke Times editorials are made of.

As Virginia Becomes More Liberal ...

... we draw ever closer to adopting liberal ideas. Like government employees in Richmond being able to bargain collectively with the state.

This news comes from Delegate Chris Saxman* in the form of an email:

House Republicans Unanimously Support Retention of Virginia’s Right to Work Status

House Democrats refuse to record position on a measure sponsored by one of their own

Richmond, VA 24 January 2008: House Republicans today defeated House Bill 852, an effort to wholly repeal the prohibition on collective bargaining by government employees. House Bill 852 – sponsored by Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington), former Virginia Department of Commerce and Labor Chief Deputy Commissioner under Governor Mark Warner – would have allowed state and local government employees to collectively bargain with a union. If approved, the bill would have marked a reversal of Virginia’s long-standing status as a Right to Work state.

All House Republicans voted against this anti-business measure, citing it as detrimental to Virginia’s economy and likely to endanger the Commonwealth’s status as America’s best state for business. In contrast, House Democrats – at the insistence of House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (D-Henry) – remained in their seats refusing to cast a vote on this critical piece of legislation, even though sponsored by a delegate in their ranks.

“What we learned today is that Virginia is just five votes away from abandoning its status as a Right to Work state,” declared House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem). “The Democrats expressed an unwillingness to have their votes recorded because they don’t want the public to know the extent of their fealty to organized labor. The Democrat leadership’s refusal to allow their members to vote violated a basic responsibility of elected public service, and did so to allow them to continue their practice of saying one thing to business and another to labor.”

“HB 852 pointed a dagger at one of the fundamental tenets that has enabled Virginia to become the best place in America for business to do business,” remarked House Majority Whip M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “There was a clear choice. A vote ‘for’ this bill was a vote for giving Virginia’s pubic employees over to union boss control and a vote ‘against’ was a vote to protect and preserve an essential component to Virginia’s business-friendly environment. I am pleased that all House Republicans voted against this assault on public employees and the taxpayers of Virginia and am puzzled why Democrat members chose once again to turn away from tough decisions.”

“Today’s vote was another disturbing trend from Virginia Democrats’ efforts to erode the positive business climate that Republicans have fought hard to create and continue,” noted Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott), Chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee. “House Republicans believe Virginia’s status as a Right to Work state is crucial to retaining the vitality of our Commonwealth’s economy. Failure to actively vote against this dangerous bill demonstrates that House Democrats do not support this pro-business legislation.”

We descend ever so slowly into the fiery depths of ... New Jersey.

* "Authorized and Paid for by Chris Saxman for Delegate"

This Ain't Badminton

More on that effort yesterday on the part of the Democrats in the House of Delegates to not be forced to vote on a measure put forth by one of their own.

Come with me on a journey into kiddie-land:
House vote corrodes civility
By Bob Lewis, The Washington Times

Richmond (AP)— What little remained of bipartisanship in the House of Delegates lay in shambles yesterday after a rare procedural move by Republicans triggered a fierce floor dispute.

The extraordinary partisan rancor arose over a delegate's routine request to withdraw a bill he sponsored and left in doubt whether the House Republican majority and the Democrats can cooperate effectively in the remaining 43 days of the 2008 General Assembly.

"It was not a good day for the commonwealth," House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong said after lambasting the Republicans as bullies and tyrants. (link)
Bullies and tyrants. I can see Armstrong thrashing about on the floor alternately sucking his thumb and moaning about the injustice of it all. In his jammies.

House Republican Leader H. Morgan Griffith watched the spectacle unfold and had this response: "They put a bill in, then they're too cowardly to take a vote on it."

Key (root) word being coward.

As we learned in our growing-up years: "Never send a boy to do a man's job."

Seems we have some wienies walking the hallowed halls ...

Warner Stabs The President In The Back. Again.

The other Warner that is. The old guy who is about to favor us with his retirement:

A Nominee Withdraws
Washington Post editorial

President Bush owes E. Duncan Getchell Jr. a debt of gratitude. Mr. Getchell recently asked that his nomination be withdrawn for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, the federal court that hears appeals from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

Mr. Bush nominated Mr. Getchell in September to a so-called Virginia seat on the court. The nomination was virtually dead the moment it was announced. Virginia's two senators, John W. Warner (R) and James Webb (D), had vetted about a dozen lawyers for the court and forwarded to the White House the names of five candidates they jointly supported. Mr. Getchell's name was not on that list; his nomination was seen as an unwise and counterproductive snub of the senators.

That misstep has come back to haunt Mr. Bush, who withdrew the nomination Wednesday. Without the support of the home-state senators, the nomination could not go forward. (link)

Webb, a traitor to his country in time of war, can be forgiven for this lesser offense. He is, after all, a Democrat. (He hasn't changed his mind on that again, has he?)

Warner on the other hand, well, let's just say we've come to expect this kind of treachery from a "Republican" who should have been driven from office many years ago for a whole host of such transgressions.

Where's the champagne? That retirement can't come soon enough.

It's About Time

When one reads about a university shelling out $5.2 million for living quarters for one professor, a conclusion is reached. America's institutions of higher learning have more cash than they know what to do with.

Members of Congress are coming to the same determination:

Senate Looking at Endowments as Tuition Rises
By Karen W. Arenson, The New York Times

The Senate Finance Committee, increasingly concerned about the rising cost of higher education, demanded detailed information on Thursday from the nation’s 136 wealthiest colleges and universities on how they raised tuition over the last decade, gave out financial aid and managed and spent their endowments.

The committee also asked about endowment-related bonuses paid to college presidents and endowment managers.

