Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Republicans across the nation call on Santorum to stop teaming up with Democrats

In a national phone conference Wednesday afternoon, prominent Republicans called on presidential candidate Rick Santorum to stop teaming up with Democrats.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, Idaho Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Luna, and Former United States Treasurer Bay Buchanan each provided statements and then answered questions from reporters on the call.

With the balance of Republican primaries still to come and Super Tuesday looming less than a week away, there was an overall disappointment that a Republican presidential candidate would openly invite Democrats to participate in a Republican primary.

The Washington Post had earlier reported:
Santorum himself has defended the calls in recent days, arguing that they were targeting conservative Democrats rather than liberal voters.

But the tune is different from the one Santorum was singing last month, when he told Minnesota voters on a conference call that “states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries.”
That was noted by Sununu who added that Santorum was showing his true colors by taking a page directly out of the Democratic political playbook.

Alaska's Treadwell dryly commented that the old saying was politics makes for strange bedfellows, and that Rick Santorum was really choosing strange bedfellows in the Michigan primary. Concerned because his state was coming up on a caucus next week, he said the worry was that Democrats would do the same thing in Alaska that they had done in Michigan.

The Santorum campaign robocalls urged Democrats to cross party lines. Exit polls showed that one in every 10 voters were Democrats who voted for Santorum or one of the other Republican candidates. When eyebrows were raised by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and other Republicans as well as the Romney campaign, Santorum's national press secretary stood by the decision.

Santorum lost in Michigan even with the help of Democrats but will the robocalls to Democrats hang around Santorum's neck like an albatross?

Georgia Attorney General Olens commented that at the last debate each candidate was asked for a word that best described them. Santorum picked "principled." A principled Republican, Olens noted, wouldn't ask for Democratic votes.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

February 29, 2012 ... Leap Day!

It only comes around once every four years as an adjustment to our calendars. So what's so special about Leap Day?

A long-time tradition, perhaps Irish in origin, was that February 29th was the only time a woman could propose to a man.  In the 1930s it became known as Sadie Hawkins Day when the girls could ask the boys out and, in schools throughout the nation, there were Sadie Hawkins Day dances that operated on that premise.

For those with birthdays on February 29th, it's a chance to celebrate on the actual day. Leap Day babies, known as "leaplings" or "leapers," often have fun with their birth age.

For all it's a day that doesn't come around very often. This year it's on a Wednesday but on years when it falls on the weekend, some celebrate with parties and other special occasions.

Leap Day 2012 ... enjoy!

Romney wins ... will Santorum pay?

Michigan was a must-win for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. After all, it was his home state where his dad once served as governor.

Going into Tuesday, the pundits were dwelling on the fact that challenger Rick Santorum was surging ahead in the polls, and before voting places even opened Romney was being written off by some.

As the polls closed Tuesday night and the numbers began trickling into major news networks, it was obvious from the start that Team Romney had handily won Arizona.

So what happened in Michigan that caused Romney to win by three percent instead of a larger margin?

This article from the Detroit News probably explains it as well or better than most. Then there was the crossing of political lines. Remember "Operation Chaos" in 2008 when Rush Limbaugh urged Republicans to vote in Democratic primaries against  Hillary Clinton? The slogan was, "Anyone but Hillary."

In Michigan, Democrats -- with help from Rick Santorum -- played their own "Operation Chaos" as Democrats were urged by Santorum campaign robocalls as well as Democratic operatives to vote for anyone but Mitt. Exit polls showed that one out of every ten voters was a Democrat.

Democrats admitted mounting a campaign against Romney by voting for Santorum and Ron Paul. However, those same Democrats also admitted they will be voting for Barack Obama in November.

The contest continues ... but at what cost to Romney, Santorum, Paul, and Newt Gingrich?

Will Santorum face repercussions from Republicans unhappy at  his campaign's blatant partnership with Democrats? RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has already made it known that he was not a fan of Santorum's tactics. Will it become an albatross around Santorum's neck as Romney and others point out not only the fact that Democrats were urged to cross over but also that Santorum still lost?

The win was probably a bigger boost for Romney than the mainstream media or Santorum supporters want to admit. Super Tuesday, coming up on March 6 and including Virginia without Santorum on the ballot, will help tell that tale.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U.S. House schedule for Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....


On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. First votes expected: 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

One Minute Speeches (15 per side)

H.R. 1837 - San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes / Natural Resources Committee)
The rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendments:
Rep. Tom McClintock Manager’s Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Mike Thompson / Anna Eshoo Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Jerry McNerney Amendment #3 (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Jerry McNerney Amendment #4 (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. John Garamendi Amendment #9 (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Grace Napolitano Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. John Garamendi Amendment #8 (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Markey / Thompson (CA) / Matsui Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. John Garamendi Amendment #7 (10 minutes of debate)
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 3902 - To amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to revise the timing of special elections for local office in the District of Columbia, as amended (Sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton / Oversight and Government Committee)

2) S. 1134
- St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act (Sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee / Natural Resources Committee / Budget Committee)

3) H.Res. 556
- Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joseph Pitts / Foreign Affairs Committee)
Special Order Speeches

Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Markup of “H.R. 452, the Medicare Decisions Accountability Act of 2011” (Wednesday, February 29, at 10:00 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Mitt Romney wins Michigan, Arizona GOP primaries

Good news for Mitt Romney supporters ... he has won both the Michigan and Arizona Republican primaries. Go, Mitt!

Other news today: Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced today she is retiring from the U.S. Senate. There are fears the GOP will lose that seat in the liberal northern state.

Afton Mountain ... still in decline

February 2012 ... Afton is still run down. Photo by Dr. Mark Robbins.

