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Archive for May, 2013

The Easter Egg

VC Note:  As some of you know, over the past two weeks I have been revising and adding to my second novel, a story of religious intrigue.  Yesterday, it just passed the 20,000 word mark!  From time to time, I have posted updates of my progress on Facebook and have gotten several requests for samples of my work.  Unfortunately, this novel is not publicly available at this point.  However, to give you a small taste of my style in writing fiction, here is an extremely brief tale I wrote back on Easter of 2013.  I hope you enjoy!

easter-eggThe Easter Egg

By Joshua Huffman

3/31/13

There once were two friends, a young boy and a young girl.  Over the last several months they had become the best of friends, the type who had so much in common and shared everything with each other, from what kinds of foods were their favorites, to their hopes for the future, to their deepest, darkest secrets; the ones that they hid from everyone else.

That Easter these two got together, along with a bunch of other kids, to take part in an egg hunt that the villagers had prepared.  Working as a team, they found the hidden eggs, many more than most of the others, but the quantity of eggs they gathered mattered far less to either of them than the moments they shared enjoying each other’s company.

Toward the end of the hunt, the girl found a particularly unusual egg.  She called her friend over and showed him this amazing treasure that she had discovered.  The boy marveled over the egg for quite a long while; it was the most beautiful object he had ever seen, a dazzling kaleidoscope of the deepest blues and most vibrant greens.

Seeing how much he stood in awe of her new possession, she gladly offered it to her friend.  He refused, sensing its value and feeling unworthy of it, saying that she was the one who had found it and, even if she hadn’t discovered its location, she still deserved it more than he.  However, she insisted that it would mean far more to her if she knew that he had it, rather than if she kept it.

Gratefully the boy accepted this wonderful present from his friend and felt a peculiar flutter in his heart as the girl carefully transferred the egg from her hands to his and their eyes met.

The hunt now over, each participant returned home.  Walking back through the forest, the boy was brimming with indescribable joy.  He bounded happily through the woods, skipping along the journey, and whistling a happy tune.  Not only did he have the great fortune to spend considerable time with a friend whose company he enjoyed more than anyone else’s, but he now carried an important package: a gift that instantly became his greatest possession, not because of some supposed immense financial worth, but made priceless because of the love and sacrifice of the friend who freely gave it to him.

Thinking only of the egg, and therefore not watching where he was going, the boy accidentally strayed a little from the dirt path.  His foot struck a small rock and although it only caused him the slightest of pain, his hands clenched around his egg so that he wouldn’t drop it.  Unfortunately, in the attempt to save his precious package from falling to the earth, he gripped it a little too tightly.  He heard a loud cracking sound and felt something wet in the palms of his hands.

Awash in a feeling of dread, the boy slowly opened his hands to survey the egg.  Much to his horror, he saw that the shell now had a long crack down the middle, a small piece had broken free, and yolk leaked through his fingers and was forming a small pool on the forest floor below.

Not knowing what else to do, the boy tried to force the shell fragment back into its proper place, but his plan only made the hole larger and he grew frustrated and overwhelmed with despair.  Overcome with grief, with no more ideas on how he could fix this problem, he plopped himself down on the ground and cried.  He cried for the loss of the egg, of course, because he thought he would never see something so beautiful again, but he cried, too, for the girl, the friend who gave it to him, and for everything it represented.

And so he sat, deep among the trees and moss, where no one else could hear him, where no one else could help him, and wept for this fragile egg; he wept until he could weep no more.

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VC Note:  Recently, a press secretary from the Republican National Committee reached out to me as a result of my work on the Virginia Conservative.  Over the last several weeks, I’ve gotten several articles from them and, from time to time, some of their pieces will likely appear here.  Today, I wanted to share their response to Terry McAuliffe’s latest ad regarding the transportation tax bill.

