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

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Burst-Out-Laughing Column Writing

When I laugh out loud while staring at my monitor, reading the day's news and commentary, I know I'm into some fine writing. Such was the case a moment ago.

One of my favorite three columnists in all the land, Bart Hinkle, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, has a piece up this morning (see "How Will Virginia Keep the Lights On?") regarding that power plant that's being built over in Wise County. He begins with this:
A few days ago in the opinion pages of The Washington Post, a Maryland environmentalist tore into Tim Kaine. Mike Tidwell, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, blasted Virginia's governor for supporting a power plant that Dominion wants to build in Wise County. The coal-fired power plant is a horrible idea, Tidwell argued, because it would "savagely blow up entire mountains . . . cost ratepayers at least $1.8 billion . . . create lots more greenhouse gases," and -- in case you were still on the fence -- "doom the good people of southwest Virginia to living with a brutal extraction industry that has no future."

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?
I cracked up laughing.

Read the whole thing, while you're at it. As always, Mr. Hinkle offers up superlative words of wisdom.

Something To Ponder

If safety were allowed to be the only issue in a debate (see "Safety the only issue in uranium debate," Roanoke Times"), shouldn't we ban automobiles?

Here's What He Should Have Said

Just once I'd like to see a politician answer the point do-gooders make about the corrupting influence of campaign donations and personal gifts with something other than Ward Armstrong's mealy-mouthed - and totally routine - response.

From a Roanoke Times editorial ("Disclosure isn't enough"):
"I have never ever witnessed a case where someone took a gift and it influenced their vote," House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, D-Henry County, told The Washington Post.

Armstrong reported $4,639 in gifts last year, including more than $1,500 from the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and almost $800 from the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association.

Armstrong doesn't think such gifts are corrupting, but he does understand the public may not share his view. "It's about the appearance of impropriety. You do have to be careful."
Yeah. Whatever.

Here's how Ward should have answered the Post reporter:

"If you think my vote can be had for $1,500, let's run an experiment. Give me $1,500 out of your pocket and see if any of my votes change.

"Now, let's go to the bar. Drinks are on me"

Wonder Where All Those Textiles Jobs Went?

Get out your map. Find Honduras.

A Great Debate Over the Price Of a Pair of Honduran Socks
By Cindy Skrzycki, The Washington Post

The humble cotton sock has become the center of an international trade dispute.

The United States decided on Jan. 18 that millions of pairs of duty-free socks imported from Honduras may be hit with a tariff. The ruling made the hosiery a symbol of the choices that politicians, workers and even towns face in a global economy.

Honduran imports jumped to more than 27 million dozen pairs last year from 10 million in 2005, after the Central American Free Trade Agreement passed. American workers have lost jobs as a result, the kind of issue Democratic presidential candidates use to criticize trade agreements. (link)


Here's what's interesting about this. As a result of all those hundreds of thousands of jobs (both in textiles and in furniture manufacturing) vanishing here, having been shipped overseas in so short a time, I perceive the makings of a backlash to that whole free trade funfest that has taken place in recent decades.

"Free" trade is a neat idea, but what if it comes at great cost?

To go along with the news above, I read an interesting article in BusinessWeek the other day, a portion of which I reproduce here:

Economists Rethink Free Trade
By Jane Sasseen

Many ordinary Americans have long been suspicious of free trade, seeing it as a destroyer of good-paying jobs. American economists, though, have told a different story. For them, free trade has been the great unmitigated good, the force that drives a country to shed unproductive industries, focus on what it does best, and create new, higher-skilled jobs that offer better pay than those that are lost. This support of free trade by the academic Establishment is a big reason why Presidents, be they Democrat or Republican, have for years pursued a free-trade agenda. The experts they consult have always told them that free trade was the best route to ever higher living standards.

But something momentous is happening inside the church of free trade: Doubts are creeping in. We're not talking wholesale, dramatic repudiation of the theory. Economists are, however, noting that their ideas can't explain the disturbing stagnation in income that much of the middle class is experiencing.

No one is suggesting that trade is bad for the U.S. overall.

Yet concern is rising that the gains from free trade may increasingly be going to a small group at the top. For the vast majority of Americans, Dartmouth's Slaughter points out, income growth has all but disappeared in recent years. And it's not just the low-skilled who are getting slammed. Inflation-adjusted earnings have fallen in every educational category other than the 4% who hold doctorates or professional degrees. (link)
I've always been a "free trade, but ..." kinda guy. I believe in targeted tariffs. Mostly because the USA is still the world's marketplace (last I heard, 25% of the world's finished goods come here) and that fact makes for a great bargaining chip.

Socks are the perfect example. From the above we've learned that the U.S. has placed a tariff on the importation of Honduran socks. (To save all those jobs that have already been lost here in Southwest and Southside Virginia?) Fears have been expressed that the Hondurans will retaliate.

Fears that the Hondurans will retaliate. With what? Putting a confiscatory tariff on luxury yachts? Please. Socks are being made in the jungles of Honduras because people there live on leaves and twigs and are paid accordingly. They don't buy American goods. There is nothing with which to retaliate.

That's what I mean by targeted tariffs. Call them "smart tariffs."

So. It appears that America's really intelligent people are coming around to my way of thinking.

Swell.

If only they'd done it before we sent millions of jobs overseas.

For The Love Of God

Bush Seeks Budget of $3.1 Trillion

Universal Health Care Goes Down In Flames. Again.

