Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Lance Cpl. Daniel Morris, 19, United States Marine Corps, was killed in Iraq on February 14, 2007. He is buried at a small country church south of Staunton in a rural setting that was extraordinarily beautiful last weekend on a late October afternoon.
My husband's sister was in town for the weekend and we took her around Saturday and Sunday to see the changing leaves and some of the sights. Sunday found us going west through Buffalo Gap to Goshen Pass, then up Rt. 252 back into Augusta County.
Along the way we passed Daniel's final resting place ... and stopped to pay our respects.
When we had been there in February it had been a mild day for that time of the year but extremely windy. Sunday it was quiet and peaceful ... cows mooed in a distant field ... the light breeze was warm ... the fall leaves made the bucolic setting even prettier.
We left an American flag to honor this young man who had fought for our safety in the war on terrorism ... whose absence has left a hole in the heart of his family ... who died so far from home.
May God bless Lance Cpl. Daniel Morris, USMC.
Visitor Center at the farm located on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Rock walls were popular on mountain homesteads....
View of Humpback Rock from farm....
Rock wall encloses the barnyard....
Photos by SWAC Girl
October 27, 2007
Caves at the base of the chimneys are open to exploring.
The longest-running jousting competition in the country is held at Natural Chimneys in June and August, as represented by the sign at the entrance.
We don't have a lot of trick-or-treaters ... they are the neighbors' children and we love to see who is dressed as what character each year. The youngest ones usually come just before dark so I expect the first one anytime. Oops -- there goes the doorbell now....
Update as of 6:30 we've had...
-- 2 pirates (age 8 & 10)
-- 1 cutie-pie black cat with a pink tail (age 3). She was a little dubious of my spooky music ... extra treats for all!
Update as of 7:00...
-- 5 variously costumed extremely polite young folks (ages 10-14). They all wished us Happy Halloween and thanked us. They loved the spooky music ... extra treats for all!
Meanwhile, over at Ward View ... he's having WAY too much fun blogging on a Halloween night....
Update at 8:10....
-- 4 young ladies (ages 4-11) dressed as a dragon, a bunny, and 2 princesses. All were very polite and friendly ... extra treats for all!
Last update at 10:00 ... that was it. We had 12 trick-or-treaters tonight which is about par for most years. The spooky music gets put away until next year ... and now we start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Virginia voters started getting robocalls this weekend from a polling firm called Voter Roll Call, asking a very interesting question: What are their favorable and unfavorable views of former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), and would they support Allen or former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner in a Senate race next year?My first thought is why run robocalls now in the final crunch days of the 2007 campaign season? And is it from George Allen himself ... or someone else?
In a debate against six Democratic opponents at Drexel University here Tuesday, Clinton gave the worst performance of her entire campaign. ...Politico's conclusion:
It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued driver's licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading.
It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled. ...
Asked whether she still agrees with New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Clinton launched into a long, complicated defense of it. But when Chris Dodd attacked the idea a moment later, Clinton quickly said: “I did not say that it should be done.”
NBC’s Tim Russert, one of the debate moderators, jumped in and said to her: “You told (a) New Hampshire paper that it made a lot of sense. Do you support his plan?”
"You know, Tim,” Clinton replied, “this is where everybody plays ‘gotcha.’ ” ...
But, in the past, Clinton could always depend on her opponents to lose these debates. All she had to do was stay above the fray to win. Those days seem to be over.Read the entire article for the full impact of Hillary's dodge-and-weave.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
President Bush on Tuesday slammed Congress for not getting its work done and focusing too much on investigating his administration and repeatedly attempting to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.The President criticized Congress for constant tax increases:
“We’re near the end of the year, and there really isn’t much to show for it,” Bush told reporters following a meeting with House GOP leaders.
Bush also painted the picture of “tax and spend” Democrats being in charge of Congress, saying that they have passed an “endless series of tax increases” and “haven’t seen a bill they could not solve without shoving a tax hike into it.”Referring to reports the dems may tie an Iraq supplemental spending bill and the Veterans Affairs funding to the Labor/HHS appropriations bill, the President ended by saying:
He pointed to recent legislation to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the farm bill, the energy bill and a small business bill as examples of Democrats’ effort to raise taxes.
