Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frontier Culture Museum has new sign

Frontier Culture Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

Gov. McDonnell elected chairman of Republican Governors Association

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was elected Chairman of the Republican Governors Association today at the group's quarterly meetings in Orlando, Florida. With today's vote the Governor will continue his service as head of the organization.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was elected to continue serving as RGA Vice-Chairman. Joining McDonnell and Christie on the RGA Executive Committee will be: Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Additionally, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana was elected to serve as RGA Policy Chairman to lead the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee.

Speaking about the election, Governor McDonnell remarked, "I am honored to be elected by my peers to chair the Republican Governors Association in 2012. Our country is facing unprecedented economic and fiscal challenges that require bold leadership and innovative solutions.

"Unemployment is unacceptably high, too many of our citizens lack access to a good paying job and the American Dream, and for too long our leaders in Washington have over-promised, over-spent, and under-delivered.

"Republican governors across the country have been showing the way forward by balancing budgets by cutting spending, not raising taxes; reforming state governments to make them more efficient, effective and user-friendly to taxpayers; and focusing on private sector job creation to get our fellow citizens back to work and reignite the economic engine of America.

"Across the country these efforts are producing positive results, and I look forward to working with my colleagues over the next year to continue implementing good, fiscally responsible policy, and to working hard to build on the RGA's successes of 2009-2011 to add to the ranks of our 29 outstanding Republican governors."


Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

David Karaffa, other new Augusta County supervisors to receive transition briefings

There will be five new faces on the new Augusta County Board of Supervisors when it convenes in January, due in part to the botched 2009 real estate assessments.

New supervisor David Karaffa (I), 28, is already somewhat ahead of the game. During the past year, Karaffa spent hours at the Government Center learning the ins and outs of local government, talking with employees and supervisors, attending meetings, and reading endless documents, meeting notes, and informational sources as he researched the job he was running to win. In November, he beat incumbent Jeremy Shifflett to become Beverley Manor supervisor.

Incumbents Tracy Pyles (I) and David Beyeler (R) are the only returning members of the seven-member board. Larry Wills (R), newly elected, once served on the board in the 1990s.

Bob Stuart at the Waynesboro News Virginian talked with Karaffa about the meetings designed for newly elected supervisors to learn more about various county departments, budgets, and more. “For me, it will be a lot of review of things I already know,” [Karaffa] said. “But it is also an opportunity to fill in holes that exist. It would be nice to get those gaps filled.”

Karaffa became interested in county government after watching the supervisors' handling of the botched real estate assessments and he has attended supervisor meetings on a regular basis for the two years since that time.

He also became involved in the 2010 fire issue, attending meetings along with Kurt Michael (I), who barely lost his bid in November for Wayne District Supervisor, as both talked with firefighters, read the fire plans that date back to 2000, and listened to boots on the ground. Both men, with young children, were concerned for the welfare of not only their own families but those of all county residents. The lack of fire coverage had caused homeowners insurance to increase and even double for some residents.

While learning more about the internal workings at the Government Center, Karaffa also sought counsel from Supervisor Pyles whose 16 years of experience on the board offered a wealth of information and background. At the age of 28, Karaffa is the future of Augusta County and the country.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Virginia Republican Advance

Hundreds of Republicans from across the Commonwealth will converge on the tiny western Virginia town of Hot Springs this weekend for the annual Donald Huffman Republican Advance at the Homestead Resort.

Grassroots leaders and activists will mingle with elected officials and big-money donors for workshops, hospitality suites, meetings, and hobnobbing. Small groups of GOPers will be seen sitting in various areas discussing political futures, past issues, upcoming races, analyzing the November races, and generally taking advantage of being in close proximity of so many from all corners of the state.

Governor Bob McDonnell will be there as keynote speaker at Saturday night's dinner. So will Lt. Governor Bill Bolling who will host the unique "Bowling with Bolling" hospitality suite from 9:00-midnight in the Homestead's bowling alley.

At last year's Advance, former Governor George Allen took over the hotel restaurant for a hospitality suite that was hopping all night while people wore "Draft George Allen" lapel stickers. What a difference a year makes ... this year he is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and will host an "A-Team Huddle" in the Homestead's Players Club on the lower level from 9-11 on Friday night.

