Sunday, January 30, 2011

Economists Say Higher Energy Prices WIll Hurt The Economy

In a USA Today article (1/24/11) on the brightening economy, there is this statement: “And 71% of the economists said they’re concerned that higher energy prices will slow growth.”

Seventy-one percent of economists think higher energy prices will hurt the economy. And yet the Obama administration and other liberal Democrats are trying to push energy prices up dramatically via cap and trade, all the while talking about how they want to help the economy and create jobs.

This is the incoherence of the left on full display.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Obama Discovers Turbines But Doesn't Realize What Makes Them Spin

President Obama recently went to Schenectady, NY to a General Electric factory to talk about how he wants to create jobs. So there he was pointing to a huge turbine and saying how GE was selling a bunch of them, and he wanted to see more of that to keep the 1200 workers busy, and maybe even enabler GE to hire some more.

There’s only one problem with Mr. Obama’s new found infatuation with turbines. Other policies of his will destroy the turbine business.

The turbines he was standing in front of at the GE plant were steam turbines that will be used to turn an electric generator. Steam turbines are powered by - - steam. That steam comes from a boiler that burns something to heat the water. In the case of electric generators, fifty percent of the time the steam boiler burns coal; the other fifty percent use oil and natural gas. Mr. Obama is a known environmental extremist, and has stated that he wants to bankrupt the coal industry as well as block any future coal fired power plants. Oil and natural gas are also on his hit list. So if those Obama policies succeed, there will be no steam turbine market and all of those 1200 workers at the GE turbine plant in Schenectady will be out of a job!

This is stunning incoherence from a President of the United States. On the one hand he makes no bones about wanting to bankrupt or other wise eliminate the coal industry and coal fired power plants because he thinks they hurt the environment, and on the other hand he extols the benefits of a factory building the steam turbines used in those coal fired power plants as a good thing because they create jobs!!

Is Obama, billed by his supporters as the smartest man on planet Earth, so clueless that he really can’t see the inter-relationship between coal and steam turbines and jobs for workers making those turbines, or does he think he can talk out of both sides of his mouth and we won’t be able to figure it out? You decide.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is This The U.S. Congress Or Romper Room

You will go a long way toward understanding why the country is in the dismal conditions it is when you contemplate the latest news coming out of Washington: Congressmen are all in a dither about who they will sit beside during the President’s State of the Union Address.

Yes, the big news surrounding the State of the Union address is not so much what the President will or will not say; the news is about the various “play dates” Senators and Representatives are setting up with each other.

Yes, this is all big news. The New York Times ran a long article on it, calling it a “Congressional Mixer”. The sub-headlines were, “Asking lawmakers to arrange their seating to promote mingling.” “It has made for some pressure, perhaps even some sweaty palms, in finding an available partner.”

“Mary from Louisiana asked Olympia from Maine because they are both BFF’s. Kirsten from New York went the Sadie Hawkins route and asked John from South Dakota, and thus the deal between two members of the Senate with seriously good hair was sealed.” And more about Senator Schumer planning to sit with Senator Coburn, and others.

Really. This is what our national lawmakers are devoting their time and energy to in these trying times? They’re busy lining up play dates? Is this the U.S. Congress or playtime in kindergarten? Maybe instead of calling it the Capitol, we should rename it Romper Room.

This is childish beyond belief, and a national embarrassment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Through The Looking Glass

Watching the events following the tragedy in Arizona has caused me to think that I must have stepped through the looking glass with Lewis Carroll. The world appears to be normal, until parts of it that you don’t usually see come into view, and then you observe all sorts of bizarre and surreal things.

Within a couple of hours of the shootings, there were major public and political figures blaming it on Sarah Palin, who was in Alaska minding her own business at the time. The New York Times said it was the fault of the tea partiers. Others said it was Rush Limbaugh, talk radio in general, Fox News. Yes, it was the “harsh” political rhetoric that unhinged the shooter and made him do it. They would have you believe that normal, everyday people hear something on the radio or TV and then go get their gun and start shooting.

Next we saw the chief law enforcement officer (the sheriff) in the county where the crime occurred turn into a political demagogue and blame the shooting on everyone in the country except the guy who pulled the trigger.

Politicians everywhere started lamenting the shrill political “rhetoric” of the last two years, and bloviate on how we need to be more “civil” in our public discourse. But we heard no such calls for political “civility” during the Bush years when a book and movie came out detailing how to assassinate him, or when left wing blogs depicted him as Hitler, or when he was accused of knowing about the 911 attack plans in advance but did nothing about it, etc., etc., etc. for eight years. No, all of that was fine, but now suddenly we need “civility”.

