Friday, February 29, 2008

Roaming the Valley....

Out and about this week....

I like my dentist. I've been going to her for years and stopped by earlier this week for an appointment ... the chair faces a floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the outdoors with flowers and blooming shrubs in the spring and summer, and a wild area during the winter. You can watch birds, squirrels, and other city critters ... for me that is much more soothing than looking out over another building or parking lot or even just looking at bare walls. And she hums while she's working on my teeth ... and she's conservative and former military....

The Cheese Shop in Stuarts Draft is celebrating their annual "Customer Appreciation Week" with samples of in-store products and 10% off your purchase. Drawings are held offering gift certificates ... I won a $50 gift certificate last year. I stopped by this week to pick up pecans, raisins, and a few other products. Their inventory is much fresher for spices and nuts than those in the grocery stores ... and the prices are better. I buy most all my baking goods from the Mennonite-owned Cheese Shop....

We're into late winter now. I still like the winter woods ... bare trees, the ground and rock-croppings visible beneath. I need to head to the ridges but haven't had time this week. Soon....

We have seen snow flurries almost every day the past week with cold temps and icicle-edged winds ... the mountaintops are snow-covered. I enjoy winter. The woodstove has been going non-stop and we have eaten deeply into our wood supply. We've only had one substantial snowfall and a couple of icings ... the temps have remained low and the winds have been especially brutal this winter....

The March magazines are arriving with photos of flowers on the covers but I'm not ready for spring quite yet. I'm not yet ready to think of flowers and seeds. I would like one more good snow before we say goodbye to winter....

It's winter in the Valley....

The future of higher education

From Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th Congressional District)

For many students and families there is the promise of higher education. But for far too many others, the burden of tuition costs is seemingly insurmountable. In Virginia, undergraduate students are paying nearly 7% more in tuition and fees than they did last year. The skyrocketing cost of higher education is a dangerous trend given the often integral role it plays in attaining the American dream and maintaining our competitiveness in a changing global economy.

Just a few weeks ago the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan College Opportunity and Affordability Act to ensure access, accountability, affordability, and quality in higher education. Specifically, this legislation is designed to empower consumers with more disclosure of college costs, financial aid, and accreditation while updating programs to better meet the needs of changing student populations and strengthening financial aid opportunities.

This important legislation contains a number of key reforms to the Pell Grant program including added flexibility through year-round Pell Grants for students who wish to complete their education more quickly while also including sensible limitations on the amount of time students can receive federal Pell Grant funds to encourage students to make progress and to more effectively spend taxpayer dollars.

The College Opportunity and Affordability Act also streamlines and improves access to information about federal financial aid programs. The legislation requires that the Department of Education provide easier access to its student financial assistance websites and share information about financial aid opportunities available through other federal agencies.

In addition to the increased cost of college tuition, students and families often struggle to pay for the expensive textbooks required for classes. Students spend an average of $900 a year on textbooks— an amount equal to 20 percent of tuition at an average university and half of tuition at a community college. The College Opportunity and Affordability Act calls for greater transparency and disclosure to help students and schools keep textbooks accessible and affordable.

Finally, this legislation includes important reforms to ensure our higher education system can help meet our growing international competitiveness challenges. Specifically, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act refocuses existing federal resources to help increase the number of math, science, and foreign language teachers and professionals.

One of the most important gifts we can give to our children and grandchildren is a quality education, because education is the key that unlocks the door to opportunity. With so much developing in the realm of higher education here in Virginia and across the country, I will continue to work in Congress to pass legislation like the College Opportunity and Affordability Act, which will expand college access for current and future students, thereby better preparing the next generation for an increasingly competitive global economy.

Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com

VA Supreme Court upholds nation's first felony SPAM conviction

Attorney General Bob McDonnell's office announced that SPAMMER Jeremy Jaynes' conviction was upheld as the first felony SPAM conviction. Here is their press release:

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell announced today that the Virginia Supreme Court has upheld the nation’s first felony SPAM conviction. “SPAM” refers to unsolicited bulk email sent by fraudulent means.

In November of 2004, Jeremy Jaynes was convicted by a jury in Loudoun County Circuit Court on three counts of violating Virginia’s groundbreaking Anti-Spam Act, which was passed into law in 2003. This marked the first ever felony conviction in a SPAM case, and the case received international attention. After convicting the defendant, the same jury sentenced him to serve nine years in jail. The defendant appealed his conviction. In September of 2006 the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the constitutionality of Virginia’s Anti-SPAM Statute and upheld the conviction. The Virginia Supreme Court today upheld this decision.

Speaking about today’s decision, Attorney General McDonnell remarked, “This is a historic victory in the fight against online crime. SPAM not only clogs email inboxes and destroys productivity; it also defrauds citizens and threatens the online revolution that is so critical to Virginia’s economic prosperity. Thanks to the Virginia Anti-SPAM Act we now have the tools to go after Spammer’s and put them behind bars.”

McDonnell continued, “I want to specifically thank my predecessor, Jerry Kilgore, for proposing the Anti-SPAM Act, and ensuring its passage. I also want to thank him for securing the initial conviction of Jeremy Jaynes. What was accomplished today would not have been possible without the leadership of Jerry Kilgore. I also want to thank my Computer Crime Section for their steadfast work on this case. Virginia is leading the nation in the effort to keep citizens safe and secure online.”

Former Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, added, “Today’s decision marks a huge step forward in the effort to safeguard the Internet from online criminals. SPAM slows down commerce, fills up inboxes, and entraps innocent citizens. I applaud this decision, and I especially thank the dedicated lawyers in the Office of the Attorney General who began this fight when I was in office, and have successfully completed it today under the direction of Attorney General McDonnell.”

Chuck Curran, AOL’s Chief Counsel for Policy & Regulatory, noted, "We are pleased that the Virginia Supreme Court has upheld Mr. Jaynes’ conviction under the Virginia Computer Crimes Act and we applaud the tireless efforts of Attorney General McDonnell, former Attorney General Kilgore, and their entire prosecutorial team to hold large-scale spammers accountable. In 2003, Attorney General Kilgore and Virginia legislators worked together with the industry to adopt first-in-the-nation felony penalties for junk e-mailers who send large quantities of spam by falsified means. Tough anti-spam laws like Virginia’s provide a critical deterrent for spammers who try to fill e-mail boxes with unwanted and fraudulent solicitations.”

Jeremy D. Jaynes was regarded as the eighth-worst spammer in the world on The Spamhaus Project’s Registry of Known Spammer Organizations at the time of his arrest. At the time, prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Computer Crime Section argued to the jury that Jaynes, utilizing AOL’s private computer network, located in Virginia, peddled his products to unsuspecting victims from around the world. His global fraud resulted in millions of dollars of profit which he used to purchase a mansion and a number of homes in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Jaynes was convicted thanks to Virginia’s Anti-Spam Act. The Act prohibits the sending of unsolicited bulk e-mail by fraudulent means, such as changing the header or routing information to prevent recipients from contacting or determining the identity of the sender. Such conduct is punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor or as a class 6 felony if any one of the following conditions applies:
- The volume of Spam transmitted exceeds 10,000 in any 24-hour time period, 100,000 in any 30-day time period, or one million in any one-year time period.

- Revenue generated from specific Spam exceeds $1,000 or total revenue from all Spam transmitted to any ISP exceeds $50,000.

