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

Monday, February 09, 2009

An Announcement

It is with great pleasure that I announce the marriage of my favorite daughter, Jodi. Michael Kasprzyk, the lucky groom, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps, currently assigned to the general staff with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Wedding plans had to be abruptly altered recently as a result of his being ordered to Afghanistan on May 1. When he gets there, he will be in the Combined Security Transition Command, which involves itself in the training of Afghan forces. Michael specifically will be the Liaison Officer to ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, which is run by NATO.

Paula and I are very proud of his accomplishments and of the work he does for our country, and admire his unwavering loyalty to duty, honor, and country.

We are also proud to welcome him into the family, and for putting up with my daugh ... uh, skip that.

We hope that Michael has a safe deployment to the war zone, knowing that, and being grateful that, in going there he makes this chaotic, strife-torn world a better place.

We also hope that he and Jodi have a long, rewarding, loving, sharing life together.

Our best wishes to the two of them.

Why?

Two items in the news make me wonder if our system of electing people to Washington is hopelessly flawed.

First there's this from a New York Times editorial ("Angelo Who?"):
After months of delay, Senator Christopher Dodd has offered a fuller but less than satisfactory account of the V.I.P. mortgage loans extended to him by a key player in the subprime mortgage crisis. Mr. Dodd, the banking committee chairman who oversees remedies for the continuing financial crisis, denied any ethical wrongdoing or “sweetheart deals” in the $781,000 house refinancings he got through the Countrywide Financial Corporation.

No one has accused Senator Dodd of serious wrongdoing. Rather, the suspicion is he might have been tripped up by the moneyed Washington subculture where powerful incumbents are invited to get something wholesale. The chastened senator apologized to constituents that he was not more responsive much earlier. [link]
Then there's this from the Dickenson Star:
Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease
By Rick Boucher, U.S. Congress
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Each year, the American Heart Association designates the month of February as a special time to increase awareness of heart disease and to educate individuals about the toll these diseases take on the nation and the steps that can be taken to prevent them.

Several simple steps can be taken to reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. [link requires paid subscription]
How are these two items related? How does the fact that Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is brazenly poking his thumb in the eye of his constituents have anything in any way to to do with our one-time congressman and now resident Dr. Rick giving us advice on how to prevent heart disease?

Both know that they have nothing to fear from their respective electorates. They don't give a damn if their primary reasons for being in Washington are being ignored. The people are going to reelect them anyway.

So bite the big one.

Dodd will continue to do his shady deals. Boucher will still write his kind of idiotic treatises on heart disease - and God knows what else. You're not their concern. They live in that other world. The Magic Kingdom. You the voter come under the heading of occasional nuisance. Like a hemmorrhoid.

Get used to it. Or don't. They could care less.

Another 'Stimulus' Plan Is Coming

You thought Obama's mind-exploding $800,000,000,000 stimulus plan was enough to send this country into a depression the likes of which will make the 1930's look like a picnic?

Stick around.

He's about to announce STIMULUS PLAN II.

On second thought, don't stick around. Abandon ship!
Spending More Than $800 Billion Is the Easy Part
By David Sanger, New York Times

Washington — The easy part is coming to an end.

This week, President Obama and his Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, will prepare the country for the next, and far more difficult, step: another attempt to fill the huge hole blown in the center of the nation’s financial system.

No one has yet put a price tag on that effort. But the administration’s diagnosis of what went wrong with the first attempt to right the financial system — that it was too small, and that the problem has ballooned in recent months — suggests that the next effort will almost certainly entail a far bigger commitment of taxpayer dollars than the $350 billion left from last year’s $700 billion effort to right the system, and probably far more than the stimulus package. [link]
"The next effort will almost certainly entail a far bigger commitment of taxpayer dollars than ... the stimulus package." Far bigger than the $800,000,000,000 stimulus package.

Madness. Absolute madness.