One member of the House demanded that the bulls eye symbol be banned from political speech and print even though the terminology of “targeted” races and districts has been in the political lexicon for decades and used extensively by everyone, with no apparent ill effects.

All of this paroxysm over political speech was in spite of one of Mr. Loughner’s friends saying that he was not in any way political, didn’t listen to the news, wasn’t left – right – or center, wasn’t a Republican or Democrat, that he really wasn’t anything, and that even President Obama said there was no link between political discourse and the shootings.

Then there was that “memorial service”.

Not one member of the clergy spoke at this event; no priest, pastor, rabbi, minister, preacher, elder, deacon, or anybody of the cloth. A Native American witch doctor was prominently featured, though, even though none of the victims were a member of that demographic. And there were two members of the President’s cabinet, i.e., politcians, reading from the Bible.
The Master of Ceremonies of the service was a college president who had no apparent connection to any of the people affected by the tragedy. He seemed to function as chief cheerleader with lots of students clapping and cheering and generally whooping it up. At a memorial service for the six dead and six wounded.

Then President Obama tried to position himself as a miracle worker by saying that after he visited Ms. Giffords, she immediately opened her eyes for the first time.

The President also said that as a result of this tragedy, we all need to try to be better people. As a Christian, I do believe that I (and everyone) need to continually strive to be a better person. I believe this and try to do it because of what I read in the Bible and what I hear at church, not because of the actions of some deranged madman.

I have a suggestion for the President. If he wants to move us all towards being better people, he should exhort everyone to attend church regularly and to live their lives according to what they learn there. He could also encourage everyone to read and contemplate the Bible on a regular basis. And he could lead by example.

Now we have Congress saying that this event has inspired them to sit together during the President’s upcoming State Of The Union address, rather than have Democrats on one side of the room and Republicans on the other, as is the normal custom. Let me make sure I understand what the people running the country have learned from the horrific actions resulting from a truly dysfunctional mind: They need to sit together at the next political event. Maybe they could also hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I‘m sure all of that will deter the next lunatic from going on a rampage.

And here is the most bizarre part. What you don’t hear any of these people saying is the aspect that is the true lesson to be learned from this tragedy. The real eye opener is that our mental heath system is seriously broken.

Here we have a person, Jared Loughner, who by all accounts was truly deranged, and getting worse as time went on. His college classmates wrote emails about how they feared him and sat by the door so that if he flipped out, they could get out quickly. His class instructors complained to the administration about his bizarre and sometimes violent behavior and statements. After several episodes, he was expelled from college. But the college administrations did not give any information on him to the local police.

Mr. Loughner tried to join the military, but was denied due to “excessive” drug use. Again, no information was shared with local authorities.

Mr. Loughner had a rap sheet, having been arrested for drugs and other things.

It seems his parents were also very concerned about him, but it’s not apparent that they took any resolute actions to get him some help whether he wanted it or not.

He had put up some sort of a pagan alter in his back yard, complete with a human skull and rotting fruits.

And through all of this, somehow the dots were not connected, or if they were, nothing was done about it. Mr. Loughner needed help; he needed to be institutionalized. But he got nothing; he just ran around loose.

The final straw: About a half hour before he started shooting, he was stopped for running a red light, and given a warning.

Forget all of this nonsense about civility, rhetoric, sitting together, blah, blah, blah. No one can seriously argue that any of that had the slightest connection to the shooting or will do anything to deter the next one. The real tragedy here is that this was preventable. We had a true psychopath running around loose, and almost everyone he came into contact with knew that he was seriously unbalanced. Intervention was obviously needed, and it didn’t happen. That is why six people are dead and six others wounded.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Beginning Of The End Of Obamacare

Last night, the House of Representatives, the legislative chamber of Congress closest to American popular opinion, voted to repeal Obamacare—the increasingly unpopular law which led directly to a change in the control of Congress just three months ago.

Many will tell you that yesterday’s bipartisan vote of 245 to 189 was an exercise in futility—an empty, symbolic measure. Liberals in Congress, the White House and their echo chamber in the media all insist, as NPR has duly reported, that “this measure will go no further.”

Don’t believe this for a single minute. The vote last night was an important step in the democratic process of protecting and conserving our constitutional freedoms.