Various others will host hospitality suites on Friday or Saturday nights including Dumfries City Councilwoman Kristin Forrester, Prince William Chairman Corey Stewart, and Americans for Prosperity.

Over a dozen bloggers from Virginia's conservative blogosphere will be posting photos, updates, interviews, and generally covering all parts of the weekend's activities. I'll be posting updates and photos as more information is available.

The Republican Advance: Stay tuned....

Endorsements for George Allen from newly-elected members of VA General Assembly

Newly elected members of the Virginia General Assembly have announced their endorsement of George Allen who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Senator-Elect Bryce Reeves, Fredericksburg: “George Allen is a proven, principled conservative leader; he deeply cares about our Commonwealth and Nation.  As our Senator, George Allen will continue his legacy of fighting for lower taxes, smaller government, and traditional family values.  As a former United States Army Ranger, George Allen’s commitment to ensuring we continue to have a strong national defense and support of our military and their families, is important to me.  I am honored to endorse George Allen for U.S. Senate.”

Delegate-Elect Mark Dudenhefer, Stafford:
"I am proud to support George Allen for the United States Senate. Governor Allen is a man of integrity and has served the commonwealth with distinction. He is what is needed in Washington to rein in out-of-control spending and return our country to its Constitutional principles as envisioned by our Founding Fathers."

Delegate-Elect Matt Fariss, Rustburg: “Our economy is struggling under the burden of excessive taxes and regulation, and we need new representation in Washington.  As a long time small businessman, I understand the kind of environment it takes to encourage private sector growth and job creation, and so does George Allen.  While Governor of Virginia he developed an impressive track record of economic success by removing government obstacles to private sector growth, and he will bring that experience with him to the U.S. Senate.  I am proud to offer my support to George Allen and his campaign for U.S. Senate.”

Delegate-Elect Peter Farrell, Henrico: “Fiscal responsibility and private sector growth are the keys to a brighter future for both Virginia and America.  While Governor of Virginia, George Allen worked to reduce taxes on middle class families and promote growth in the Commonwealth. During these trying economic times, we need a voice of reason like George Allen back in the U.S. Senate to combat the economically harmful legislation being presented by this current Administration.  I wholeheartedly endorse George Allen in his campaign to be Virginia’s next United States Senator.”

Delegate-Elect Chris Head, Roanoke: "I have been a fan of George Allen and his Jeffersonian style of conservative leadership for years. I cheered as he held the line on spending cuts in state agencies, and brought about incredible and much needed policy reforms while he was Governor, and he served us with distinction as Senator. I am proud to give my support to his campaign and look forward to returning him to Washington!"

Delegate-Elect Randy Minchew, Leesburg:“I first met George Allen during his 1993 successful run for Governor and have had the honor of working closely with him for years as he has served our Commonwealth with great distinction. As Governor and as Senator, George Allen delivered real results for Virginia and demonstrated a gift for inspired public policy making that improved the lives of his fellow Virginians. At a time when many American seem to have lost faith in the ability of the United States Senate to protect our families and small businesses from undue federal encroachment that reduces quality of life and stifles entrepreneurial growth, we need George Allen's unique brand of common sense conservatism and humble, but bold leadership in the United States Senate and I endorse his candidacy with pride and enthusiasm.”

Delegate-Elect David Ramadan, Chantilly: “I am proud to offer my endorsement of Governor Allen to the United States Senate. One of the first campaigns I ever became involved with was George Allen's campaign for Governor in 1993. It taught me that hard work, commitment to principle and belief in the people do matter in American politics, and George Allen is the embodiment of hard work, commitment to his principles and principles of conservatives, and that wisdom lies in America's people -not its government. I am proud to offer my support and endorsement to my friend George Allen to the United States Senate.”

Delegate-Elect Nick Rush, Christiansburg: “George Allen knows how to empower entrepreneurs and small businesses to help create jobs and grow the economy. His time as Governor was known for job creation and economic prosperity, and his pro-growth policies helped to create over 300,000 net new private sector jobs during his tenure.  George Allen has the right ideas and positive solutions to reinvigorate our economy and stop the reckless spending and out-of-control growth of government in Washington.  In these difficult times, Virginia needs a strong, proven leader we can trust.  I am proud to stand with George Allen and give him my full endorsement.”

