Monday, July 13, 2015 is our new home

We've moved!

Come on over to for all the latest in opinions, thoughts, and news about politics and what's happening in the SWAC -- Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County -- areas of Virginia, as well as photos of the places we travel.

I think you'll enjoy our contributors and guest posters as we continue our journey after nine years participating in the Virginia conservative blogosphere. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE December 2015: In addition to writing at, I have rejoined my colleagues at Bearing Drift as we cover the Commonwealth with the most widespread conservative voice of Virginia.

UPDATE July 2017: My work at has morphed into Editor-in-Chief so come on over and check out where I spend most of my time these days. We cover politics in Virginia and beyond as well as whatever topics our writers want to share. You may read a snow post from me, a book review from someone else, and celebrating the holidays with recipes and menus from another. We've been around for 14 years, a mainstay in the Virginia blogosphere. We'd love to have you check us out.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alabama blogger ordered to pay $3.5 million in defamation lawsuit

By Lynn R. Mitchell

An Alabama blogger has been ordered to pay $3.5 million in settlement after he falsely accused a campaign manager of having an affair with an attorney general candidate that resulted in a son.

Described as one of the worst cases of cyber-bullying, the campaign manager, Jessica Medeiros Garrison who is a Birmingham lawyer, sued the blogger and won, noting, “The absolute and blatant disregard for the truth has to come with consequences” (continue reading here).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Florida may have to decide between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

Jeb Bush 4By Lynn R. Mitchell

With Florida Senator Marco Rubio set to announce today that he is running for U.S. President, it is worth looking at how Republicans in Florida feel about their former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Rubio getting into the same race.

While many would like to see Rubio run for re-election in the senate, if both end up in the presidential race it will mean Floridians must decide between them. (continue reading here....)

Bernie Goldberg: ‘What the media left out of the phony Rolling Stone story’

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Journalist Bernie Goldberg asks some pertinent questions about the Rolling Stone rape story directed at the University of Virginia (see What the media left out of the phony Rolling Stone story). This is the story that Rolling Stone has just shrugged off even after the damning report from Columbia School of Journalism that revealed just about every rule in journalism was broken in the pursuit of a sensationalistic story concerning UVa:

The Rolling Stone story about a student named Jackie who said she was ganged raped at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia is a textbook example of journalistic malpractice. Rolling Stone got just about everything wrong. For openers, there was no gang rape. The reporter didn’t even try to talk to the alleged rapists. And now, a review of the botched story by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism concludes that Rolling Stone failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice.”
And Goldberg’s disbelief is that Rolling Stone seems to have completely overlooked the fact that an entire campus was roiled at a time... (continue reading here....)

Updating BD's Big Line prediction for Sen-24

By Lynn R. Mitchell
Bearing Drift 5
Bearing Drift's "Big Line" predictions have not been updated since March 5, 2015, so I'm going to update Senate District 24. Interestingly, their editorial board got it wrong.

Emmett Hanger was successful in court (by the way, there is no such thing as the "incumbent protection act," a name made up by the 24th legislative committee). Dan Moxley was not on the winning side of the lawsuit that called for a faux convention. Marshall Pattie was able to stay out of the fray but is he too far removed from the action to have a real possibility at winning on June 9?

(Continue reading here....)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mountains, syrup, sheep ... 2015 Highland Maple Festival begins this weekend

By Lynn R. Mitchell
That's my child bonding with a sheep.
It is known as Virginia's Switzerland, this rural, mountainous, southern-most location for gathering maple syrup, and it is right here in our back yard. Just 45 miles west of Staunton, picturesque Highland County hosts its 57th annual Maple Festival during the weekends of (read more with photos at

Saturday, February 14, 2015

‘Broken Together’ … finding hope and inspiration on Valentine’s Day

By Kathy Walton Lafon
Guest Post
Broken Together: As I was delivering singing Valentines yesterday, I was traveling in Augusta County and flipping through radio stations. This song came on and as I listened, I decided I needed to pull off on the country road and really listen. I did … then I had a good cry, blew my nose, and went back to singing love songs.... (read more at

Friday, February 13, 2015

George W. Bush: 'Evil is real'

George W. Bush 34 
By Lynn R. Mitchell
"Evil is real. There is no light grey. Murdering innocent people to move a political point of view has been, is, and always will be evil." -George W. Bush (2015)

Former President George W. Bush had a heaping helping of his usual optimistic leadership advice for an audience earlier this week at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as part of the McLane Lecture series (see Former President George W. Bush visits Central Texas). But he was also a realist about terrorism that continues in today's world.