Our country, it is increasingly clear, has arrived at a pivotal moment – perhaps the pivotal moment – in its history. Together, we face a choice between two futures. One is a collectivist future where the federal government claims ever increasing shares of our income and grants itself the authority to make decisions affecting virtually every aspect of our daily lives. The other future is built upon the idea that individual freedom trumps government authority, and that in those rare cases when solving a problem requires government, the government that governs best is the one that is smallest and closest to the people. That is the future that we should seek – reaffirming our individual liberty, strengthening private markets, shrinking the size of governments, and making decisions wherever possible at the local level rather than in Washington.

No issue joins this debate more dramatically than the question of Obamacare, and what to do about it. It’s not just about health care. The law redefines our centuries-old understanding of the reach of federal authority, indeed whether there are any limits at all to the government’s ability to intrude upon individuals, families, business owners, physicians and other health providers, and state and local governments. Little or nothing will be allowed outside the new regulatory scheme – no alternative state programs, no individuals or businesses that choose not to participate, no truly private market alternatives.

The debate boils down to one big question: Shall we govern ourselves, or let unelected bureaucrats rule us?

Behind this question are the many other specific ones about health care:
Should the federal government control America’s $2.5 trillion health sector, fully one sixth of our economy?
Should government bureaucrats decide what form of health coverage is “acceptable”?
Should these bureaucrats be given the legal authority to require all Americans to purchase government-designed health plans and levy penalties on those who don’t comply?
Should the federal government require the States to devote scarce resources to the creation of federally designed health exchanges that State lawmakers may feel inadequately address the unique needs of state residents?
Should the federal government expand the Medicaid program so dramatically that States face a Hobson’s choice – either shoulder billions in new fiscal commitments (on top of an already unsustainable budget mess) or withdraw from the program entirely?
What about employers who want to continue to provide their employees with health coverage but learn that federal bureaucrats deem the coverage they can afford to provide insufficiently generous?
And these are but the most obvious concerns raised by last year’s law.

But what comes next, you ask?

First, it is incumbent on the Majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV) to allow a vote on the floor of that chamber. A bipartisan majority in one half of Congress has just repealed the most ambitious expansion of the federal government in many decades following a major electoral reversal for his party. For Mr. Reid to prevent this vote from coming to the Senate floor would be to thumb his nose at the will of the American people. Senators must be allowed to vote on this question so that repeal legislation might go to the president for his consideration.

In the meantime, Heritage Distinguished Fellow Ernest Istook (who sat on the Appropriations Committee for 14 years) and Government Relations Director Brian Darling say that an incremental strategy is critical. To start the de facto repeal of Obamacare, lawmakers should focus on dismantling the key provisions that form the very foundation of the law’s architecture. This means, for example, going after the pillars of the law through a variety of means like de-funding its critical aspects, engaging in aggressive oversight of the consequences of the law and enacting legislative triggers to delay or block its implementation. All these approaches will contribute to Obamacare’s implosion.

While that important national debate is taking place, the House of Representatives can move to defund provisions of Obamacare through either a rescissions package or funding riders. Congress is not required to fund this law or the myriad of new programs that it spawned. Like every other federal program, the current Congress can adjust – or even zero out – the level of funding for the implementation of Obamacare. Special provisions in the health care law will complicate the process, but the propriety of de-funding is unquestionable. As noted by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Congress is not required to provide funds for every agency or purpose authorized by law.”

De-funding is a legitimate use of the power of the purse that the Founding Fathers wisely granted to Congress. It won’t be easy. Obamacare was designed to be the governmental equivalent of kudzu – growing everywhere. However, Obamacare is not a fait accompli, no matter what the Left is telling you.

After a clean repeal we can move on to debate what good ideas on health care can be adopted in the future, as Heritage health care expert Nina Owcharenko does in her report, “Repealing Obamacare and Getting Healthcare Right.”

The House of Representatives acted wisely last night. Now the debate opens again. It’s a national debate we need to have, and we need to have it now. Don’t listen to those who want to stifle this debate, or close this controversy. There’s nothing uncivil about standing up for your freedoms. This is no time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.

None of our work on Obamacare would be possible without the dedicated support of our 710,000 members from around the nation. Support us as we keep the momentum going for repeal.