Photo by Dr. Mark Robbins
Afton Mountain is still in decline.

In 2006, there was news that Afton was going to be renovated. However, in March of 2008 I posted photos of the rundown condition of Afton Mountain located at the intersection of I-64 and Rt. 250. It's a beautiful location high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains looking into the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Rockfish Valley to the east.

A 2004 arson fire had gutted many of the abandoned buildings, leaving charred shells of motel rooms that once graced the mountainside. Owned by Charlottesville businessman Phil Dulaney, there have been rumors for years of revitalizing the area.

At the juncture of the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, tourists pass by throughout the year. The Skyline Drive has a reported 1.5-2 million visitors annually. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited national parkway in the country with over 17 million visitors.

Instead of a restaurant or nice overnight accommodations, tourists see burned and abandoned buildings on Afton when they come through this area of Virginia. With the tourism office located in the parking lot of the rundown motel that at one time was a Holiday Inn, there is no way someone passing through looking for travel information would miss the sad decline of Afton Mountain.

A biker responded to my original post, commenting that he regularly biked from Charlottesville to Afton, and that it would be nice to have a place to eat and relax before the return trip. Dr. Mark Robbins, who still bikes throughout the Valley and points east, took the above photos earlier this month. "It's still a mess," he noted.

Staunton resident Bob Kirchman saw my posts about Afton and used his talent as an architectural renderer to come up with some ideas for Afton, playing on the idea that it could become an active village at that halfway point between Staunton and Charlottesville. Using private investments and drawing from a multitude of ideas, Afton could be the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley.

Along with a market place, service station, and cafe, imagine the possibility of having year-round living with the convenience of a short commute to Charlottesville or Waynesboro/ Staunton by way of I-64 yet the beauty of living on the mountain. There could also be guest accommodations for the thousands of travelers who pass that way annually. Ample snow removal equipment would provide ready access 24/7 for residents and visitors.

Think of the jobs that would be created during the construction phase of this vision, something that is badly needed in these difficult economic times. Waynesboro has 7.9% unemployment so a project like this could provide badly needed jobs for many and be profitable for the person who owns the property.

Think of the legacy of Afton. It could return to its glory again ... a living, thriving village of homes, commerce, and tourism ... a beautiful oasis in the sky. As a go-to location for locals from both sides of the mountain, it could be the place for dinner, dessert, a romantic overnighter, or a place to watch sunsets and the beauty of the mountains.

Afton Mountain ... the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, the Daughter of the Stars.

- Afton Mountain: Rundown gateway to the Shenandoah Valley
- Renovate Afton Mountain
- World class entrance to Shenandoah

RC Poll: George Allen up 8% over Kaine

Great news this morning for Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen who has pulled away from Democrat Tim Kaine in the latest Roanoke College poll:
Republican George Allen has opened an eight-point lead (45%-37%) on Democrat Tim Kaine in a likely November matchup for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia according to The Roanoke College Poll.
Expected to be the battle of the titans, Virginia's senate race is between two former governors who must make it through their Party primaries. However, they are expected to be the candidates.

Bearing Drift colleague Shaun Kenney posted the poll results and noted:
Allen on the economy. Kaine all over the map (and losing). There’s your takeaway.
George Allen has been crisscrossing the Commonwealth talking jobs, economy, and energy with his Blueprint for America's Comeback.

Perhaps Tim Kaine needs to rethink his undying support of President Barack Obama's overreaching government policies and do less finger-pointing.

Remember when? 'Harris Corporation to bring 100 high-tech jobs to Harrisonburg, Va.'

The news that Harris Corporation is closing its Harrisonburg, Va, office made me think about their announcement in 2010 that they would bring 100 jobs to the city....

With Harrisonburg's James Madison University (JMU) School of Integrated Science and Technology (CISAT) cranking out computer-savvy students with each graduating class, the announcement that Harris Corporation will be opening a cyber location offering 100 new high-tech jobs in this central Shenandoah Valley city is good news.

Trading as NYSE:HRS, the Harris Corporation, headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. Employing almost 15,000, nearly 7,000 of those are engineers and scientists who help develop communications products, services, and cyber technology, generating approximately $5 billion in annual revenue. Harris currently employs 1,900 in Lynchburg and Northern Virginia.

The Harrisonburg location will be part of the latest expansion of Harris' Cyber Integrated Solutions, providing customers with an integrated offering of assured infrastructure, managed security, and applications and services delivered as a secure, trusted cyber solution.

This was the latest in jobs announcements made by Governor Bob McDonnell who commented about Harris Corporation's decision to locate in Harrisonburg:

“Harris Corporation already has operations in several other Virginia localities and will further grow its presence with the expansion of its Cyber Integrated Solutions business. The state’s business-friendly climate coupled with the region’s proximity to Harris’ federal customers and the availability of a highly trained cyber workforce were additional deciding factors. We’re pleased Harris Corporation has decided to expand in the Commonwealth.”

Anticipating the move to Harrisonburg, Harris Cyber Integrated Solutions president and general manager Dale Meyerrose observed:

"Cyber is in our DNA, and we have the deep knowledge and experience in a number of vertical markets to both manage and add value to mission-critical systems. Virginia's economic incentives and business climate allow Harris to make this kind of substantial long term investment with confidence. This project will add jobs in the state of Virginia and add value for our customers while improving their cyber capabilities."

As for Harrisonburg and the JMU computer grads, any high-tech jobs are a welcome addition in a job market that often sees them leaving the area to find employment in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and beyond.

My post at the Washington Examiner from July 2010

Harris Corporation to close Harrisonburg, Va, office

It was a short honeymoon for Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Harris Corporation.

