Last night, several of my Facebook friends were sharing several posts about yesterday’s shooting at Smith Mountain Lake. Some declared that the event must be a hoax as the boyfriend of the reporter tweeted about the tragedy supposedly before it took place. Curious for the truth, I explored Twitter to see for myself. Here’s what I found:
The important factor for this article is the time stamp, 6:34 AM. According to news reports, as the graphic above (from The Roanoke Times) shows, the shooting took place at about 6:45 AM. Therefore, if Christ Hurst tweeted about the event before it took place, obviously it must have been pre-planned or didn’t actually happen. What a conspiracy, huh?
To test Twitter, at 11:20 PM, I tweeted a message to my followers wishing them a good night. However, I have to say that I was confused when the time stamp on my message was 8:20 PM. I assure you that I posted it at 11:20. Although I live in the Eastern Time Zone, it was 8:20 elsewhere, the Pacific Time Zone.
Going through my Twitter settings, I found that, apparently by default, they were set to the wrong time zone. I therefore changed it and checked on Mr. Hurst’s tweet again. This time I found this:
Note that the time stamp now reads 9:34 AM, several hours after the shooting.
Although I don’t think I would be quick to express my grief on Twitter after losing the love of my life, I suppose we all cope with tragedy in different ways.
So I guess just that little bit of research shoots a hole in the grand “Smith Mountain Lake Conspiracy.”
Friends, I encourage you to constantly check the validity of your information before spreading it to social media or anywhere else. Are there some conspiracies afoot? Quite possibly. However, to assume that everyone is lying and that all tragedies are the result of some secret plan is just plain stupid and makes you appear exceedingly foolish and cold-hearted.
Pray for those affected by this tragedy, don’t mindlessly spread gross misinformation or immediately try to use this horrid event to advance your political agenda.
Written by Virginia Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). Reposted here with permission.
It’s been a tough summer for Confederate generals. First they lose the Civil War. Then they are dead for 150 years. Then they carry blame for all sorts of social ills in 21st century America.
So let it be with JEB Stuart, the target of an on-line petition to change the name of the Fairfax County high school. But who is he anyway?
To explain JEB Stuart, you have to understand antebellum Virginia and all its faults. After a glorious and historic generation of revolutionary leaders, the Commonwealth fell on hard times after 1820. Soil exhaustion pushed most farms into bankruptcy. The population moved west. The intellectual life was dulled by a defense of slavery, an indefensible institution in a free country.
There really wasn’t much to recommend that era in Virginia. Except for one thing: out of this intellectual and moral lethargy, Virginia spawned the most remarkable group of military leaders in American history. Their success and, yes, bravery made them legends in their time.
You cannot describe that cohort without mentioning James Ewell Brown (“JEB”) Stuart. Born in Patrick County, Virginia, JEB Stuart grew up riding horses. In the 1850’s, he attended West Point and took a commission in the U.S. Army. Once the War began, he resigned his commission and headed south. In 1861, at the tender age of 27, the Confederacy commissioned him a general at Munson Hill, just a mile from the high school that today bears his name.
Unlike the taciturn Stonewall Jackson or the aristocratic Robert E. Lee, Stuart had a flair for the dramatic. He dressed like a 17th century cavalier and endlessly promoted himself in the media, north and south. He also loved to taunt his opponents. During an 1863 raid on a Union telegraph office in Fairfax County, he captured a dozen horses — then sent a wire to the Union War Office in D.C. complaining about their poor quality.
Stuart had some significant triumphs, especially early in the War when his cavalry corps literally rode rings around the Union Army. Besides excellent leadership, his troopers had the advantage of owning their own horses and being familiar with the rolling terrain of the Virginia Piedmont. (ed. note: my great-grandfather’s four older brothers rode with Stuart in the 4th VA Cavalry. None of them survived the war but we still have their letters back home).
However, Stuart failed Lee during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign, when his troops went missing during the critical days of the battle. Meanwhile, the Union Army got stronger and more confident in its own cavalry corps, led by Gen. George Custer (who has his own legacy issues). A year later, Stuart was dead — killed by Union troopers at the battle of Yellow Tavern in Henrico.
After the War, Stuart ascended the pantheon of Confederate heroes, helped by the fact that his widow lived in Richmond (and his death removed him from the taint of post-War politics). Despite a mixed record of battlefield success, Stuart’s youth and daring made him a popular figure in American military history on both sides of the Mason-Dixon. In fact, the U.S. Army named its “Stuart” armored carrier after the young cavalry general. (Is that the next petition?)
Every generation has its heroes. In an earlier era, JEB Stuart was a hero to many Virginians, but certainly not all. He had a great run of positive publicity; maybe it’s only fitting he gets some negative.