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
The Heritage Foundation

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Virginia Tech Wants To Do Away With Virginia Cooperative Extension and 4H

Abingdon, Jan.6, 2011 -- A public hearing was held at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center to discuss the Governor’s budget amendments. Approximately 300 people attended and 75 people made statements. A panel including Delegate Phillips, Senator Reynolds, and Senator Wampler listened to the statements. Ten youth and adults supporting Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) spoke including Deborah Ring of Pulaski County. A summary of their comments is given below.

In the 2010 budget, the General Assembly stated the following: “It is the intent of the General Assembly that the Cooperative Extension Service gives highest priority to programs and services which comprised the original mission of the Extension Service, especially agricultural programs at the local level.” The original mission includes education for 4-H youth, assistance with agriculture and natural resources, and education for families.

Because of needed budget reductions, the state budget committee directed Dr. Alan Grant, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech, to appoint a committee to propose an Extension restructuring plan. Unfortunately, Dr. Grant did not follow the direction of the General Assembly. The plan was developed by nine research professors and administrators. There were no field agents, consumers, or the public involved. Because of its one-sided composition, the committee will not recommend equitable cuts in the research area vs. the field agent area.

This was illustrated with the restructuring plan unveiled by Dr. Grant on October 7, 2010, which regionalizes Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) staff and programs. This plan threatens the very existence of VCE by eliminating two key components of Land Grant Universities – outreach and local presence. In addition, Virginia Tech has not outlined how much money will be saved by this plan.

On December 17, 2010, Dr. Grant announced new “implementation teams” which will include consumers and field agents in “detailed discussions”. However, these teams are working within the framework already set by the original committee and final decisions will be made by the currently stacked committee. So, this is no solution.

The Governor’s budget amendment contains $494,410 to support implementation of this flawed restructuring plan. This amendment must not be approved by the General Assembly.

The current restructuring plan must be scrapped and a new committee formed to include field agents and consumers. There should also be a very close look at how current funds have been spent and what is actually funded.

VCE field offices have been in existence serving Virginians since 1914. VCE field offices must not be deconstructed in favor of professors, researchers, and administrators. Local field agents are the element of VCE that directly serve local farmers, youth, and families.


Contact: Deborah Ring, Co-Chairman of the Virginia Extension Advocacy Committee

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home Foreclosure Problem To Get Worse In 2011

Associated Press headline, Jan. 13, 2011: "Over 1 million Americans Seen Losing Homes In 2011"

In 2010, 2.8 million people had some sort of foreclosure action taken on their house, ranging from a notice to outright foreclosure, of which there were a million. In 2011, housing industry experts expect the number of home foreclosures to rise to 1.2 million.

Did you get that: After trillions of dollars in TARP and bailouts and various government programs to pay people's mortgages or otherwise keep them in their houses, the home foreclosure problem is getting worse!!!

How's that "hope and change" working out for you?

By the way, have you heard anything about this on the alphabet networks?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Correcting the Roanoke Times - Again

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hate Speech From Liberals

Media Reality Check. “While Media Indict Conservative Speech, Left's Lunacy Is Ignored”

Below is the text of a Media Reality Check, compiled by the MRC’s Rich Noyes, which was posted this afternoon.

To read it online, with two video clips and four audio clips from radio hosts, plus links to more examples of liberal hate speech:

Now the text of the Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Media Reality Check:

While Media Indict Conservative Speech, Left's Lunacy Is Ignored

Three days after a mentally-deranged man — whose backyard in Arizona featured a bizarre shrine decorated with a human skull and rotted oranges — killed six people and severely wounded Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the liberal media continue to cynically link Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and mainstream conservatives with the crime.

There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that “heated rhetoric” in any way motivated Jarred Loughner’s shooting spree, but the media’s repeated association of political speech with the attack suggests an attempt to exploit the tragedy to discredit mainstream conservatives by smearing them as somehow culpable.

“Giffords was one of 20 Democrats whose districts were lit up in cross-hairs on a Sarah Palin campaign Web site last spring,” CBS’s Nancy Cordes declared Saturday night in referring to a political map, adding that “Giffords and many others complained that someone unstable might act on that imagery.” Hours later on CNN, Jessica Yellin admitted “we don’t know the motive” before proceeding to raise how “on Twitter and Facebook, there is a lot of talk, in particular, about Sarah Palin.” On Sunday’s Today, leading into a clip about Palin, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell asserted: “Giffords, a conservative Democrat, was concerned about heated campaign rhetoric from the Tea Party.”

