Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marcel Marceau Dead at 84

I always thought, as I watched this man perform on television, that his act was about as entertaining as watching milk curdle. I just don't see the fascination with pantomime.

Still, in his day he received worldwide acclaim. For that, he is remembered at his passing:
French Mime Marcel Marceau Dies
By Angela Doland, The Associated Press

Paris -- Marcel Marceau, who revived the art of mime and brought poetry to silence, has died, his former assistant said Sunday. He was 84.

Wearing white face paint, soft shoes and a battered hat topped with a red flower, Marceau, notably through his famed personnage Bip, played the entire range of human emotions onstage for more than 50 years, never uttering a word.(link)
With the passing of time ...

The Rick Boucher Trail For Horses

I made mention just the other day of the depressing statistics coming out of Southwest Virginia that show us leading the commonwealth in the rate of family dissolution.

A week ago I brought to your attention the troubling news that we have a public epidemic on our hands. Drug deaths due to overdose have risen 294% in the last decade and Southwest Virginia now accounts for fully 40% of all the drug-related deaths in the state. Drug abuse, by anyone's standard, is out of control.

Add to all that, heartbreaking poverty rates ...

Troubling lead levels in children's blood streams ...

Child abuse and neglect ...

Depopulation ...

Plant closings ...

Suicide rates ...

And how do we respond?

Clinch Ranger District lassoes $520,000 for horse riding trail
By the Kinsport Times-News Staff

Wise — The Jefferson/George Washington National Forest’s Clinch Ranger District, headquartered in Wise, has lassoed $519,960 to move forward with plans to develop horse riding trails in the High Knob area of Wise and Scott counties.

The High Knob Horse Trail project is one of seven projects statewide selected to receive a total of $3.8 million in special federal transportation funds to be disbursed by the Virginia Department of Transportation. (link)
We're given a horseback riding trail.

This, so you know, is Boucher's work. Those "special" federal transportation funds referred to here were allocated in that massive pork-laden federal transportation bill that passed in 2005. The one that had 6,371 earmarks for "special" projects, "transportation" projects (none of which included monies for repairing that bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed due to lack of maintenance, and killed seven people).

One of those transportation earmarks was for the construction of this trail ...

... for horses.

... in Wise and Scott Counties.

... where suicide rates are twice the state average.

... where our schools let out early because they lack air conditioning.

... where, in some areas, the drinking water is unfit for human consumption.

... poverty.

... despair.

... a horseback riding trail.

I think we should name it after Congressman Rick Boucher. And force him to live with it. For all eternity.

The Rick Boucher Trail Of Tears.

The Light Bulb Comes On

Dan Radmacher, writing in the Roanoke Times, has come around to my way of thinking on the payday lending issue. In a nutshell, I've always argued that, just as with the tango, it takes two to transact a loan - a lender and a borrower. Go after one, you punish the other.*

Take away the first half of that equation, as most critics of payday lending would like to do, and you've left the borrower "up the crick without a paddle."

That kind of help they don't need.

Here's Dan:

Shades of gray in payday lending
editorial by Dan Radmacher

Lately, though, I've been starting to wonder if the issue is as black and white as I'd like it to be.

Del. Onzlee Ware spoke to the editorial board recently as part of our endorsement process.

We asked him about his opposition to capping interest rates for payday lenders at 36 percent. His words crystallized my unease about this situation:

"You can't eliminate something people need without replacing it," he said.

And many people do need short-term loans to make it to their next paycheck. (link)

Oddly, Dan doesn't offer a big-government remedy to this (perceived) problem, like endorsing that arbitrary cap on interest rates or asking that the state provide funds to assist those who can't manage their money.

This is troubling. Dan Radmacher being reasonable. I'm going to have to reread this ...

* How about that for a tortured metaphor? Sorry.

A Blemish On Roanoke's Image

You can hire all the consultants in the world to burnish your city's image. But if you have one crazed racist living there, one who makes national headlines, all your efforts go for nought.

Roanoke, Virginia, as it turns out, is a hotbed of hate-filled, skin head nazis. Or so it would appear from the blaring headlines.

This from today's New York Post:

FBI Reviewing Anti-Jena 6 Web Page
By Becky Bohrer, Associated Press Writer

New Orleans (AP) -- The FBI is reviewing a white supremacist Web site that purports to list the addresses of five of the six black teenagers accused of beating a white student in Jena and "essentially called for their lynching," an agency spokeswoman said Saturday.

Sheila Thorne, an agent in the FBI's New Orleans office, said authorities were reviewing whether the site breaks any federal laws. She said the FBI had "gathered intelligence on the matter," but declined to further explain how the agency got involved.