Just a year-and-a-half ago, Harris announced it was opening a division of its Cyber Integrated Solutions in Harrisonburg, a branch that provided customers with internet and infrastructure security, and would bring 100 high tech jobs to the area.

Now the company is closing its Cyber Integrated Solutions branch, resulting in the layoffs of 150 employees in  Virginia, DC, and Florida. The Harrisonburg location will lay off 60 employees.

2012 celebrity cast for 'Dancing With the Stars'

The new cast of 2012 "Dancing With the Stars" was announced this morning on ABC's "Good Morning America" (listed in the order they were introduced):

Jack Wagner - actor on General Hospital, singer
Melissa Gilbert - "Laura" from "Little House on the Prairie"
Donald Drive - Green Bay Packers
William Levy - Telenova star
Sherri Shepherd - co-host of "The View"
Katherine Jenkins - opera star
Gavin Degraw - singer
Martina Navratilova - tennis player
Roshon Fegan - Disney star
Maria Menounos - TV host, teen beauty queen
Jaleel White - "Steve 'Did I do that' Urkel"
Gladys Knight - empress of soul, 8-time Emmy winner

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shenandoah National Park prepares for spring openings

The unusually mild winter of 2011-12 has seen many hikers in Shenandoah National Park throughout December, January, and February. During the cold weather months, Elkwallow, Pinnacles, South River, and Dundo Picnic Grounds have remained open.

For those who are looking for more services, there's not much longer to wait.

Big Meadows Wayside located next to the Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center will reopen on Friday, March 23.

Skyland Resort reopens on Thursday, March 29.

The Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center, Big Meadows Campground, and Big Meadows Picnic Grounds will reopen on Friday, March 30 along with the Big Meadows shower and laundry facilities.

Big Meadows Lodge will reopen Wednesday, May 16.

Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, Lewis Mountain Campground, cabins, and camp store, and Lewis Mountain Picnic Grounds will reopen on Friday, April 6.

On Friday, April 20, Elkwallow Wayside will reopen. Loft Mountain Wayside will reopen on Friday, April 27.

Loft Mountain Campground and camp store along with the shower and laundry facility will reopen on Friday, May 11. Matthews Arm Campground also reopens on May 11.

Facilities will remain through Fall 2012.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

George Allen: The statesman shines at Central Virginia Lincoln-Reagan Dinner

Susan and George Allen were in familiar territory Saturday night as they mingled with friends and supporters at the Central Virginia Lincoln-Reagan Dinner that took place in Chesterfield County. Comfortable in the atmosphere, the Allens smiled and posed for photos and talked one-on-one, remembering names (a talent that still amazes me) and discussing issues and exchanging stories from the past.

Bearing Drift colleague Mike Fletcher said it best in his post about the dinner: George Allen is a statesman.

There is finger pointing from those who accuse him of being "establishment" because of his years of service in the Commonwealth of Virginia but it's always selective finger pointing as they conveniently overlook other long-serving legislators. I maintain that George Allen was conservative before conservative was cool.

Virginia is the better for Governor Allen's time in public service, and that was evident from Dr. Bob Holsworth's introduction at Saturday's dinner. Dr. Holsworth, formerly a professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the Virginia Tomorrow blog, offered what Mike described as a glowing introduction of the former Delegate, Congressman, Governor, and U.S. Senator, and his accomplishments while Governor that included abolition of parole and welfare reform. Mike added, "And in saying that history will likely view Allen as one of Virginia's most prominent Governors, Holsworth stopped just short of an endorsement."

My mom was equally complimentary of Governor Allen as she noted:
Dr. Robert Holsworth introduced the five candidates for Senate who were at the dinner last night and each one had nine minutes to speak.  Allen was last and Holsworth mentioned that he had met Allen when he was Governor.  When Allen finished his remarks, he received a BIG round of applause, as always.
In nine minutes, George Allen gave hope for the future and a reason to vote for him to make a change in  Washington.

Once representing the people of Albemarle County in the House of Delegates seat held by Thomas Jefferson, George Allen's common sense has served him well as a leader for Virginia. His Blueprint for America's Comeback shares his "vision of achieving the American Dream [that] has been badly shaken by our struggling economy, falling home values, and a government that borrows $40 for every $100 it spends."

As Mike wrote at Bearing Drift, "We know this man. We’ve worked for this man. And we know what he stands for. ... Seeing the five candidates together merely served to reassure me that I’ve been right all along."


Sunday, February 26, 2012

U.S. House schedule for Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

On Monday, 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. 1433 - Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012 (Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner / Judiciary Committee)

2) Concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 347
- Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney / Judiciary Committee)
Special Order Speeches
Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Field Hearing on “Natural Gas—America’s New Energy Opportunity: Creating Jobs, Energy and Community Growth” (Monday, February 27th, at 9:00 a.m.)
Printable PDF

Central Virginia GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner recognizes my mom

Saturday's Central Virginia Lincoln-Reagan dinner was a sold-out event full of familiar Republican faces and featuring all five of the U.S. Senate candidates. My parents, long-time volunteers for the Chesterfield Republicans -- they were there when Dick Obenshain was killed in a plane crash, and when Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner were campaigning -- attended.

Chesterfield County Republican Committee (CCRC) Chairman Donald Williams welcomed everyone, announced table sponsors, and then made one more announcement that was personal to my family.

Mom noted:
"Donald introduced various people, a lot of invited guests from around the state, and at the end, he said that before he finished he wanted to introduce someone who had been gone but was back.