Delegate-Elect Michael Webert, Warrenton: “George Allen is the strong, conservative leader we need in Washington to help turn this Obama-Kaine economy around and make America competitive again.  He is the only candidate in this race with a pro-growth plan to help businesses create jobs and he has a long record of implementing proven reforms that grow the economy.  The 2012 election will have a major impact on the trajectory of our nation, and Virginia needs George Allen back in the U.S. Senate to stand up to the Washington liberals and fight for our values.”

Delegate-Elect Joseph Yost, Blacksburg: “George Allen is a proven leader.  He has the courage, integrity, and character we need in Washington. As our Senator, George Allen will fight for our families, faith, and freedom. He will work hard to bring jobs to Virginia, stimulate our economy and keep taxes low."

National Review: "Exit Barney Frank"

The news on Monday that Congressman Barney Frank would not seek reelection to the U.S. Congress sent a buzz throughout news outlets. An editorial at the National Review said, "Representative Frank will be remembered as an embarrassment, a reckless gambler, and a legislative malefactor."

The American Spectator noted, "Barney Frank decided that introducing himself to a new set of constituents and asking for their votes was too high a price to continue wielding power. Thus with his congressional district redrawn, the Massachusetts Democrat will not seek reelection to Congress next year."

Barney is the latest  Democrat to announce he will not be back making some wonder if he is a bellwether for Democrats in D.C. Seventeen Democrats have announced they will not return prompting The Fix to comment that, "... the number of Democratic retirements in the next couple months will be a key indicator of whether the rank-and-file truly believe the majority is attainable. As President Obama’s numbers continue to languish and the economy struggle, some may see the goal slipping away."

Not all are happy to see him go, however ... his escapades in the House were legendary. Michelle Cottle at The Daily Beast commented, "... much of the time he barely bothers being civil to those he does like. It is part of the prickly, impatient Dem’s charm. Part of what makes Barney Barney—along with his lightning wit, his unnerving intellect, his naked arrogance, and his lax approach to personal grooming."

A fixture on the Hill for 32 years, Barney Frank partially blamed Congress for his leaving, calling the government body "broken."

"To my disappointment, the leverage you have within the government has substantially diminished,” Frank told Politico's Jonathan Allen. “The anger in the country, the currents of opinion are such that the kind of inside work I have felt best at is not going to be as productive in the foreseeable future and not until we make some changes.”

But decisions made by Frank over the years have contributed to the mood of the country and the anger of voters whether he wants to admit it or not. National Review perhaps said it best:
From his relatively petty transgressions related to his personal life to his more consequential role in enabling Fannie and Freddie, Representative Frank personifies a great deal of what is wrong with American public life. Though a highly intelligent man, he made the wrong decisions at every turn, and compounded his policy errors with the petty and vindictive style of his politics. Republicans will not miss him. Neither should his Democratic colleagues, his constituents, or the American public that will be paying off the cost of his errors and those of his allies, with interest, for a great many years. We hope that he will find in the obscurity of retirement the grace and wisdom that eluded him as an elected official, but we do not assume that it will be so.
Krystle at Bearing Drift has more and concluded, "It's a good thing Frank is retiring."

U.S. House schedule for Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business.
Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
One Minute Speeches
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 3012 - Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz / Judiciary Committee)
2) H.R. 2192 - National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen / Judiciary Committee)
3) H.R. 1801 - Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act (Sponsored by Rep. Chip Cravaack / Homeland Security Committee)
4) H.R. 2465 - Federal Workers Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act (Sponsored by Rep. John Kline / Education and the Workforce Committee)
Special Order Speeches

Energy and Commerce Committee Markup on “H.R.1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011" (Tuesday, November 29th, 4:30 p.m.)

Printable PDF

Christmas at The Homestead

Grand entrance to the Homestead.

The huge Christmas tree in the Great Hall.

The Great Hall as seen from the balcony.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

The nooks and crannies of The Homestead

The beauty and history of the Homestead is set off by the nooks and crannies that can be found throughout the hotel. Dozens of seating areas are available for quiet conversations with friends, romantic moments with loved ones, business discussions, and people-watching.

In December the Homestead is decorated for Christmas with pointsettias, outdoor lighting, trains, and Christmas trees.