For the record, here is the ad in question:

And here is the Republican National Committee response:

Democrats And Virginia Legislators Catch Terry McAuliffe Speeding Away From The Truth In His Latest Campaign Ad

Terry McAuliffe’s Campaign Is Airing An Ad That Claims He Played A Role In The Passage Of A Transportation Bill In Virginia. “McAuliffe’s campaign ad that began airing last week details McAuliffe’s behind the scenes efforts to lobby Democrats in the General Assembly to vote for the historic, compromise transportation funding package. The ad infers that McAuliffe’s efforts helped secure passage of the measure.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

Democratic State Sen. Charles J. Colgan, On McAuliffe’s Participation In Negotiations Over Virginia’s Transportation Bill: “When I Was There, He Didn’t.” “Sen. Charles J. Colgan, Manassas Democrat and the longest-serving member of the Senate, was an informal adviser to the conferees as they hashed out differences between the House and Senate versions. But Mr. McAuliffe never spoke to him about it, he said Tuesday. ‘When I was there, he didn’t,’ Mr. Colgan said.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

Democratic State Senator J. Chapman Petersen Said “He Never Spoke With Mr. McAuliffe.” “J. Chapman Petersen, Fairfax Democrat and one of two Northern Virginia senators to vote against the plan, said he never spoke with Mr. McAuliffe.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

State Senator Petersen: “I Don’t Know If He Tried To Reach Me.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

A Senate Aide, On McAuliffe’s Participation: “There Was No Contact Between Terry McAuliffe And Our Office And Nobody Thought He Had Any Impact On The Outcome.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

A Democratic Aide Claimed “She Wasn’t Aware Of Any Direct Lobbying Efforts From Mr. McAuliffe On The Bill.” “One Democratic aide acknowledged that Mr. McAuliffe attended a private caucus meeting but that she wasn’t aware of any direct lobbying efforts from Mr. McAuliffe on the bill.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

“State Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Henrico, Said Claims In A Television Ad By Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe Are Absurd.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

State Senator Stosch, A Conferee On The Bill: “Terry McAuliffe Was Not A Participant Nor Did He Have Any Influence In The Development Or Negotiation Of The Transportation Bill.” “But Stosch, who chairs the Senate finance committee and was on the conference committee of House of Delegates and Senate lawmakers who hashed out the final deal, said McAuliffe is taking credit that he shouldn’t. ‘Terry McAuliffe was not a participant nor did he have any influence in the development or negotiation of the transportation bill,’ Stosch said in a press release Tuesday.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

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IMG_1873Recently, a war has been playing itself out in the opinion section of my local newspaper, The Daily News Record.  This conflict is waged over the opening of a new restaurant at the Valley Mall in Harrisonburg called The Tilted Kilt.

So what’s the big deal, you might ask?  Well, one of the unique features of this establishment concerns the appearance of their employees.  Their well-endowed all-female server staff wears short plaid kilts (though they look a bit more like mini-skirts than kilts), a matching top, which accentuates their physical features, and a tied shirt that leaves the midriff more or less completely exposed.

Many in the religious community, especially the Valley Family Forum, have strongly condemned the Tilted Kilt, declaring it to be blight on the Shenandoah Valley and a place that sexually exploits and objectifies their women servers as well as their male clientele.  Others, however, including one local church, see the Kilt in a positive aspect, as it is a place that offers new food choices as well as a variety of jobs to citizens.

Yesterday, along with a couple of friends, I visited this establishment to learn a bit more about the controversy first hand.  Given the animosity in the newspaper, I was a bit surprised that there were no angry protestors picketing outside.

Communicating with the wait staff was a bit of a challenge at first; given the abundance of cleavage, one did have to try hard not to stare.  However, as my cousin pointed out, is there too much difference between the Kilt attire and spending a day at the beach?  I ordered a cup of their chili.

After the meal, I took a bit of time to speak with our waitress regarding her experiences.  Perhaps defying stereotypes, she was fairly well educated, a college graduate.  Although she too expected an angry barrage of folks outside the restaurant when it first opened, she stated that protests have been pretty minimal thus far.

So, what do you think about the Tilted Kilt in the culturally conservative Shenandoah Valley?  Is it a boon or a burden?  Is it simply another restaurant trying a new tactic to earn a buck or is it degrading to its employees and customers?

Either way, if you do ever plan on stopping in either to gauge the controversy for yourself or for a bite to eat, I’d recommend against the chili; a few too many onions and not quite enough spice for my tastes.

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Mark BergOn Friday morning, I had the opportunity to sit down to speak with Dr. Mark Berg.  Dr. Berg is running for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 29th district House of Delegates seat, a seat that encompasses the city of Winchester along with a portion of Frederick and Warren Counties.  In the June 11th primary, he will be squaring off against Beverly Sherwood who has represented the district since 1994.

