People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, May 05, 2006

What I Meant To Say Was ...

I guess all those people out there who have been savagely vilifying Virginia Senator George Allen for owning a Confederate flag thirty years ago (and you know who you are) will find the notion a bit less distasteful this morning.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Webb speech praised Confederate Army
In 1990, the Senate hopeful spoke of forebears' sacrifices
BY Tyler Whitley, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

James Webb, one of two Democrats seeking the nomination to run against Sen. George Allen, once spoke of the bravery of Confederate soldiers. The speech is posted on his personal Web site,

In 1990, U.S. Senate candidate James Webb spoke movingly of the Confederate Army and his Confederate forebears. (link)
I'm sure the die-hard cheerleaders for the Democratic Party will find some distinction between what Allen said and did many years ago and what James Webb said and did years ago. I wish they wouldn't waste their time.

It's a non-issue. For both candidates. Let it go.

A Point I've Made Before

With regard to unemployment rates, one normally looks at a monthly estimate of the percentage of people who are unemployed and if it's lower than the month before - or the year before - it's a good number. That holds true for the entire country.

Except for Southside and Southwest Virginia. In a number of counties and municipalities in this area, another factor plays a part. Depopulation.

From the Martinsville Bulletin:

Jobless rates drop: But so does labor force
By Ginny Wray, Bulletin Staff Writer

Area unemployment rates continued to fall in March, but so did the labor force.

The combined rate for the Martinsville-Henry County area was 5.5 percent for March, with 1,722 people unemployed. The February combined rate was 6.0 percent, with 1,849 people out of work. A year ago, the rate was 7.5 percent, with 2,392 people unemployed.

The labor force shrank by about 600 in the past year, according to William F. Mezger, chief economist for the Economic Information Services Division of the Virginia Employment Commission, who released the figures Wednesday. (

I heard it said once that when we reach a 5% unemployment rate, we are essentially at full employment. By that measure, Martinsville and Henry County are riding high.

Somehow I don't think so ...

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I made mention yesterday of a newspaper editorial that seemingly gave credit for Bland County's innovative "free internet access" initiative to Congressman Rick Boucher, a man who these days is definitely in need of all the kudos he can get, but one who had nothing to do with the town of Bland being wired with internet service.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, knows who's getting the job done:

Region’s first ‘hot spot’ — Bland leads VA in broadband deployment

In an exciting technological advancement, Bland County is officially the first “hot spot” in Southwest Virginia. In a move that the county Board of Supervisors hope will lead the way for all of Southwest Virginia in terms of technology and innovation, Bland will be the first community in Southwest Virginia, and one of only three in the Commonwealth, to launch wireless Internet access free to its citizens this month — using the latest in
broadband deployment technology, according to County Administrator Jonathan D. Sweet.

Sweet said the installation work on the free broadband service is scheduled for completion this week.

“It’s another benefit for spending time in Bland,” Sweet said. “Not only do you get the beauty, atmosphere and quality of life, but you also get wireless broadband Internet access for free.” (link)

You also get a free back rub. He forgot to mention that. We're a hospitable bunch here in Bland County.

Anyway, Jonathan Sweet gets the praise he deserves.

Good Job

Just yesterday I wrote the following:
Didn't the Roanoke Times complain bitterly not long ago about the cronyism that pervades the Bush administration? (Katrina; FEMA, ...) Well, if nepotism is the ultimate form of cronyism, the Times editorial staff must be hopping mad about this ...
The "this" had to do with the news that Roanoke County's sheriff recently hired her sister to be the department's public information officer.

Well, I don't think "hopping mad" is fitting but the Times has certainly taken notice:

Briefly put...

On Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson's first day in office, Jan. 3, she fired former Sheriff George McMillan's public information officer. It took her about five months to find a suitable replacement for the position: her sister, Patricia Johnson.

Patricia Johnson's apparent qualifications for the $43,000-a-year position include winning a national "slam poetry" contest 10 years ago, some publications in literary journals and ownership of the Classic Glenvar Chili Shop.

Sheriff Johnson stressed personal integrity in her successful bid to unseat McMillan. When did nepotism become a personal virtue? (


I liked that second paragraph, by the way. It's sort of a "poetical slam."

Gittin 'er Done

The USA rocked in the first quarter:
Productivity and Wages Showed Gains in Quarter
By Vikas Bajaj, The New York Times

American workers were more productive in the first three months of this year than in the preceding quarter, the Labor Department reported yesterday, and they were paid more as well.

Bucking a recent trend, the report showed that workers' hourly compensation increased at an annual pace of 5.7 percent in the first quarter; adjusted for inflation, compensation rose 3.6 percent. In the last three months of 2005, compensation fell 0.3 percent after inflation.

Productivity, a ratio of output to hours worked, increased 3.2 percent as output surged 5.8 percent and hours worked rose 2.5 percent. (
This is good news and is sure to soften the coming blow on the inflation front as the huge increase in the price of oil works its way into all the costs of production.

Anyway, you go, America!

A Fascinating Development

How is it the Republican Party as represented in Congress is split along the same lines as is the Republican Party here in Virginia? The budget battle in the state legislature has a very conservative lower chamber (the House of Delegates) squared off against a growingly liberal Republican Senate. So too the United States Congress:
Defying Bush, Senate Passes Spending Bill
By Carl Hulse, The New York Times

WASHINGTON, May 4 — The Senate approved a $109 billion measure on Thursday to pay for the war in Iraq and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, ignoring a veto threat by President Bush and an increasingly hard line against spending by House Republicans.

"It is very important to the protection of the security interests of the people of the United States," said Senator Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi, who as chairman of the Appropriations Committee was the chief author of the measure.

But the Senate bill, which exceeds Mr. Bush's ceiling by about $14 billion, sets up a clash with the White House and the House, which earlier this year approved about $17 billion less than the Senate and is vowing not to budge.

"The House will not take up an emergency supplemental spending bill for Katrina and the war in Iraq that spends $1 more than what the president asked for, period," Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House majority leader, told reporters on Thursday.

Later in the day, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois declared the Senate bill "dead on arrival," one of the harshest public characterizations in recent memory of legislation from his fellow Republicans in the Senate. (
The Republicans in the Senate (both state and federal) have moved so far away from the party's roots, they now openly defy the conservative base (and in the case of the Senate - the President) and spend money like drunken sailors. This is beyond belief. And needs to be fixed.

For what it's worth, both of Virginia's Senators - Warner and Allen - voted to defy their base and their President. The first I would have expected it from (I expect no less). I'll give the other the benefit of the doubt. He probably didn't know what he was doing. He's been on his hands and knees lately and has been distracted.