No sooner did we read that the state of California is backing away from Governor Schwarzenegger's breathtakingly unsustainable notion of universal health care - because of the staggering cost estimates that came in - than the news hits the wires that another program, equally sweeping in scope, is crumbling under the weight of out-of-control costs as well:

Subsidized care plan's cost to double
Enrollment is outstripping state's estimate

By Alice Dembner, The Boston Globe

The subsidized insurance program at the heart of the state's [Massachusetts] healthcare initiative is expected to roughly double in size and expense over the next three years - an unexpected level of growth that could cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars or force the state to scale back its ambitions.

State projections obtained by the Globe show the program reaching 342,000 people and $1.35 billion in annual expenses by June 2011. Those figures would far outstrip the original plans for the Commonwealth Care program, largely because state officials underestimated the number of uninsured residents. (link)
As predicted here long ago, this plan is failing because of its cost.
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Look, the only way universal health care will ever work in this country is if we do what the Canadians and the British did - reduce the menu of services and ration care. To keep the finest health care delivery system ever known to mankind in place - and make it available to everyone - is Democrat idiocy (with, in this case, some help from then-Governor Romney).
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The chart to the left shows the estimated growth in cost of the Massachusetts plan.
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So how do those who proposed this beast hope to keep it afloat? you might have guessed:
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"The state has asked the federal government to shoulder roughly half of the program's cost from 2009 through 2011, but there is no guarantee of that funding."
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And when Hillary puts this plan in place across the country, who is going to bail us out? The Saudis? Again?
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The bottom line: Universal health care is failing everywhere it is being tried. Surprise. Surprise.
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Chart courtesy of the state of Massachusetts and Javier Zarracina, Globe staff.

And Speaking Of Universal Health Care Advocates

Senate candidate Mark Warner is a big believer in universal health care. In fact, he can be characterized as a "big bang" believer. I'm frightened already.

The man made a stop-over in Southwest Virginia yesterday just long enough to scare the (Honduran) socks off of the local populace. Having just learned (above) that universal health care proposals are failing across this great nation of ours, what message does Mr. Spend-It-Like-There's-No-Tomorrow have for us? Total economic ruin:
Warner visits region
The U.S. Senate candidate had "a little discussion about health care" with hospital employees in Salem.
Christina Rogers, The Roanoke Times


Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner made a short stop at Lewis-Gale Medical Center on Monday afternoon to talk to health care workers and rally support for his U.S. Senate candidacy.

In front of the small crowd Monday, Warner paced the room, outlining his agenda for health care reform.

"I think we're going to see a big-bang approach to health care reform," Warner said.

Warner's comments on universal health coverage particularly resonated with the hospital's rehabilitation director, Denise Rose, who also attended the meeting.

Rose said she often sees patients caught in the bind of needing long-term care but not having adequate private insurance to pay for it. Many can't pay out of pocket and are forced to go on Medicaid or disability, she said.

"I think he spoke to the heart of the matter on reform," Rose said. (link)
He spoke to the heart of the matter all right. However, let's hope brains at some point prevail.

It Doesn't Get Any More Revealing

I've often compared the political events in the GOP race for the presidency that are unfolding before our eyes as being akin to the 1996 Bob Dole fiasco. Aging war hero, strong on defense, malleable on most everything else, sometime conservative, ... electable.

Along those lines, this becomes sort of revealing:

Dole scolds Limbaugh
By Mike Allen, The Politico


Bob Dole, the former Senate Republican leader, wrote an insistent letter to Rush Limbaugh on Monday and suggested that for the good of the party, the conservative talk-show host should stop his strafing of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

In a letter released Monday evening by McCain's campaign, Dole strongly defended the senator’s conservative credentials, noting that his voting record is opposed to abortion and supportive of gun-owner rights.

Dole wrote that as the former Senate Republican leader, he could vouch for the fact that McCain supported the party on all “critical votes.” (link)

Really.

On the two (truly critical) issues that "President Dole" cites above, can anyone tell me what John McCain has done in all his years in Washington to end abortion? Saying he opposes Roe v. Wade doesn't count. What did he do? And where did he stand on the "gun-owner rights" debate as it related to those potentially deadly gun trigger locks? And wasn't it McCain who supported legislation to ban "cheaply-made handguns"? (The ones that poor people might be able to use to defend themselves). And wasn't it McCain who was pushing to have that mythical "gun show loophole" closed?

Please. If that's the best you can do, Washington insider, go home. We conservatives have a lot of work to do and you're in the way.

You Want McCain?

This argument against conservative opposition to the McCain candidacy was the Bob Dole For President argument in 1996. It worked really well then too.

A Case Of Historic Significance

When I told you that the 2nd Amendment case that's going before the Supreme Court was monumental in scope, I hope you took it to heart. It is, as the attorneys who are going to be arguing District of Columbia v. Heller before the court tell it, a one-of-a-kind opportunity:
Historic Supreme Court Brief Filed in Second Amendment Challenge to D.C. Gun Ban
February 4th, 2008 by Alan Gura, DCGunCase.com

Washington, D.C.—Today, attorneys challenging Washington, D.C’s 31-year-old gun prohibition laws filed their written arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court. Washington, D.C. bans the possession of handguns outright, and further forbids rifles and shotguns from ever being operable in private homes for use in self-defense. The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, is named for Dick Anthony Heller, a private security guard who
carries a gun at work, but cannot keep one at home to defend himself and his wife. “I’m fighting for the constitutional right of law-abiding individuals who live in dangerous communities to have a firearm to protect themselves and their families from rampant violent crime,” said Heller.


This historic brief marks the first-ever substantive merits argument filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of Second Amendment rights. In the only previous Supreme Court case addressing the Second Amendment, United States v. Miller (1939), the individuals claiming their rights were not represented by counsel and entered no appearance before the Court. This time, Second Amendment rights are being vigorously defended.
First-ever. Exciting stuff.

Here's to the Bill of Rights. And to Alan Gura for defending it.