Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Year in Office leaves Obama Tired.

Yesterday, In the Richmond Times Dispatch, President Obama is finding the Presidency Tiring, and this was only year one.

Saxman and McDonnell are committed on education.

In the News Virginian this morning there is a story about School Choice for our young Virginians. It covers Charter Schools, Public Schools, and how education could be improved. SwacGirl has a great post covering this. One thing is for sure, we have not seen the last of Del. Chris Saxman.

Business in Richmond wrongly accused of taking Stimulus Money.

In today's Richmond Times Dispatch, the owners of Escape Massage Spa were wrongly accused of taking Federal Stimulus Money on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. The owners had recently taken out a Small Business Loan to open a new facility. The loan was guaranteed by the federal government through the bank in Richmond that issued the loan, so when the federal government backed the loan for the local bank the loan showed up on, the government website that is in charge of keeping track of federal money. However, the site has recently had many discrepancies on it. There has been no comment from the Rush Limbaugh show about the mistake. The owners of the Spa were inundated by angry calls, emails, and walk ins. A lesson is to be learned here, make sure the information we are getting from government websites is absolutely correct before vilifying someones livelihood.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Great Post!

SWAC Girl had a great post all should read.

Augusta County to hire new Director of Community Development.

Today in the News Virginian, The Augusta County Board of Supervisors is looking to fill the position of Director of Community Development. Dale Cobb, the current director, will be retiring in March. The Board hopes to have all applications in by January 8th. The salary range is $69,347-$97,986. According to Supervisor Larry Howdyshell, the position must be filled despite the lean budget of the county. Supervisor Nancy Sorrells says that the new director will work closely with the Economic Development Director, Dennis Burnett. The Economic Development Director position was created earlier this year despite the lean budget of the county.

Lets Change how we do the Budget Process.

Today in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Gov. Elect Bob McDonnell wants to change the way Virginia handles its two year budget process. Currently, the budget is constructed in such a way that a new governor has little time upon taking office to change the budget proposal already submitted by the leaving governor. This issue has plagued new governors as they took office and has caused a countless loss of efficiency in our state government. The article points out that Gov. Wilder, Warner, and Kaine all wanted to change the budget process as well.

McDonnell for Off Shore Drilling!

Today in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Gov. Elect Bob McDonnell has sent a letter to the Obama Administration to allow Virginia to drill off its shores for natural resources. According to independent research the job of off shore drilling would create 2,578 new jobs, $7.84 billion in capital investment, $644 million in payroll, $271 million in tax revenue that could be used for transportation, infrastructure and education in the state. All around this is a good thing for everyone. Off Shore drilling already occurs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling of VA throws down on Sen. Webb and Warner.

I received a copy of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's letter to U.S. Sen. Jim Webb and Mark Warner of Virginia. The Lt. Gov. words are exactly my take on the matter. Good for you Bill Bolling.

December 21, 2009

The Honorable Mark Warner United States Senate SDB Building 40C Washington, DC 20510 The Honorable Jim Webb United States Senate 144 Russell Building Washington, DC 20510

RE: Federal Healthcare Reform Legislation

Dear Senators Warner and Webb: I have been following with great interest the important debate currently taking place in Washington with respect to the proposed reform of our nation's healthcare system. While I certainly agree that we face serious problems with respect to the affordability and availability of healthcare for many Americans, it is important that any reform legislation address these issues without creating other problems for American consumers and businesses or jeopardizing the quality of our healthcare delivery system, which is currently the best in the world. For many reasons, I strongly oppose the healthcare reform legislation that is currently pending before the United States Senate and I encourage you to vote against this legislation and any procedural votes that would allow this legislation to come to a final vote.

In my judgment, the legislation currently pending in the Senate will ultimately increase the cost of healthcare and result in higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes for the vast majority of the American people.

In addition, I believe that this legislation will jeopardize the quality of healthcare that is currently available in our country and take important healthcare decisions out of the hands of consumers and turn these decisions over to government bureaucrats.

