Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Let's Continue to Flail

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

-- Ben Franklin

"The region has long relied on the Blue Ridge Parkway to be a golden goose. The most recent figures point to a goose egg, just not a golden one. The National Park Service, which manages the parkway, announced this week that 2005 was the third consecutive year of declining visitors, down nearly 5 million since 2002.

Rampant development, high gas prices, rude motorists and tourists looking for more than a view are all to blame. If the trend continues, hoping to draw people off the parkway becomes an even less sound basis for tourism marketing and development.

With a little work, the region's forested mountains could offer camping, hiking and mountain biking on par with anywhere east of the Mississippi River, but only if communities resist the temptation to throw houses and mega stores on them."

-- "A New Vision Of Roanoke Tourism," Roanoke Times editorial, January 11, 2006 (link)

" After Jackson had repulsed Franklin's attack on the Confederate right, Burnside ordered Sumner to storm Longstreet's impregnable position on Marye's Heights. Successive charges brought death to droves of courageous Union troops. Burnside's subordinates protested against renewing the foolhardy assaults, and on Dec. 15 the Federals made an undisturbed withdrawal to the north bank. Union losses, more than twice the Confederate, were over 12,000. The defeat caused profound depression throughout the North."

-- "Battle of Fredericksburg,", Columbia University Press (link)

"There comes a time when we must regroup and reevaluate. Our thoughtful plans and best intentions have failed to improve the lot of the citizens of Roanoke in particular and have exacerbated the plight of Southwest Virginians in general. Transforming the area's traditional reliance on manufacturing into a tourist economy, though well-considered and enthusiastically pursued, has resulted in a calamitous loss of economic vitality in the region (see here the Milken Institute's study of the top 200 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas' performance; it ranks Roanoke 181st in job growth and potential for economic opportunity, just ahead of Detroit and Cleveland).

If there is a key indicator in the current plan, it has to be the development of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most promising of all the trails, tracks, traverses and tourist termini that have been touted - and well-funded - in recent years. And it is down five million visitors since 2002.

Doing more of the same will result in more of the same."

-- Jerry Fuhrman, "From On High, January 11, 2006

The Editorial Team Can't Like This News

The New York Times is reporting that Sam Alito tore 'em up in his Senate confirmation hearings yesterday:

Judge Alito Proves a Powerful Match for Senate Questioners

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - If Senate Democrats had set out to portray Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as extreme on issues ranging from abortion to government surveillance of citizens, they ran up against an elusive target on Tuesday: Samuel A. Alito Jr. For nearly eight hours, Judge Alito was placid, monochromatic and, it seemed, mostly

Unlike the testimony of John G. Roberts Jr., who had often declined to answer questions on various grounds, among them that certain issues might come before him as chief justice or that his older writings did not necessarily reflect his current views, Judge Alito's default impulse frequently seemed to be to try to give a direct response to the senators' often rambling questions.

For the most part, his handling of questions from Democrats had the effect of leaving his questioner shuffling through papers in search of the next question. (link)
The Times editorialists are left sputtering about how the hearings ought to be conducted and who ought to be allowed to testify and what evidence the committee members ought to be considering:

Fairness in the Alito Hearings

Judge Samuel Alito Jr.'s confirmation process has barely begun, and his supporters are already complaining that it has been unfair. There have certainly been troubling aspects to this hearing, but so far they have been in Judge Alito's favor. The news that federal judges intend to testify in support of his nomination is both unusual and unfortunate, as are reports that a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee may have helped prepare Judge Alito for the hearings. So are some comments by Senator Arlen Specter, the committee chairman, who seems to be using his position to spin things Judge Alito's way. (link)
Get the felling the editorial staff is a bit less than happy with the proceedings thus far?

Then you have Times columnist Maureen Dowd*. She simply chooses to ignore the facts and makes up her own story:
Doing the Alito Shuffle
By Maureen Dowd

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. was evasive, disingenuous and deferential. He fits the Bush era like a baseball glove. (
I gotta tell you, I'm enjoying this.

* Sorry. I'm allowed only an excerpt. I don't pay for her idiocy.

The Sago Mine Disaster: It's Bush's Fault III

The New York Times revisits the West Virginia mine disaster that took the lives of twelve miners and ... drumroll ... blames President Bush a second time for having caused it:
Lost Time, Lost Lives in the Mine

The haunting question from the deadly mine disaster in Sago, W.Va., last week becomes ever clearer: Why did it take nearly 12 hours for enough rescuers to gather so they could attempt their first descent toward the 13 miners trapped with limited emergency oxygen? The explosion occurred at 6:30 in the morning in the rural Appalachian mine, as the work shift headed in. The first rescue team was not at the scene until 1:30, seven hours later. It had to wait for a second team, the backup required by law, and that could not be assembled from the far corners of the coal region until after 5:30 in the evening.

... vital positions at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration have gone unfilled in recent years, inviting only further laxity on the part of companies that have been allowed to outsource their safety responsibilities to off-site contractors that are not subject to regular federal inspections. And the safety administration, which once maintained rescue experts at regional offices, now has them dispersed across the nation on the theory that they can be summoned fast enough to save lives.

Warning signs have abounded in recent years. Yet ... a plan begun a decade ago to upgrade the mine rescue program was quietly scuttled by the Bush administration. The pro-company bias of the administration is itself a factor deserving full investigation if the inquiries now being promised are to have any credible effect. (
There you have it. The odd thing about this editorial though is the fact that the Times asks some great questions, but not of any mine officials, miners, rescuers, or mine experts. Instead we are provided with the opinion of someone in the most discredited profession in America today - a journalist, for a West Virginia newspaper.

Not exactly the stuff that credibility is made of.