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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, August 04, 2009

Where I'm Left Of The ACLU

I ask you: Is this guy guilty?

If this photo were published in the newspaper at time of arrest, is there a person in his potential jury pool who viewed it who would not be immediately prejudiced against him?

Is there anyone out there who can honestly argue that they think he's innocent?

But of what crime should we send him up the river?

It doesn't matter. Shoplifting? Guilty. Aggravated murder? Without doubt. Treason? Where's the noose?

We've already decided his fate. Based upon the preliminary evidence presented by the local newspaper and a more-than-willing law enforcement establishment. Before he's been given the opportunity to defend himself before a jury of his peers.

That's why this is wrong. So wrong:
Mug shots are public records
Roanoke Times editorial

Virginia's Freedom of Information Act provides residents with access to their government. Officials generate documents and information in the course of governing, and the people get to see them. It is that simple.

A couple of years ago, [Roanoke Sheriff Octavia] Johnson decided she did not want to turn over a picture of someone who had been arrested. That initial denial raised eyebrows, but it was the subsequent policy decree that led to lawsuits. The sheriff decided, contrary to the FOIA law, that all mug shots of inmates who are not in custody of the jail would remain secret.

The sheriff's department is a government agency. Like it or not, and Johnson clearly does not, when it generates records, including mug shots, they belong to the public not just to her and her deputies. The people have a right to review them as long as their release would not compromise an ongoing investigation. [link]
As long as it would not compromise an ongoing investigation? How about prejudicing his potential judges? Take another look at that mug shot above and tell me you're not prejudiced by it. And you may be sitting in judgment tomorrow. Is that fair?

Here's where I consider myself to be to the left of the commie ACLU. I don't think the government should be allowed to release any information about accused (even arrested) individuals until they've been given the chance to prove their innocence.* The release of information to the public is, in itself, a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Especially when that person accused is subsequently to be found innocent of all charges.

Ask Ray "Which office do I go to get my reputation back?" Donovan about that.

So be careful. Yes, the people have every right to know what their government is up to. But it has to be balanced with the civil rights of individuals accused of criminal activity.

Key word being ACCUSED.

* I make an exception where an individual may be an immediate risk to the community.

Things That Make You Say ... 'What?!'

The looming federal deficit is so outrageous and worrisome that Obama has sent his Secretary of the Treasury off to Beijing to try and reassure the Chinese (who own much of our debt) that we are not out of control, despite the fact that we will be spending this year $2,000,000,000,000 more than we'll be taking in.

And how do we reassure them that we have things well in hand? In part by eliminating waste. And waste Obama is eliminating.

Included on a list of traditional federal expenditures that have gone on the chopping block, according to this report released by the Office of Management and Budget, is this:
Forest Service
USDA proposes $2 million in Forest Service savings for FY 2009, consisting of $1.8 million in no longer repainting newly purchased vehicles and $200,000 in resource management efficiency.
God knows what that "resource management efficiency" involves, but I'll bet it has something to do with low-level staffers utilizing Kinko's now rather than ordering a new Xerox copier when the paper runs out.

But the bigger point: The Forest Service had been repainting brand new cars. At an annual cost of $1,800,000.

What?!

I applaud the Obama administration for eliminating this kind of thing. But what does it say about the federal government's ability to control its spending when such a thing could have been going on in the first place?

Repainting new cars. For the love of God.

That's Understandable

Omigod! 15.5% of Virginia's citizenry has no health insurance! Where's Obama?
Census: 15.5% of Virginians without insurance
Associated Press

Richmond, Va. (AP) -- The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 15.5 percent of Virginians don't have health insurance.

The estimates released Monday also show that the percentage of uninsured is higher in college towns.

Harrisonburg, home to James Madison University, had the highest rate, 28.5 percent. The rate in Montgomery County, which includes Virginia Tech, was 27.7 percent.

The estimates are based on 2006 data. Judith Cash with the Virginia Care Health Foundation says the number probably has increased since then.

Michael Cassidy with the Commonwealth Institute says the high rates in college towns may reflect the attitude of young people who don't think they need health insurance, as well as the difficulty of starting a career. [link]
15.5%!! AAAAAaaaaaggggghhh!!!

Stop.

This is nothing to be alarmed about.

A good many of those in that 15.5% figure have no good reason to have health insurance. They are young, male, and single and, if they took on the burden of buying insurance, they would pay far more into it than they'd take out. They are, by and large, perpetually healthy. They would, in other words, be foolish to have insurance.

It speaks volumes that the areas with the greatest percentages of uninsured are in college towns (Harrisonburg and Blacksburg). Duh!

Add to that the rich people in the commonwealth who can pay for health care out-of-pocket and you end up with a manageable number of poor Virginians (who already get free care as needed from our hospital emergency rooms) who are - or should be - covered by a myriad of state and federal health services programs.

The safety net exists. And it works.

No need for Obama and his bureaucrats to fix what ain't broke.

Think, people, before you react. As that wise man once said about that 15.5%:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Food For Thought

Here's something you might find interesting. Migration trends impacting Virginia's most liberal metropolitan areas in recent years.

From Qian Cai, Director, Demographics and Workforce Section, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service University of Virginia:

From 2000 to 2005:
What to make of this?

Here's my take:

Fairfax, arguably the most liberal county in America, saw 57,039 people arrive (mostly Hispanics, mostly illegal Mexicans) and (a net) 71,865 people get the hell out. A similar trend that's taking place in almost-as-liberal Arlington County and Alexandria.

Of course, with the growth of the federal government exploding like it these days, and those three areas providing sleeping accommodations for Obama employees, I expect the trend to have altered dramatically, with "international migration" continuing to soar and internal migration ballooning as well.