... it is “hard to imagine a more cynical political strategy than trying to hold hostage funding for our troops in combat and our wounded warriors in order to extract $11 billion in additional social spending.”That's the George W. Bush I love ... the strong leader. It has been nice to have John Wayne in charge of the ranch the past six years....
Travis Smithdeal, 42, is a young conservative Republican who offers a new face and a new attitude for Pastures District Supervisor in Augusta County. He is a listener ... his calm presence allows him to hear from everyone and not react without gathering information from all available sources including citizens and fellow Board members.
Travis has the background that makes a good leader....
Virginia Native: Travis was born in Richmond and grew up in Fredericksburg. Other than college and military time, he has lived his entire life in Virginia.
Education: Earning a BA in Political Science from Belmont Abbey College helped prepare Travis for a life of service to the community.
Military: As an Army veteran, Travis spent almost 10 years as a miliary pilot (helicopter and fixed-wing) with the 10th Mountain Division serving as an Air Mission Commander, Air Calvary squadron platoon leader and squadron safety engineer.
Family Man: With his wife, Eileen, they have eight children (six boys and two girls) and live in an historic home they are renovating in Deerfield.
Member: The Smithdeals attend St. Francis of Assisi with some other well-known local politicians including Delegate Chris Saxman and Supervisor Jim Bailey. Travis is a member of the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 3060.
Business Owner: The Smithdeals own Mountain View Country Store located on Rt. 250 in West Augusta which is the center of activities in that part of the county. This is a busy time of year for them as tourists and hunters stop in to gas up or buy supplies or grab a quick bite to eat. Travis works the register, interacts with customers, and visits with those who drop in. He is well-known and respected in the area.
* Open Government -- No secret meetings behind closed doors. The citizens of Augusta County have the right to know what their supervisors are planning when it comes to important topics regarding jobs and land use issues such as the megasite.Travis Smithdeal. "Conservative values ... common sense solutions."
* Land Preservation -- Travis will fight for preservation of prime agriculture soil and water rights for our farmers in western Augusta County. Our land is our treasure.
* 24/7 Emergency Services -- Travis will push for full-time 24/7 emergency personnel. Augusta County is the second largest county in the state and he feels her citizens deserve the fastest and best aid when time is critical.
* Law Enforcement -- Travis will work for funding to equip our law enforcement officers with the most updated and efficient equipment available in order to best protect our families and neighbors.
* 2nd Amendment Rights -- As a military veteran and hunter, Travis is an ardent supporter of our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
* Supports Strict Zoning Ordinance of Adult Businesses -- Travis has been a leader in asking the Board of Supervisors to create strict zoning ordinances to limit where adult businesses that offer pornographic materials can locate in the county. He has asked that they not be allowed near schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, churches, and other family environments.
* Illegal Immigration -- Travis is pro-legal immigration. He believes in giving law enforcement the tools to report illegals to immigration officials.
* English As Official Language -- Travis believes our ability to understand one another through a common language is critical to our strength and security, and supports English as our official language.
The latest report from a bow hunter who claimed that he saw the King of the Jungle earlier this month has exotic animal expert Jim Forga along with Greenbrier County Animal Control officers and the Department of Environmental Protection baiting the animal with raw chicken and using a video camera in hopes of spotting it.
So far twenty pounds of raw chicken have disappeared but there has been no confirmation that it was the lion who ate it. If able to prove the animal's existence, officials plan to use a bear trap to capture it and relocate it to Forga's Tiger Mountain Refuge, a shelter for exotic animals.
Who knew? In the mountains of West Virginia -- lions and tigers and bears ... oh, my!
The Goshen Pass was beautiful on Sunday with mountains, the Maury River, and few visitors since it was so late in October ... we practically had the place to ourselves. I took many photos both days but have not had time to post them since we are in the final week before Election Day. I hope to have a chance to post them soon.
It's the waning days of October....