Tough Choices

What's a politician to do? Oh, the agony. A kind of strength and fortitude that lesser mortals could never muster. Which to choose.

A House $819 billion stimulus plan?
Or a Senate $827 billion stimulus plan?

The negotiations begin. And an anxious America awaits.

Obama may have to step in and settle the matter.

Expect a compromise to come in at around $835 billion.

Oh. Never Mind.

It was with the highest of expectations that I enthusiastically endorsed the appointment of New York Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to the United States Senate as replacement for Hillary.

Well, forget it.

Turns out, she's just another unprincipled, lying Democrat who will throw her convictions over the side in a heartbeat just to further her government career.

How disappointing:
To Some in Gillibrand’s Old District, Her Evolution* Is a Betrayal
By David M. Halbfinger, New York Times

Saratoga Springs, N.Y. — Now that Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand represents all of New York rather than one conservative swath outside Albany, she has described her shift on hot-button issues like illegal immigration and gay marriage as a broadening of her position.

... Ms. Gillibrand has softened some of her positions in the weeks since her appointment. She declared her support for gay marriage, not merely civil unions. She assured Latinos and Asians in New York City that she would work to enact a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. And she let Senator Charles E. Schumer, who had enthusiastically supported her selection, reassure downstate voters that she would “evolve” on gun control, too. [link] [my emphasis]
Sorry, Charlie. Reversing her positions on every issue she previously held dear is not a softening. It's an abandonment. A capitulation. And the fact that she changed her stance on core issues overnight suggests that she never had core principles in the first place. She's just another empty-suit, two-bit, slimy politician who is willing to say anything and do anything to get elected.

The Democratic Party and the state of New York deserve her.

I however don't abandon my principles for anyone or anything.

I hereby withdraw my endorsement of Kirsten Gillibrand. May she get exactly what she deserves in Washington.

* "Evolution." That's worth a chuckle.

Want To Go Down This Road?

You make your list. I'll make mine.

The Roanoke Times:

Ban smoking in restaurants

From On High:

Ban Roanoke newspapers.

Meet you in the gulag.

Quote Of The Day

Glenn Reynolds:

"‘Doom’ rhetoric seen by some as ‘not presidential’.” It’s a far cry from “hope and change” and “Yes, we can,” isn’t it?

Ah, the good old days.

This Seems Odd

Does this Associated Press release seem a bit out of kilter to you?
Report: Southwest Va has workers for uranium mine

Chatham, Va. (AP) -- A new report says southwest Virginia has enough skilled workers for a proposed uranium mine near Chatham.

The report also confirms the deposit contains 119 million pounds of uranium and there's about 1.5 pounds of uranium per ton of rock.

The report was produced by three consulting firms working for Virginia Uranium Inc. The company is hoping to convince the General Assembly to lift a ban on uranium mining imposed in 1982.

The consulting firms conclude that potential employees from the area are comfortable working with heavy equipment and farm machinery, which are necessary for miners. [link]

What does Southwest Virginia have to do with it? Unless they moved it, Chatham is over north of Danville. Which is in the heart of Southside. They don't have heavy equipment operators over there?

Did the AP reporter not know the difference between Southside and Southwest? Or did the consulting firm make a mistake?

Either scenario speaks poorly of the culprit(s).

Put Him In Prison

I read one sentence of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's excuse for abandoning his party and siding with the liberal Democrats on Obama's stimulus plan and stopped. Anything after this sentence, which appears in today's Washington Post, is of no consequence:

"I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason: The country cannot afford not to take action."

The classic liberal line for spending our money on everything known to man.

Regardless whether it'll work.
Regardless whether it'll do more harm than good.
Regardless the fact that history tells us this kind of thing ALWAYS fails.
Regardless the fact that our grandchildren will be paying for this scumbag's idiocy for years to come.

Specter - a Republican - gazing out beyond the cliff, staring down at the fiery abyss before him ...

... leaps.

