Monday, January 31, 2011

WaTimes: "Judge uses Obama's words against him" in health care issue

As noted in the Washington Times, Florida federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled Monday that the health care law (aka ObamaCare) was unconstitutional and wrote:

“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, ‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.


The chilly reception at the White House earlier in this administration may have been a prediction of how this would go ... "Israel shocked by Obama's 'betrayal' of Mubarak."

George Allen comments on Florida federal judge ruling on health care

George Allen Statement on FL Health Care Ruling
- Federal Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional –

Mt. Vernon, VA – U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson has ruled the “individual mandate” portion of the federal health care law unconstitutional, becoming the second federal judge to do so. U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson of Virginia ruled in a similar fashion in December. Senate candidate George Allen today issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling by Judge Roger Vinson in Florida is another victory for the voices of Virginians and Americans who oppose this unfair, anti-job, unconstitutional federal government dictate. The constitutionally sound judgments made by Judge Vinson and Judge Hudson echo what Americans have believed all along – that this health care bill and its odious mandates exceed the constitutional bounds of the federal government.

“Recently Senator Webb said he would ‘prefer’ to let the bill play out in the courts and then ‘adapt.’ It is past time for Senator Webb and his liberal colleagues to “adapt” and work to repeal this monstrosity. Rather than dictates and dependency, we need to replace this massive, expensive experiment with reforms that foster more affordable and accessible health care opportunities for families and small business owners.”

View This Release at
Follow George Allen’s Campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Florida judge rules ObamaCare unconstitutional

Addressing a lawsuit filed by 26 states, a Florida judge today ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional. While discussing it on Fox News, Greta Van Sustern, who is an attorney, called it a huge decision.

Because the original bill had no "severability" clause, the judge had no authority to throw out one part of the law and so, therefore, the entire bill is void.

Stay tuned ... there will be more on this as the ruling is sorted out over the next hours....

Historic blizzard about to hit Midwest?

Those who have read the "Little House on the Prairie" books remember "The Long Winter," Laura Ingalls' remembrance of the hard winter of 1880-81 when the family lived in Dakota Territory. Blizzards hit the little town over and over with deep snows blocking rail lines and cutting the town people off from food and supplies.

The storms lining up this week for the Midwest bring to mind "The Long Winter" because of the warnings from weather forecasters about the intensity of the storm.

Three storms are coming together to form the perfect storm that will eventually involve 31 states with heavy snow, ice, blizzard conditions, and bitter cold. According to AccuWeather:
People across the southern Plains need to take warning and start making preparations, as their first major, immobilizing winter storm of its kind this season is about to unfold.

Treacherous ice and blizzard conditions with up to a foot or more of snow, the worst of which will hit Tuesday into Wednesday, will end up shutting down a large portion of the region from Oklahoma to Missouri and the Great Lakes.

The storm's reach will actually extend even farther than that, spanning from the Rockies to northern Texas and New England. As Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski pointed out Friday, this "Groundhog Day Storm" will affect more than 100 million people.
It looks like the Shenandoah Valley is on the line and may see some icing. WHSV TV-3 has the latest:
Cloud cover stays with us Monday with a chance of freezing drizzle and flurries throughout the day as highs stay near 32 degrees. Overnight lows fall to the mid to upper 20's with continued chances of freezing drizzle and snow flurries. Part two of our system approaches late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Precipitation will start as a frozen wintry mix and change to rain by late Wednesday morning as highs cross the freezing mark. We partially clear out for the end of the week with another system to keep our eyes on for Saturday.
Mother Nature is reminding us that it's still winter....

UPDATE: David sent over this article about the storm and added, "Must be global warming."

What's going on in Egypt?

I have refrained the past few days from writing about the uprising in Egypt because, quite frankly, I don't quite understand all that is going on. All my life there have been sporadic uprisings in the Middle East, confusing events that are difficult to understand.