Photo by SWAC Girl
October 28, 2007
Based with the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command in West Point, Spc. Lambert had left in July for training before heading to the Middle East.
Major General Robert B. Newman Jr., the adjutant general of Virginia, released a statement:
"The loss of this brave soldier is felt deeply by his fellow Guardsmen. I know that all Virginians share the grief felt by his family, and I ask for our fellow citizens to keep Spc. Lambert and his family in their prayers."Spc. Lambert will posthumously be awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and the Good Conduct Medal.
A grateful Nation kneels in prayer and thankfulness at the supreme sacrifice of Spc. Lambert in protecting us from terrorism, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Monday, October 29, 2007
From the formation of political parties in the early 19th century until the modern political era, the Democrat Party controlled the Virginia General Assembly and the office of the governor. The Republican Party was virtually irrelevant in shaping public policy in the commonwealth.
Republicans, however, possessed powerful assets: principles and ideas. Republicans adopted a strong intellectual voice that addressed the hopes and dreams of the taxpaying citizen. Republicans fought for traditional Virginia principles of lower taxes, less spending, free enterprise, and individual liberty, and innovative ideas on education, welfare, and criminal-justice reform.
Virginians agreed with these ideas and gave Republicans the opportunity to govern.
The policy results are written in the history of Virginia: record job gains, major economic investments, lower taxes, reduced crime rates, rising academic standards, and thousands moving from welfare to self-sufficiency.
Republican principles have become a record of accomplishment for all Virginians. Republicans overhauled Virginia's criminal justice system, enacted constitutional protections for crime victims, dismantled a turnstile parole system, and supported new resources for law-enforcement officers. Republican policies reformed the juvenile-justice system, established truth-in-sentencing, imposed life imprisonment for violent three-time felons, dramatically toughened laws to investigate and punish child sexual predators, drunk drivers, and Internet criminals, and passed sweeping new victims' rights protections.
These policies have produced a statewide decline in all categories of violent crime, and have increased by about 300 percent the average time served by violent criminals.
Republicans implemented free-enterprise policies that sparked an era of unprecedented economic growth in Virginia that continues to this day. Republicans championed a vibrant free market, protected the right-to-work law, implemented pro-growth tax and regulatory policies, reduced unnecessary litigation, and relied on faith in the spirit of the individual and the entrepreneur to create jobs and opportunity and make investments.
These policies have produced the lowest unemployment rate in more than 40 years, increased state revenue, and in 2006 and 2007 prompted Forbes magazine to rank Virginia as the "best state for business" in the nation.
Republicans have reduced the tax burden on the citizens of Virginia. Republican legislation reduced the car tax by nearly 70 percent, reduced the food tax by 50 percent, eliminated the implicit income tax on Social Security benefits, eliminated the death tax, and enacted numerous tax credits and taxpayer rights. From 1996 to 2007, Republicans reduced taxes amounting to $2.36 billion annually.
Republicans produced record funding of public education, higher academic standards, increased test scores, and greater accountability. Republican policies stressed the basics: Students should be taught, teachers supported, parents involved, administrators given deference, standards set high, accountability demanded, and choice encouraged.
While Democrats complained and postured, Republicans produced the most comprehensive transportation reform plan in Virginia history. Republicans understood that prompt action was needed to devise a substantive improvement in transportation. Republican policies locked up the transportation trust fund, utilized bonds to jumpstart projects, generated nearly a billion dollars annually in new money, and enacted major reforms to improve the effectiveness at VDOT.
Republicans have stood consistently for the traditional values of Virginia. Republicans championed and passed an amendment to the Virginia Constitution protecting the institution of marriage, enacted sweeping new protections of private property rights, outlawed the brutal practice of infanticide, and consistently defended the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
Republicans produced innovative reforms that have turned the tide from the welfare state to the opportunity society. Republicans passed the first comprehensive welfare-reform program in the nation, with a strict work requirement for able-bodied welfare recipients, and a two-year time limit on welfare benefits. These policies reduced Virginia welfare rolls by 60 percent. Recently, Republicans provided new investments in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and open-space preservations, while restructuring electricity regulation to ensure a ready supply of low-cost power.