Perhaps most importantly, I am concerned that the cost of this legislation will be much higher than currently estimated, and it will inevitably add significantly to the cost of our federal deficit, which is, quite frankly, out of control and threatens the long term financial viability of our nation. If these concerns were not reason enough to vote against this misguided legislation, I am writing to you today to let you know that I am outraged by reports that surfaced this weekend regarding concessions that were made to Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to secure his vote in support of this legislation.

As you know, one of our major concerns with this legislation is the potential impact it could have on the cost of Medicaid for Virginia's state government. Many reports have suggested that this legislation could result in much higher Medicaid costs for state governments across the nation, costs that state governments simply cannot bear. Against this background, I was amazed to hear that the Senate's Democratic leadership had made concessions to Senator Nelson that would hold his home state of Nebraska harmless as to any additional Medicaid costs that might come about as a result of the enrollment of new Medicaid recipients after 2017. I find these reports particularly troubling since they come on the heels of similar concessions that were given to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to secure her vote in support of this legislation just a few weeks ago. In addition to the "pay offs" that were offered to Senators Nelson and Landrieu, unconfirmed media reports over the weekend have revealed that other Senators may have negotiated similar special treatment deals for their states. If these reports are accurate, this type of quid pro quo is unacceptable, and you and your colleagues should object strongly to the practice, which I have no doubt the American people will find offensive as well.

If the Senate's leadership is so desperate to obtain votes to secure the passage of this legislation that they would make these types of concessions to these Senators, I would ask that you demand that the same concessions be extended to Virginia, and for that matter, to every other state in the nation.

Allowing key provisions in this legislation to be used to essentially buy votes from Senators Landrieu and Nelson at the expense of other states such as Virginia should be as offensive to you as it is to me, and it should give you all the reason you need to oppose this misguided legislation. Thank you for your service to the people of Virginia and for considering my views on this important issue.

Very Truly Yours,


Lieutenant Governor Commonwealth of Virginia

A quote from Ancient Past.

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt
should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and
controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest
Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

It was by Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC-December 7, 43 BC).

H/T Conservative Virginian.

An interesting letter from Sen. Webb on Afganistan.

I received this letter as an email from Senator Webb's office. It is from a Washington Post Op-Ed that he wrote on Dec. 4th, after the President's address. He calls on Obama to be more clear with his strategy in Afghanistan and some other insights.

A plan in need of clarity

By Senator Jim Webb
December 4, 2009

I have great regard for the careful process the Obama administration employed in its efforts to define a new approach for the long-standing military commitment inAfghanistan and to put an operational framework in place for our responsible withdrawal. I intend, nevertheless, to continue to call on the administration to clarify to the American public and Congress how it defines success and how we reach an end point.

Since early 2009, I have said repeatedly that the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan must proceed based on four considerations: (1) the fragility of the Afghan government; (2) whether building a national army of considerable scale is achievable; (3) whether an increased U.S. military presence will ultimately have a positive effect in the country, or whether we will be seen as an occupying force; and (4) the linkage of events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the coming weeks I intend to examine the administration's plan to see how it addresses these criteria and how it will affect our troops.

Since the president's address Tuesday, there has been much discussion of the date that the United States will begin to draw down military forces and transfer security responsibility. Just as important is a focus on creating the conditions to enable this transfer of responsibility. The administration has not defined them with sufficient clarity. Our strategy is sound only if framed with clearly defined and attainable goals, an understandable end point and a regional perspective. We must also avoid the inherent risks of allowing our success in Afghanistan to be defined by events that are largely beyond our control.

When U.S. troops entered Afghanistan in 2001, no true central government had existed in that country since 1979. The agreements reached in Bonn, Germany, in December 2001 led to a new constitution, an interim government and the national election of 2004. The agreements also gave considerable power to a central government in a country that is very disparate and historically far removed from the concept of central governance. The result today is a weak, fragile government inKabul whose power on paper is far greater than in reality. It is plagued by a lack of capacity and rampant corruption. Many observers say that power needs to be devolved to a more decentralized form of governance consistent with tribal realities to achieve the Afghan government's long-term viability.