This past weekend we watched thousands of Egyptians in the streets protesting, heard about some who were rioting, and saw news of looting and vandalism of some of Egypt's prized artifacts. Why would the people vandalize artifacts in a museum that represented their history?

As I've watched, listened, and read, two things appear to become clearer: Mubarak is considered by some as an autocrat ... and a group called the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be at least partially behind the uprising.

Hearing some reports that claim the Muslim Brotherhood is aligned with al Qaida brings chills to my spine. Desire for democracy by the Egyptian people can be understood. However, it brings to mind the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for."

Others appear confused, too ... some say we should protect Mubarak while others want him thrown out. One commenter on a morning television program was concerned that the U.S. would line up against Mubarak who has been a reliable ally and has been one of the few friends to Israel.

ACT for America stands against violence and for a strong backbone for America. On Monday ACT passed along an article by Frank Gaffney titled, "The Muslim Brotherhood is the Enemy." Mr. Gaffney wrote:
In short, the Muslim Brotherhood – whether it is operating in Egypt, elsewhere in the world or here – is our enemy. Vital U.S. interests will be at risk if it succeeds in supplanting the present regime in Cairo, taking control in the process not only of the Arab world’s most populous nation but its vast, American-supplied arsenal. It is no less reckless to allow the Brotherhood’s operatives to enjoy continued access to and influence over our perceptions of their true purposes, and the policies adopted pursuant thereto.
There's calls from rioters that Arab leaders lined up with the United States will be toppled. Chilling words in these unsettled times....

UPDATE: My friend David sent over the following: "I was curious to see if there were any flights out of Cairo available.  There is ONE tomorrow with United.  The price is $2,739." Ouch. Of course, when you think about the value of your life, $2,739 is a bargain...

"The only people who grow old ..."

"The only people who grow old were born old to begin with."
-- Dudley, the angel, in the movie, "The Bishop's Wife"

H/T to Joy

Farm in snowy mountain landscape

Central Shenandoah Valley farm with snow-covered Appalachian Mountains in background.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 January 2011

George Allen ... experienced leadership for the future

Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen ... January 2011.
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell.

- The Once and Future Senator?
- Why I'm Running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia
- George Allen Talks About His Decision to Run for U.S. Senate
- George Allen talks about widening deficit
- George Allen signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge


Family. Faith. Freedom. Football.

The “Four F’s” have shaped George Allen’s entire life.

The son of an NFL coach, George Allen learned early on it was family that would always serve as the one constant “in a life filled with ups and downs, hirings and firings, and moving.”  These days, he sees husband and father as his most rewarding titles.  He’s been married to Susan for nearly twenty-five years.  Allen Family - AboutTogether they raise their three children – Tyler, Forrest and Brooke – in Mount Vernon, Virginia.  And like other parents, they are watching them learn in middle school, head off to college or even enter the world with a degree ready to tackle the exciting challenges ahead.

George grew up in a football family with “grace” before supper and seeing the concept and importance of faith instilled in all the teams his father coached.  From having the Redskins chaplain, Tom Skinner, provide the invocation when he was sworn in as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 67th Governor to continuing to work with local pastors as they serve their communities, George has not lost sight of those guiding principles he learned growing up.

George Allen is fond of telling how the two greatest influences in his life were his parents.  His mother grew up in Tunisia where she experienced the oppressive and “terrifying Axis-occupation during WWII”.  And it was from his mother that he learned the concept and blessings of Freedom.  It’s a concept that would shape his life and help instruct his political philosophy and beliefs.

A self-described “Common Sense Jeffersonian Conservative,” George had the distinction of holding Thomas Jefferson’s seat in the Virginia General Assembly.  As Governor he put into practice many of the ideas and concepts he worked on when he held Mr. Jefferson’s seat.  Allen - Podium - aboutSworn in as Governor in 1994 George set about to bring sweeping reform that would make Virginia a national model in economic development, public safety, education accountability, welfare reform and creative government.  He challenged critics and sentiment that suggested it couldn’t be done, reining in government spending and substantially reducing the size of the state workforce.  And he accomplished his reform agenda with bi-partisan support.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, George continued to advocate for Virginia’s families.   He advocated for the 2001 & 2003 tax cuts that spurred opportunities for more job creation and created the Competitive Caucus to keep the America the “world capitol of innovation”.  George was one of about a dozen Senators to vote against the Bridge to Nowhere.  He looked to make Congress live like families do – within its means – by introducing and advocating for real budget reform including a balanced budget amendment, line item veto, and a paycheck penalty for members of Congress when they fail to pass the budget on time.