SWAC Daughter enjoys a quiet area.

Murals above the doorway leading into the hallway from the Grand Ballroom.

The Grand Ballroom.

Murals on the walls depict the history of the Homestead beginning in 1766.

Chess or checkers ... game tables are located throughout the seating areas.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday after Thanksgiving thoughts on a cloudy day

It was a great Thanksgiving holiday visiting with family and friends both in the Shenandoah Valley and in Midlothian ... busy and hectic and fun.

Heavy traffic was encountered Sunday afternoon at 12:30 as I-64 West became a parking lot a full two miles before intersecting with I-81 in Staunton. I-81 was backed up north and south ... and it wasn't even the heaviest traffic of the day. Thankfully, we were home at that point and gratefully hopped of the interstate to hit the back roads to our home in western Augusta County.

Commonwealth Cup: What a game on Saturday afternoon! The University of Virginia hosted Virginia Tech for the rivalry of the season and from feedback from locals, the interstates were backed up with spectators trying to get to Scott Stadium. The final VaTech 38, UVa 0 score was not quite what was expected. I watched with my Virginia Tech Class of 1947 step-dad. Congrats to Tech with a thank you for UVa for the hospitality.

Thanksgiving and family: With my Texas sister in town, we were all over the place for 10 days as we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia. A tour of downtown Richmond on Friday rounded it all out before the Texas crew flew out on Saturday heading back home. For Thanksgiving, we cooked, baked, decorated, and generally enjoyed time together.

Decorating for Christmas East: While sister Gail decorated Mom's front door, sister Lori and I, with help from SWAC Husband and Mom, decorated indoors and put up the Christmas tree on Saturday afternoon. Mom's house is looking a lot like Christmas....

Decorating for Christmas West: We're in the midst of working on our decorations at home. The tree is up and lights are on as we work on adding ornaments. A little more to do and all that will be left is adding greenery and candles for this favored time of the year.

Dayton Farmers Market: Located in the midst of the Old Order Mennonite community. Now operating on holiday hours, the Dayton Farmers Market is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am-6 pm through December 31. Great gift ideas when looking for something that isn't from a big box store ... and don't forget to try a big, soft pretzel while you're there.

Green Valley Book Fair: Open for the last time in 2011 and located just south of Harrisonburg, the doors opened last Friday and will be open daily through Saturday, December 17th from 9 am - 7 pm. Thousands of new and discontinued books at huge discounts up to 90% off retail. Green Valley Book Fair, 2192 Green Valley Ln, Mt. Crawford, VA 22841. Phone 800-385-0099.
Historic Downtown Staunton:  Unique shops and eateries are available in historic downtown Staunton, now decorated with twinkly white lights and Christmas decorations to add a magical touch as you search for that special something for that special someone.

Staunton Christmas Parade: Tonight, November 26, 2011, at 7:00 pm. Join thousands who line the streets to see local entries including floats, high school bands, Christmas entries, and all followed up with Santa Claus himself at the end of the parade.

There's lots to do in the central Shenandoah Valley especially at Christmas. Come join in the fun and festivities!

Staunton 2011 Christmas parade is tonight

A festive atmosphere will take over downtown Staunton tonight as shops sparkle and lights twinkle in storefronts while the parade passes by on Beverley Street. This is always a popular event with the streets crowded four-deep as young and old alike line up to watch the float entries of local churches, businesses, and civic groups, and to hear from local high school bands and wave to friends in the parade.

The parade begins at 7:00 with lineup near the fire station on Augusta Street. The entries will turn left onto Frederick in front of Mary Baldwin College, then right onto Market for one block, and right onto Beverley for several blocks where the largest crowds will be located.

Folks begin lining up an hour ahead of time, and some streets are closed to traffic. Parking will be available at the Wharf parking lot as well as the parking garages on Johnson and New Streets.

Seasonal weather will see children bundled as they wait to see Santa at the end of the parade. Afterward, there is Shenandoah Pizza and Byers Street Bistro and Depot and other local restaurants for hot chocolate or a late supper, and the Split Banana has ice cream treats. Catch the free trolley and ride around the city looking at the Christmas lights, or drive through Gypsy Hill Park where community Christmas displays are set up for all to see.

