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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, April 13, 2009

On The Abusive Nature Of Earmarks

I can't help but think of Martinsville.

If there's a recession plaguing the Western world, there's a severe depression laying waste to the city that the textile industry built. And destroyed. Martinsville, today, suffers in the throes of 20% unemployment. One in five of the employable residents there - at least of those who have not already abandoned hope and moved elsewhere looking for work (the city also has the highest rate of depopulation of any city - now a town - in Virginia) - is in the unemployment line.

And, by all estimates, worse is yet to come.

Meanwhile, up the road, one of Southwest Virginia's largest employers - and by far its wealthiest business - is seeing good times. In fact, it's seeing great times. How else to explain Virginia's Tech's decision to take one of its valuable buildings once used for instruction and turn it into a useless Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention? What exactly that is is anyone's guess, including, I'd wager, those who dreamt up the notion in the first place (Question: What kind of credentials does one need in order to "teach" at such a silly "peace study" center?).

Virginia Tech can turn Norris Hall (or the second floor thereof) into a storage closet full of goofy musings and books no one will ever read (how many publications, do you suppose, will it warehouse on the subject of the environment? Thousands? A "peace study" ...) - as the saying goes - "because it can." Virginia Tech, you see, is awash in cash. It's endowment fund (i.e., that which is generally accepted as being the total value of the institution's investments, the interest from which is used for the purposes of growing the business but the principle from which is left virtually intact in perpetuity) is worth half a billion dollars, as of last reporting.

Half a billion dollars.

Not a dime of which will be used to help the poor people of Martinsville.

But a million dollars of which, according to the Roanoke Times, was used to turn Norris Hall into a great place for the cloistered academics at Virginia Tech to gather together, smoke some dope, talk bad about Ronald Reagan and his ilk, and dream of that world that John Lennon was so close to delivering (Imagine there's no countries!) before he was cut down in his prime.

Two worlds - Martinsville and Virginia Tech - so close and yet so far.

Our highest elected official here in Southwest Virginia, recognizing the priorities set before him, knowing how desperate the need for federal assistance is, steeling himself to the task of bringing taxpayer dollars to bear where they will do the most good in this tortured region of ours, has sprung into action in response to the cries for help.

Here's a partial list of appropriations earmarks that our congressman, Rick Boucher, inserted into the 2009 appropriations bill (as reported on his website) to assist the people of Martinsville scratch the backs of those who most enthusiastically scratch his:

- - -

Project Name: Biodesign and Processing Research Center, VA

Amount: $1,500,000

Recipient: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

- - -

Project Name: Sustainable Engineered Materials from Renewable Sources, VA

Amount: $900,000

Recipient: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

- - -

Project Name: Center for Inland Marine Aquaculture

Amount: $800,000

Recipient: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

- - -

Project Name: Center for Injury Biomechanics

Amount: $4,000,000

Recipient: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

- - -

Project Name: Center for Advanced Separation Technologies

Amount: $3,000,000

Recipient: Virginia Tech

- - -

Project Name: Virginia Tech Airport

Amount: $3,000,000

Recipient: Virginia Tech Airport

- - -

That's $13,200,000 for a university that is sitting on a half billion dollars in endowment that university officials will continue to hoard until the end of time. And that's just the latest payout from Boucher's office.

Why on Earth would they do this, you might ask?

"Because they can."

Because they have Boucher there to heap piles of taxpayer cash on them - and their inane "peace studies" projects.

Here's the most enraging part of this: Boucher's magnanimous largesse (there'll be a hall at Virginia Tech named in his honor some day, make no mistake) includes funds confiscated at the point of a gun from the good people of Martinsville, Virginia, unemployment rate 20.2%.

Want to know what's wrong with earmarks? The cynical congressmen who dole them out.

For ... the ... love ... of ... God.

An Act Of Civil Disobedience

This won't happen. Not in my household. Not in my lifetime:
'We want them registered'
Washington Times editorial

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, announced last week that she wants to register guns. Her next move will be to try to confiscate them.

The speaker picked a television show with a viewership of 4.6 million to float the Democrats' coming gun-control push. Questioned on ABC's "Good Morning America" about the prospect of new gun-control laws now that "it's a Democratic president, a Democratic House," she responded, "We don't want to take their guns away. We want them registered."

Because registration doesn't help solve crime, it is important to ask why government wants to register the people's firearms. History provides the answer. In countries from Australia to England, registration has been used to create lists of guns that later were confiscated by their governments. Despite Mrs. Pelosi's assurances to the contrary, Americans' fear that registration will lead to confiscation is well-founded. Indeed, Mrs. Pelosi's own state of California already has used existing registration lists to confiscate so-called assault weapons just a half-dozen years ago.

Now that Democrats are in control of the legislative and executive branches of government, even the will of the people won't keep them from going after the guns of law-abiding Americans. [link]
Two points:

1) I will not register my weapons. I accept prison time as the healthier alternative.

2) These Democrats must be stopped. November, 2010 can't come fast enough.

While The Media Celebrate A Great Victory ...

... in the war against those four Somali thugs, The Mudville Gazette asks the pertinent questions:

"Four pirates can overwhelm a ship crewed by 20+, grab a hostage, and keep the US Navy and two thousand Marines tied up for days? How many such victories can we expect in the future?"

Sadly, until Obama and the world community take a proactive stance with regard to this growing menace, we can expect to read of many such "victories" in the future. Many very costly victories at that.

- - -

On that media jubilation, I think this piece in the Washington Post is the most over-the-top:
An Early Military Victory for Obama
By Michael D. Shear, Washington Post Staff Writer

For President Obama, last week's confrontation with Somali pirates posed similar political risks to a young commander in chief who had yet to prove himself to his generals or his public.

But the result -- a dramatic and successful rescue operation by U.S. Special Operations forces -- left Obama with an early victory that could help build confidence in his ability to direct military actions abroad. [link]
A victory over four emaciated Somali teenagers. Obama victorious.

Please.

Political Positions Have Consequences

It's about time that these people were held accountable for the views they profess to hold. I've always wondered how they can consider themselves to be Catholics in good faith and yet reject the church's most basic tenets. And get away with it.

With a new sheriff in town, apparently they won't. Even if their last name is ...

... Kennedy:
Vatican blocks Caroline Kennedy appointment as US ambassador
By Alex Spillius, London Telegraph

Vatican sources told Il Giornale that their support for abortion disqualified Ms Kennedy and other Roman Catholics President Barack Obama had been seeking to appoint.

Mr Obama was reportedly seeking to reward John F Kennedy's daughter, who publicly gave her support to his election bid.

The Italian paper said that the Vatican strongly disapproved of Mr Obama's support for abortion and stem cell research. The impasse over the ambassadorial appointment threatens to cloud his meeting with the Pope during a G8 summit in Itay in July.

Ms Kennedy, 53, has said that she supports abortion. Raymond Flynn, a former US ambassador to the Vatican, said earlier this week that Ms Kennedy would be a poor choice.

"It's imperative, it's essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has pro-life values. I hope the President doesn't make that mistake," he told the Boston Herald. "She said she was pro-choice. I don't assume she's going to change that, which is problematic." [link]
One might ask: Why would Ms. Kennedy continue to call herself a Catholic at all if she doesn't hold to the same faith as the church does? Expediency is the best answer. It's a good thing, in her circles, to be "of the faith" and to be pro-abortion as well. And that dichotomy has always worked well for political animals like her.

Until now.

Now the Pope looks her in the eye and says, "You've made your choices in life. Take them somewhere else."

Backbone. Refreshing.