"At that point, I was wondering who had been away and if it was someone who had moved back from somewhere. Then he said something about 'she' has been sick and I got an uneasy feeling because I realized it was I that he was talking about. He continued by saying 'she' has very active in the Republican Party for a long time and is his favorite Republican.

"Then he held him arm out toward me and said 'Welcome back, Eula!' There was a round of applause. It was humbling and heart-warming."
A big thanks to Chairman Williams for his kind words about Mom. She was seriously ill the end of November through January, missing Republican committee meetings and events. Active volunteers even in their 80s, my folks were guests of their Del. Manoli Loupassi, and the "welcome back" from Donald was very much appreciated. Thanks to everyone on the Chesterfield County Republican Committee for their prayers, food, cards, and calls while Mom was ill ... it was appreciated by all in our family.

I didn't write at the time about that rough patch in our lives.  However, I wrote this post because of my gratitude to Donald for his kindness in recognizing Mom. An illness like that leaves life-altering affects on people and a rearranging of our priorities in life. Thanks again to the Chesterfield County Republicans ... they call my mom an inspiration. I concur.

Read more about the dinner from Bearing Drift colleague Mike Fletcher who ended his post by noting:
"In contrast to the previous four [GOP U.S. Senate candidates], George Allen took the stage with the presence of a statesman.  We know this man.  We’ve worked for this man.  And we know what he stands for. ... In full disclosure, I’ve been in George Allen’s camp since well before he announced.  Seeing the five candidates together merely served to reassure me that I’ve been right all along."
Interestingly enough, my mom told me, "George Allen was a hit, as usual."

A statesman ... that's one reason the A-Team is so loyal to George Allen.

Watch the Oscars? No, thanks

Tonight is Oscar night with the red carpet, movie stars, limos, and over-the-top fashions ... and I won't be watching. Call me out-of-the-loop if you want but the Oscars lost me years ago. Honestly, once we had children, movie dates became a rare commodity because it was more complicated than when we were single or "WC" ... "without children."

Once we had babies, a night out at the movies involved the cost of a babysitter tacked onto the cost of the movie and, quite honestly, we were doing well to keep our financial heads above water at that point.

As the years went by, we got used to not seeing the latest movies out of Hollywood. Besides, there weren't that many we wanted to see and the ones we were interested in were picked up when they hit the video stores.

This year is no exception. Out of all the movies nominated for Oscar, I've seen exactly one: The Help. That's a better track record than in past years. My sister lent me the book and I was hooked and actually bought the DVD at Thanksgiving. I waited, however, until the Christmas holiday to watch it at my mom's house with family around. We really enjoyed that movie and a couple of weeks ago I watched it again.

I noticed someone else will not be watching the Oscars tonight....

Meanwhile, I'm curled up watching The Holiday, a fun light-hearted movie from 2006 starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black and, even though its time frame is Christmas, that doesn't matter. I could watch Christmas movies year round.

Enjoy the Oscars!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This morning's sunrise and dusting of snow

Yesterday the high temperature reached 75 degrees and then a cold front came through the Shenandoah Valley with temps dropping throughout the afternoon along with high winds. This morning we were a little surprised to see a dusting of snow as the sun rose over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The whacky winter weather of 2012 continues....

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
25 February 2012

A special place ... a special occasion

These views are unforgettable....

The scenic location of SWAC Daughter's wedding that is to take place later this year. With its top-of-the-world views and breath-taking scenery, it will provide an unforgettable site for this special occasion shared with family and friends.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Rural stop sign ... 'Cow in the road!'

 When driving the back roads in any rural area, it's not unusual to see cows that escaped through a fence. This heifer was standing in the middle of the road ... the barn was to the right of the photo out of frame.

Two other heifers were on the road side of the fence but, as is common, they were hanging around because the mama cow was on the other side. It reminded me of the days when we lived on Corey-Dan Farm in North Carolina, and the knocks on the door in the middle of the night when a passerby found Simmental cows on the hard surface road. We would throw on clothes and head out to get them back through the hole in the fence or drive them up the driveway and in through the gate, then repair the weak spot in the fence. It was irritating at the time but, looking back, those were fun days.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
23 February 2012

2 more Americans killed in Afghanistan ... where's our apology from Karzai?

With two more killings of Americans in Afghanistan, following two U.S. troops who were killed a few days ago -- one from Roanoke, Va, who was a family member of Bearing Drift colleague Ken Falkenstein -- I have to say that former Green Beret and war journalist/photographer Michael Yon has a point in his Facebook status update this morning:
Two US Officers Killed

Just got a note from Kabul that we lost two officers to a shooting in Kabul. Apparently another insider attack.

This American demands an apology from Karzai for all of the insider attacks killing Americans and our Coalition partners. If Karzai refuses to apologize, we should cut off aid before 01 March.

Discontinue all operations not directly related to counterterrorism. Relax rules of engagement to what is permitted within the Geneva Conventions. Utterly destroy Taliban and other enemy sanctuary using open warfare. Discontinue all COIN work. Make the enemy afraid to mention our names for fear of causing us to appear.

When we leave Afghanistan, the enemy should be completely humiliated and never in question about who was put in their place. There are many peaceful and very good Afghans. They, too, will suffer if we leave the Taliban and other enemies in a proud state.
I am still disturbed that President Barack Obama apologized to Afghanistan after two of our soldiers were killed and, since then, two more apologies have been offered up by our government because of the accidental burning of Qurans.

As I wrote yesterday, no one deserves to be killed over the burning of a book ... any book. Ever. Two U.S. troops and two American advisers are now dead at the hands of supposedly-friendly Afghans, and the Taliban calls for more killings as they incite crowd riots shouting, "Death to America."