We are ramping up deployment to about 100,000 troops, along with tens of thousands of American contractors and civilians, to implement a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. This greatly enlarged presence runs the risk, well rooted in Afghanistan's history of resisting foreign influence, that the United States will be perceived as an occupying force instead of a presence seeking to assist Afghans in improving their stability and development.

Another key question that remains to be answered is: How do we define our enemy in Afghanistan? When we talk about the Taliban, we interchange terms that aren't particularly interchangeable. Three different types of actors are associated with the Taliban. First came those in a vicious government that the United States assisted in removing. Second, there is an ideologically charged group that operates principally in Pakistan, associated with the forces of international terrorism. Third, we have a separate group, presumably growing with the greatest speed, that is viewed by many Afghans as something of a regional militia defending local interests and that doesn't particularly want to threaten U.S. interests outside Afghanistan.

I have said consistently that countering international terrorism requires highly maneuverable forces able to strike an intrinsically mobile enemy. The departure of al-Qaeda from Iraq and, in large measure, from Afghanistan demonstrates why more maneuverable U.S. forces are to be favored against mobile international terrorist movements. In each instance, al-Qaeda relocated to other areas, including Pakistan and the Horn of Africa. Our military must retain the same maneuverability.

On the personnel front, our active-duty military has been deployed repeatedly for combat operations since 2001. Guard and reserve components also have deployed at levels not envisioned when the all-volunteer force was introduced. We are in uncharted territory in terms of the long-term effects these deployments are having on the well-being of our men and women in uniform, especially the Army and Marine Corps. I introduced dwell-time legislation nearly three years ago to ensure that we achieved a better balance in deployment cycles with a minimum interval before follow-on deployments. The new commitment of some 30,000 U.S. troops will put additional strains on our forces and their families. I plan to press the administration on this point to ensure that we are more vigilant in safeguarding the welfare of our men and women in uniform.

The writer, a Democrat from Virginia who was secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he is chairman of the subcommittee on personnel.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Completely Snowed In!

This morning my family and I found more than 20 inches of snow on the ground. As of this post we have almost 26 inches in low spots and 30+ inches in some drifts and other high spots. My oldest daughter tried to go out and play in it, however, after only a few moments found that she was unable to move in all the snow. My wife and I tried to dig out our 4 wheel drive Ford Escape. You can see that my snow boots were not tall enough for the snow so I had some garbage bags on under the boots and over my legs to keep the snow from soaking my socks. We worked at getting the car out for hours to no avail. We gave up when the snow plow that was working in our neighborhood got stuck and blocked any vehicle that would have tried to get in or out of the subdivision. So far we have started filling jugs with clean drinking water and getting prepared in case we lose power and the pipes freeze. I hope all of you stay warm and safe during the storm, in the mean time enjoy the snow. More pictures below.

We are trying to find the stars that go up to the porch.

My Daughter is having trouble moving, however she is having fun.

Our Deck is absolutely covered.

Above, you can see my neighbors yard from my porch, the mound of snow to the right of the flag is my neighbor's buried sedan.

Across the street.

Looking out of our side door into the driveway, the pile of snow between myself and our SUV is my Black Mitsubishi Galant.

Another view of my Galant.

Looking at my Deck and Grill, it looks like the Great Pyramids of Egypt! See how the snow is coming up so High that it is reaching the lid of my Grill!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Its Christmas and we are deporting a Priest!

One of the newspapers that I read is the "Catholic Virginian," In this months issue the story of Father Credo is covered. Father Alejandro Credo from the Philippines came to the United States on a work visa to serve in Virginia. Apparently, due to new regulations from the Department of Homeland Security, Father Credo was supposed to apply for a religious visa. I know, its brings the whole separation of church and state into the mix. Apparently, the Archdiocese of Richmond has been working with immigration and congressional representation to work out the issue so that Father Credo can continue to serve the needs of Catholic Virginians. However, their efforts were to no avail. Father Credo left the United States on December 1st, only to re-apply for entry to our country to continue in his work. Merry Christmas.

Wind turbine tears itself apart, Watch Video!