- The defendant knowingly hires, employs, uses or permits any minor to assist in the transition of Spam.
A class 6 felony is punishable by a one to five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Virginia’s anti-SPAM legislation also includes asset forfeiture provisions to allow law enforcement authorities to seize any assets or proceeds obtained through the illegal Spam operation. It also enhances penalties for violation of Virginia obscenity laws through the sending of illegal e-mails. The legislation authorizes the Attorney General’s Computer Crime Section to investigate and prosecute Spammers if illegal e-mails are sent to, from, or through any computer or computer network located in any Virginia locality.

To learn more about the Computer Crime Unit and Virginia’s groundbreaking anti-SPAM laws, please go here.

To read the full Virginia Supreme Court Opinion, please go here.

Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com

Delegate Ben Cline ... Happy Birthday from SWAC-GOP!

SWAC Republicans would like to send birthday wishes to Delegate Ben Cline who represents the southern portion of Augusta County. A newly-wed -- he married in November -- and a dedicated public official, Ben is appreciated by the grassroots. A leap year baby, he can celebrate his birthday on the actual date this year -- February 29th.

Happy Birthday, Ben! And thanks for all your hard work in Richmond.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Augusta County: Adult business zoning ordinances one more step toward approval

The Augusta County Board of Supervisors sent the proposed adult busieness zoning ordinances back to the Planning Commission Wednesday night so they can have a public hearing on the matter. After the Planning Commission's public hearing, the ordinances will be sent back to the BOS for another public hearing.

While the process crawls through the bureaucratic process, it is one step closer to becoming law.

You think Republicans are fighting? Check out the Dems....

Not only are activists in the Democrat Party split on their choice of a presidential nominee with Hillary supporters attacking Obama supporters and vice-versa ... but there are also issues far closer to home.

This week a prominent Virginia Democrat, former delegate Barney Day, quit the Party. Jerry at From On High has it here.

Delegate Chris Saxman updates constituents....

By Delegate Chris Saxman

The 2008 General Assembly session is winding down, though important works remains to be done as House and Senate conferees try to work out the differences in the budget. Next week I look forward to presenting you with an end of session report on the accomplishments of the 2008 session. Today, however, I am writing to share with you the result of my legislative questionnaire I notified you about at the start of the session. Thank you for the outstanding participation and input you provided.

Let me take a moment to highlight some of the questionnaire’s findings.
Full results are posted on my website.

The questionnaire results showed:

- 70 percent oppose tax increases and want government to live within its means
- 70 percent oppose expanding the existing pre-K program for at risk children to other children not deemed to be at risk.
- Respondents overwhelmingly supported measures to fight illegal immigration
- 90 percent support giving local government more authority to deny new residential developments and more influence in land use decisions
- 70 percent supported reforms to payday lending including limiting the number of loans an individual can take out per year

The individual responses and comments were also of great assistance as I examined legislation that came across my desk this session.

In the next week the House and Senate will put together a budget agreeable to both chambers. I pledge to work with my colleagues to ensure any budget that passes protects core services, cuts wasteful spending and curtails unwise new spending given the fiscal uncertainty Virginia is facing.

I am looking forward to getting back to the Valley and having the opportunity to catch up with you and get your feedback on our efforts this session. As always, feel free to contact me as saxman@intelos.net if you have any suggestions or if I may be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Chris Saxman

Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com

Prince Harry in Afghanistan; media kept in dark

Drudge is reporting that Prince Harry of Britain has spent the past three months on the front lines of Afghanistan with his Army unit ... and the Brits were successful in preventing the media from hearing the news. Drudge, sadly, has broken it which may put this young man in more danger.

Drudge reports:
They're calling him "Harry the Hero!"

British Royal Prince Harry has been fighting in Afghanistan since late December -- and has been directly involved in gun battle, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The prince, a junior officer in the Blues and Royals, and third in line to the throne, has been a "magnificent soldier" and an "inspiration to all of Briton."

Prince Harry is talking part in a new offensive against the Taliban.

Ministry of Defense and Clarence House refuse all comment. Army chiefs have managed to keep the prince away from media and have encourage fellow soldiers in his squadron to stay quiet.
There is an interview in the Times Online with a pre-deployment interview that has been kept under wraps. Bravo to the media who sat on this story. Thank you to Prince Harry for his service to fight terrorism.

Americans For Prosperity "Day at the Capitol"

Bring your best friends and join your fellow fiscal conservatives next Thursday, March 6, for a day in Richmond at the General Assembly. Meet with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, Paul Harris, Del. Chris Saxman, Del. Ben Cline, and other state officials of AFP and our member legislators.

Free bus transportation and lunch is included, as well as tours of the newly remodeled Capitol and passes for the House and Senate galleries. Don't miss this great opportunity to take our message of lower taxes and spending right to our lawmakers - while they are debating the budget.

Bus will leave Roanoke at 6 a.m. and make stops in Lexington, Waynesboro, and Charlottesville. Email for more information.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) is the nation's premier grassroots organization committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits.

Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com

When is a middle name fair game ... George Felix Allen & Barack Hussein Obama

John McCain apologized Tuesday for the opening monologue of a conservative talk show host who was warming up the crowd for McCain's appearance. One of his top aides, Mark McKinnon, has said he will not campaign against Obama if he wins. Republicans lose when they play that game because, in their wanting to get along, they get sucker-punched by the Democrats.

Kristinn on Free Republic said is perfectly. This was passed on by a friend and I'm passing it on here because we all remember the Dems and Jim Webb's taunting use of George Felix Allen's middle name during the 2006 senate campaign.

Kristinn wrote:

Two years ago, the Senate campaign of Virginia Democrat Jim Webb delighted in repeating ad nauseum the middle name of his opponent, Sen. George Allen.

The news media had a good laugh as Webb tried to undermine Allen's good ol' boy image by reminding voters of his non-hillbilly middle name, Felix.

An example of the Webb campaign's tactics can be found in an excerpt of a press release reported June 27, 2006, by the Hotline:
“George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb’s position on free speech and flag burning. Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run. When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards. George Felix Allen Jr. needs to apologize to Jim Webb and to all men and women who have served our nation."
In one paragraph, Allen's middle name was used three times with malicious intent. The junior bit was incorrect, Allen's NFL head coach father's name was George Herbert Allen.

Without casting judgment, and with a touch of whimsy,The Hill noted on Feb. 14, 2006, this tactic of the Webb campaign:
Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is taking hits for something he can’t control: his middle name. Allen’s Democratic challenger this year set about to referring to Allen sneeringly in press releases as “George Felix Allen Jr.,” a ploy to draw attention to the senator’s quirky middle name, one more readily associated with the animated “Felix the Cat” or the Odd Couple’s Felix Unger than with great statesmen.
Byron York has noted that liberal blogs and the Webb campaign reveled in using Allen's middle name:
Of course, all this might generate a little more sympathy had not some Democrats in recent months become so fond of the name "George Felix Allen, Jr." During the campaign, winning Senate candidate James Webb routinely referred to his opponent as George Felix Allen, Jr. (just search for the name at webbforsenate.com.) Although it wasn't even correct — Allen, whose father's middle name was Herbert, wasn't a junior — the use of Allen's full name was clearly a campaign strategy, first, to diminish Allen, and then, after news of Allen's Jewish ancestry emerged, to make an oblique reference to that.
Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, was first brought up in the context of the 2008 presidential campaign in December 2006 by Ed Rogers, a Republican strategist, on MSNBC's Hardball.