Christmas in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley ... it doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, November 25, 2011

9/11 Twin Towers steel to be part of George W. Bush Library

"Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended."
- President George W. Bush (9/11/01)

He was a war-time president so it seems only right that a huge chunk of twisted steel from the terrorism attacks on September 11, 2001, will become a permanent part of former President George W. Bush's library located in Texas. The almost-two ton, 17-foot piece of history will be one of the 43,000 artifacts that will be on display once the library opens:
The 16.7-foot, 1.85-ton piece of mangled steel isn’t just any relic from America’s hallowed ground — experts say it’s “impact steel,” struck directly by one of the hijacked jets that slammed into the Twin Towers on 9/11.
The attacks, that killed 3,000 innocent people, molded a presidency and a nation.
[The 9/11 steel] will share top billing with another 9/11 icon — the famous bullhorn Bush used when speaking to rescue workers from Ground Zero three days after the attacks. Several other mementos will also be on display, including Bush’s handwritten notes from his first public statement on the tragedy.

The library and institute are the repository for 70 million pieces of paper and 80 terabytes of electronic data, including 200 million emails. A full-scale reproduction of the Bush Oval Office will be featured, and Laura Bush has created a Texas rose garden and a North Texas native prairie.

But they all pale by comparison to an ugly piece of steel salvaged from the moment that changed a nation, a President, and all of us forever.
9/11 ... may we never forget.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Thursday, November 24, 2011

From Gov. Bob McDonnell ... Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

As we gather today with friends and family to recognize and give thanks for our countless blessings, Maureen and I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving.

This is our second Thanksgiving in the Executive Mansion. It is such an incredible honor to serve as Governor of Virginia, and every day Maureen and I are reminded of the historic nature of our responsibility and opportunity, and we never forget that we would not be in this position without you: your hard work, sacrifices, time, commitment and support. We are thankful and blessed for the trust you have placed in us, and every day I work to honor that trust by remaining focused on building a Commonwealth of Opportunity in Virginia, making it the best place in America to live, work and raise a family.

We are also thankful this weekend for an opportunity to spend time with our a unique way. On Saturday, the Executive Mansion will be, like a lot of Virginia homes, a "House Divided!" We will all be in Charlottesville watching Bobby and Sean's Hoos take on Rachel's Hokies! While this game will determine who wins the ACC Coastal Division, it also should remind us again how fortunate we are to be Virginians. Here in the Commonwealth, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are winning on the field, and off. No matter what side you take in this rivalry, we can all agree that Coaches Mike London and Frank Beamer and their talented student-athletes are tremendous representativesof our state.
We hope you are taking time this weekend, too, to share laughs and good memories with family and friends that you love and care about. In this day and age the time to unwind and enjoy each other’s company is more precious than ever.

Before we settled into the long holiday weekend we did ensure that one tradition continued. Below is the official 2011 Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by our office. If you have a moment, you may enjoy reading it. It reminds us that while all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, only Virginians can take credit for starting the holiday!  Another remarkable fact about our historic Commonwealth.

Again, Maureen and I wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving, and our best wishes for a joyful holiday season.
Bobby and Sean say Go Hoos. Rachel says Go Hokies...
.....and to humor their dad they are letting me add in, as always, Go Irish!
Bob McDonnell
Governor of Virginia 
2011 Thanksgiving Proclamation from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

The cricket who came for Thanksgiving....

We're in the final stages of our Thanksgiving dinner but there's an unexpected and uninvited visitor in the kitchen. As we mash potatoes, baste the turkey, cook the macaroni and cheese, broccoli, green beans, and everything else that is going on the table, a very loud chirp can occasionally be heard.

"What's that noise?" asked one of my sisters a few minutes ago. "That noise that sounds like a cricket."

I just looked at her. "If it sounds like a cricket ... what do you think it is?" She laughed, everyone laughed, and I called it the cricket who came for Thanksgiving. But this cricket had better find his way out the door before tomorrow because, as we all know, Thanksgiving is followed by "Black Friday" and, in this case, it won't mean bargain shopping.

Thanksgiving 2011 ... hope everyone is enjoying family and friends around hearth and home.

Thanksgiving "Fun with Taters" from Hoops & Yoyo

Reprinted from 2008....