I have no idea whether Stuart or anyone else “deserves” to have a school named in their honor. Maybe not. Perhaps his traits of brashness and boldness are no longer desirable in the classroom or on the athletic field. (Where did you go Johnny Football?)
But nobody needs to “apologize” for being associated with JEB Stuart.
Yes, you read the headline correctly. Angela Lynn, the Democratic candidate for the 25th District Virginia House of Delegates seat, has withdrawn…not from the race, mind you, but from her speaking engagement with the Massanutten Patriots (also known as the Harrisonburg Tea Party).
Although Ms. Lynn was supposed to be the featured speaker at the group’s monthly meeting later today, I have received word that due to another commitment she will not be there. Instead attendees will hear from Will Wrobleski, campaign manager for Delegate Steve Landes, the Republican incumbent for the 25th district.
Now, I’m sure that some Democrats and some tea partiers would be pleased by this news. After all, most tea parties are heavily slanted toward the Republican Party and thus Democrats would argue that Ms. Lynn’s time could be better spent elsewhere. Similarly, some tea party goers likely don’t have much of an interest in hearing from a Democratic candidate. However, I encourage both sides to think differently.
Although it is true that some tea parties are joined at the hip with the GOP, openly endorsing all Republican candidates, encouraging their membership to vote Republican and join the official party, and only inviting Republican candidates and elected officials to speak at their meetings. I would argue that those tea parties have failed in their mission and have become part of the problem that they were originally created to fight against. Therefore, I have pressed for a different agenda during my time as part of the leadership team of the local tea party.
To me, one of the most important skills a person can learn is to think and reason for him or herself. In politics one shouldn’t merely swallow the talking points of a political party or politician whole. So too in religion one should not accept every word of a spiritual leader simply because of his or her title. Even though the tea party isn’t as open-minded as I’d like, I’ve pushed for a variety of speakers representing various political parties and philosophies.
For example, in 2012 I pressed for a speaking slot for a representative from Libertarian Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign. In addition, that year I lobbied for a city council forum featuring all of the candidates: Republican, Democratic, and independent. In 2014, although a candidate for office myself, I sought a similar forum at the tea party including all of my opponents. I had to more or less plead with the Democrats to show up and even then only one of the two did so.
Yes, if we are to consider the situation from a purely selfish perspective, I should have tried to monopolize the tea party for myself. After all, I had spent far more time with the group than all of my opponents combined. They knew me and I think many of them liked me (shocking isn’t it?). And, to the best of my knowledge since that meeting, none of the candidates, including the ones who were elected that November, have returned to visit the tea party. But, I felt there was something more at stake than this one mere election, even though the outcome could very well affect me personally.
Looking back, after the 2012 city council forum, one tea party member came up to me and said that he really liked what Democratic candidate Deb Fitzgerald said that night. And do you know what? I agreed with him. Although I was a member of the Republican Party at that time, at that event Ms. Fitzgerald earned one of my three votes. Of course being a member of the GOP I couldn’t tell anyone as much. But it was a gratifying experience helping my fellow tea party folks see beyond the party labels and get to know the candidates for who they actually are. The same held true in 2013, when I tried to set up similar speaking engagements for Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis. I doubted that many had ever heard of a Libertarian…other than the caricature that the Republican and Democrats paint of them. Drawing from my own experience, I had heard my first Libertarian candidate at a tea party meeting back in 2010.
And so, as was the case in 2012, 2013, and 2014, I encouraged the tea party and Angela Lynn to come together, not necessarily so that the members would be enamored with her, but rather so they could understand where she stands on the issues and ask her questions in a one-on-one fashion. In addition, she would have the chance to learn about the tea party too. After all, it is far easier to dismiss or marginalize a person you have never have never met. By comparison, Republican Steve Landes has done a much better job, having spoken to the tea party on a variety of occasions over the years. However, by cancelling her appearance, it is doubtful that any of the tea party folks will ever hear her message.
Again, my purpose isn’t to promote or hinder either Landes or Lynn, but rather encourage folks to explore the tangible differences between the two and discover which of their choices matches most closely with their own ideology. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give a person is a reminder that they are able and allowed to think and reason for themselves. Alas, with Ms. Lynn’s rejection of this offer, it seems that my efforts to continue to spread political dialogue and promote intelligent thinking beyond the tired Republican vs. Democrat rhetoric has hit a snag. As you might imagine, I’m quite disappointed with her decision. At one point we had scheduled a slot for two Democratic candidates at the tea party. With this cancellation, we now have zero. It is frustrating to spend one’s political capital on someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Given the trend this year, I don’t know how much longer the tea party leadership will continue to consider my suggestions to include candidates other than the Republicans.