Since leaving the U.S. Senate George continued to advocate for issues and ideas he always fought for.  He launched the American Energy Freedom Center, whose mission is to advocate positive ideas for American jobs, economic prosperity and promote increased freedom, opportunity, and competition in the development and use of our vast energy resources.  Reagan - Allen - AboutGeorge also serves as the Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar for the Young America’s Foundation.  Ronald Reagan – one of George’s other political influences – can be credited for getting George involved in politics when Governor Reagan asked him to lead Young Virginians for Reagan in 1976.

Football has always been a central part of George Allen’s life.   He played it at the University of Virginia where he holds a degree “with distinction” in History, as well as a law degree.  And he lived it watching his father coach growing up.  He firmly believes sports is a meritocracy that rewards earned success, teamwork, preparation, competitiveness, perseverance, innovative leadership and hard work – and shows how our government ought to live by some of these principles and characteristics.  In his recently released book, What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports, he presents solutions that can work to put people across America in a position to compete and succeed in achieving their dreams.

Central Shenandoah Valley ... photos while traveling back roads

Western Augusta County ... icy streams, snowy fields, and Appalachian Mountains in the background.
He curiously watched as I took photos.

Ice covered creeks and ponds after days of freezing temperatures.

One of the many historic farms in Swoope.

This Swoope farm isn't far from Buffalo Gap, that western pass through the mountains.

What is missing from this photo is the freezing wind blowing across the field.

Farmers were busy rolling out hay bales for hungry cattle in their shaggy winter coats.

 This sturdy fella had a thick coat of hair for winter temperatures.

 The clouds made an interesting display in the sky ...

 ... and fence rows in the snowy fields caught my eye.

 Wind-sculpted snow banks reflected the coldness in the wind that froze
exposed fingers working with a camera ...
 ... but it was worth feeling the cold wind on my face just to enjoy the magnificance of the distance mountains.

More photos of traveling the snowy back roads can be found here, here, and here.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 January 2011

Washington Examiner's Monday editorial headlines

Government 'investment' doesn't create jobs, the private sector does
Examiner Editorial

"The reality is that every dollar spent by government is one less that is available for the private sector to invest in new businesses and technologies that spur the creation of permanent jobs. Indeed, if increased government spending were the solution to high unemployment, the U.S. economy would now be short of workers."

'Green Chemistry' is California's new job-killer
Hugh Hewitt, Examiner Columnist

"Just like 'global warming' and 'clean energy,' 'green chemistry' is a phrase containing worlds within it, almost all of them dangerous or downright deadly to market-driven innovation and productivity."

Nothing but hot air in 'Gasland'
Mark Hemingway, Examiner Columnist

"After watching 'Gasland,' John Hanger, head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, called the film 'fundamentally dishonest' and 'a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect.'"

We're ignoring China's military buildup at our own peril
James Jay Carafano, Examiner Columnist

"China may have one of the world's largest economies -- but free it is not. Starting some eight years ago, the People's Republic of China reversed the slow but steady market-oriented reforms inaugurated in late 1978."

Schools commit fraud by failing to educate students
Gregory Kane, Examiner Columnist

"I believe citizens should make school systems accountable for doing what they're supposed to do, educate. If the schools don't do that, then they not only haven't done their jobs, but they've also committed blatant fraud."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Shenandoah Valley ... winter 2011: traveling roads less taken

Central Shenandoah Valley farm with Appalachian Mountains in background.