He'll contemplate his - OUR - next move on the way down.

For the love of God.

A Portent

I keep repeating this: Look to the bond markets. When they go, we all go. And all the money in the world that Obama can print won't matter.

I don't worry alone:
Peter Schiff: Stimulus Bill Will Lead to "Unmitigated Disaster"
By Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance:

The fiscal stimulus bill being debated in Congress not only won't help the economy, it will make the recession much worse, says Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital.

Schiff scoffs at the notion the economic decline is starting to level off and concedes [the fact that] no government action means a "terrible" recession. But the path of increased government intervention will lead to "unmitigated disaster," says Schiff, who gained notoriety in 2007-08 for his prescient calls on the housing bubble and U.S. stocks.

The fiscal stimulus bill being debated in Congress not only won't help the economy, it will make the recession much worse, says Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital.

The problem, he says, is the government is trying to perpetuate a "phony economy" based on borrowing and spending. With the U.S. consumer tapped out, the government is "now taking on the mantle" of consumer of last resort, he continues, predicting the bond bubble will soon burst - if it hasn't already - ultimately leading to a collapse of the dollar and an "inflationary depression worse than anything any of us have ever seen." [link]
The answer to the problem - if there is an answer at this late hour - is for the government to slash spending and downsize - dramatically - quickly. But who in Washington is making that call?

Nobody.

Politicians there are simply haggling over how many hundreds of billions of dollars it will be spending over and above the hundreds of billions that are already scheduled to be spent in the regular budgetary process. $2.65 trillion in 2009 or $2.9 trillion. With tens of thousands of new federal employees added to an already bloated, feckless, and unwieldy federal bureaucracy. With Obama following along. Clueless. Oblivious. Directionless.

And then there's nationalized health care looming on the horizon ...

Me? I'm at the point where I just want to dig a hole and shovel dirt on top of myself. And wait for the end days to come. This is getting uglier by the day.

Now I Get It

The headline had me guessing for a moment. And then I realized that the word "savior" wasn't capitalized, and I quickly understood what the great governor of South Carolina had in mind. It's not about the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's about Big Brother:
SC Governor: We're moving close to 'a savior-based economy'
By CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

Washington (CNN) – As many state and local officials clamor for their share of the billions of dollars in federal aid in the stimulus bill under consideration in Washington, South Carolina’s Republican governor is sounding a note of dissent about federal efforts to help the economy.

“A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt,” Gov. Mark Sanford said Sunday, making a reference to the federal deficit spending that will likely finance the federal stimulus package.

“We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy,” Sanford also said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

The South Carolina Republican said such an economy is “what you see in Russia or Venezuela or Zimbabwe or places like that where it matters not how good your product is to the consumer but what your political connection is to those in power.”

“That is quite different than a market-based economy where some rise and some fall but there’s a consequence to making a stupid decision,” Sanford said after pointing to the powers granted to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to help deal with the current economic crisis.

“A lot of people who’ve made some very stupid decisions are being bailed out by the population at large,” he added. [link]
If we were to make a list of all the groups that look to the federal government today as their savior, Sanford's words make perfect sense. Whereas that list didn't extend too far beyond welfare and Social Security recipients two decades ago, today it includes Wall Street investment firms, banks, the auto industry, every "green" company in America, nearly every state government, almost every large city, many smaller cities and towns, the unions, mortgage lenders, mortgage lendees, the elderly, the infirm, all our children, illegal aliens, millions of federal employees, and on .. and on ... and on ...

Soon the list will include every man, woman, and child who has an ingrown toenail or a sore throat.

The list - the expanding list - is unsustainable.

At some point, this will all come crashing down around us.

And there's nothing that The Messiah - our savior - will be able to do about it.

Here's to Governor Sanford. I'm hereby declaring my support for his 2012 candidacy to replace Junior. 2012 can't come soon enough.