And so, as the headline of this article proclaims, Angela Lynn withdraws…from speaking to the local tea party tonight.
Normally, when one hears about a website getting hacked and their data compromised, one cannot help but feel sorry for the company and their customers. However, I can’t say as I have any sympathy of the news of the latest breech.
As one example, supposed “family values activist” Joshua Dugger apparently used Ashley Madison’s services earlier this year despite the fact that he was married at the time. You do have to wonder. Once the dust settles, how many more famous names will come to light?
Although I firmly support the right of individuals to be secure in his or her privacy, it is hard to feel bad for people who are or were actively cheating on a wife or on a husband. In my mind, infidelity is one of the worst acts a person can do; it destroys a fundamental trust and erodes the family, a key unit of society. Although it may seem like a good idea at the moment, ultimately it hurts the person who does it, it hurts the spouse, and, yes, it hurts the children too (if any). As it is written in the Bible, “But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.” Proverbs 6:32 (NLT).
It seems that as the posting of this article, the Ashley Madison website has been taken down, at least for the moment. Nevertheless, given that they have been comprised once, it seems highly unlikely that future cheaters will employ their services due to a very real fear of getting caught. As Trish McDermott said, Ashley Madison is a “business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages, and damaged families.”
Although I have never been married nor have committed adultery, let me offer a bit of advice; just because life can be short, do not fall for the temptation of having an affair for it could very well ruin your spouse, your family, your morals, your reputation, and yourself.
Tomorrow, the Rockingham County Fair begins. Although most people attend for the games, rides, crafts, or livestock, for me the highlight was the politics. No great surprise there, right?
Ever since I began volunteering at the joint Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Republican Party booth at the age of fifteen, I always looked forward to the local fair with great anticipation. No doubt the fair was my favorite political event. The chance to spread your message to scores of those who walked past your table, the opportunity to speak with various politicians, the camaraderie, it was all great fun.
The image pictured here is from exactly four years ago, August 16th, 2011. That night, the Shenandoah Valley Young Republicans staffed the table. I cannot say that I remember too much from that evening, other than a visit from our local state senator, Mark Obenshain, who proudly wore a new set of boots that had been given to him by then Texas Governor Rick Perry after Senator Obenshain endorsed Perry’s bid to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. The next day, I wrote about the experience.
As for the folks pictured, going from left to right, Chad (Delegate Tony Wilt’s legislative assistant) and Savanna (Delegate Dickie Bell’s legislative assistant) are still active in politics and living in the area. They got married a few months after this photo was taken and recently celebrated the birth of their first child. I’d glad to say that they are still honorable folks. Jared (Senator Obenshain’s now former legislative assistant) moved up to D.C. to work for a lobbying firm after the 2014 elections. Patrick stuck around for a while, working on Senator Obenshain’s 2013 bid for attorney general until he supposedly stole a rival campaign’s cell phone, switched to the Stewart campaign for lieutenant governor, and allegedly tried to blackmail the Snyder campaign at that year’s state Republican convention. I have not heard about him since that time. And then, in a rather peculiar pose, you find yours truly, the only person not employed in politics when the photo was taken.
At that time, I had no idea that the 2011 fair would be my last volunteering on behalf of the GOP. However, the next year when the YR party leadership under John (not pictured) began to attack me repeatedly, worked to discredit and diminish the 2012 Ron Paul campaign, and later tried to undermine my then employment with a group called We rVirginia, coupled with the fact that the party was running a candidate that year that embraced stances that sounded almost identical to the big government solutions advocated by his Democratic opponent, the joy that came from my yearly tradition of volunteering at the GOP table was gone. In 2013, I offered my services at the local Libertarian Party booth, but neither they nor I have been back to the fair since that time.
I hope that the magic isn’t completely lost, and that I’ll have the chance to work a political booth at the Rockingham County Fair at some point in the future. However, when that day comes, I assure you it will only be for a cause that appreciates its volunteers, one that has some semblance of honor, and one that I believe in.
In the first Republican debate of the 2016 season, Senator Rand Paul and Donald Trump got into a mini-debate of their own after Donald Trump refused to guarantee that he would support the eventual nominee of the GOP. Although this maybe the only time I utter these words, I agree with Mr. Trump…on this point.
The Republican Party hasn’t been particularly adept at advancing the principles of limited government nor taking to task their elected officials who repeatedly and often flagrantly violate these supposed values. Even worse, both in D.C. and in Richmond, they often reward the most unscrupulous politicians with positions of leadership.