So it's Thanksgiving morning and we've got the turkey in the oven cooking, and my Mom, sister, and I have planned the side dishes, bread, dessert ... and then my brother-in-law asks, "Are we having mashed potatoes?"

Some years we have mashed potatoes but most years we have macaroni and cheese, which is what was planned this year. I laughed and asked him did he want mashed potatoes? He just laughed.

Then I slipped out of the kitchen to the office to check my email ... and there was an e-card sent by him, his wife -- my sister-- and their daughter -- SWAC Niece. I opened it ... and laughed my head off! Mashed potatoes, indeed!

Check it out here if you want a good Turkey Day laugh. Be sure to click on the butter sticks for more funny commentary from Hoops and Yoyo.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gov. McDonnell receives annual tax tribute from Pamunkey & Mattoponi tribes

Pictured here (L to R):
Chief Carl Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe; Governor Bob McDonnell; Chief Kevin Brown of the Pamunkey Tribe; Pamunkey Tribal Council Member 
(Photo Courtesy of Michaele White, Governor’s Photographer)

Governor McDonnell joined the Chiefs and members of the Pamunkey and Mattoponi Tribes for the annual Tax Tribute Ceremony at the Executive Mansion today. The Ceremony dates back to the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677, and is an annual Thanksgiving event. Chief Carl Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe and Chief Kevin Brown of the Pamunkey Tribe presented Governor McDonnell with gifts including 2 buck deer, a beaded bolo made by Chief Custalow’s sister and a decorated gourd.

Happy Thanksgiving from George Allen

November 23, 2011

Dear Friends,

Susan and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

We are especially grateful and prayerful for our troops and their families who are always in our hearts and minds as we gather to give thanks for the Freedom we enjoy and they valiantly help protect.

As we sit down tomorrow for our Thanksgiving Dinner, let us remember to pray for the families who are struggling to put food on their table and make ends meet in these difficult economic times.

During this holiday season and beyond, Susan and I encourage everyone to open their hearts, to come together and help their family, friends and people in our communities in their time of need.

May God continue to bless you, your loved ones, Virginia and America.

George Allen

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Patriots for Allen ... over 100 activists endorse

In April of 2010, before he became a candidate for the U.S. Senate, George Allen addressed a gathering of tea party folks in Staunton, Virginia. He brought down the house, something I wrote about in the Washington Examiner ("George Allen brings down the house at Staunton Tea Party"):
"Hello, patriots all!" boomed George Allen at Thursday night's tea party event in Staunton. "Nowhere is it more patriotic than in the Shenandoah Valley!"

Over 500 residents stood and cheered for the still-popular former Virginia governor and U.S. senator, a crowd that was a mix of Republicans, tea party patriots, Constitution Party, libertarians, independents, and even some Democrats who dropped by to check out the event.

Allen was a few minutes late arriving from his previous appearance at the Harrisonburg tea party about 30 minutes away. The crowd waited and cheered when he strode onto the bandstand stage wearing khaki pants and a navy blazer, looking fit and in campaign shape. Rumors had been flying that he would challenge Jim Webb for the U.S. Senate seat in 2012 and, indeed, many in the crowd mentioned "rematch" and "we'll win this time."

His enthusiasm lit up the gathering. He reminded folks of Ronald Reagan's quote about government overreaching: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." The crowd laughed and nodded their heads in agreement. Allen said that Reagan had turned things around with a tax cut, which brought applause, and he added that taxes needed to be lowered so citizens could compete.

"Americans are addicted to freedom!" he added ... and the crowd cheered.
In October 2010, he was a speaker at the Virginia Tea Party convention in Richmond. George Allen was the Republican who brought conservative leadership to Virginia in the 1990s after years of Democratic control, and in January of this year I noted in the Washington Examiner that he was conservative before conservative was cool:
Will he be conservative enough for the tea party? To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, you could say George Allen was conservative before conservative was cool. He would welcome folks at events with his familiar, "Welcome, Patriots All!" and always ended his remarks with, "Stay strong for Freedom!"

He stood for the Second Amendment, and encouraged educational standards at a time when people were concerned about graduates lacking enough knowledge to make it beyond high school. He worked to abolish parole and increase sentences for violent criminals. He also pushed for fiscal responsibility and reduced the size of government in the Commonwealth.
Today, more than 100 "Patriots for Allen" supporters announced their public endorsements of this Virginia leader. The list includes many well-known names from throughout the Commonwealth.