Slate columnist David Wallis wrote a surprisingly realistic assessment of the dust up that followed:
Just days after Barack Obama mused about running for president, Republican strategist Ed Rogers winged the senator on Hardball. "Count me down as somebody who underestimates Barack Hussein Obama," sneered Rogers, carefully enunciating Obama's middle name—a family moniker passed down from his Kenyan father and grandfather.

Obama's camp, which had not hidden their man's middle name or bragged about it, cried foul. "It wasn't a slip of the tongue, I know that," Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, told Maureen Dowd. "You can't solve Iraq with a campaign about people's middle names."
But you can't solve Iraq if your unfortunate middle name blocks your path to the White House, either. Obama's name tests the limits of American nomenclatural tolerance. Just say his full name to yourself. "Barack" is unfamiliar but innocuous. "Hussein" is the name of a loathed dictator and enemy. And Obama sounds eerily like the world's most wanted terrorist. (Right-wing Web site Freerepublic.com has featured a photoshopped image of "Senator Osama Obama," and Rush Limbaugh has called him "Obama Osama.")

One would be hard pressed to find a similar reasonable response these days when Obama's middle name is used. Between the mainstream media, the Democrats and John McCain, the use of "Barack Hussein Obama" has been declared off limits.

This afternoon the AP reported that McCain denounced the use of Obama's middle name:
Asked whether the use of Obama's middle name — the same as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein — is proper, McCain said: "No, it is not. Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."
I've searched and have not found an instance of McCain denouncing the use of George Allen's middle name.

Perhaps we need a new rule. Call it the Barack Hussein Obama rule. No liberal politician can be called by their middle name or middle initial. No more Martin Luther King--just Martin King from now on. No more John F. Kennedy--just John Kennedy. No more Hillary Rodham Clinton--just Hillary Clinton. No more Harry S. Truman--just Harry Truman. No more FDR, LBJ, JFK, or RFK. Of course we'll still have Republicans like Richard Milhous Nixon to kick around with the Barack Hussein Obama rule.

At a time when America is at war with Islamic radicals, many of whom have Arab Muslim names, Americans are being bludgeoned with the hammer of political correctness to not take into account the name and background of a potential president of the United States who just happens to have an Arab Muslim name.

The double standard of tolerating the use of "George Felix Allen" while denouncing the use of "Barack Hussein Obama" would be laughable if the fate of our nation weren't at stake.

LG Bolling casts deciding vote to prohibit Planned Parenthood funding

On Wednesday, the Senate of Virginia approved an amendment to the House budget bill that would prohibit the direction of taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood. The vote on the amendment, which was offered by Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax), was 20-20 and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling cast the deciding vote in support of the budget amendment. In response to this action, Lieutenant Governor Bolling issued the following statement:

“I was pleased today to cast my first tie breaking vote of the 2008 legislative session in support of an amendment to prevent taxpayer funds from being directed to Planned Parenthood. At a time when Governor Kaine has chosen to eliminate $250,000 in state funding for programs that teach abstinence education to young people across Virginia, we should not be using taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that uses those funds to provide abortions and abortion related services.”

Planned Parenthood funding denied

Senator Ken Cuccinelli continues to stand his ground in the State Senate. The latest from his Compass newsletter....

For the first time this year, the Republicans got one of our budget amendments adopted! It was my budget amendment to deny taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood. This is an amendment that has been before the Senate before, but it has never been successfully passed in the Senate.

This year, however, was different. Our Republican caucus stuck together in support of the Planned Parenthood amendment, and we were joined by Finance Committee Chairman, Democrat Chuck Colgan to reach a 20-20 tie. Not surprisingly, Lt. Gov. Bolling voted for the amendment, and it passed 21-20. Now, it wasn’t a simple path to get to 21-20, with about 4 hours of wrangling over procedure, but I’ll discuss that below.

After the consideration of amendments, the budget was passed, but it had the overwhelming opposition of the Republican caucus because it still raids the lottery funds, grabs way too much money from the rainy day fund, and creates new programs (like Gov. Kaine’s pre-K) at the expense of core services like transportation. Oh yeah, and then there’s those gas tax dollars still included…

Tumult
From the moment I put in the amendment today, the Dems were scrambling to try and prevent a vote on the merits on the amendment. They even invented a couple of new motions and tried those out ... to no avail.

Then they scoured the House budget for language that was similar to my proposed amendment. The House budget had an amendment to block funding for Medicaid abortions except under limited circumstances (e.g., life of the mother, rape, incest), and the Dems were prepared to argue that because the House abortion funding amendment had been rejected in the Senate (by the Dems), the subject had already been considered and ruled upon under Rule 47 of the Senate Rules.

Now, mind you, I had prepared multiple amendments, including (but not limited to) an amendment to block Medicaid funding of abortions and an amendment to block embryonic stem cell research, both in addition to the Planned Parenthood amendment. And I had already asked the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) staff if there was language in the House budget addressing ANY of these three amendments, as I knew that if they were in the House amendments that I needed to address them at a different point in the process to avoid the Rule 47 trap that the Dems wanted to spring.

The SFC staff told me that there was language in the House budget similar to my amendment to block Medicaid funding of abortions, but there was NOT language like the Planned Parenthood amendment.

One problem was simply that the amendments sounded very similar, so I was worried about losing the amendment on Rule 47 challenge. Thus, I rewrote the amendment to solve that problem, and on we went.

At that point (4 hours later…), the Dems seemed to run out of steam, and we pressed ahead with the amendment. I introduced the amendment and explained it, and then Janet Howell and Dick Saslaw went hyperbolic on us.

Senator Janet Howell (Fairfax Dem) got up and actually argued that passing this amendment would lead to women seeking illegal abortions ... though she was quite unable or unwilling to explain how passing the amendment would have such results (presumably because that would not be the result). This kind of baseless hyperbole is about as close as the abortion industry allies in the Senate ever get to actual “debate.” So much for the high minded exchange of views in the Senate.

Then the Majority Leader, Dick Saslaw (also Fairfax Dem [seeing a pattern here?]), added his own bit of hyperbole by threatening us all with the prospect that if the Planned Parenthood amendment were passed, “your pet project could be next!” Of course, this implies that funding Planned Parenthood is a “pet project” of Senator Saslaw’s ... an interesting revelation.

The whole 4+ hour process revealed something more than just disagreement over this amendment. The Dems literally brought the Senate to a screeching halt for over 4 hours to try and derail this little amendment. Why? Because their caucus is now dominated, particularly the leadership (aside from the Finance Committee Chairman), by super-liberal Democrats that are happily beholden to the most vigorously pro-abortion elements of their base (and I distinguish that from those that are merely pro-choice on the issue). This is consistent with their stacking of the Education & Health Committee 10-5, a partisan margin wider than any other committee in the entire Senate. Why did they do that? To kill any bill that had ANYTHING to do with abortion, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

The budget debate will next move to the conference committee. The Senators that I understand will be on the conference committee will be Colgan, Houck, Howell, Saslaw, Stosch and Wampler. I don’t know who the House conferees will be yet. The conferees will begin trying to resolve the differences between the two budgets over the next week.

Note that all of this is begin done with a Governor in the background who has been using the budget as a political payoff to Planned Parenthood since the 2007 election. Gov. Kaine cut abstinence funding while keeping Planned Parenthood funding. I guess that tells you who’s side Gov. Kaine is on.