An editorial in Monday’s New York Times justified the focus on conservatives: “It is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.” But while the liberal media indict Palin and other conservatives, there’s a long list of vicious rhetoric coming from media liberals.

MSNBC has been the most venomous, a fact NBC has glossed over in its coverage castigating conservatives. The network’s 8pm ET host Keith Olbermann in 2009 referred to columnist Michelle Malkin as “a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Hardball’s Chris Matthews fantasized about the death of Rush Limbaugh: “Somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp.”

The outrage evidenced this week was not to be found when a film festival showed “Death of a President,” a movie depicting the imagined assassination of President Bush. “Poor taste or, as some say, thought-provoking?” MSNBC daytime anchor Amy Robach mildly wondered on September 1, 2006.

On Monday’s The Ed Show, MSNBC’s 6pm ET host Ed Schultz pointed his finger at Fox News for supposedly inciting its audience to “think that doing something radical is the right thing to do,” but sidestepped his own history of shocking comments. “I get passionate, but not in a violent way,” Schultz insisted.

On his national radio show in 2009, however, Schultz wished for Dick Cheney’s death: “He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is, he is an enemy of the country....Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you?” In 2010, Schultz screamed that “Dick Cheney’s heart’s a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him!”

Other left-wing radio hosts have openly desired the death of leading conservatives without a peep from the liberal media elites. Radio host Mike Malloy (a onetime news writer for CNN) wished for Rush Limbaugh’s demise on January 4, 2010, a few days after the conservative host was hospitalized for chest pains: “I’m waiting for the day when I pick it up, pick up a newspaper or click on the Internet and find out he’s choked to death on his own throat fat or a great big wad of saliva or something, you know, whatever. Go away, Rush, you make me sick!”

In 2009, then-Air America radio host Montel Williams urged Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to kill herself: “Slit your wrist! Go ahead! I mean, you know, why not? I mean, if you want to — or, you know, do us all a better thing. Move that knife up about two feet. I mean, start right at the collarbone.”

If Bachmann had been the Congresswoman attacked this weekend instead of Giffords, would the media be as strong in their attacks of the overheated rhetoric lobbed against her over the past several years?

HBO’s Bill Maher, a favorite guest on CNN and other supposedly respectable news networks, wished for the deaths of both Limbaugh and Cheney. Talking about the then-Vice President in 2007, after al Qaeda exploded a truck bomb at a base in Afghanistan near where Cheney was visiting, Maher argued: “I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.”

In 2008, Maher morbidly suggested Limbaugh would have been a better candidate to have died from a drug overdose: “Why couldn’t he have croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?”

Among the claims this week is that anti-government rhetoric is putting public servants in peril. If such a dubious claim is true, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann was jeopardizing lives when he teed off against the government’s anti-terrorism policies in 2006: “We now face what our ancestors faced at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering: A government more dangerous to our liberty than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.”

Media gadfly Arianna Huffington made her own plea for civility, telling the Washington Post via e-mail this weekend that “there are lots of ways to be lively and put forth a strong opinion without demonizing one’s opponent....It’s the demonization that is the problem.”

But her Huffington Post blog site has demonized conservatives for years, including an item posted in early 2007 mocking the cancer that would eventually take the life of White House press secretary Tony Snow. Sneered San Francisco radio host Charles Karel Bouley: “I hear about Tony Snow and say to myself, well, stand up every day, lie to the American people at the behest of your dictator-esque boss and well, how could a cancer NOT grow in you. Work for Fox News, spinning the truth in to a billion knots and how can your gut not rot?”

The Left has been trying for years to shut down conservative radio and otherwise criminalize conservative speech. Using this tragedy to further that agenda is beyond cynical, and probably counterproductive: a new CBS News poll finds that even after a weekend of anti-conservative propaganda, 57% don’t think “harsh political rhetoric” had anything to do with the shootings.

But if the media insist on having a debate about political speech, they need to focus on the Left’s vileness as well. Otherwise, they’re just partisan hypocrites joining in the exploitation of tragedy for political gain.

END Reprint of Media Reality Check

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Truly Despicable

No matter how cynical I get , I can't keep up.

Some people are already, while Ms. Giffords' life hangs in the balance, trying to exploit the tragedy in Arizonan for political gain. These people are actually saying that those who disagreed with them on the issues and spoke out about it are responsible for what happened because this "rhetoric" motivated the wacko who started shooting. Yes, it's all the fault of conservatives, tea partiers, Sarah Palin, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, of anyone whose viewpoints these people don't like.