He curiously watched from his snowy field as I took his photo.

The fields and woods were beautiful on a cold winter morning.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference."

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."

A frozen stream on a wintry January day....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 January 2011
Augusta County, Virginia

Snowy railroad tracks through Swoope

Swoope railroad crossing in western Augusta County ... looking west down the tracks toward Buffalo Gap and the Appalachians.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 January 2011

Shenandoah Valley snowy back roads

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 January 2011

Snowy Elliott's Knob

A barn stands in a snowy Augusta County field as the road up Elliott's Knob is visible in the background, part of the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
29 January 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fishersville Mike on DaTech Guy's radio program tonight

Fishersville Mike is taking the SWAC Corps to radio tonight as he appears on DaTech Guy's radio program from 9-10 pm at WCRN radio in Massachusetts. Mike writes:
I'm gearing up for my appearance on DaTech Guy's radio program Saturday night.

Why am I, a lowly blogger from central Virginia, getting the air time in Massachusetts? DaTech Guy asked for some content ideas for his new show back in December and I sent him an email. He asked me to be a guest - along with American Glob - and that's providing content.
Hit it out of the park, Mike!

UPDATE: DaTech Guy writes:
Tonight at 9 p.m. on AM 830 WCRN and DaTechGuy on DaRadio we welcome Fishersville Mike to the show and Aleister of American Glob for his first visit to the station.

We will be talking about the Obama/Reagan myth, The constant harping on conservative women, George Allen running in Va and we’ll touch on Egypt briefly if time permits.

As always you can listen live at the WCRN web site here.

Should government interfere with homeschooling parents because of religious and socialization concerns?

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

A child's education is hanging in the balance as her divorced parents battle over whether she should continue homeschooling or be in public school. For now, she is in a New Hampshire public school at a judge's order and the father wants it to stay that way.

The 11-year-old girl was homeschooled through 4th grade and then ordered into public school because of a lawsuit by the father who objected to the mother educating their daughter at home. Ironically, the parents divorced when the daughter was two months old. According to the First Amendment Center blog:
Religious-freedom groups have trumpeted the cause of Brenda Voydatch of Meredith, who home schooled her 11-year-old daughter, Amanda, from first through fourth grade.

Voydatch claims her rights were violated when a court ordered that Amanda attend public school after the girl’s father, Martin Kurowski, said his ex-wife’s strict Christian teachings were socially isolating their child and they could not settle on an alternative to home schooling.
Voydatch sent her daughter to public school in Meredith for certain classes, such as gym and art, but home-schooled her using education materials from Bob Jones University, a fundamental Christian college in South Carolina.

Family Division Judge Lucinda Sadler ordered in 2009 that Amanda begin attending public school that fall after the parents failed to agree on a private or parochial school. The judge said the ruling did not infringe on the parents’ religious freedom because “both are free to provide religious guidance” to their child.
The "socialization" excuse was used as part of this case, something heard numerous times during my 16 years of educating my two children at home. My response to people who asked about socialization was that I was surprised their first questions wasn't about the child's education.

My next question would be: what kind of socialization did they think homeschool students were missing? While I realize there are numerous positives with public school, many students are also exposed to smoking, underage drinking, drugs, and premarital sex. There is also the violence that has broken out at public schools throughout the years?

While serving as president of the local homeschool group in the central Shenandoah Valley, the most phone calls ever fielded came in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado that took place on April 20, 1999. On that day, two high school students killed 13 people -- 12 students and one teacher, sending ripples of terror across the nation. My phone rang off the hook for weeks as distraught parents turned to homeschooling.

So what would possess a judge to pluck a child from her familiar learning environment and plunk her into the middle of a public school classroom?

This case has shaped up to be a question of religious and educational freedom, and may set a dangerous precedent to private religious schools in America. A great many of the home school students encountered throughout the years used at least part of the Bob Jones curriculum that was used by Mrs. Voydatch.

A ruling in this case is due in a few weeks. If this judge's order is upheld to keep Amanda in public school, that will be a red flag to homeschoolers, private, and parochial schools that education freedom is under fire.