Tim Tebow hosts 'Night to Shine' Valentine proms tonight for special needs students

Tim Tebow 
By Lynn R. Mitchell

"Night to Shine." Worldwide. 15,000 volunteers. Countless smiles. Overflowing love. Tonight.

Tim Tebow is an impressive young man. Besides his athletic skills on a football field, he has a heart of gold and has proven it throughout the years. As his income has grown, he has shared and given back in many ways, some of which I have written about in the past (see Tim Tebow: Christian, role model, athlete and Tim Tebow Foundation helping Philippines victims and Mother's Day 2012 ... Tim Tebow and his mom). Valentine 2

This Valentine's Day he will once again help others with "Night to Shine" proms (see Tim Tebow's Valentine's game plan: Special needs proms throughout nation):
On Feb. 13, a parade of special guests, each with an entourage and some requiring special accommodations, will appear at the non-denominational church for a night Fasano vows they will never forget. The church is one of dozens across the country taking part in “Night to Shine,” a prom-style evening of dining and dancing for special needs teenagers organized by the foundation of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. The same scenario is playing out at 49 other churches in 26 states as well as Amazing Grace International Ministries, in Nairobi, Kenya, and Ekisa Ministries, in Jinja, Uganda.
Tebow, 27, a devout Christian who quarterbacked the Florida Gators to two national championships and won the Heisman Trophy before a brief NFL career, said the special night will honor teens who struggle with a variety of disabilities.

Hitting the ‘Back Roads’ with Bob Brown and Bill Lohmann

 By Lynn R. Mitchell

 Book Back Roads

I have been wanting a copy of "Back Roads: People, Places and Pie Around Virginia" featuring photos by Bob Brown and narrative by Bill Lohmann, both with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, so for my birthday my step-dad presented a copy with the inscription, "Happy birthday to our ultimate 'back road' traveler."

Bill Lohmann dedicated one of his RTD columns to this work of art from these two friends, writing remembrances in his comfortable story-telling style that has made him a favorite for years (see Lohmann: Bob Brown still focused on work and fun):
It doesn't amaze me so much when we're driving down a winding back road in the hinterlands of Virginia that I can't even find on a map and Bob Brown matter-of-factly says that just around the next bend, there's a terrific little diner that serves the best breakfast (and outstanding pie at lunch). Or just over that hill coming up, on the right, next to a giant oak and across from a swinging bridge, there's a pawn shop where he once found a great deal on a really old pocketknife. Bought it for $10 and later traded it for a small Harley. Or something like that.
No, what amazes me is when we walk into these places and people know him. ... Brown and I have been gallivanting around the countryside - when we can get away with it - since I arrived at The News Leader 25 years ago. I like to tell people we discovered early on that we were a good match because we shared the same ambition: to stay out of the office as much as possible.
The visual imagery of Brown and the verbal imagery of Lohmann. It doesn't get much better than that. I actually talked with Bob Brown about this book -- I believe it was when we were at the U.S. Senate debate at the Greenbriar in July 2014 -- and how much I have always enjoyed his photos from around the Commonwealth. It is a delight to now have "Back Roads" to read and linger over the words and pictures. Now if I can catch up with these two and have them sign it....

Crossposted at

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Eric Cantor, Jeb Bush to host fundraiser in RVA

By Lynn R. Mitchell

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) will benefit from a fundraiser being hosted by former Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush later this month at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. The long-time friends will team up for the February 16th event that was first mentioned by Cantor at an event in January (see Virginia Republicans look to the future).

Cross-posted at

Sunday, January 04, 2015 ... new posts daily

By Lynn R. Mitchell

This is an invitation to come over and visit us at We are a group blog with regular contributors Kurt Michael who is our managing editor, David Karaffa who is on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, Daniel Cortez who is a distinguished Vietnam veteran and award winning writer-broadcaster, and myself. I serve as executive editor and do much of the writing and photography.

We opened up shop in April 2014 and by year's end we had published over 900 posts from the four regular contributors and our 23 guest writers who covered a wide variety of issues.

I started my SWAC Girl blog in February 2006 -- almost nine years ago -- and have been writing on an almost daily basis since. However, I find myself posting less and less at this location since starting in 2014 so we would love to see everyone head on over and check us out where I still post everything from back roads to historical sites along with coverage of political issues from veteran politicos. ... come on over and join us.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas … Day 8: Celebration of Holiday Lights in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Everyone loves the lights of the season so pile the kids in the car and head to Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park “Celebration of Holiday Lights.” Drive around the two-mile loop and gaze, ooh, and ahh over the dozens of Christmas displays set up by area organizations. Each year tens of thousands of vehicles take part in this holiday treat. Open daily now through the New Year, the lights will be on from 5-11 p.m. offering a delightful treat for young and old.... (continue reading here)

Merry Christmas, Stacy ... wherever you are

By Lynn R. Mitchell
Christmas ornament hand-painted by 10-year-old Stacy in 1975.
As I was growing up, a tradition in our family was for my parents to give us ornaments each year from places they had traveled. My husband and I continued the tradition with our children … so we have a number of “special” ornaments that are placed on the tree year after year.