It is truly despicable that someone would try to exploit this horrific event for political gain by throwing around such reckless charges.

As for me, I'll pray for her and the others.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rediscovering My Coal Country Roots

My father and grandfather were coal miners in Virginia and West Virginia. My father was born and raised in Dante, Virginia in Russell County in the early 1900’s when it was a booming coal town. Later, he went to Caretta, West Virginia and worked at the mine there for twelve years.

Caretta is about five miles from Coalwood, another mining town, that was made famous by Homer Hickam and the other “Rocket Boys”. The mines at Caretta and Coalwood were owned by the same company.
Homer’s father was the mine superintendant at the Coalwood mine, and he loved his work. But Homer marched to the beat of a different drummer, and was inspired by Sputnik to start building model rockets while he was in high school. He read a lot on the subject, kept experimenting, recruited some friends to help, and progressed to the point that he and his cohorts were building some pretty sophisticated rockets. A teacher suggested he enter his work in the science fair, and, to make a long story short, he ended up winning first place at the national science fair, which became a source of great local pride.

Homer then went to Virginia Tech and upon graduation got a job at NASA where he worked until retirement.

When he was nearing retirement, someone made an off-hand suggestion that he write a book about his model rocket building experiences. Homer, being the kind of guy he was, jumped on this idea and did write just such a book. It was a great success which was also turned into a move titled “October Sky”. He also wrote several sequels. All of this sent Homer, the other rocket boys, and Coalwood into national prominence.

Now, every year on the first weekend in October, the October Sky festival is held in Coalwood. Due to my strong personal ties to the same coal towns as Homer Hickam, I have wanted to go to this festival for some time. This year, I did, and my wife went with me so as to see some of my family heritage.

There are only two hotels in that area, the Count Gilu Motel (I am still wondering who Count Gilu was) and the Elkhorn Inn, a bed and breakfast establishment in Landgraff, WV. We opted for some local color and stayed at the Inn. When we made the reservation, we were asked if we wanted a room with a view, the view being of the railroad tracks. We said yes.

Upon arrival, we had a moment of “what have we gotten into” because the Inn needed painting and a bush had grown in front of the sign. I said to Mrs. Ring, “How did you find this place?”

Once we went in, things got better. The condition of the rooms was adequate if not luxurious. We learned that the building was once a “clubhouse” for miners which had fallen into serious disrepair. The current owners bought it with the intent of fixing it up and starting a bed and breakfast, which they have done, although it is still a work in progress.

Dinner is available if you pre-order, which we did since there was nowhere else to go. The husband of the ownership team is also the chef. He food turned out to be quite good, a highlight, actually. EntrĂ©e’s included roast Cornish hen, shrimp and fettucini, scallops, salmon with dill sauce, and others.

As we sat down to dinner Friday night, some people came in the front door, and the owners dropped everything to greet them. After a couple of minutes, the inn keeper came to me and discreetly said, “That’s Homer Hickam.”

Actually, it was Homer Hickam, Mrs. Hickam, and Randy Stribling, an actor that played a small part in the movie. We chatted, had a glass of wine together, took pictures, got our book signed, and felt like we were part of the “in crowd”.

Saturday, we went to Coalwood and the festival. There was a parade including the Concord University marching band, music, food, and speeches. Of most interest were the remarks by four of the five original rocket boys, comments by the 90 year old father of one of the rocket boys, and some words from the mine shop machinist who played a key role in saving chief rocket boy Homer Hickam from disaster at the national science fair, which you will have to read the book to get the whole story on.

There was also a “coal heritage museum” set up under a tent where various coal mining artifacts and memorabilia were on display by a collector. He had a stack of “Coalwood – Caretta News” newspapers from the early 1940’s that he had stumbled across at a yard sale. These got my attention since my parents were there at that time, so I browsed through them. I saw that this newspaper had a “personals” section, as many local newspapers do, that reported on who of the local populace was having visitors, who had a birthday party, school events, church news, and other such down home news. I was thinking that it’s a long shot, but maybe my family might be mentioned in there somewhere, so I skimmed through the “personals” of each newspaper and struck gold twice. My sister was listed as one of a group of girls who went on a Girl Scout outing, and another sister was among those attending a birthday party!! I asked if I could buy these papers, but he was adamant that they were not for sale. So I took pictures of the relevant sections.