In the center of this case is the question of whether homeschool students are socialized and the answer is yes. My oldest child was educated at home from grades 2 through 12 and went on to graduate from James Madison University in 2007 with a major in computer science and a minor in creative writing. My youngest child was homeschooled in grades K-12 and currently attends Mary Baldwin College in Staunton working toward a business major.

The New Hampshire case is an example that it is time for the stereotypes about homeschool students to end.

GWB ... the definition of 'class'

"I don't want to be on these talk shows giving my opinion, second-guessing the current president. I think it's bad for the country, frankly, to have a former president criticize his successor. It's tough enough to be president as it is without a former president undermining the current president."
-- Former President George W. Bush

UPDATE: Pirate's Cove writes, "George Bush proves again the kind of classy guy he is."

Chesterfield County real estate assessments down 3% ... is anyone listening in Augusta County?

A recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted:
Chesterfield County's real estate tax base declined 3.3 percent last year, the county announced in a statement today.

It was the second year in a row that the value of all real property in Chesterfield has declined, driven primary by a 5.0 percent drop in residential properties in 2010, following drops of 1.5 percent in 2008 and 4.9 percent in 2009, the county said.

The county attributed the decline to softness in area labor markets, sluggish home sales and "the ever present specter of foreclosure activity."
Is anyone ... anyone ... listening in Augusta County?

Friday, January 28, 2011

25 years ago ... remembering Challenger

Has it really been 25 years since the Challenger shuttle exploded in mid-air? Seven lives were lost, the tragedy was caught live on TV, and Americans were shocked at the disaster that had taken place in front of their eyes.

Space launches had become so routine to most people by the time Challenger came around that it rarely caused much excitement. Indeed, on that fateful day of January 28, 1986, it was cold and wintry in rural North Carolina, just as it was cold at the site of the launch in Florida. At home with my two-year-old son, I remembered the NASA launch was taking place that morning so turned on the television to see how it was going.
So begins my post today at the Washington Examiner ... "Challenger 25 years later ... 'Obviously  a major malfunction.' "

Civility? Remember this assault on Ronald Reagan?

Just add it to the list of "civility" from the left....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Augusta County public schools closed Friday

Augusta County public school students will have an extra long weekend after missing the past two days of school due to ice and snow. WHSV TV-3 is reporting they will be closed on Friday. Here's the list of closed and delayed openings:

Augusta County Schools: Closed Tomorrow
Highland County Schools: Delayed 2 hours
Page County Schools: Closed Tomorrow
Rockbridge County Schools: 2 hour delay using snow routes
Staunton City Schools: Delayed 2 hours

From fellow SWAC blogger and artist friend....

Bob working on church mural ... 2010.

From fellow SWAC blogger and artist friend Bob Kirchman at The Journey....

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist." -- Louis Nizer

Staunton's watering can in the snow

It's Staunton's water can at the railroad overpass on Greenville Avenue.
Photo by Jim Rimel ... January 27, 2011.

Augusta Board of Supervisors meeting TONIGHT

Because of the heavy snowfall on Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors meeting got postponed from Wednesday night to Thursday night at 7:00 pm at the Government Center in Verona. Hope to see fellow citizens taking part in local government.

Tonight ... 7 pm ... Verona Government Center ... Augusta Board of Supervisors meeting. See you there!

Sunrise after the snow ... winter wonderland in Shenandoah Valley

Thursday morning's sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains after Wednesday's snowstorm. This view is from our deck.
Daylight brings a beautiful winter wonderland of snow-flocked trees and 10" of snow on the ground.
Snow flakes glisten Wednesday night. Photo taken from front porch.
Tree limbs droop under heavy, wet snow.
"It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness." Our electricity went out at 4:35 Wednesday afternoon and finally returned during the night. Candles, flashlights, and battery-operated lanterns brightened our night, and the woodstove kept us warm.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
26-27 January 2011