Remind me again that Islam is a religion of peace....

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Augusta resident Tom Kelly tries out today for Olympic shooting team -- UPDATED

UPDATE 2/25/12 at 6:00 pm: Tom posted the following on his Facebook status: "Back from the Olympic trials. I placed 47th in the nation but its not high enough to go to London. I know now what I have to do so I will be going back in four years to try again! I think next time I will make it. Thanks for all of your support while I was there! All of my friends and family mean more to me than any Olympic gold medal. You guys are awesome."

Placing 47th in the nation is pretty impressive. Great job, Tom!

End of update----------------------

Tom Kelley has bragging rights for life. One day he will share with his children and grandchildren that he once tried out for the United States Olympics.

Kelley, 21, who lives in the Verona area of Augusta County, Virginia, is at Camp Perry, Ohio, this weekend along with 700 others from across the country as they pursue their dreams of becoming members of the U.S. Olympic Air Rifle Shooting Team.

The opportunity to compete came out of a mid-Atlantic shooting match at Quantico, Virginia, in 2011 where Tom shot a perfect score. A huge trophy from that match sits in his living room along with the framed target to prove the deed. 

Tom drove to Ohio on Thursday and spent Friday practicing  for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Airgun before competitive shooting begins this morning with men and women competing in 10m Air Rifle and Air Pistol categories.

Scores will be tallied after today's competition and USA Shooting will announce six athletes on Sunday who will make up the U.S. Olympic Team with two on the 10m Air Rifle Team, two on the Women's 10m Air Rifle Team, and two on the Men's 10m Air Pistol Team. Nominees will be announced at an awards ceremony tomorrow evening.

Tom has had plenty of practice shooting air rifles. He spent years, beginning when he was ten years old, with the Augusta County 4-H Sports Shooting Club that met bi-weekly, honing his skills with air rifles under the leadership of instructor Don Studer with assistance from local volunteers such as his dad, Terry Kelley, Bill Mitchell, Art Salatin, and other dads who had children participating in the program.

A homeschooled student in grades K-12, Tom attends Blue Ridge Community College and spends numerous volunteer hours, along with his family, in community service. Tom is a volunteer firefighter with Augusta County's Company 10 Fire Department along with his dad who is also a volunteer firefighter. His brother is a paramedic who drives an ambulance for S.A.R.S., and his mom is also a paramedic.

Last fall, Tom volunteered as campaign manager for Independent candidate David Karaffa who won election as an Augusta County supervisor representing Beverley Manor, the district where Tom lives.

All athletes nominated this weekend to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Tom Kelley listened while attending the February 22, 2012, Augusta County supervisors meeting.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
22 February 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Do you remember Muggsy Bogues?

I like watching "The Five" on Fox News Channel. This group of five commentators that comes on in the 5:00 pm time slot, added when Glenn Beck was dropped eight months ago, discusses topical issues on a daily basis. Today while watching the Friday "Five," they were discussing the NBA and the name Muggsy Bogues came up.

Muggsy. He is well known to my family ... we loved Muggsy in the 1980s and '90s. He was an original member of the Charlotte Hornets when they were in Charlotte, NC, a "small" city in NBA terms, that won a coveted NBA franchise, much to the delight of Carolinians for miles around who were grateful to owner George Shinn. He never gave up the dream that if he brought it, the fans would come. And come, they did, young and old alike, even having a hand in naming the team.

We lived an hour north of Charlotte and the Hornets, who played at the Charlotte Coliseum built just for them, were our team. North Carolina native Alexander Julian designed the uniforms, a purple and teal design that was immediately recognizable by everyone and made the Hornets apparel some of the hottest and most sought-after in the NBA.

In a world where 6 feet 7 inches is considered average, Muggsy, at 5 feet 3 inches, was the shortest NBA player ever. A native of Baltimore, he attended college at Wake Forest University and set a record for assists, making a name as a speedy, accurate point guard who could dribble circles around his much-taller opponents.

Drafted out of Wake Forest by the Washington Bullets, Muggsy got snatched up by the Hornets when they were formed in 1988. From Wikipedia:
The Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets were set to enter the NBA for the 1988–89 NBA season. Despite their weakness at the point guard, Bogues was left unprotected by the Bullets. On June 22, 1988 the Hornets selected him in the expansion draft. As Bogues settled in Charlotte, he established himself as an exceptional passer, a great ball-stealer, and one of the fastest on court.

Bogues spent ten years in Charlotte as the Hornets, led by Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, became one of the most popular teams in the NBA and a perennial playoff contender. Bogues was one of the most popular players in Hornets history, despite the fact that he never averaged more than 11.2 points per game in a season.

He is the Hornets' career leader in minutes played (19,768), assists (5,557), steals (1,067), turnovers (1,118), and assists per 48 minutes (13.5). Bogues held the Hornets' single-game record of 19 assists, broken by Chris Paul (another player from Wake Forest) on Nov. 7, 2007. He also held the Hornets' postseason-game record of 15 assists, but that record was also broken on April 22, 2008 by Paul, when he dished out 17 assists in the Hornets' win over the Dallas Mavericks.
We had the pleasure of attending some Hornets games during the years we lived in Carolina, and I can still remember our young son standing and enthusiastically cheering on his beloved Hornets from about the age of five through age 12 when we moved back to Virginia.

In 1996 when Whoopie Goldberg was in Charlotte to film the hilarious and heart-warming basketball movie Eddie, Muggsy had a cameo part. The public was invited to participate as extras in the movie and they packed the coliseum to be part of the scenes.