Interesting stat.

The Place To Be

America. Where teeming masses yearn to flee to to be free. But only If Obama doesn't make our system a disincentive for all those in oppressed lands who long to be here and be a part of the best system on the planet.

Don't listen to the Democrats. When it comes to care giving, America is THE BEST place to be:
Doctors in Cuba Start Over in the U.S.
By Mirta Ojito, New York Times

While the rest of the country is suffering from a shortage of primary care physicians, Miami is awash with Cuban doctors who have defected in recent years. By some estimates, 6,000 medical professionals, many of them physicians, have left Cuba in the last six years.

Cuban doctors have been fleeing to South Florida since Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, but the pace intensified after 2006, when the Department of Homeland Security began a program that allowed Cuban medical personnel “who study or work in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government” to travel to the United States legally.

[M]any doctors on the island are now vying to be tapped for an international mission, in part because they know that no matter where they are sent, they will be one step closer to a visa to the United States. [link]
But I thought our system was in a shambles. Why would these highly trained and experienced physicians want to come here - by the thousands - when they can easily find work anywhere in the world?

Maybe things aren't so awful here after all. Barack.

Quote of the Day

This is disturbing. I agree with Weird Richard Cohen:

For the most part, hate-crime legislation is just a sop for politically influential interest groups -- yet another area in which liberals, traditionally sensitive to civil liberties issues, have chosen to mollify an entire population at the expense of the individual and endorse discredited reasoning about deterrence.

In von Brunn's case, the hate-crime counts are an obscenity. To suggest that the effects of this attack were felt only by the Jewish or the black communities -- and not, for instance, by your average Washington tourist -- ghettoizes both its real and purported victims. It's a consequence that von Brunn himself might applaud.

"The Folly of Hate-Crime Laws," Washington Post, August 4, 2009

What Are We Doing?

As only Ramirez can say it:

Click on the image to enlarge it.

What's Up With This?

Don't expect to read about this scandal in the Washington Post. The official Democratic Party organ is/was only interested in Bush/Cheney administration intrusions - whether real or imagined - into our privacy. Oddly, the Democrats who manage the rag don't seem to be concerned about overt and outrageous Obama government activity like this (in a Washington Times editorial, "Snooping for clunkers"):

It's always important to read the fine print. Car dealers were reminded of that rule when logging onto the government's "cash for clunkers" Web page. In return for information about the Car Allowance Rebate System, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required that dealers surrender all privacy on their private computer networks.

NHTSA's warning said: "When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is the property of the U.S. Government. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected and disclosed to authorized CARS, [Department of Transportation] and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign."

What is that all about? "Your computer is considered a Federal computer system"? Did we vote on that? Did someone void the Constitution while we were asleep?

The editorial goes on to report the fact that the NHTSA is in the process, after having been questioned on this, of rewording its disclaimer. May I suggest the following?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It's kept the government in check for 220 years. I think we should stick to it.

There's Blood In The Water

I wondered early on if the nationwide Tea Party protests would be a flash in the pan and peter out after Independence Day. I wonder no more. There is a palpable - and growing - anger being exhibited by a sizable segment of the populace like I've never seen before. At least not from the generally flaccid taxpayer demographic.

But I watch this ...

... and this ...

... and this ...

... and this ...

... and I have to believe there is a serious movement afoot.

So what's going on?

These people are mad as hell.

And they're doing something about it.

To borrow a page from the loony left, the adopted strategy is ...

Think globally.

Act locally.

And bring the house down.

It's high time.

Why The Chinese Worry About Our Growing Debt

And why you should worry too:
Biggest tax revenue drop since 1932
By the Associated Press

Washington – The recession is starving the government of tax revenue, just as the president and Congress are piling a major expansion of health care and other programs on the nation's plate and struggling to find money to pay the tab.

The numbers could hardly be more stark: Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion.

Other figures in an Associated Press analysis underscore the recession's impact: Individual income tax receipts are down 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent.

The last time the government's revenues were this bleak, the year was 1932 in the midst of the Depression. [link]
My God. Can corporate tax revenue have actually dropped 57% from this time last year?

If that's not shocking enough, take a look at the trend line:
Couple this with Obama's efforts to spend America into oblivion on health care and climate change and the implications are absolutely frightening.

This cannot be sustained for long.

Chart courtesy of OMB and the Associated Press.

It's Just Not Going To Work Anymore

We're onto their game:

Media Spin: New York Times Blames 2009's Record Cold on Natural Factors -- But Blamed Record Warmth in 2000 on Man-Made Global Warming!

Lights out, fellas.

Not An Auspicious Beginning

Let me say up front: Real men don't drink martinis and then goosh about it. But insecure, pretentious men do. I don't care what James Bond said (wasn't he British?).

So for a web magazine entitled, "MANzine," of all things, to kill far too many bytes extolling the virtues of something I came to regard as swill a long time ago, well, it's simply pathetic. And rather limp.

But there's another point:

I tried a gin martini twenty some-odd years ago in an out-of-the-way bar in northern Wisconsin. It tasted like gasoline. I've never ordered one since.

But I was in a restaurant in Orlando a few years ago with business acquaintances and was told by one of them (female, pretentious, rather annoying) that the reason I had an unfavorable experience in Wisconsin was because I didn't ask for a vodka martini. So I thought, "OK. Hey, why not. I'll put it on my expense account anyway. What the heck."

It tasted like gasoline.

It took some time but I've come to a point in my life when I don't feel the need to put on airs for anyone.

I like the taste of bourbon. I drink bourbon. It makes me feel good.

If I want to drink a martini, I'll save some cash and order at the Citgo pump.

Offended? Don't invite me to your next wine & cheese tasting soiree.