CNN first reported Friday about the Web site, which features a swastika, frequent use of racial slurs, a mailing address in Roanoke, Va., and phone numbers purportedly for some of the teens' families "in case anyone wants to deliver justice." That page is dated Thursday. (link)
The Roanoke Times reported on this Friday. The man behind the website is identified as William A. White, a well-known white supremacist. A blight on the community.

How embarrassing.


On a separate but related note, I wonder, since the dean considers it a matter of free speech to invite terrorists to tour his campus, if Columbia University would ask Mr. White to speak to the students? I wonder ...

HillaryCare & Its Progenitor - ArnoldCare

John Fund, writing in the Wall Street Journal, thinks Hillary's latest version of government-mandated health care for all is little more than Arnold Schwarzenegger's universal health care plan he introduced for California, but on a larger scale, and that her plan will experience a similar demise to his:
HillaryCare Flops in California
If Schwarzenegger couldn't get it done, how can Mrs. Clinton?

Last January, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed an eerily similar plan using the same rhetoric and even the same slogan adopted by Mrs. Clinton to describe hers: "Shared Responsibility."

... despite all of its clever political compromises, ArnoldCare is bogged down in trench warfare in California's liberal Democratic Legislature. If anything passes, it will likely be only a shell of a bill without any financing component. Legislators will hope voters approve a general tax increase to pay for it in November 2008.

The two plans have many features in common. ArnoldCare's $12 billion-a-year price tag represents about a tenth of Mrs. Clinton's estimate for the costs of her plan, roughly in line with California's share of the national economy. Both include mandates to buy health insurance, a ban on premium differences based on health status, Medicaid expansion, and a requirement that insurers have to offer policies to all applicants. (link)
Fund's explanation for the coming "flop" of HillaryCare II?

The claim that no new bureaucracies are created will be challenged.

[M]aking certain people have insurance is easier said than done. California has had a law mandating that drivers have car insurance since 1970 and has required physical proof of insurance to register a car for a decade. Even so, the Insurance Research Council says 25% of the state's drivers remain uninsured.

Illegal aliens and their access to health insurance will be controversial.

Mrs. Clinton promises health care for all, but is punting on the issue of whether the illegal aliens ...

Hoping for bipartisan support isn't the same thing as getting it.

Gov. Schwarzenegger sincerely believed he could convince Republicans to support his plan. In the end, he couldn't find anyone from either party to push his plan in the Legislature. It was too tax-heavy for Republicans (his effort to call proposed tax hikes "loans" flopped) and not nearly interventionist enough for Democrats.

What's different in Hillary's case, of course, is the fact that she's not trying to push her proposal to a recalitrant Congress. She's pushing for votes, from an electorate that likes to be given "free" stuff. Like health care.

It remains to be seen if Americans as a whole are as smart as Californians and see past her pie-in-the-sky. Let's hope.

And We All Know NASA Never Makes Mistakes

This should give all those who live in fear that they are going to die at any moment some pause. It won't. But it should:

The 'Old' Consensus?
Investors Business Daily

Climate Change: Did NASA scientist James Hansen, the global warming alarmist in chief, once believe we were headed for . . . an ice age? An old Washington Post story indicates he did.

On July 9, 1971, the Post published a story headlined "U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming." It told of a prediction by NASA and Columbia University scientist S.I. Rasool. The culprit: man's use of fossil fuels.'

The Post reported that Rasool, writing in Science, argued that in "the next 50 years" fine dust that humans discharge into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel will screen out so much of the sun's rays that the Earth's average temperature could fall by six degrees.

Aiding Rasool's research, the Post reported, was a "computer program developed by Dr. James Hansen," who was, according to his resume, a Columbia University research associate at the time.

Hansen has some explaining to do. The public deserves to know how he was converted from an apparent believer in a coming ice age who had no worries about greenhouse gas emissions to a global warming fear monger.

This is a man ... who has called those skeptical of his global warming theory "court jesters." We wonder: What choice words did he have for those who were skeptical of the ice age theory in 1971? (link)

We're going to follow "scientists" like this off the cliff?

Count me out.

Music To My Ears

Mitt Romney scored several points with me on Saturday. With this:
Romney Promises to Restore a Wayward GOP
By Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Writer

Mackinac Island, Mich. (AP) - Courting party faithful Saturday, Republican Mitt Romney promised to return a wayward GOP to its core principles while rival John McCain portrayed himself as the most qualified to take charge of the country amid dangerous times ahead.

In a blistering critique of Republicans, Romney argued that Republicans share the blame with Democrats for the nation's woes. He bemoaned excessive spending, insecure borders and ethical lapses. "When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses," he said. (link)
How many times have I screamed that at my television set: "You're a Republican, you idiot! Quit acting like a Democrat! For that, I could have voted for those thieving scumbags!"

Thanks, Mitt. I'm glad someone is finally saying it to the masses.

If Only Dogs Could Talk

"You don't pay me enough, pal."