One thing's for sure: anyone who lived through those early years of the Hornets basketball franchise never forgot the original players:
1988-89: Charlotte Stocks Roster With Veterans

Unlike many expansion franchises that invest in the future with a team composed entirely of young players, Charlotte stocked its inaugural roster with several veterans in hopes of putting a competitive lineup on the court right away. The team's expansion draft picks included 6-5 Dell Curry of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who developed into one of the NBA's best sixth men.

The Hornets also acquired 6-10 Dave Hoppen from the Golden State Warriors, the Utah Jazz's Rickey Green, and 5-3 Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who had just finished his rookie season with the Washington Bullets. Charlotte added some experienced bangers to its roster, signing 6-9 Earl Cureton, 7-footer Stuart Gray, and 6-8 Kurt Rambis. The Hornets also picked up prolific scorer Kelly Tripucka and smooth guard Robert Reid.

Picking eighth in the 1988 NBA Draft, Charlotte selected 6-4 Rex Chapman, an outstanding long-distance shooter who was leaving the University of Kentucky after his sophomore year.

The Hornets began play in the 1988-89 season at the 23,698-seat, $52-million Charlotte Coliseum. The opening-night lineup included Tripucka, Rambis, Hoppen, Reid, and Green. The Hornets' first opponent was Cleveland, and the Cavaliers gave the Hornets a rude welcome to the NBA with a 133-93 drubbing. After a road loss, Charlotte picked up its first victory with a 117-105 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Muggsy was proof that dreams do come true. Who would ever have thought a 5 foot 3 inch basketball player would make it to the NBA? Muggsy did along with his winning smile and personality that won the hearts of fans on and off the court.

Retired from the NBA, today Muggsy still lives in Charlotte and is boys coach at United Faith Christian Academy as well as coaching basketball camps and working with children. Muggsy ...  thanks for the great memories.

Big city ... meet Augusta County

Smash-and-grab burglaries have been going on in big cities throughout the nation so it's a shame to see it come to Augusta County....

Kaine wastes time finger-pointing ... Times-Dispatch takes notice

Democrat Tim Kaine's campaign for U.S. Senate is using the same play book and the same tired Democratic tactics we've seen year after year. This time, however, the media is taking notice ... and writing about it.

Take, for instance, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's commentary today that noted Kaine's finger-pointing at Republican opponent George Allen is a classic example of the old saying, "When you point a finger at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at you."

The Times-Dispatch pointed out that the Kaine campaign demanded to know if George Allen agreed with Del. Bob Marshall's "personhood" bill that was making its way through the General Assembly. As anyone following this U.S. Senate campaign knows, in January Marshall belatedly threw his hat into the ring for the U.S. Senate race.

After hearing Allen's response to the Marshall bill, the Kaine campaign pounced in a way that caught the attention of some in the media:
Kaine originally belittled Allen's "convoluted" response to a question regarding personhood. Then, after Allen said he would support federal personhood legislation, Kaine blasted him for "wasting time on divisive issues" instead of focusing on jobs.

Meanwhile, George Allen has been talking jobs, economy, rising gas prices, energy independence, supporting small business, and other issues important to Virginians.

Apparently Tim Kaine chooses not to hear....

With 2 U.S. troops dead at Afghan hands, should Obama have apologized?

~T.J. Conrad, a 2007 graduate of Roanoke's North Side High School, killed in Afghanistan~

No one deserves to be killed over the burning of a book ... any book. Ever.

But that's exactly what happened this week in  Afghanistan when an Afghan soldier shot and killed two U.S. troops after the Quran, the Muslim holy book, was burned on an American base in that country. Accounts say it was either accidental, or had been defaced by Taliban prisoners who had written notes in the margins, neither of which was an intentional slight to Afghanistan.

Democratic President Barack Obama, however, lost no time apologizing to Afghanistan for the burning but, to my knowledge, there has been no apology from them for the killing of two young Americans who were there with NATO troops to help their people.

I posted about this on my Facebook wall and a discussion followed with some agreeing with Obama's apology, saying it would cause less danger for remaining American troops, and others adamantly disagreeing. Some commenters were military veterans and one was the wife of an Air Force pilot.

I then asked my Bearing Drift colleagues if I was being naive in my disappointment at Obama's apology on America's behalf -- again -- to another country.

It was then that Bearing Drift contributor Ken Falkenstein shared with the rest of us that one of the young American soldiers killed was his niece-in-law's brother and that her family was, understandably, devastated. Ken then posted on Bearing Drift, "Obama owes an apology to the American people," noting the tragedy and sacrifice of a Virginia military family:
One of the American soldiers who was murdered in Afghanistan was a member of my family (by marriage).  He served honorably and selflessly in Afghanistan to help those people even though he had a wife and baby son back home.
That brought the killings and the president's apology into a personal light as Ken expressed the outrage of many who question the president's move:
Today, President Obama issued a formal written apology to the Afghan government for the accidental burning of some defiled Korans.  What he did not do was demand an apology from the Afghan government for the intentional murder of two American soldiers who were in that country to help the Afghan people.
Indeed, it was reported that "the Taliban issued a statement on Thursday calling on Afghans 'not to stop at protesting' but instead target foreign military bases and personnel to "teach them a lesson that they will never again dare to insult the Holy Koran."

Remind me again that this is a peaceful religion ... and, from what that statement says, an apology does not seem to insure anyone's safety. Ken concluded his post with a similar sentiment:
This good man deserved and deserves better than a President of the United States who cares more about throwing his own military officers under the bus at the demand of a bunch of radical lunatic enemies of his country than he does about honoring the sacrifice of the American soldiers who were murdered by those very same radical lunatics.
Those men gave the ultimate sacrifice, and so did their families, so that we could continue to enjoy the freedoms the we hold dear. After all the time, money, and energy America has put into Afghanistan, it seems to me the families of those dead soldiers are the ones who deserve an apology.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

'Support Our Schools' supporters at Augusta Board of Supervisors meeting ... photos

"Save Our Schools" packed the Government Center with 400 supporters Wednesday night. There were "SOS" buttons, "SOS" stickers, signs, and all shades of red (the color supporters were asked to wear).