This wind turbine was in Denmark when it exploded. Think of what would have happened to those nearby. Watch the YouTube Video. I would think twice before putting one of these in my backyard or next to my child's school.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Time for Hot Chocolate!

Let it Snow!!!

Today, the politicians can have Washington. We've got SNOW!!! Nothing is better than playing in the snow with your six year old. Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pres. Obama and Breaking out the Big Stick.

I just finished watching President Obama's address to the nation on the war in Afghanistan. During his speech he used little by ways of specifics except to say that he will order 30,000 additional soldiers to the front lines and that these troops will begin to pull out of Afghanistan in 18 months. President Obama invoked the words and times of President Franklin Roosevelt twice, a president that Obama tends to admire.

Some of what President Obama said I agree with. Obama stated that the United States has sacrificed its young blood on countless fronts across the world, never as an occupying force and rarely ever appreciated for its efforts. He supported the principle that America will continue to be a nation that shines its beacon of freedom and posterity for all in the face of oppression. He recognized the U.S. Soldiers and their sacrifice in defense and support of this principle, and President Obama came across genuine in his desire to end the violence.

I did not agree with President Obama's entire history line of what brought us to our present state of affairs in Afghanistan. One aspect of history that Obama failed to touch on was the success of the surge in Iraq and how that same strategy is now being used in Afghanistan. President Obama failed to express the limited support that the rest of the international community has in our efforts in Afghanistan. Obama only said that the ally nations support us, however the extent to that support is sometimes only a courtesy to the United States and not an expression of support for the cause. President Obama also said that our continued security as a nation doesn't rest with our military, well I disagree, our nations security is based very much on our ability to defend ourselves. Let me quote another President Roosevelt, "Speak softly and carry a Big Stick."

The last point to touch on is President Obama taking so long to come to this decision. General McChrystal, the military leader in charge of Afghanistan who was hand picked by President Obama, has been requesting this support for quite some time, and even Obama said in his speech that the conflict in Afghanistan has been crying out for more support sense 2003, so when President Obama said that he hadn't seen a troop request with a deployment date before 2010, I was skeptical. The reality is that the White House has been sending up test balloons and allowing leaks of the information that was going to be in this speech for a week. What the White House was doing was testing the American people's reaction to the numbers. I find this to be a mistake, the judgment of troop levels and resources should be based on the conditions on the battlefield and in successfully attaining the objectives and goals that we as a nation set for ourselves when we entered this conflict, the continued security of the American people. President Obama said it well in his speech, he said we may not always agree as a nation, but we stand resolved in our principle of freedom and prosperity for all.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Lights.

The Karaffa family is a very big Italian Catholic family and we never let a good holiday go to waste, especially Christmas. Most every year, my father has decorated the house with Christmas lights, every year its a little different, but they never fail to impress. I spent most of the day today with my father helping to get the lights up for the season. Many people normally frequent past my parents house as they take in the holiday decorations, and it is always a great time for me and my family putting them up for all to enjoy. Merry Christmas.

Albemarle Schools face Major Cuts, will Augusta?

In the Daily Progress is a story about Albemarle schools facing everything from reducing the number of hours that the students are in school, increasing classroom size, furlough days for school employees, to actually laying off teachers. The Albemarle school system is expecting to face a $6 million dollar cut from state funds the next fiscal year and is also expecting to have $2 million cut from their local funding. All told it there may be $8 million dollars less to educate with in Albemarle county schools.

With this fiscal reality setting in across the Commonwealth of Virginia, its time to ask what is projected for Augusta County and what is the Board of Supervisors doing to prepare for funding problems. We will watch and see if the BOS spending gets any more fiscally responsible.

The Young Invincible.

The News Virginian has an article about Health Care and young people, age 19-29, who make up 13.7 million uninsured people in the nation. The article suggests that young people who are starting out after college are unable to obtain Health Insurance at an affordable price. The article really doesn't touch on the fact that some youth just want to save the money. The Health Care Plan will "fix" that by requiring all youth to either pay for health insurance or face a fine. Is that Constitutional?

