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

Monday, May 02, 2011

Note To Ralph Smith

Sorry you got shafted.

So could you please move to Tazewell?

We're stuck with the increasingly liberal Phil Puckett.

In a land growing more conservative every day.

We could sure use a guy like you down here.  Desperately.

If Tea Party favorite (and Morgan Griffith trench warrior) Adam Light's candidacy doesn't get off the ground, that is.

Make no mistake - Puckett's history.  We here in Southwest Virginia would appreciate your writing the last chapter sooner rather than later.

When Cozy Relationships Do the Taxpayers Wrong

Question: How many times have public officials been warned that there is to be absolute transparency in their public decision-making and public actions? Answer: Too many to count.

Yet still we read about backroom deals like this:
Process of Floyd County superintendent's salary increases queried
By Katelyn Polantz, Roanoke Times

Floyd -- The Floyd County School Board has nearly doubled Superintendent Terry Arbogast's salary since 1993 through phone conversations and unwritten agreements -- a process that may be in violation of his own contract and done largely without the public's knowledge.

Arbogast's $168,000 annual compensation package, including a $118,000 base salary and not counting health benefits, is typical for superintendents across the country.

But the nontraditional way he's received it -- increased without contracts and tucked in budget lines other than compensation and benefits -- has raised eyebrows, prompted [sic] county supervisors to intervene with the district's finances and drawn Arbogast's own admission that things must change.

"I think the assumption in the county was that that's really information that's not shared," school board member David Sulzen said of Arbogast's compensation. "Whether or not that's right, I don't know."

On four or five occasions over 18 years, the school board offered Arbogast more money after members agreed through a daisy chain of phone calls outside of monthly meetings, school board Chairman Doug Phillips said last week.

The board would publicly vote to approve new contracts for Arbogast every two or four years, yet no contract record since 1995 lists his compensation. [link]
""Whether or not that's right, I don't know."  Let me help you with that, big guy.  Of course it's not right.  Why?  (I'll leave aside any legal issues that might prevail.)  Because now it will open the door to speculation as to why this was done under the table.  Was this administrator not performing up to standards set for him, requiring that raises be given without public knowledge because a normal review process would have denied him additional compensation over and above what he had been making previously?

Here's the part that should trouble anyone interested in government accountability:
"Every time he would get another job offer or was going to leave the county, we would pay him more," said Phillips, who has served the district longer than Arbogast.

"I would ask him if there's money in the budget. The board members would ask the same thing, and we'd go ahead and give him extra."
Money exchanged hands because of fear that this administrator might leave? The rest of us need to try that line with our employers, eh?

Here's the deal, fellas. You need to remember who you work for. It ain't each other. This should have been handled in the manner prescribed by law, and by the terms of the original contract signed by both parties. Now the taxpayers of Floyd have every right to wonder what else is going on behind closed doors.

See the problem?

And one other thing: With regard to that "asking if there's enough money in the budget" thing, allowing for money to be tossed Arbogast's way, how many other county employees have gone without pay increases of any kind in that same period of years? Is there no money in the budget for them?

What makes Terry Arbogast so special?


Yesterday I referred to the Roanoke Times editorialists as being naïve.

To prove that the truly smart people there weren't afflicted with some 24-hour brain freeze virus, check out today's editorial page offering:

As the little boy said to Shoeless Joe Jackson:

"Say it ain't so, Joe!"

Who Elected This Dope?

I wonder if anyone would ever admit to having voted for Jimmy Carter back in ancient times.  I wonder too if they are as mindless as he is.

Get this:
Jimmy Carter's Moral Compass
Wall Street Journal

North Koreans may be starving again this spring, and Jimmy Carter knows who's at fault. Hint: It's not Kim Jong Il. After his swing through Pyongyang last week, the former President blamed the U.S. and South Korea for refusing to send the hermit kingdom food aid without conditions.

"There are human rights issues that relate to the policies of the North Korean government, which I don't think any of us on the outside can change," Mr. Carter said. "But one of the most important human rights is to have food to eat. For the South Koreans and the Americans and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people because of political or military issues not related is really a human rights violation."

So let's see. Kim Jong Il runs a dungeon of a nation whose policies cause repeated famines, but the U.S. and South Korea are morally obliged to alleviate the consequences of those policies even if this means helping the dungeon masters maintain control so they can cause more famines.