More chairs were brought in for the overflow crowd.

More photos to come....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
23 February 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Live-blogging: "Support Our Schools" crowd overflows Augusta County Government Center

Crowd of 350 plus packed the room. Many are waiting in the hallway (see photos below).

Signs were throughout the crowd....

A teacher and a realtor, Kurt Michael and Vonda Lacey.

It's now 6:45 pm, 15 minutes before the Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting is to begin, and it's full....

7:00 pm: Meeting began with Pledge of Allegiance and prayer.

7:04: Chairman Tracy Pyles is introducing the supervisors to the overflow crowd. Organizers of this grassroots group has "Support Our Schools" signs and "SOS" buttons and stickers.

7:08:  Zoning  issues being addressed first as more students file in the door....

7:38: Developer is still talking ... crowd is patiently waiting....

7:55: Zoning hearing is still going on....

Overflow crowd in hallway ... #1.

Overflow crowd in hallway ... #2.

Overflow crowd in hallway ... #3.

8:10: Perhaps BOS should have conducted the public hearing first to hear from all these people? First hour plus is one zoning issue and there's more on agenda before public hearing. In this room are students who need to get home and do homework, and small children who need to get home and go to bed.

8:33: Finally beginning to hear from school supporters....

8:35: Peyton Hill, student at Ft. Defiance High School - handed in petitions to support schools. Four fellow high school students from various county high schools, all involved in sports, also spoke.

8:37: Middle school student speaking now....

8:40: Speakers continue....

(Laptop battery went out during meeting ... the following from my written notes.)

9:00: Cheerleaders from various schools stood while one addressed the board, then each other others followed.

9:04: A grandfather with four grandkids in Augusta County schools spoke....

Speakers continued. One expressed offense at being called "childish" and other names, to much applause in the room. The theme of the evening: Raise taxes if that's what it takes to keep the schools operating.

Lots of comments about all the schools, Shenandoah Valley Governor's School, sports programs. A variety of people from the community spoke including the organizers of SOS who had a PowerPoint presentation ready to educate the public and the board. They were all dressed in red shirts.

9:40: Speakers finished and the supervisors responded.

Supervisor Marshall Pattie (North River) had a PowerPoint presentation explaining how the money has been diverted by the state and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). I'll try to get the photos of those slides up tomorrow. He suggested folks may want to contact their legislators because the budget process has not been completed.

Supervisor David Beyeler said he would support raising taxes, to applause from the room.

Supervisor David Karaffa said he had a daughter in the school system and wants to see funding for the schools.

Chairman Tracy Pyles said the lack of funding is a direct attack on education and criticized tax cuts for private schools. There was applause and laughter when he referred to the state delegates as "BELCH" ... "Bell," "Landes," "Cline," "Hanger" and expressed disappointment that there was a lack of funding for education.

10:00: End of public hearing with SOS supporters.

Pink slips have already gone out in Augusta County. Teachers are saying morale is low. Some express a lack of confidence in staying in the Augusta County school system and are considering looking elsewhere although they don't want to do it.

It was a group of passionate teachers, parents, and students who made their thoughts known. Support Our Schools has yard signs, buttons, stickers, and an organization .

The public hearing for SOS finally ended at 10:00. There was more on the agenda after that and then a closed meeting for the supervisors so they may not get out of there until midnight. Meanwhile, I left after the school heading to come home and get this updated and catch the news about the presidential debate from Arizona.

All the local media were there so it will be on TV and in print.

Update 2/23/12: Coverage from local media:
- Waynesboro News Virginian by Bob Stuart
- Staunton News Leader by Calvin Trice
- WHSV TV-3 coverage by Karen Campbell

American gas prices rise 15 days in a row

Ouch. That pain you feel is from your wallet as you fill up your gas tank. With soaring oil prices and more unrest in the Middle East, some are wondering if gas lines and alternate fill-up days, reminiscent of the 1970s, may be on the horizon.

The White House insists higher prices at the pump are not Democratic President Barack Obama's fault. That didn't stop candidate Obama from slamming then-President George W. Bush of high gas prices in 2008, prices that were around $1.89 at the time. Current prices are at $3.58 and rising daily.

Augusta County tonight: Save Our Schools (SOS) supporters at Board of Supervisors meeting

Armed with petitions and supporters dressed in red, Augusta County's Save Our Schools (SOS) group will attend tonight's supervisor meeting to encourage more funding for county schools.

In a widely-publicized plea, the parents, teachers, and students who make up SOS have asked those who agree that education must be preserved to show up at tonight's supervisor meeting and to wear red to show solidarity and support for schools.

Falling several million dollars short, the school budget is stuck between supervisors and school board members and state mandates.

SOS is a grassroots group that spontaneously grew out of news that Craigsville Elementary and Shenandoah Valley Governor's School could both be on the chopping block if funds were not found. In December 2011, the Augusta County School Board voted to close Ladd Elementary School. It has only been in existence for about three weeks but has already gathered more than 1,000 signatures with an online petition asking for funding to support the schools.

Last week, SOS yard signs began showing up at homes and businesses along popular routes in the county. Tonight, it's anyone's guess as to how many county residents will show up and stand up for what has become a volatile subject in not only Augusta County but also the adjoining cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.