Another proposal in the bill is that young people can stay under their parents health insurance plans until they are age 26, however, the article doesn't get any feedback from parents who would be forced to continuing to cover their children. This could cause some unforeseen problems. For example, lets say a woman at age 25 under her parents health insurance plan gets pregnant. Is the insurance company going to cover the pregnancy and the birth? Remember, insurance companies count these two aspects, pregnancy and birth, differently.

Crashers Meet President Obama!

According to the News Leader, the couple that crashed the first state dinner of President Obama's Administration, actually meet President Obama!

Wow, this is really concerning for the Secret Service. Think, someone just waltzed into the White House and was face to face with the President of the United States.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pres. Obama's State Dinner CRASHED!

According to CBS News and the New York Times, President Obama's first state dinner was crashed by Michaele and Tareq Salahi. Michaele is a former Redskins cheerleader and Tareq is wrapped up in a legal battle in Virginia. It was a stunt, but was it illegal? How did the Secret Service miss this! In a time when everything is about security this is very scary. This is embarrassing for the Obama Administration because the story is supposed to be about the dinner and foreign policy, now however, it is about this couple that crashed it.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte in the Augusta Free Press.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, of the 6th District of Virginia, has a column in the Augusta Free Press. The congressman writes about the fall of the Berlin Wall, sacrifices of our nation, the loss of our soldiers in combat, and while we give thanks for all that we have this Thanksgiving that we don't take it for granted and we remember those that have given so much so that we all may be free.

Thankful to have a Job.

The News Leader Editorial Board had a good article in the paper today about giving thanks that we have a Job, almost 1 in every 10 Virginians are without a job this holiday season. Here is an excerpt, "So we give thanks for all our blessings and for living in a community that cares for its neighbors. And yes, for the work we have."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the Blog World. For all of those that will be venturing out on the road today, I pray that you have a safe journey.

This morning, while looking through my enormous stack of newspapers, I found this in the Richmond Times Dispatch. The title of the small story was, "The 'Apple' of his eye."

"An early production Apple Macintosh 128 computer presented by Apple to "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry brought $8,260 in recent Profiles in History auction. The circa 1986 computer with 9-inch display was later upgraded by Apple for Roddenberry into a Macintosh Plus."

What a great gift! I am a computer lover, I have about 5 working computers and about 10 stone age computers in various working order under my house. Every now and then I will go to a yard sale and pick up one of these $20 prehistoric beauties just for fun.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Should Pres. Obama send a Condolence Letter?

Today in the Wall Street Journal there is a story of a military family that is lobbying to have a long standing rule over turned. Traditionally the sitting President sends a Condolence Letter to the families of fallen soldiers. However, this 25 year old military man committed suicide. The long standing tradition is that those who commit suicide don't get condolence letters sent to their families. What do you think? Should President Obama send a letter? Read the story for more insight into the growing military suicide problem.

Wow, this person is Ticked!

Wow, the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, has one ticked off citizen. He has been to the Tea Party events, the 9/12 protest, and is now calling on people to vote in 2010. Read his letter and meet who he thinks would be a good representative.

LTE compares LBJ to President Obama.

The Roanoke Times has a LTE that compares Pres. LBJ to Pres. Obama. An interesting read.

An excerpt; "In addition, he [LBJ] wanted to get conservatives to back his Great Society. He told one writer "I knew from the start that ... if I left the woman that I really loved -- The Great Society -- for that b.... of a war on the other side of the world then I would lose everything at home."

Chris Graham at the AFP has a Health Care Reform Plan!

Chris Graham, who operates the Augusta Free Press, has an article that details his idea for Health Care Reform. Surprisingly enough it includes a tax break for all Americans. Chris, "A" for effort, however I still don't think a Government Option is either Constitutional or viable. I already have posted a Health Care Reform proposal, now others are as well, let freedom ring. I wonder if Mr. Graham would like to sit down with me and think up a proposal together? That could be a lot of fun.

Virginia Higher Education Budget gets the Axe.