This documented record of achieving results is exactly the record Virginians support. Republicans have publicly outlined their plan to continue these principles in the 2008 legislative session to reduce the real-estate tax burden on our citizens, to reduce government spending and apply a new level of accountability to existing government programs, to combat illegal immigration, to eliminate burdensome regulation and foster economic growth, and to enact innovative programs in education and school construction.
The party that laid the foundation of Virginia's modern success is uniquely qualified to lead and build on that success. It is a clear choice between Republican results and Democrat rhetoric. The Republican Party can be trusted with the future of Virginia.
This will help the leaves that have not begun to change but it will finish off ones that are clinging to the trees. After an extremely mild autumn, seasonal weather has finally arrived....
A quick look at the numerous taxes on your phone bill for phone service will give you a pretty good idea of what could happen to the cost of internet access. The continued growth of the Internet has brought tremendous improvement to our lives from advances in medical research to the ability to communicate with loved ones located thousands of miles away. While the benefits of this technology continue to increase, we must ensure that the Internet remains free from the burdens of new taxation and accessible for all Americans.
The Internet Tax Fairness Act of 1998 created a temporary moratorium on state and local Internet access taxes. As a result of this moratorium, the Internet has remained relatively free from the burdens of new taxes. The moratorium has been extended on numerous occasions but is set to expire in November, subjecting the Internet to possible taxation from more than 7,500 taxing jurisdictions.
Earlier this year, I introduced bipartisan legislation, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, which would help keep the cost of purchasing Internet access as low as possible for all Americans by permanently preventing the confusing taxes on consumers’ telephone bills from being repeated on their bills for Internet service. Unfortunately, this legislation was not brought before the full House of Representatives for a vote. Instead the Congress passed legislation that only extends the moratorium.
While I supported this temporary extension and believe it is a step in the right direction, I was disappointed that the bill only extended the moratorium for four additional years, rather than making it permanent. A permanent ban would create the tax certainty that Internet access providers need to decide to make the investment to extend their broadband services to more rural and suburban areas and inner cities that they do not currently serve.
In addition, a permanent moratorium will help to bridge the digital divide between those who can afford Internet access and those who cannot. It is estimated that only 11% of U.S. households with incomes of less than $30,000 have high-speed Internet service, as opposed to 61% of households with incomes over $100,000. Taxes on Internet access will increase the costs of households going on-line, as the prices for providing Internet access service increase. Without a permanent moratorium on Internet access taxes the digital divide between those who can afford to go online and those who cannot will become greater.
From families to mom-and-pop stores on Main Street, to large corporations, to online businesses – any business or individual who purchases Internet access will benefit from a permanent ban on excessive government taxation. Rest assured I will continue working to preserve consumer choice, low taxation, and the openness which has characterized the Internet to date, ensuring that the Internet will continue thriving and that access to the Internet is affordable for all Americans.
... leaves that have fallen and need to be raked.
The red maple on the other side of the deck....
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Forty-three years ago today, Ronald Reagan delivered one of the defining speeches of his life. It is known as "A Time for Choosing" or simply "The Speech". In it, Mr. Reagan drew a clear line between the two world views warring in the 1964 election, warned of the dangers of re-electing the incumbent agent of the welfare state Lyndon Johnson, and laid out the ideas that formed the foundation of the nascent conservative movement.Do you remember when Mr. Reagan said:
"There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening."He also said:
"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."Read it ... it will make your day.
But the conservative bloggers have gotten to the truth....
Scott at Scott's Morning Brew looks at Ben and RK's "outrage" while Ward, Riley at Virginia Virtucon, and Brian at Bearing Drift reveal Chap's telephone number is in the local phone directory.
Two Conservatives shows that that Ben "embellished" the story and then reveals the hypocrisy of it all.
Mason Conservative points out the reason for this "Chapben Tribbetsen" fake outrage, and says Jeannemarie will not back down nor should she ... then wonders if the real reason behind this built-up story is that Chap is out of money.