We may be half way through the path to a final budget, so we’ll see what happens the rest of the way. In closing, I must say that I appreciated my entire caucus sticking out the sparring over the Planned Parenthood amendment and voting for the amendment. It was clear half way through the day that one side or the other was going to break, and thanks to a united caucus, it was the Dems.


Sincerely,

Senator Ken Cuccinelli
Virginia 37th District

Colton Berry, Augusta's "American Idol," recognized by BOS

Colton Berry receives commemoration for "American Idol" achievement.

Colton Berry, 18, the Wilson High School student who recently appeared on "American Idol," was commemorated Wednesday night by the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. A resolution recognizing his achievement was passed and presented to him as he stood with his parents before the Board.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Attorney General Bob McDonnell on the passing of William F. Buckley Jr.

Today we mourn the passing of William F. Buckley, Jr.

For those who view conservatism as the animating philosophy in their lives, William F. Buckley was their tireless advocate and champion.

For those who suffered under communism and fascism, William F. Buckley was the consistent and uncompromising voice of freedom.

William F. Buckley was the intellectual father of the modern conservative movement. His founding of National Review magazine in 1955 was one of conservatism's seminal events. As the host of Firing Line for 33 years, William F. Buckley provided a haven for vigorous debate and discussion in a media that locked out conservative thought. As the author of more than forty books and regular columns in three-hundred newspapers, William B. Buckley pointedly and precisely limned the framework of freedom in the lives of men and operations of government.

The results of his nearly sixty-years of work dominate America's political and cultural landscape.

- the Republican party is the conservative instrument in American politics;
- the Soviet Union and its satellites consigned to historic infamy;
- the crusade of Barry Goldwater that led to the presidency of Ronald Reagan;
- the proliferation of c onservative magazines, talk-shows, and think tanks.

All this was done by William F. Buckley with a wit and a love for the English language that preserved a degree of civility and grace in public discourse. We will greatly miss our Champion of Conservatism.

Cross-posted at SixtyFour81.com

Rush Limbaugh: "Bill Buckley was my greatest inspiration"

I was running errands today when I heard on Rush Limbaugh's radio show that Bill Buckley had died. Somehow the gray overcast winter day seemed just right for such sad news. And Rush seemed to be the proper source for me to hear it from ... I believe Bill Buckley was his hero.

He told of not liking school -- finding it boring and a burden -- and telling his father he wanted to be like Bill Buckley by writing, talking, thinking conservative thoughts. His dad blasted him because everyone in his family had attended college and he reminded Rush that Mr. Buckley had not gotten where he was without going to school.

Rush never did finish college ... but he did become much like his hero and very often met and talked with Mr. Buckley.

Bill Buckley passed away last night in his study while working on his latest book. Somehow ... it seemed fitting.

Rush talked at length throughout his show today about the great leader of the conservative movement. NewsMax.com reported:
Rush told listeners on Wednesday that his “desire to learn” came not from school, but from his father, his grandfather — and conservative icon Buckley.

Rush said he began reading Buckley’s newspaper column around age 12 and remembers being “mesmerized” by Buckley’s observations, which he said “literally created my desire to learn…

“The single greatest motivation I had to learn to read, write, and speak the English language as best I could, to expand my vocabulary, came from Bill Buckley.

“He is irreplaceable. There will not be another like him. His intellect and good humor were inspiring to me.

“Buckley was one of the formulative forces in my world view, my politically conservative view of all things.”
...
Rush recalled that when he told his father he was quitting college after one year, he said he was setting off “to be like Bill Buckley,” to be able “to sit around and write and speak.”

Limbaugh also remembered that when he first called the offices of Buckley’s National Review magazine to request a subscription, “I felt as if I was calling God.”

And years later, after he established himself as a leading conservative talk radio personality, Rush was invited to a National Review editors’ meeting at Buckley’s New York apartment. Rush said he felt as if he was being “summoned by as close to God on earth as you can get.”
Bill Buckley, you will be missed. Thank you for your wisdom and guidance. We will continue to carry the torch and pass it on to our children....

Augusta Board of Supervisors meeting tonight

Tonight the Augusta Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to accept the Planning Commission's recommended zoning ordinances restricting adult businesses from locating near family-oriented locations such as schools, playgrounds, churches, libraries, and neighborhoods. If the ordinances are accepted, a public hearing date will be set up for input from the public.

Augusta County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
7:00 p.m.
Board meeting room
Augusta Government Center, Verona

Barrack Hussein Obama ...

... it's his name.

Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General candidate?

Senator Ken Cuccinelli has revealed he is exploring the possibility of running for Attorney General in 2009. He is looking for feedback about this idea and has announced an opportunity for activists to discuss that as well as the future of the GOP at a reception in Richmond.

This is not a fundraiser and no money will be accepted. It is simply a chance for the grassroots to talk with the senator about the future of conservative principles in our Commonwealth and the 2009 statewide elections.

The reception will be held Monday, March 3, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the home of William and Kristie Richards, 226 West Brook Run Drive, Richmond Virginia 23238.

For more information see Sen. Cuccinelli's website.

Sen. Cuccinelli explains the problems with homestead exemption

Senator Ken Cuccinelli's latest Compass explains the concerns of Republicans (and some Democrats) in the wording and possible ramifications of the so-called "homestead exemption" (SJ 6 and SB 496) that was voted down.

There have been many posts on this issue with the Dems trying to blame the Republicans for not caring for Virginia families. I posted on it yesterday ... but perhaps the best explanation comes from someone who was on the floor fighting the good fight.

Dear Fellow Republican:

This Compass represents one of those times that I am delivering bad news, but I want to explain what happened to the proposed real estate tax exemption amendment and bill (SJ 6 and SB 496). These were recently defeated by the Republicans in the Senate, with a couple of Democrats joining us. Why would we do this? A great (and painful) question, but I am going to try and answer it in this issue of The Compass.

The Short Version:
Nobody wants to advance tax cuts more than I do, but the language of the real estate tax exemption amendment can be used for political welfare for the favored constituents of local governments rather than tax relief for all of the homeowners in a jurisdiction. I have no doubt that that is why the Senate Dems like the current language of the proposed amendment.

The language was written wrong last year and it wasn’t caught last year, and you can’t “fix” the language of a constitutional amendment in the second year of passage without having to start the process over again.

The Long Version:
First, the process for an amendment....

There is a two step process required to pass an amendment to the Virginia Constitution. Usually this takes place over two years, though it can take three years.

In the first year, the proposed amendment must be passed by both the House and the Senate.

After the first year, there has to be an election before the amendment can be taken up again by the House and Senate. In the case of the property tax amendment, it was passed without much review in the 2007 General Assembly by Senator Rerras, then came the November 2007 elections.

After the election, in the second year of passage, in addition to passing the amendment with the exact same wording as the year before, it is also necessary to pass a bill to implement the constitutional amendment and to put it on the ballot.

The amendment, SJ 6, was submitted in this session by Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, [SuperLib (D)-Arlington]. The bill, SB 496, was submitted by Senator Ralph Northam – the Senator that had defeated Nick Rerras. Presumably, the Dems’ idea in giving it to Northam was political, i.e., the concept originated in Norfolk and they had shown a greater desire for this than anywhere else in Virginia, thus the Dems could prop up a freshman by getting him credit for the amendment. This is not much different than Rerras carrying it in a tough election year.

Because they had the majority in the Senate, the Dems controlled who’s bill and amendment would be considered. i.e., if 5 of us had put in amendments or bills, they could stop everyone and clear the way for Whipple and Northam.