The move came as a record 76 colleges and universities achieved endowments of $1 billion or more in the last fiscal year, according to a report released this week. Harvard’s endowment, the largest, grew 20 percent, to $34.6 billion, while Yale’s, the second largest, grew 25 percent, to $22.5 billion.

“Tuition has gone up, college presidents’ salaries have gone up, and endowments continue to go up and up,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the committee. “We need to start seeing tuition relief for families go up just as fast.” (link)

The line between "public" institutions and "private" have been fuzzied up over the years, thus allowing the federal government to meddle in such matters.

But whether or not anything comes out of these hearings, shining the light of day on the practices adopted by America's colleges and universities to secure and expand endowments to phenomenal proportions - at students' and taxpayers' expense - is going to be worthwhile.

Free Speech In New Jersey

In New Jersey "part of the governor's effort to have an open and honest discussion" involves those who disagree with his - Jon Corzine's - decision to raise highway tolls to pay down the state's debt being arrested and hauled off to jail.

The story.

Some legal scholar needs to help me with this. Isn't Board of Education property public property?

Clinton Sold Us Out

How many times could we have written that headline over the years?

Anyway, this is like a trip down memory lane:

The Clintons' Coal-Gate
Investor's Business Daily

A large part of America's energy dependence on foreign sources can be traced to Sept. 18, 1996, when President Bill Clinton stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon on the Arizona side and signed an executive proclamation making 1.7 million acres of Utah a new national monument.

In fact, the declaration of 1.7 million Utah acres as a national monument, thereby depriving an energy-starved U.S. up to 62 billion tons of environmentally safe low-sulfur coal worth $1.2 trillion and minable with minimal surface impact, was a political payoff to the family of James Riady.

He's the son of Lippo Group owner Mochtar Riady. James was found guilty of — and paid a multimillion dollar fine for — funneling more than $1 million in illegal political contributions through Lippo Bank into various American political campaigns, including Bill Clinton's presidential run in 1992.

Clinton took off the world market the largest known deposit of clean-burning coal. And who owned and controlled the second-largest deposit in the world of this clean coal? The Indonesian Lippo Group of James Riady. It is found and strip-mined on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan. (link)

Bill Clinton. Helping out a foreigner at our expense. Kinda brings back memories of the sale of military technology secrets to the Chinese in return for campaign donations, doesn't it?

And he's soon to return to the White House ...

An epitaph

Glenn Reynolds on weirdo Dennis Kucinich's announcement that the heartthrob of the looney left is dropping out of the Democratic race for the presidency:

"Disappointing dozens, Dennis Kucinich quits."

And good riddance.

Another Epitaph

From Charles Krauthammer:
Fred Thompson will ... not be president. His campaign failed, but quite honorably. He never tacked. He never dissimulated. He refused to reinvent himself. He presented himself plainly and honestly. Too plainly. What he lacked was the ferocious, near-deranged ambition (a.k.a., fire in the belly) required to navigate the bizarre ordeal that is today's nominating process. Political decency is not a common commodity. Thompson had it. He'd make a fine attorney general, and not just on TV.
"Losing Ugly," The Washington Post, January 25, 2008

Nothing More Need Be Said

The New York Times endorses John McCain.

I Agree With Kudlow

I read with a certain amount of bemusement Bill Gates's op/ed piece in the Wall Street Journal last night in which he declared his disappointment and impatience with ... capitalism, of all things. Larry Kudlow read it as well, and had the same response I did:
What Is Davos Drinking?
By Larry Kudlow, The Corner

According to the front-page of today’s Wall Street Journal, Bill Gates is issuing a clarion call for a kinder capitalism to aid the world’s poor. Mr. Gates says he’s grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He thinks it’s failing much of the world, and he’s slated to say as much in a speech later today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

This from a guy worth around $35 billion. (Give or take a billion.)

It appears Gates is ignoring the global spread of free-market capitalism that has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people up from poverty and into the middle class over the last decade or so. Think China. Think India. Think Eastern Europe (and maybe even France under Sarkozy). Gates wants business leaders to dedicate more time to fighting poverty. But the reality is that economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. Period.

Also noteworthy is Venezuela’s plunge into poverty, orchestrated by the neo-socialist Hugo Chavez. His nation is sinking toward Cuba-type poverty as he attempts to adopt Fidel Castro’s failed economic model.

The reality here is that the rising tide of global capitalism is lifting all boats that employ it. It works. It’s a good thing. It’s the key to unlocking a nation’s prosperity. (link)
It seems to me that Bill Gates is feeling a bit uncomfortable that the capitalist system continues to bring him breathtaking wealth. To the point where he can't give (some of) it away fast enough.

As to his speech, the most telling declaration Gates made was in the first sentence attributed to him in the Journal article:

"We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well."

"We have to find a way ..." Which means he doesn't have a clue as to what that way might be.

Because that "way" doesn't exist.

That capitalist system that Bill Gates is (now) ashamed of is the only system in the history of mankind to work. To bring prosperity to anyone.

It's the old "glass half-empty" syndrome. While hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indian people are today - for the first time - experiencing the positive returns inherent in the free enterprise economic system involving the private ownership of capital - our system - Gates looks at those who haven't achieved the same result - mostly in countries that forbid capitalism to flourish - and thinks we should do something about it.

Is Bill Gates that dumb?

The Problem With An 'Economic Stimulus'

This is good news. President Bush and Congress have agreed on a tax rebate check being sent out to every American taxpayer in an attempt to stimulate the faltering economy.


When I get my tax rebate, I'll be able to pay my taxes.

Mama Knows Best

When asked how much support she thought her son had among the base of the Republican Party, John McCain's mother answered:

"I don’t think he has any. I don’t know what the base of the Repub– maybe I don’t know enough about it, but I’ve not seen any help whatsoever.”

Now that's straight talk.