More on Augusta County's school issues:
- VEA declares today 'Black Friday' ... Del. Dickie Bell dismisses 'grade school antics'
- Shenandoah Valley Governor's School on chopping block?
- Virginia, Valley teachers to stage day of mourning over funding cuts
- Virginia, Valley teachers observe 'Black Friday'
- Editorial: Let legislators know that education counts
- Editorial: This budget cutting insanity risks our children's future

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
18 February 2012

Augusta County: Save Our Schools (SOS) takes battle to yard signs

 A number of Save Our Schools (SOS) yard signs sprouted overnight at homes and businesses throughout the Fishersville area of Augusta County. This one was on Rt. 608 near many Fishersville neighborhoods.

Save Our Schools, made up of parents, teachers, and concerned citizens, organized earlier this month when it was learned that Craigsville Elementary and Shenandoah Valley Governor's Schools could be on the chopping block. In December 2011 the Augusta County School Board voted to close Ladd Elementary School.

Popular roadway to Teaverton, Emerald Hills, Enchanted View neighborhoods and beyond.
Busy neighborhood thru street.
Rt. 250

Rt. 250 & Rt. 608
 Rt. 608 & I-64

Here is background on the school budget issue in Augusta County and the surrounding area.

Supporters plan to attend the upcoming Augusta Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, February 22, at 7:00. The meeting will be held at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona.

You won't vote for Mitt Romney because he's Mormon?

Even though he has been an extremely successful businessman, governor of Massachusetts, and played a big part in financially saving the successful 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, voters young and old have said they will not vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon. Fifty years ago the same was being said of Catholic presidential candidate John Kennedy.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Southern Virginia University in nearby Buena Vista is a Mormon-owned liberal arts college that embraces the values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Yet residents who live within miles of it refuse to vote for a Mormon.

Conservative President Ronald Reagan didn't pull away from Mormons. He had many who worked within his administration.

Let's look at some well-known Mormons who seem to be accepted by the same people who are leery of voting for Romney. Recognize any of these names?

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck ...

... entertainers, talk show hosts, and "Dancing With The Stars" contestants Donnie & Marie Osmond ...

... 2002 kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart ...

... former ambassador to China and 2012 presidential candidate Jon Huntsman ...

... singer Gladys Knight.

Don Bluth, producer and director of such children's films as "The Rescuers" (1977), "Pete's Dragon" (1977), "The Secret of NIMH" (1982), "An American Tail" (1986), "The Land Before Time" (1988), "All Dogs Go to Heaven" (1989), "Rock-A-Doodle" (1991), "Thumbelina" (1994), "Anastasia" (1997), and "Titan A.E." (2000) ...

... "Silver Spoons" actor Ricky Schroder ... Bill Marriott of the Marriott Hotel chain ... former Dell CEO Kevin Rollins ...

... author Stephenie Meyer who wrote the popular series that includes "Twilight," "New Moon," "Eclipse," "Breaking Dawn," and "The Host" ...

... "Napoleon Dynamite" actor Jon Heder ... Republican Senator Orrin Hatch ... U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ...

... retired three-star USAF General Brent Scowcroft who was National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush ...

... football quarterback Steve Young, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1992 and 1994, and the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX ...

... and many more actors, singers, politicians, business people, and military members.

Look around. You may surprised to find that some of those hard-working people around you are Mormons.

'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs....'

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Democrat Bob Beckel picks George W. Bush as one of his two favorite presidents

"The Five" celebrated Presidents Day by choosing their favorite presidents. (See video.) This Fox News Channel show, made up of five rotating panelists, has them sitting around a table discussing the day's events or top issues. I've actually found it to be very interesting at that 5:00 hour of the afternoon.

On Monday, Bob Beckel took the reins to ask each of his fellow "Five" members who was their favorite American president. George W. Bush was chosen by former Bush staffer Dana Perino. Ronald Reagan was chosen by Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld. Kimberly Guilfoyle chose Thomas Jefferson.

But the big surprise of the day was Democrat Bob Beckel. After noting that he had two choices because they never receive recognition, he went on to say that Israel was our closest ally in the Middle East and Jimmy Carter was responsible for the Camp David Accords.

His second choice, Beckel went on, was George W. Bush for the good work and help provided for Africa to fight AIDs. Beckel noted that history will probably recognize this down the road because it is believed Bush helped save millions of lives, something he never receives recognition for. Beckel said, "He's going to be recognized by this Democrat."


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Allen says cost of gas fill-up has risen $30 since Obama became president; PolitiFact says ...

"We have high gasoline prices which are costing us about $30 more for each fill-up than the cost was when President Obama came into office."  George Allen, Republican U.S. Senate candidate (Feb. 6, 2012, audio with Bearing Drift website)
PolitiFact Rating: Mostly True.

If there's one thing George Allen knows, it's the price of gasoline at the pump and energy issues; indeed, he was once part of the American Energy Freedom Center. His Blueprint for America's Comeback includes his plans for unleashing America's plentiful energy resources and creativity (American Energy Freedom Act).

When Allen says gas has risen $30 since Obama became president, he's pretty much on target.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents Day 2012 snow ... Shenandoah Valley

Presidents Day 2012 ... sunrise behind our house showed 7" of snow that began around 2:45  Sunday afternoon and lasted into the night. The early morning temperature was 18 degrees with a forecasted high of mid-40s, pretty typical for this time of year in Virginia.

February 20, 2012 ... our son's birthday and Presidents Day all rolled into one. What a beautiful day for both!

Last night's snow lights were on as the snow continued piling up on the deck.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
20 February 2012