Say It, Brutha

About that retailer that America's self-indulgent snobs love to hate, Charles Pratt offers this:
Some people, usually community activists, loath [sic] Wal-Mart. Others, like the family of four struggling to make ends meet, are in love with the chain.

Sheltered by rabble rousers who forced Wal-Mart's CEO to admit it "wasn't worth the effort" to try to open in Queens or anywhere else in the city, New Yorkers may not fully realize the unique, irreplaceable status of the World's Largest Retailer in rural and suburban America. Merchandise from Wal-Mart has become as ubiquitous as the water supply. Yet still the company is rebuked and reviled by anyone claiming a social conscience, and is lambasted by legislators as if its bad behavior places it somewhere between investment bankers and the Taliban.

Considering this is a company that is helping families ride out the economic downturn, which is providing jobs and stimulus while Congress bickers, which had sales growth of 2% this last quarter while other companies struggled, you have to wonder why. At least, I wondered why. And in that spirit of curiosity, I applied for an entry-level position at my local Wal-Mart.

Read the whole thing. I'm not sure what Mr. Pratt's point of view going in was, but he's certainly an admirer of Wal-Mart now.

As any clear-minded person should be.

There are those even here locally who decry the fact that the world's largest retailer crowds out the established mom-and-pop stores and ruins the livelihoods of all those local residents who rely on Ernie's Hardware and Mable's Sundries for a living. But, generally speaking, that "living" isn't worth living anyway. Neither Ernie nor Mable can pay the kind of wages and benefits - nor offer the career opportunities - that Wal-Mart can.

To draw a comparison, I was talking to someone the other day who has worked for a local retailer for a good length of time. She never gets a raise (she hopes for minimum wage increases); she never gets a paid vacation (she just asks for time off without pay); she gets no "sick" days. In 2009. In the United States of America.

My question to her, of course, was: Why are you still working there?

If she's worth her salt, Wal-Mart would scoop her up in a heartbeat.

Anyway, here's to Wal-Mart. Again. And to Charles Pratt for giving us an "inside" perspective on one of the planet's most powerful - and most successful - retailers ever.

I Don't See The Problem

Perhaps the most miserable days of my life were spent on a weekly America West flight to and from Detroit and Phoenix. It seemed like it took forever. Especially if I had the misfortune of being in a center seat. One can only read so much before the eyes start to cross. I was bored out of my mind.

In a better world, that 3½ hours each way could have been better spent doing some work (despite the overly cramped quarters). That's why the idea that in-flight wireless internet is such an appealing idea. To me anyway.

But not to others:
Not everyone cheers as Wi-Fi takes to the skies
By Micheline Maynard, International Herald Tribune

Wireless Internet service is starting to spread among airlines in the United States — Delta and American have installed it on more than a dozen planes each, and several other carriers are planning to test it.

For the airlines, always desperate for new sources of revenue, offering the service — about $10 for three hours and more for longer flights — was an easy call. And many passengers will cheer the development as an end to Web withdrawal.

But this new frill is hardly as benign as a bag of pretzels. It may be a new source of tension between passengers on packed planes. A flight attendants' union has even expressed concern that terrorists could use it to plot attacks.

And there is the inescapable fact that one of the last places on earth to get away from it all can now be turned into a mobile office.

Brent Bigler, a financial planner living in Los Angeles, said he paid the $12.95 fee on a recent American Airlines flight to New York, and spent several hours reading e-mail and searching the Internet. When his plane was delayed, he was able to reach a friend to say he would be late for dinner.

Even so, Bigler said he worried about the downside.

"This could be the same thing as what happened with cellphones and BlackBerrys," he said. "Once it's cheap and ubiquitous, employers might expect employees to participate. I may feel guilty if it were a Monday and I napped or read and didn't use the Internet to do work." [link]
I'd worry more about the boss having a fit that you put $12.95 on the expense account for wireless internet service. But I quibble.

So there's a potential a downside to sky-high wireless. Deal with it however you see fit.