Second, what we wanted to do.…

The concept that we were trying to accomplish was simple: to allow local governments the option of exempting up to 20% of the value of owner-occupied residences and farms from real estate taxes. To be even more specific, the idea was to allow the exemption of up to 20% of the value of each and every owner-occupied residence or farm.

Okay, simple enough right?

Third, what was drafted….

Here is the critical language from the amendment and the bill (with my own emphasis):
From the Constitutional Amendment, SJ 6:

ARTICLE X : TAXATION AND FINANCE

Section 6. Exempt property.


… (k) The General Assembly may by general law allow the governing body of any county, city, or town to exempt or partially exempt from real property taxation or provide for the deferral of real property taxes, within such restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed by the governing body by ordinance, of up to twenty percent of the value of residential or farm property that is designed for continuous habitation and is occupied as the primary dwelling of the individual owners.
From the bill, SB 496:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Chapter 32 of Title 58.1 an article numbered 2.01, consisting of a section numbered 58.1-3218.1 as follows:

Article 2.01.
Exemptions and Deferrals of Real Estate Tax for Residential or Farm Property Designed for Continuous Habitation.

§ 58.1-3218.1. Exemptions from and deferrals of real estate taxes; certain residential or farm property.

… B. Pursuant to Article X, Section 6 (k) of the Constitution of Virginia, for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2009, the governing body of each county, city, or town may, by ordinance, (i) exempt or partially exempt from real property taxation, (ii) provide for the deferral of real property taxes, or (iii) provide for a combination program of exemptions from and deferrals of taxation of real property of up to 20 percent of the value of real property that is (a) residential or farm property designed for continuous habitation and (b) occupied as of the tax day as the primary dwelling of the owner or owners, who shall all be individuals. For purposes of this section, real property shall include any “manufactured home” as defined in § 36-85.3 and assessed pursuant to § 58.1-3522.

As provided in Article X, Section 6 (k) of the Constitution of Virginia and as otherwise authorized by law, any restrictions, conditions, or classifications of the tax relief program described under this section shall be provided by the local ordinance, including provisions to verify eligibility.
Fourth, what the language actually does....

Let’s cut to the heart of the problem with the language underlined above. Note that the language “exempt or partially exempt” does NOT require that the tax exemption be provided to every homeowner or farm. Rather, the 20% is calculated on the TOTAL VALUE of all residential real estate in a locality.

The language “upon such conditions as may be prescribed by the governing body” allows local governments to selectively grant the exemption.

So, let’s look at this in a hypothetical: Say there’s a locality where all of the residential real estate is the same value, with 500 homes each worth $100,000, for a total assessed value of $50,000,000. Our intention is that only $80,000 of the value of each home be taxed; however, the language of the proposed amendment allows a local government to give 100 homes a 100% tax exemption! Yikes. This was not caught last year (more on that below).

This isn’t a tax cut, it’s a welfare program that will get doled out to the politically favored neighborhoods in each locality, which explains why Sen. Whipple and the Dems like it so much. They get to say that they’re tax cutters when what they’re really doing is giving their local government allies the ability to dole out money to favored constituents. How do we know this will happen? Because it already does. For example, in Lynchburg, Ward 2 residents pay less for their trash service, while everyone else pays extra. Who do you suppose folks in Ward 2 vote for, incumbents or challengers?

The language proposed would allow the legalization of political pork through real estate tax exemptions.

Fifth, how did we get here?

While I’m not happy to say it, there obviously was not adequate review of the potential abuse of the amendment language as it was written last year. This is important because we can’t just “fix” the amendment this year, as it can only go on the ballot if it passes in exactly the same form as last year. But the language from last year is fatally flawed. It can’t be fixed this year.

We can amend the bill, but that doesn’t do any good to solve the underlying problem with the amendment. So we’re stuck either voting for a very badly flawed amendment that would legalize the mass-buying of votes by using the exemption to pay off (literally) favored constituencies or we have to start over.

The Republicans in the Senate are committed to bringing forth a good bill over the next two sessions and getting it on the ballot in a form that will have a very strong chance of passage, but that cannot be used as a form of political pork to feed to a select group of voters to buy votes.

I’m sorry to have to report this, and I wish it were caught last year. But I hope that you agree that while we should push for a real estate tax exemption amendment, we do need to get it right, particularly since we’re talking about rewriting the constitution, not merely passing a bill that could be tweaked the following year if we get it wrong.

I will be on a podcast at Bearing Drift on this subject, probably by Wednesday night, and it will include Senator Ralph Northam as well, so tune in there for more.

Sincerely,

Senator Ken Cuccinelli
Virginia 37th District

Staunton's Pullman Restaurant closes

The Pullman Restaurant located in the Wharf section of downtown Staunton has closed. The popular eatery, located in the old train station beside the railroad tracks that still see trains passing through several times a day, has been a mainstay for years.

This is indeed sad. Owned the past five years by Delegate Chris Saxman's sister and her husband, Kate and Mike Woodward, it had often been a gathering place for the community as well as local Republicans for events such as debates, the 2004 inauguration of President George W. Bush, election night celebrations, candidate appearances, and dinners with local GOP leaders such as the one with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling last year.

Thanks to Kate and Mike for the memories.

Fatal head-on collision closes I-81

Tractor-trailer crosses median and hits northbound van head-on

One northbound lane of I-81 has been reopened after last night's crash that had both lanes closed for hours. A southbound tractor-trailer crossed the median and collided head-on with a van heading north on the interstate.

The accident occurred near mile marker 245 in Harrisonburg. An eyewitness suggested the truck had been run off the road by another vehicle causing it to lose control.

One person is confirmed dead and three others have been airlifted to Charlottesville's UVA Hospital and Rockingham Memorial Hospital. WHSV TV-3 has more.

The eyewitness posted this on WHSV's website:
Posted by: Bill Location: Richmond on Feb 27, 2008 at 12:06 AM

I was behind this tractor trailer on 81 tonight and witnessed the entire accident. It was truly the most horrific thing I have ever seen. I feel for not only the families of the victims but also the truck driver. He was forced out of control by another driver and it is amazing that the truck driver was able to get the rig back on all wheels. When he swerved back to the left lane to avoid the other car he was fishtailing and tipped on only the wheels on his left side. He regained control but in doing so he oriented himself towards the median. For all of us in the car everything went into slow motion and we watched as the truck crossed the median. It seemed as though the van had no idea that the truck was coming towards it...it made no apparent moves to swirve or avoid the truck. The impact was nausiating and the van appeared to disintegrate as the truck went right through it. The sound of the impact was horrible. I will never forget what I saw tonight.
No other details are available at this time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Starbucks closed nationwide from 5:30-8:30

Today from 5:30-8:30 every Starbucks in the country is closed down, all 7,100 of them, for emergency retraining of their baristas. They will learn how to make a perfect shot, how to steam milk, and how to wipe the milk steamer before switching from dairy to soy milk.

It is part of a revamping of the coffee giant's image that has become tarnished of late by improperly prepared products.

I'm not a coffee drinker -- I'm always tagging behind my sisters as they hit Starbucks for their coffee jolt -- but I enjoy a hint of mocha. Last summer in Colorado, my sisters decided to find a Starbucks drink I would like ... and a barista heard my plea for caffeine but nothing overly coffee-tasting and whipped up the perfect double-chocolate mocha frappuccino with the caffeine kick I was looking for. It was good!