If we rewind the clock to the 2008 and 2012 elections, there is no question that the GOP treated several of their candidates unfairly. In 2008, Senator Rand Paul’s father was often excluded from the process and ended up endorsing the Constitution Party candidate, Chuck Baldwin, in the general election. In 2012, the Republicans shunned former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and so he left the party and ran as the Libertarian Party nominee.
If the party nominates a candidate who stands in stark contrast to a person’s values, then no one should feel compelled to support him or her. No one. And yes, even though I think Trump is just playing the Republican audience, he shouldn’t be forced to blindly support the Republican nominee either.
Senator Paul is right to criticize Trump for being on both sides of almost every major issue. However, at a recent campaign stop in South Carolina he was wrong to say “Ross Perot gave us Bill Clinton” or “are you ready for Donald Trump to give us Hillary Clinton?”. President George HW Bush lost to Clinton because he misled the American people when he pledged that there would be “no new taxes”. The voters who cast their ballot for Perot in 1992 aren’t owned by the GOP and so they couldn’t be stolen by Perot. Using that same logic, did Ralph Nader steal the election from Democrat Al Gore in 2000? Wouldn’t most Republicans have considered this theft a positive development? In the same way, if Donald Trump ends up running as a third party candidate and Hillary Clinton is elected, that doesn’t mean that Trump stole the election but rather the GOP did a poor job advocating its message, rallying their base, convincing undecided voters and/or likely nominated a poor candidate to be their standard bearer.
If the Republicans lose in 2016 as they did in 2008 and 2012, maybe, just maybe it is because they had a bad candidate, ran a poor campaign, or both. I don’t blame Trump for not blindly pledging support for the GOP nominee no matter who he or she is or what he or she stands for. At this point, I have no plans to support a few of the Republican candidates if they make the general election ballot and many of my liberty-minded brothers and sisters have said likewise. As one example, so far Donald Trump hasn’t convinced me that he is worthy of the support of conservatives or libertarians.
Principles are and must be more important than unquestioned party loyalty. I hope all the candidates, including Rand Paul and Donald Trump, remember this point.
There isn’t much neutral ground when it comes to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. Some conservatives have expressed a very strong support for the billionaire while others have denounced him. His brash style and frank opinions have propelled him to front-runner status for the Republican nomination even while a large segment of Republicans have declared that they have no plans to support him.
So what makes Donald Trump so attractive? Well, part of it has to due with the fact that much of the Republican base feels betrayed by the party leadership. Election after election Republican politicians say that they can advance conservative legislation the grassroots wants…if only they are given control of the government. Regrettably, but perhaps not surprisingly, once the party assumed control, the leaders broke every (or almost every) single promise to roll back the size and scope of the federal government. Is there any wonder why the grassroots is pissed off? Is there any wonder why a third to a fourth of self-identified Republican voters say they are willing to break from the GOP if they had another alternative?
And so, with the backdrop of this volatile situation, Donald Trump has found a perfect storm. Whether you agree with him or not, Mr. Trump has certainly made some bold statements. I can certainly appreciate standing up for what you believe in. Although some Republicans were horrified when Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently gave a speech on the Senate floor denouncing Senator McConnell (R-KY) as a liar, the simple truth is that Senator McConnell has deceived and continues to deceive many people and is usually not held accountable.
Unfortunately, for all of his boldness, a lot of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric appeals to some of the worst elements of our society. For example, as you most likely already know, in his announcement speech he declared that the immigrants coming from our southern border are rapists and bringing drugs while “a few…[he assumes]…are good people”. Although I believe it is important to know who is coming over the border and we ought to do our best to prevent criminal elements from entering, the idea of painting most or all immigrants from the south as undesirables expelled by the Mexican government, as Mr. Trump has done, is, quite frankly, reprehensible. To offer another scenario, Donald Trump has expressed the opinion that he was treated unfairly in the first debate by Megyn Kelly. Perhaps he was; that is a fair point to consider. However, Mr. Trump said, “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever…”. Again, to suggest that Ms. Kelly acted the way she did due to being on her period is extremely degrading to women and demonstrates that he isn’t presidential material. And yet again some of his fans have cheered at these comments.
Donald Trump is a showman, as demonstrated from programs like The Apprentice and his guest spots on WWE. He has switched political parties repeatedly and has held contradictory political positions on a whole host of issues. Is he a conservative? Is he a liberal? Yes, it is possible that he is sincere both then and now…or it is equally possible that his behavior is merely a political stunt to garner as much attention as possible.