Wouldn't it make more moral sense to try to depose the dungeon masters, or at least speak out against them? But Mr. Carter says he can't do anything about the North Koreans, so he denounces his own country in sharper language than he dares to use against a regime that murders and imprisons its own people. [link]
Jimmy Carter.  Our national embarrassment.

Did You Know?

This, from the Roanoke Times, is interesting:

[Question]: As a child during World War II, I collected milkweed pods in the fall and turned them in to help with the war effort. What were they used for? I think they had something to do with the making of parachutes.

For the answer, go here.

Ya learn something every day.

On Oil Companies & Their 'Tax Breaks'

You may have read the other day about Obama's effort to deflect blame for high gasoline prices away from his environmentalist buddies (where much of the blame necessarily lies) and onto "Big Oil."  If you didn't, see "Obama seeks end to oil industry tax breaks."

All I know is, if Exxon's 1st Quarter showing is any indication, those "breaks" sure aren't much of a break.
Exxon recently released its first quarter results for 2011.  The number grabbing the headlines was Exxon's profit: $10.65 billion in a single quarter.  The number not given quite as much exposure was the taxes it paid in that same quarter:  $8 billion, or 42% of [gross income]. (source)
Of course the fatuous idiots out there will see that $10.65 billion in profits and dump a load in their pants.  Not knowing - or even understanding - that 3/4ths of that sum was plowed right back into equipment and exploration.  It's the remaining $0.2 billion that goes to the bottom line and is shared with its Fat Cat stockholders - like me and everyone else who holds Exxon's 4.96 billion common shares of stock.

No. No Bias To Be Found Here.

"For years, conservatives have painted a picture of the Washington press corps as a group of liberal crusaders bent on bashing corporations, bloating government and socializing health care. 

"This caricature is utterly deflated by a new survey of journalists."
-- Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting --

George W. Bush Is Smiling

This is sad.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  But he died quickly.  After living, it appears, in relative luxury in Pakistan, after having slaughtered thousands of innocent Americans.  So sad.  He should have suffered immense and long-lasting pain.

But here's the good news: 
Obama: Al-Qaida head bin Laden dead
By Julie Pace and Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press

Washington (AP) — Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was slain in his luxury hideout in Pakistan early Monday in a firefight with U.S. forces, ending a manhunt that spanned a frustrating decade.

"Justice has been done," President Barack Obama said in a dramatic announcement at the White House.

U.S. officials said the CIA tracked bin Laden to his location, then elite troops from Navy SEAL Team Six, a top military counter-terrorism unit, flew to the hideout in four helicopters. Bin Laden was shot in the head in an ensuing firefight, these officials said, adding that he and his guards had resisted his attackers.

The U.S. team took custody of bin Laden's remains. A U.S. official later said bin Laden had been buried at sea and the remains were handled in accordance with Islamic practice, which calls for speedy burial. [link]
 That leaves bin Laden's second-in-command still alive and kicking somewhere.  May he soon realize a similar fate.

- - -

Virginia Senate candidate George Allen released the following statement:
“The death of Osama bin Laden is welcomed news for all Americans and people around the world who share our values of freedom. This is a measure of justice for the families who lost loved ones on September 11th and during the War on Terrorism. Everyone who has lost loved ones in our war should feel pride in this result in taking out the head of Al-Qaeda.

“This is a testament to the resolve of Americans to see justice served. I commend President Obama for continuing to pursue this vile terrorist and his networks. Our ultimate success in hunting down this mass murderer is a tribute to the skill and perseverance of the U.S. military and the intelligence communities, who have put themselves in danger and sacrificed much to keep our homeland safe.

"The death of Osama Bin Laden is important symbolically and strategically, but it is not the end of the war on terror. Radical terrorism is larger than any one person or one group. America and her allies are still the target of the enemies of freedom, and we must remain vigilant in our fight.”
- - -

George W. Bush:

"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."

Bin Laden's death won't take away the bitterness and remorse. But it does allow for some modicum of jubilation just the same.

- - -

I wonder ...

If reports are accurate, it was a Navy Seal team member who shot bin Laden.  His annual pay amounts to what? $50,000?

Had he been a civilian, he'd have earned a cool $50,000,000 in bounty money.

Maybe they'll give him a 79¢ certificate to hang on the wall anyway.

- - -

Photo of the Day.  On the front page of the New York Times.  Click it to enlarge it:

These guys have special reason to celebrate.