Great. Just what I needed ... a reason to stop at Starbucks.

John Warner hospitalized

Sen. John Warner, 81, R-Va., has been hospitalized with an abnormal heart beat.

McCain campaign ... no will to fight?

First we heard from John McCain's top advisor Mark McKinnon who said he would not launch negative campaigning against Barack Obama.

Now we have John McCain apologizing for the introduction he received today at a rally from a conservative talk show host ... a talk show host who had been asked to whip up the crowd for McCain's appearance.

With that kind of attitude from John McCain, we are doomed in November.

Vote for Keith Drake as most dangerous Republican in Charlottesville....


Vote Keith Drake for Most Dangerous Local Republican
The local liberal talk radio station (WVAX AM 1450) currently has a rather childish poll question: "Who is the most dangerous Republican in our area?"
The choices are
Ken Boyd, Keith Drake, Rob Bell, and Rob Schilling.
I am truly honored to be considered as one of the four most dangerous Republicans -- but I want to be Number One!
I respectfully as that you visit WVAX (the survey is on the left toward the bottom) and vote for me -- it would truly be an honor to win the survey!

Thanks!
Keith C. Drake, Ph.D.
Chairman, Albemarle Republicans

What was really wrong with the homestead exemption bill?

So I received a press release yesterday from Kevin O'Halleran with the Virginia State Democratic Caucus. It was the first time I had received something from them so was curious as to how they became so wayward as to send one of their talking points emails to a die-hard Republican.

It began by shouting out the headline, "REPUBLICANS KILL BILLS TO PROVIDE PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR STRUGGLING VIRGINIANS." Hmm, okay. That just begged to be researched because it did not sound like all the Republican electeds I know who are constantly working for the betterment of "struggling" Virginians.

In a classic "Political Spin: 101" opening, the email began:
In a move that shows the Republicans in the Senate are more concerned about partisanship than tax cuts for their constituents, the Republicans in the Senate block voted to kill House Bill 11 and House Joint Resolution 4 that would have provided property tax relief to struggling Virginians throughout the Commonwealth.
Now for "Research: 101."

HJ4, Property Tax Reduction Bill

- Yesterday Senate Republicans along with Two Democrats (Colgan and Puckett) voted to continue HJR 4 to 2009, which effectively killed the bill.

- HJR 4 would have called for a ballot question giving localities the ability to provide property tax reductions.

- The Problem with this legislation is that it was not a universal property tax reduction, so the localities could have made it apply to just one segment of the population.

- Property Tax Reductions for Homeowners should be universal.

- The enactment bill for this legislation has already been defeated, so as it stands right now, even if the measure was placed on the ballot and passed, it would never go into effect, because it currently has no enactment date.

- The process for a ballot question measure in Virginia is this:
* Bill must pass the General Assembly twice, and it must be once before and once after an election (so two different General Assemblies vote on the bill)

* Once it has been approved by two separate General Assemblies, it would be put on the ballot the following November for a vote, if the measure is enacted it would go into effect based on the enactment clause.
- Lowell Feld (Raising Kaine) is misrepresenting the facts on this bill.
* It was not a property tax reduction, it was a progressive tax aimed at impacting only one segment of the population.

* Bottom line is that this bill gives local governments the power to pick who they want to favor with lower rates and who they want to penalize with higher rates.

* Property taxes are a problem in Virginia, not just a problem for individuals who own a home valued under a certain amount.

* This bill truly would have been a knife to the heart of Virginia homeownership.
Info from Virginia Club for Growth

Senate Dems shoot down gun privacy bill

After the Roanoke Times published a list of concealed weapon permit-holders, it was realized a law needed to be passed to protect the privacy of those citizens. HB 982, submitted by Delegate Dave Nutter of Christiansburg, would have prohibited access to the names. The House added an exception that would allow Circuit Court clerks to release names only but hold back all other information. It was passed and sent it to the Senate.

Delegate Nutter asked the Democrat-controlled Senate Courts of Justice Committee to delete that provision to protect citizens but they voted 9-7 on Monday to kill the bill.

So much for the privacy rights of conceal weapon carriers.

The Republican Party and the conservative movement....

William Rusher has a good article out at Townhall.com and printed in today's Waynesboro News Virginian titled, "Republican Party, conservative movement," in which he discusses the background of the conservative movement and where it is today. He writes:
The two political parties have, at one time or another, encouraged many of these movements to seek fulfillment in supporting them. (Before the Civil War, for example, the Democratic Party was, in addition to much else, the political instrument of the slaveholding interests.) From their start -- but, above all, from the launching of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal onward -- the leftist movements (to the extent that they have not founded parties of their own) have tended to support the Democratic Party. And from its inception the conservative movement has found its home with the Republicans.
He concludes by saying the conservatives and Republicans are not separating.
At the moment, however, the Republican Party and the conservative movement still seem comfortably wedded. The marriage began in 1964, with the party's nomination of Barry Goldwater for president, and has lasted ever since. Many analysts assumed that the relatively liberal wing of the GOP would revive after Goldwater's crushing defeat and resume control of the party. But this never happened: Nixon's nomination in 1968 resulted from a decision by the conservative movement (albeit a bad one), and Reagan's election and reelection simply nailed down the alliance. Today, practically all Republican candidates proclaim their conservatism, and almost all conservative leaders vow their allegiance to the Republican Party. It has been a remarkably fruitful union.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jim Gilmore calls out Mark Warner on the enforcement of immigration laws

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore praised Attorney General Bob McDonnell and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for their recent success in taking action to remove 171 convicted criminal alien sex offenders from Virginia.

Noting that Gov. Tim Kaine has opposed efforts to work out an agreement with ICE to allow Virginia State Police to enforce federal immigration laws in the course of enforcing Virginia laws against violent crime, Gilmore asked: "Where does Mark Warner stand on this important issue? With Governor Kaine? Or with the people of Virginia who are fed up of pandering to those who are breaking our laws?"

"Why should illegal aliens who commit crimes like this in our communities get the opportunity to victimize Virginians again and again?" Gilmore asked. "It's time for Mark Warner to stand up and be counted on this issue, which is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and threatening our citizens and communities."

"These cooperative efforts to work in conjunction with federal authorities and remove criminal illegal aliens from the Commonwealth should be one of the many steps that can be taken at the state and federal levels to decrease illegal immigration and enforce immigration laws already in the books," Gilmore, a former prosecutor and former Attorney General, declared.

The Virginia State Police and ICE successfully carried a major law enforcement action called "Operation Cold Play" which is part of a multi-year effort targeted at sex offenders nationwide. This action came about as a result of Attorney General Bob McDonnell's request that the State Police check the birthplace of each individual on the Virginia sex offender registry and share that information with ICE.

"Legal immigration is a vital component of our nation's greatness. Illegal immigration is not," Gilmore said. "Ignoring the problems caused by illegal immigration undermines our nation's security and the rule of law. As U.S. Senator, I will work to ensure that Virginia has the needed federal resources to work with ICE and other federal authorities so we can protect our citizens and enforce immigration laws."

Cross-posted at Bloggers 4 Jim Gilmore

RTD: Bush deserves praise in Africa

Many in the mainstream media refuse to spotlight the positive works of President George W. Bush. Kudos to the Richmond Times-Dispatch for the following editorial. It is reprinted in today's Waynesboro News Virginian.