According to the News Virginian, the state higher education budget will be cut to the tune of 8% for UVa, Virginia Tech, William&Mary, and VMI and a 7% cut for Community Colleges. The budget cut will also bring 593 layoffs of state employees.

Augusta County BOS commit to more spending.

Today in the News Virginian, the Augusta County Board of Supervisors are reported to be considering a decision to apply for a U.S. Homeland Security grant that would allow the county to hire 7 more firefighters. The only catch is that the funding is only available for 2 years. After that period of time the salary for these firefighters will have to come out of our local funds. County Administrator Pat Coffield estimates the position will cost the county between $325,000-$420,000 annually. The decision by the BOS has been put off until the December 9th BOS meeting.

While I can understand the county has a need for more firefighters, my question is, will we be able to afford the positions after the grant has run out. If not, than we will have done a great disservice to these 7 brave new fire fighters who will have been brought on. If we are going to do this we need to plan for their continued financial support now and cut off frivolous spending at our local level.

New Lights on Afton Mountain.

According to the News Virginian, Afton Mountain has been upgraded with a new lighting system during foggy conditions.

A response to Rep. Bob Goodlatte Letter to the Editor.

The News Leader ran a Letter to the Editor in response to Congressman's Bob Goodlatte's. This person counters that while Congressman Goodlatte makes good points on Health Care Reform, where were these ideas when the Republicans had control of the Congress in 1993. An interesting letter. Quick fact, Congressman Bob Goodlatte entered office on January 3, 1993 and is currently serving his 8th term in office.

Washington D.C. and Catholic Archdiocese of Washington Disagree.

According to the News Leader, The Catholic Church and Washington D.C. are at odds over a new law that would legally recognize gay marriage in the District. The Archdiocese, which operates and serves through charity about 68,000 people, say they would have to pull out of the District unless a provision is made in the law for religious exemption.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Catholic and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, says he doesn't agree with the church's decision. The church counters that it can't in good faith place a child in foster care with a same sex couple. This is only one example of the conflict.

I would like to know why Gov. Kaine felt it necessary to interject himself in District business. I congratulate the Catholic Church on offering an Olive branch in the form of accepting a provision for religious exemption, now the only question is will the District meet them at this halfway point. If not it could spell disaster for many thousands of poor and homeless residents in the District.

Saxman Recognized.

Former Delegate Chris Saxman was recognized for work done during his time in the General Assembly, SWAC Girl has all the details.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Surfing the Blogs.

I was looking at Fishersville Mike blog and read something that I think Democrats and Republicans should think about. Great job Mike.

President Obama welcomes P.M. of India.

The Wall Street Journal has a piece about India's Prime Minister coming to visit. This will be President Obama's administration first state visitor. The big focus will be on the economy.

TOTUS; funniest blog ever. This is Genius!

The Blog TOTUS or Barack Obama's Teleprompter Blog is hilarious and definitely one I will visit on a daily basis. Sometimes you just have to laugh, either that or cry.

Here is an excerpt from the most recent post, "First up, this ridiculous idea that the Department of Justice floated to put some Gitmo terrorists on trial in New York City. Big Guy felt bad about just getting to the memo since it had been sitting on his desk for a few weeks, but what with getting Fox News in line, date nights with Lady M, the World Series, Halloween, it's been a pretty busy fall. In the end it didn't take much time. O looked at the proposal and almost hit the roof of Air Force One. "Like hell we'll do something that dangerous and short sighted," Big Guy told Rahm. Rahm just smiled that reassuring smile of his and moved down the list; it was obvious Big Guy wouldn't have to think about this one ever again."

Tea Party director, Richard Armstrong running for Staunton City Council.

According to the News Virginian, Tea Party Director Richard Armstrong has thrown in his hat for the Staunton City Council seat vacated by now State Delegate Dickie Bell. The Tea Party has gotten much more active as the political atmosphere has become more charged. Armstrong, 63, is a former Detroit police officer and Navy veteran. He stated that Staunton is not friendly to business and he wants to work toward fixing that. The Staunton City Council is interviewing people to fill the seat until a special election in May 2010.

There is also a letter to the editor in The News Leader about the Tea Party Movement.