With a little over one week before election day, the democrat hysteria mounts....
Friday, October 26, 2007
It's time for a change ... vote for Travis Smithdeal for Pastures District Supervisor
Endorsed by the Waynesboro News-Virginian, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Atty. General Bob McDonnell, and Delegate Chris Saxman.
Travis Smithdeal: "Conservative values ... common sense solutions."
Photos by SWAC Girl
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Valley below is obscured by pea-soup fog.
Fog lifted long enough to catch the Rockfish Valley.
Blue Ridge Parkway on a rainy day.
Western Augusta County ... some trees are already bare.
Backroad in the Blue Ridge....
Backroad of Augusta County....
Hay bales in Buffalo Gap....
Buffalo Gap fog....
This is much-needed rain so there is no complaining. It is raining leaves even more today because of harder rainfall and higher winds ... and we are ready for colder temps because it is, after all, October 25th. We have been spared by having three extra weeks of mild weather ... seasonal weather is now on tap. It's fall!
Photos by SWAC Girl
October 24 & 25, 2007
Foggy Alleghany Mountains....
Foggy Afton Moutain....
View of foggy Shenandoah Valley from Afton....
Downpours were a welcome sight....
Fog hangs low ... more rain forecasted.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I roamed through Pastures District today on campaign business. The leaves have changed colors quite a bit the past week....
Afterwards I went to Afton Mountain, drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, along Howardsville Turnpike. I'm one of those rare people who likes to camp in the rain ... there's something cozy about a tent when it's raining outside ... so today being in the mountains in the rain and fog reminded me of camping in inclement weather....
The drizzle of rain was a welcome companion as I drove all over. I didn't mind being out in it ... it was just nice to have it....
Attended the Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting tonight. It ran long ... I left after two hours. It was pouring rain as I drove home. Leaves are covering road surfaces making it slick as ice ... did not see deer tonight but last night as I made my way home at midnight I had to almost stop four times on my winding country road to avoid hitting deer....
SWAC Girl was picked up by a progressive blog called Buzz Flash when they disagreed with my comments about Nancy Pelosi rebuking Rep. Pete Stark for his comments about President Bush watching our troops' heads blown off for his enjoyment. They linked to my Pete Stark rebuked by Nancy Pelosi ... inappropriate remarks post....
Prayers are with those who have lost homes in the raging wildfires in California....
My sister recently returned from Anchorage, Alaska, where she spent the final eleven days with her friend Natalie who died of breast cancer. She was 50 -- way too young to die -- and leaves an eight-year-old son.
My sister lived a number of years in Alaska -- what a gorgeous place. I stayed at Natalie's cabin when there one summer ... I want to go back....
It's another rainy night sleeping with the window open and listening to the sound of the rain on the fallen leaves....
The Shenandoah Valley ... what a place to call home.
Few principles in government are more basic than this: When officials decide to spend the public’s money, the public should know about it. Many elected representatives somehow arrive at the conclusion that government money is theirs rather than taxpayers’. Occasionally, officials take it a step further, deeming it appropriate to make some spending decisions behind closed doors.
That has spawned perhaps Pyles’ stiffest challenge in four campaigns, this one coming from Republican Travis Smithdeal. He cites Pyles’ silence on the megasite study among the driving factors in his decision to run for the Pastures seat. “I felt like it was us and them,” Smithdeal told The News Virginian, referring to elected officials and the public.
Elected officials should know that choosing silence over openness, particularly regarding spending, is the wrong way to go. Those who do not acknowledge as much with their actions should expect to hear the resounding voice of voters at the polls insisting otherwise.
Based on that thinking, we back the following candidates ...
Pastures: Smithdeal. Pyles’ knowledge of the issues regarding education, transportation and agriculture is likely superior to that of Smithdeal, a political neophyte. But we think Smithdeal has the requisite intelligence to perform effectively. Mostly, we like that when he saw what he perceived as a public wrong in the closed-door decision to commission the megasite study, he decided to do something about it. We urge voters to do the same.
Candidates forum at Weyers Cave.