This year was no different. As I carefully unwrapped the tissue paper from around one particular ornament, memories flooded back as I saw the hand-painted ceramic decoration for the tree. It was a jack-in-the-box painted in 1975 by a 10-year-old boy named Stacy. I held the ornament in my hand and remembered back to the days when I worked at Children’s Hospital in Richmond.

Stacy touched my heart more than any other child I came in contact with because of his devilish sincerity. I loved that child. He was from southwestern Virginia, one of many children from a large, down-on-their-luck Appalachian family. As best I can remember, the accident that changed his life occurred when he was playing with his siblings and they tied him to a tree, piled leaves at the base of the tree, and set the leaves on fire. Stacy was horribly burned, so much so that much of both legs and part of one arm had to be amputated. He came to Children’s Hospital for rehabilitation.

The patients at the hospital lived in dorms and received daily treatment as well as schooling. Far.... (continue reading here)

Friday, December 19, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas … Day 7: Holiday offerings at the Augusta County Library

Churchville Branch of the Augusta County Library.

There’s Kindles and laptops and video games and smart phones and every other device available out there but the wonderful thing is that libraries are still as popular as ever. With a wide selection of seasonal reading selections, a trip to the library provides hours of entertainment for kids and parents during school vacation over the holidays. (continue reading here)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Special Forces soldier dies in Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Matthew Ammerman, a native of Noblesville, Ind., was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) when he died Dec. 3, 2014, as a result of wounds received in combat. (continue reading here)

Let’s raise the level of debate and the integrity of our cause

By Benjamin Dessart

While I normally do not give such articles much consideration, the editorial written by the Daily Caller and promoted by Tom White is the most appalling editorial I have read in my time engaged in conservative politics.

Not only are the accusations implied here heinous and logically flawed, they are written (and promoted) in the name of journalism. This article is not news. This article is not journalism. (continue reading here)

‘Daily Caller’ and Virginia blogger stoop to new low regarding UVa ‘Rolling Stone’ article

By Daniel Cortez

In my 45 years as a writer-broadcaster and political media operative, this remains the worst breach of journalistic ethics I have ever seen. I find the author and editors of the Daily Caller reprehensible to suggest, by inference through association, that the son of former Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor had anything to do with the alleged gang rape reportedly occurring at the University of Virginia in 2012 during a fraternity party.

In the past such acts of desperate yellow journalism were frowned upon.... (continue reading here)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

They did it to Bill Bolling, now they’re doing it to Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush. Not conservative enough. Try as I might, it remains impossible to see these two concepts as even remotely related. John Ellis Bush, the second son of George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush, who during his first run for Florida governor in 1994 cheerfully called himself a head-banging conservative, a hang-’em-by-the-neck conservative … who during his second run for Florida governor in 1998 had to craft for himself a more compassionate persona so as not to scare off independent voters … that Jeb Bush has come to be viewed with suspicion by the uber-conservative, Tea Party wing of his Republican Party?
They did it to former Virginia Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling.... (continue reading here)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

24th State Senate race candidate to announce

State Senator Emmett Hanger has not announced if he intends to seek reelection for the 24th Senate District seat that he has held since 1996 but one challenger has already announced and a second is set to make his announcement today. (continue reading here)

Jeb: GOP needs to show it can lead

Jeb Bush came out again on the side of common sense and pragmatic leadership when he addressed The Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting.... (continue reading here)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Republicans most likely to be 2016 GOP nominee

The Hill has their list of 13 Republicans most likely to be nominees for the Republican presidential nomination for 2016 (see 13 Republicans most likely to win WH). I don’t agree with some of their choices but it makes for interesting speculation.

Thirteen — an interesting number. Why not 12 or 14?

They’ve divided their choices into categories beginning with....(continue reading here)

Small Business Saturday is today

It’s Small Business Saturday in Virginia … shop local. Check out the mom-and-pop businesses that.... (continue reading here)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Thanksgiving 2 

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." -- Charles Dickens

The writers at -- Daniel Cortez, David Karaffa, Kurt Michael, and myself -- extend Thanksgiving greetings with gratitude to our readers for helping us become a successful statewide voice in the Virginia conservative blogosphere. We wish you a joyful day with family and friends as America pauses to give thanks for the blessings we all enjoy. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.