President Bush's trip to Africa emphasized one of the most remarkable -- but rarely remarked upon -- success stories of his administration. The president's $15 billion crusade to battle HIV/AIDS on the continent has already saved 1.4 million lives -- an astonishing number that should make all Americans proud. Bush is working to extend and expand the program.

The Bush administration has been equally aggressive in supporting and paying for programs to fight malaria in Africa. The president has reformed U.S. foreign aid to encourage governments on the continent to adopt democracy, transparency, and protection of human rights -- with admittedly mixed results. His administration has used aggressive diplomacy in the past year to help broker peace accords between Rwanda and Congo and, most recently, a cease-fire between Congo's government forces and militant groups in that country.

Bush also has been a loud and consistent critic of the genocide in Sudan -- though his efforts have largely been stymied by inaction at the U.N. and active encouragement for the Sudanese tyrants from China and other morally challenged nations. While in Rwanda, Bush pledged to spend another $100 million to train and support African peacekeeping troops in Darfur.

Across Africa, Bush was greeted by large, enthusastic crowds. On at least one occasion, the road along his route was covered with flower petals. Don't be surprised if the youngest generation of Africans includes a surprising number of boys named George.

John Hager receives Party endorsements for RPV Chairman reelection

John Hager has received the endorsements of all eleven District chairmen in his bid for reelection of the Republican Party of Virginia. Below is the letter that was sent to Chairman Hager.

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are writing to heartily endorse your reelection as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. We appreciate your leadership and the measurable progress being made under your leadership. What the Republican Party of Virginia needs right now is stability, continuity and leadership. The Party is targeted on its mission and is clearly focused on winning elections.

The mission of the Party is to identify, recruit, educate, motivate and deliver the bedrock Republican vote. To be successful, the Party must raise substantial funds and communicate well with its many constituencies. A solid plan is in place. In fact we have a firm Finance Plan, Communications Plan and Political Plan all currently being executed.

The Party raised almost $2 million last year, double previous years. Once again, we have a joint Republican Caucus in the General Assembly. The Party established full-time regional Field Staff last year and is expanding the scope this year. The Advance was the most heavily attended in history and brought improved training to grass roots activists. The 1st District victory was nationally recognized. The Party will accelerate the involvement of local supporters, the identification of registered voters, improve lists and institute accountability for all units this year.

There is a big challenge ahead. 2008 involves not only a huge State Convention, but also a National Convention. Detailed plans have been underway for some time. These must be flawlessly executed. The February Primary involved countless hours of preparation. The Welcoming Committee provides a whole new dimension. The Party has so many roles and responsibilities and is a functioning business.

Let us tell it like it is, now is not then time for disruption. Now is the time for us all to be together on the same page, working for the same cause and generating results.

Chairman Hager, please continue your effective leadership...raising the necessary funds...traveling hundreds of miles each month all over the Commonwealth promoting the Republican message. There is a fine experienced and effective team in place. Please continue the managing partnership with our seasoned Executive Director as we work toward victory in 2008 and 2009...elections that will determine the dominate party for the next generation!

Because we care for the future of the Republican Party of Virginia, we have signed and committed our support to you.

Tom Foley, 1st District Chair
Bruce Meyer. 2nd District Chair
Mike Wade, 3rd District Chair
Jason Gray, 4th District Chair
George Sterling, 5th District Chair
Fred Anderson, 6th District Chair
Linwood Cobb, 7th District Chair
David Avella, 8th District Chair
Stan Young, 9th District Chair
Jim Rich, 10th District Chair
Becky Stoeckel, 11th District Chair

Kevin Gentry, Eastern Region Vice Chair
Jim Hale, Western Region Vice Chair
Polly Campbell, Secretary, RPV
Morton Blackwell, Republican National Committeeman
Mike Thomas, First Vice Chair, RPV
Chuck Smith, Chairman Welcoming Committee, RPV
Fred Malek, Finance Chairman, RPV
Lisa Gable, Finance Co-Chair, RPV
Rick Neel, Treasurer, RPV

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vote now for the most dangerous Republican in Charlottesville

Help Keith Drake win
"Most Dangerous Republican in Charlottesville"!
He really needs your vote!

Go to Lib-Talk radio
WVAX
and cast your vote.

Keith Drake,
Chairman of the Albemarle GOP Committee,
has asked for your vote and says
he will live up to the
honor of
Most Dangerous Republican
if he wins.

Please take a minute to vote for him!

Right now he's running neck-in-neck with Rob Schilling, talk show host and former Charlottesville City Councilman. Go vote now!

Right-to-carry in National Parks

From the NRA....

At the request of the Bush Administration and 51 members of the United States Senate led by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibition of firearms on agency land will be revised in the following weeks. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is leading the effort to amend the existing policy regarding the carrying and transportation of firearms in National Parks and wildlife refuges.

"Law-abiding citizens should not be prohibited from protecting themselves and their families while enjoying America's National Parks and wildlife refuges," said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. "Under this proposal, federal parks and wildlife refuges will mirror the state firearm laws for state parks. This is an important step in the right direction."

These new regulations, when finalized, will provide uniformity across our nation's federal lands and put an end to the patchwork of regulations that governed different lands managed by different federal agencies. In the past, only Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands allowed the carrying of firearms, while National Park lands did not.

The current regulations on possession, carry or transportation of loaded or uncased firearms in national parks were proposed in 1982 and finalized in 1983. Similar restrictions apply in national wildlife refuges. The NRA believes it is time to amend those regulations to reflect the changed legal situation with respect to state laws on carrying firearms.

The effect of these now-outdated regulations on people who carry firearms for self-protection was far from the forefront at the time these regulations were adopted. As of the end of 1982, only six states routinely allowed citizens to carry handguns for self-defense. Currently, 48 states have a process for issuance of licenses or permits to allow law-abiding citizens to legally carry firearms for self-defense.

The move for regulatory change by the Administration will restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to transport and carry firearms for lawful purposes in most National Park lands and will make the laws consistent with state law where these lands are located. Fifty-one U.S. Senators from both parties sent a letter to the Department of Interior late last year supporting the move to render state firearms laws applicable to National Park lands.

"These changes will respect the Second Amendment rights of honest citizens, and we look forward to the issuance of a final rule this year," concluded Cox.

Dem Delegate: "Wild Wild West Gun Slinger"

From the GOP Caucus blog:

Delegate McClellan thought that while debating the merits of this bill it would be an acceptable time to INSULT law-abiding concealed weapons permit holders across the state. Not only was I offended to be equated to a "Wild Wild West Gun Slinger" but so was Delegate Todd Gilbert. See video below ...

Read the rest here.

Gilmore praises GOP's effort to prevent raid on lottery proceeds intended for education

Former Governor Jim Gilmore praised the General Assembly’s Senate Republicans for attempting to block a move by Democrats in the State Senate Thursday to decrease funding for public education by re-directing lottery proceeds to fund new and expanded government programs.

“I commend Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Senate Republicans for standing tall to try to protect education dollars in the Lottery Proceeds Fund,” Gilmore said. “We all worked hard in 2000 to make sure lottery money was allocated to education and that is even more important today in troubled economic times than it was then.”

Following Jim Gilmore’s leadership Virginia voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2000 requiring the General Assembly to make certain that lottery revenues were not redirected from the Lottery Proceeds Fund and public education to other programs without the approval of a super majority of the members of the General Assembly.