After lunch, we drove five miles over the mountain to Caretta, the town where my family lived for twelve years while my father worked at the mine. We saw the building that had housed the company store where my mother would have bought almost everything; we saw the old mine buildings that my father must have worked in; we saw the small house where my family lived (a company house at the time); and we saw that the mine is still in operation to at least some degree. It was a real spiritual journey for me.

We drove on down the road to War – yes, that’s the name of the place – War. My brother was born in War. When my family first went to that area, apparently no company house was available in Caretta, so they lived just down the road in War for about a year until they could get a house in Caretta.

I was curious as to how the town came to be named “War”, so I asked around. The story I got was that some early pioneers had a major skirmish with the Indians. This happened on the banks a creek which became known as War Creek, and over time it was reduced to simply “War”.

By this time, it was late afternoon and time to head back to the inn. One of the major attractions of this inn is train watching. The inn is right across the street from the main line of Norfolk Southern, and many trains come through. A lot of them are coal drags, but many consist of containerized freight, since this line is also part of the “inland corridor” which is the shortest route from the ports on the Eastern Shore to Chicago. This route also goes through Radford, by the way, and the whole route has recently been “upgraded” to allow double-decker containerized freight cars to get through the tunnels.

Anyway, we initially thought that train watching would be pretty dull, but we went out on the front balcony (which you had to duck through what used to be a window to get to) to take a look. After the first train, we were hooked. It was mesmerizing. Whenever we heard a train whistle in the distance, we would rush out to the balcony. An added benefit was that we heard them all through the night in our room!

This particular section of track is on a grade, so the trains going in one direction (up grade) must have “pushers”. Pushers are engines added to the end of the train to help it get up the grade. The long coal drags had two pushers, and the freight trains had one. After the train went by up grade, a few minutes later the pushers would come back down alone to wait somewhere for the next train going up.

After a memorable dinner prepared by Chef Dan, who hovered around the table to make sure everything was just right, we retired to the TV room to watch “October Sky” again, the movie about the rocket boys. Then it was off to bed, with the comforting sound of a train coming through from time to time.

My wife thinks the inn is haunted because she insists she heard the doorknob being rattled during the night, but I didn’t hear that. I did wake up once to a noise that I thought was right beside the bed, but nothing was there. I still don’t think the place is haunted, though.

Next morning, we had the breakfast part of B and B, and then drove home.

It was a very memorable and personally meaningful weekend for me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whose Playing Politics?

Associated Press headline on Jan. 4, 2011: "Obama exhorts Republicans to put politics aside."

Obama wants Republicans to put politics aside, but not Democrats? I guess the Democrats haven't engaged in anything so crass as "politics" during the last two years. It wasn't "politics" when the Democrats "deemed" the Obamacare bill to be passed rather than actually voting on it. It wasn't "politics" when the Democrats kept Congress in session into Christmas Eve. It wasn't politics on the part of the Democrats when they passed the stimulus without one Republican vote in the House. It wasn't "politics" when David Letterman (don't anyone try to tell me he's a Republican) joked on national TV about Sarah Palin's teenage daughter possibly being being raped during a trip to New York. It wasn't "politics" when Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the tea partiers were akin to Naxis. Etc., etc., etc. No, none of that stuff we've seen spewing out of the Democrats in Washington for the last two years was "politics". But now that the Republicans are in control of the House and they have more votes in the Senate, Mr. Obama suddenly is concerned about "politics" in Washington. Obama wants the Republicans, but not the Democrats, to refrain from engaging in "politics".

I'm breathless.

Since the Democrats are exempted from Mr. Obama's moral clarion call for a cease to "politics", Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz felt free to say recently that Republicans want Americans to die, as evidenced by the Republicans' push to repeal Obamacare.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tom Perriello Exposes The Liberal Mindset

Tom Perriello is a liberal Democrat who was turned out of office in Virginia's 5th. Congressional in the last election and replaced by Republican Robert Hurt. In a recent interview, Mr. Perriello acknowledged that he lost the election because of his votes for the stimulus, Obamacare, cap and trade, bank bailouts, auto company bailouts, trillions of deficit spending of all sort, etc. He also said that the country needs more people like him who are willing to vote contrary to public sentiment, even if it means not getting re-elected.

Former Congressman Perriello has just given us a starkly clear picture of the elitist liberal mindset. They believe that they are rulers, not representatives; that they know better than we what is good for us; and that the country would be better off if there were more people in Congress who were willing to ram their socialist agenda down the people's collective throat.