Obviously, the race is still in its early stages and a lot can happen in the next several months. However, other than fanning the flames of anger combined with narcissism, racism, and sexism, so far I haven’t discovered any reason why a conservative or a libertarian should support Mr. Trump…unless, of course, you believe our country would be great if it wasn’t for those darn (insert various slurs here).
Yes, voters have every right to be upset with the Republican leadership in Washington; after all, the actions of many elected Republicans are virtually indistinguishable from their Democratic counterparts. But, from what you’ve heard at this point, do you honestly believe that electing Donald Trump will improve this problem? I don’t.
Right now there are a lot of candidates running for president, especially on the Republican side of things where there are 17 major and semi-major challengers. However, some people think we ought to have even more choices…I guess.
Earlier today, I received a rather peculiar email from a fellow named John Turner which read, “Please note your involvement with our Vote for ‘Virginia Sen. Emmett Hanger for U.S. President’ PAC FEC ID No. C00579839 statement for the Buena Vista, Virginia, Labor (& Political) Day Parade 2015.” For the record, I have had no involvement with such a PAC nor do I plan to have any involvement with this PAC. Curious, I sent a reply asking for clarification about two hours ago, but have not gotten a response yet.
Now, it is true that many years ago Senator Hanger did seek higher office. But this idea failed after he ended up not qualifying for the ballot due to missing the deadline to have his petitions filed. So, making a move for other position does have some historical merit. Nevertheless, whether you support or oppose Senator Hanger, it seems virtually impossible for any state legislator anywhere to make a credible play for the presidency. Both the name ID required and the needed fundraising capability are well beyond the scope of a vast majority of politicians.
So, that begs a question. What is this PAC all about and what are its goals, if any, beyond electing Senator Emmett Hanger as the next president? Quite strange if you ask me!
In case you haven’t heard, today Politico announced that several members of the 2012 Ron Paul Presidential Campaign have been indicted for allegedly bribing an Iowa state senator prior to the 2012 Iowa Caucus. As I wrote in early 2014, there were some of us who heard or personally witnessed some shady dealings during Ron Paul’s most recent presidential run.
Now Jesse Benton, John Tate, and Dimetri Kesari are all facing charges for their supposed role. And personally I believe this revelation is a net positive for the liberty movement. Yes, the timing is poor, coming right before the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 season and it will likely cause a considerable headache for the Rand Paul campaign. But, I think it is important to root this corruption out of our cause before it becomes even worse.
During my nineteen or so years in the Republican Party, from time to time I would hear about shady, immoral, and possibly illegal dealings. And, when these revelations came to light, what do you think would happen? Would the politician or staffer stand up for what is right? Rarely. Unfortunately, the typical mentality was to condemn the other side for their transgressions but turn a blind eye when it involved “one of our own”. What gross hypocrisy!
When thinking of it objectively, either something is wrong or it is right. How can an act be wrong when one guy does it and ignored when another acts in the same fashion? Is bribery wrong? Yes! Is theft wrong? Yes!! Is election fraud wrong? Yes!!! Is sexually assault wrong? Yes!!!! Wouldn’t any rational person agree? And yet I’ve either witnessed or heard about all of these things and more. I regret to say that the typical response from the higher ups is simply to ignore or, even worse, use their political power to cover up such transgressions. It is a system of justice for some, but not for all. Regrettably, politics often attracts the worst people in our society. To make matters worse, these people work in tandem to make certain their subordinates, colleagues, and bosses get away with these nefarious deeds as much and as often as possible.
Unfortunately, many of us knew that there were some powerful and corrupt elements in the 2012 Ron Paul campaign. However, without tangible proof, the liberty-minded activists couldn’t do anything other than watch the campaign spiral inward, while the well-connected got their cut of the pot. I’m sure many of us thought, as it is written in the book of Job, “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” Job 21:7 (NLT). It was so frustrating!
But, to borrow a quote from Batman Begins, “What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing?” As advocates of liberty who hopefully strive for honesty, it is the duty of each of us to report any and all illicit activity. How much does it harm our cause for us to stay silent at a bribe? How terrible is it to hear of a person getting assaulted and stand mute? What would the average person think of us and our principles if we promoted a man whose hand is deep in the till of liberty?
If Benton, Tate, and/or Kesari are guilty of the crimes of which they are accused, we should not rally to their side or excuse their behavior simply because they are supposedly “one of us”. Despite what principles they may profess to have, anyone who abandons basic human morality to achieve their goals was never really on our side. Just remember that the cause for which we fight is greater than any of us. Although I wish this revelation would have been dealt with much earlier, I am glad that it is finally going to be resolved. Perhaps this terrible stain can finally be scrubbed from the liberty movement. We ought to rejoice that justice is being done!