As he has always done, George Allen will continue to lead the fight for states rights, property rights, and restraining the federal government, something tea party patriots recognize as more continue to join the ranks of those who support George Allen for U.S. Senate.

Old friends, good times, and a reminder of difficult economic times

 Hawker Chicken ... tender breast meat wok fried with garlic, red peppers, and scallions in Ken’s legendary sesame zinfandel sauce.

 Sushi Plate ... 7 pieces of chef’s choice sushi and California roll. Saki.

 Sunshine Shrimp ... tempura-fried, topped with toasted coconut and honey, and served with Chardonnay aioli.
 Edamame ... steamed soybeans tossed with sea salt.

Sweet endings ... compliments of the establishment.

The old saying, "You can't go home again," has never been true in my case and last night that was proven once again when childhood friends gathered for good food, drink, and remembering good times when we were growing up in Bon Air, Virginia.

We lived one street apart -- there was a wooded ravine between our houses with a path that neighborhood kids used to get from one street to the other to avoid the busy Forest Hill Avenue. We went to school together and attended the same church on the corner of Forest Hill Avenue and Buford Road, active in the very large youth group of the 1970s singing in the youth choir, attending youth retreats, participating in everything that had to do with Bon Air Baptist Church.

We grew up in a more carefree time than our children, a time when our parents had a looser leash on us and we were free to roam and explore without the fears that are so prevalent today ... and roam is exactly what we did. Our bikes were our chariots to freedom, and we rode for miles to visit friends and explore the James River area and visit the library and buy candy at the Bon Air Pharmacy and meet friends at the community center. Our dinner last night offered an opportunity to laugh at those escapades from a more innocent age.

This friend has been a small business owner in the Richmond area for the past 20 years so conversation turned to the economy and how it has financially affected many businesses, including hers. In the past several years, she has downsized from an office and showroom/warehouse to a warehouse and running the business out of her home. Her business, directly tied to the home building industry, has taken a huge hit with the downturn of the real estate market and the economy. Even with all that, she remained upbeat about the future.

It was a reminder that many are struggling in these difficult times and yet another reason I remain involved in politics. This country was never meant to be run by a nanny government but by the people who take personal responsibility, work long hours, and take chances on business start-ups. Cronyism is not acceptable in our elected officials. They have been elected to represent the citizens, and the citizens are the ones they need to care about instead of wondering how they will be reelected next go round.

Something to think about along with the good memories of old friends....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
21 November 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving proclamation from Virginia's Gov. Bob McDonnell


WHEREAS,  the first permanent English speaking settlement in the New World was established in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607, as Captain John Smith led a group of settlers across the Atlantic on a voyage that would entail much hardship over the coming years, including disease and starvation; and

WHEREAS,  to show their appreciation for the colony’s success and to take stock and give thanks for their own gifts and blessings, and in spite of tremendous adversity, the settlers in Virginia found time to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America at Berkeley Plantation on December 4, 1619; and

WHEREAS,  while reflecting upon the actions taken by the colonists at the first Thanksgiving, we also honor the Indian peoples, for without their presence, the survival of the colonists would have been ever more difficult; and

WHEREAS,  American leaders and citizens have recognized a day of Thanksgiving since our first president, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789,  stating “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor”; and

WHEREAS,  it is a Virginia tradition for our citizens to come together in unity on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks for the great level of serenity, harmony and abundance with which we, as citizens of a free nation, have been blessed; the rule of law by which we peaceably govern ourselves and by which our civil and religious liberties are guaranteed; and the brave servicemen and women of our armed forces who risk their lives to defend the freedoms and blessings we cherish;

NOWTHEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize November 24, 2011 as THANKSGIVING DAYin our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens; and

FURTHERMORE,  I encourage all Virginians to give thanks to our Creator for our plentiful blessings, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the unwavering strength of our families and communities.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Old Order Mennonites in Dayton, Va ... a slower pace

 Dayton, Virginia ... road signs in this Rockingham County community south of Harrisonburg alert motorists that Old Order Mennonites live in the area.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell & Gail R. Aspinwall
20 November 2011