“Our public education system is put at stake every time this type of maneuvering by the Democrats to take money away from our schools is carried out and it is Virginia’s children who are put at risk,” Gilmore said. “How are we to restore confidence in parents that a public education is a quality education, if we are constantly faced with having to defend the constant attempts to reduce overall funding for public education in Virginia?“

“Education resources need to get into the classroom where they can best make a difference for our children. That is why I stand by the mandate I asked for and received in 2000, requiring that state lottery proceeds be used first and foremost for education efforts in the Commonwealth,” Gilmore declared.

Cross-posted at Bloggers 4 Jim Gilmore

Congrats, Carl Kilo!

Fellow Old Dominion Blog Alliance member Carl Kilo at Spark It Up!!! is # 2 this week on BlogNetNews' rankings. Congratulations, Carl! Keep up the good work.

Work hard ... but don't forget to laugh

Anything worth having is worth working for ... and don't forget to laugh along the way.

Financial Times: "Heir conditioning"

We are prepared for other life events. Why not prepare heirs for what they will face ... with a kind of inheritance "boot camp"? The Financial Times wrote:
The past decade has seen an enormous amount of wealth created in the UK and globally. But many of the newly rich have little idea how to prepare their families to receive it. Filling that knowledge gap has long been big business in the US, where financial “boot camps” are an accepted part of the wealth management process. It’s a boom industry – beyond the big banks, there are hordes of independent advisers offering private courses, seminars and counselling.

But the idea has been slower to take off in Britain, for predictable reasons. Wealthy Americans are willing to let outside professionals into the private realms of the family, according to Zoe Couper, who has helped to organise courses on both sides of the Atlantic, but “UK clients can be a little slower to open up emotionally”.
...
Most courses cover common themes: the practicalities of investment, how to choose asset classes, understand risk, select the right portfolio managers and decipher financial reports. They look at how young family members can use their money to engage with charity. And they talk through some of the psychological and emotive issues surrounding wealth.

“Coming into money can be very difficult to deal with,’’ says Fenn Smith. “Children need to understand the value and the power of wealth and what they can achieve with it. Without education, the tale of rags-to riches-to-rags-again is a real threat.”
Read the entire article here.

How secure is airport security?

Denver International Airport is a huge, multi-level complex that employs hundreds and sees thousands of passengers pass through on a daily basis. Since 9/11, travelers have depended on security checkpoints and alert personnel to avoid another terrorist tragedy.

That trust has been strained once again. Denver's CBS TV-4 went undercover after receiving a tip from an anonymous airport employee:
... using a hidden camera, CBS4 found that hundreds of people who work at Denver International Airport are passing through a checkpoint into the airport's secure area every day without being examined, and the TSA's rules allow it.
This report on World Net Daily caught my attention since my family had traveled through Denver last summer. Read the entire story here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... 78 photos & 17 posts

The yellow ribbons say it all ... honoring America's heroes.

Take a photo journey to Staunton, Virginia, and see the community as it turned out to welcome the returning soldiers of the 116th Stonewall Brigade of the Virginia Army National Guard. Families, friends, school children, civic groups, Republicans, churches ... all were there for the joyous homecoming.

Check out the 17 posts and 78 photos that follow this post.

For those who have fought for it,
Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... thankful for a safe return from Iraq

The yellow ribbons say it all ... honoring America's heroes.

Flags line Thornrose Avenue at the Armory entrance.
Patriot Guard Riders escort the soldiers of the 116th Stonewall Brigade.

First of four charter buses bringing home the Stonewall Brigade.

Adjunct General Robert Newman arrives by helicopter.

Soldiers disembark from buses.

Soldiers and family members enter Armory for welcome home ceremony.

All paused for a prayer of thanksgiving for their safe return.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte welcomes the 116th home.

Hundreds turned out to welcome home the 116th Stonewall Brigade as they returned to the Armory in Staunton.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte as well as Staunton officials greeted them ... Augusta GOP Chairman Kurt Michael, Trixie Averill (RPV State Central), Andrea Oakes and family, Bob Campbell (candidate for City Council) ... Grace Christian School students crowded the street with signs and American flags. (One of the dads was coming home with the Stonewall Briagade; Chairman Kurt Michael's two children attend that school as well as the grandchildren of Don and Harold Reid -- the Statler Brothers.)
More stories and photos at:
- Spark It Up!!!
- College Republican Federation of Virginia blog
- Waynesboro News Virginian - Families reunite with troops
- Waynesboro News Virginian - Slide Show
- Waynesboro News Virginian - Crowd shares warm welcome

Photos by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... "Daddy's home"

"Daddy's home."
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade
21 February 2008

Photo by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... Grace Christian School turns out for classmate's dad

Grace Christian Middle School students spell out a welcome on the tennis court fence.

Grace Christian elementary students lined the street with signs and American flags.

Two middle school students hold a large American flag.

Grace Christian students made signs to welcome home the heroes.

Middle school students scramble to the top of the Tams Lake dam after soldiers arrive ... for one last flag wave before returning to classes.

Students and faculty line Thornrose Avenue at the entrance to the Armory. Grace Christian School is located directly across the street.

Elementary students proudly hold their "Welcome Home" banner.

Bundled-up students eagerly await the returning soldiers.

Elementary students line street in front of Grace Christian School.
All the students and teachers of Staunton's Grace Christian School, elementary and middle grades, turned out to welcome home the 116th Stonewall Brigade. While they were greeting all the returning heroes, there was one special soldier who was of particular interest to the school. The father of one of the students departed last May with the 116th and, after months spent halfway around the world in Iraq, he was greeted by the kids of Grace Christian. Welcome home, Mike!

Photos by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... a sweetheart returns

A single pink carnation on a military-issued camouflage duffle....

Photo by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... "these colors don't run"










Photos by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... "Dear American Soldier"

Sign left at entrance to Armory.

The sign was hand-lettered on poster board and left at the entrance to the National Guard Armory in Staunton. Attached were two balloons and small American flags. The sign said:
Dear American Soldier:

During this difficult time please know that we stand behind you and appreciate everything you are doing for our country. When duty called, I am glad that you answered. Our hearts are with you as you walk through danger. You've put your life on the line so that others may live free. May this spirit of "Freedom" continue to guide you through these trying times and God be your pilot.

THANK YOU for your bravery and dedication as you defend our country, and for honoring our country with your service.

In case someone hasn't told you today ...

YOU ROCK!

May God continue to be with you and your families. We are proud of you ... grateful and blessed to be called AMERICANS.
Amen.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... the signs









Photos by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... Congressman Goodlatte welcome home troops



Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th Congressional Distrct) was in Stuanton Thursday to welcome home the troops of the 116th Stonewall Brigade. He has been a strong supporter of the military and of the mission in Iraq.
Photos by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... well-wishers came from other areas

Trixie Averill is a military mom who has seen her Army son deployed to Iraq three times during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although she lives in Roanoke, she drove to Staunton to welcome home the Stonewall Brigade. She was also with us in Charlottesville last June when we stood up to Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protesters with our WIN THE WAR signs.

Photo by SWAC Girl

Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade ... patriot Westies for USA!

Trixie Averill holds the leash with Katie Rose and Colin, her Westies, as newly-arrived troops give them some attention.
Augusta Chairman Kurt Michael holds Katie Rose while Trixie Averill holds Colin outside the Armory in Staunton. These patriotic dogs have welcomed home numerous troops including Trixie's Army son who has been deployed to Iraq three times during Operation Iraqi Freedom.