In the approximately hour long conversation, we spoke about a variety of issues, most notably why Republican voters should vote for Dr. Berg over Delegate Sherwood.  The reasoning against Sherwood is fairly clear for most conservatives.  Sherwood has not compiled a record that indicates she favors limited government.  For example, in the most recent General Assembly session, she voted for the transportation tax hike, labeled the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history, as well as approving the implementation of Obamacare in this state, expanded Medicaid, and creating a virtual statewide Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Dr. Berg also stated that in recent years Delegate Sherwood “has voted for four out of the five big tax increases.” Certainly these are all issues that would make just about any fiscal or constitutional conservative cringe.

But what motivates Dr. Berg?  Well, professionally and politically he is a retired family practice doctor who has served on the Republican State Central Committee for the 10th district since last year.  However, as is the case with any candidate, it is his position on the issues that is most valuable.  When I asked him about his principles, Dr Berg responded by saying,  “There are two big principles that I think are not promoted and not adhered to well and that’s limited government and individual liberty.”  Unlike Sherwood, Dr. Berg opposes Obamacare and the tax bill.  Regarding Obamacare, he stated, “I know what it is going to do, as a physician I can see what it is going to do and it is a huge mistake both financially for the state and for personal liberty.”  He believes that the state needs to stand up for itself and for its citizens against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.

One big challenge, according to Mark Berg, is that a lot of Sherwood’s constituents don’t know her record.  Her thinking doesn’t match the Republican creed and the traditional conservative values of the Shenandoah Valley.  Government policy should not be designed merely to pick winners and losers.  Too many politicians, in his mind, say one thing and then vote another way.  However, Dr. Berg believes that each legislator ought to be able to justify his or her votes according to his or her own political philosophy.  With those thoughts in mind, given that this year marks the first that Delegate Sherwood has faced a challenge from within her own party, will she listen to the conservative voices in her district by transforming herself into a legislator who promotes their values?  Dr. Berg thinks it is unlikely.  “…After nineteen years of being an incumbent, (she) pretty much continue(s) to do what she’s done.  I don’t think her record is what we need to go forward with right now.”

It seems that Dr. Berg’s message of liberty coupled with a general distaste for Delegate Sherwood’s policies, is attracting considerable support from both within the 29th district, in a coalition of conservatives and the local tea party, as well as recruiting volunteers from other portions of the Shenandoah Valley.   His goal is to speak with as many voters in the district as possible, either in person or through his supporters, in order to form a connection with them and gather feedback, rather than simply blanketing the area with glossy direct mail pieces.

Given that 29th district Republican primary happens to fall on the same day as the statewide Democratic primary and that voters will only be able to vote in one of these two primaries, it seems unlikely that too many Democrats will participate.  However, Dr. Berg thinks that this fact could likely benefit his campaign given that he is the more conservative of the two candidates in the race.

I very much appreciate Dr. Mark Berg taking a bit of time from his campaign schedule to travel down to Harrisonburg to share his message with the readers of The Virginia Conservative.

Lastly, as a bit of personal commentary, for those fellow conservative and liberty-minded voters and activists, I’m sure you’ll agree that Dr. Berg seems to be a candidate who not only shares our values, but also is willing to ardently fight for them in Richmond.  Given everything that I know about the two candidates, if I lived in the 29th district, not only would I be voting for Mark Berg, I’d also do my best to help spread his message to my friends and neighbors and encourage them to get informed and be involved.

Don’t forget to vote on June 11th!

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One extremely frustrating aspect of Saturday’s Virginia Republican Convention (which I cover in considerable detail in a previous article) was the excessive amount of waiting.  Typically, there is a good bit of down time, a good bit of wasted time filled with an array of speakers that do little to alleviate the boredom of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the 2013 Convention offered attendees countless hours with little to do.  Between the technical difficulties associated with counting the first round ballots, coupled with the daunting prospect of another three rounds of balloting, it was inevitable that a bit of mischief would occur sooner or later.  After all, even a fervently Republican crowd could only stomach so many lackluster speakers or repeated Cuccinelli campaign commercials.

At one point, in order to amuse themselves, a few of the delegates in the upper reaches of the Richmond Coliseum began to make and throw paper airplanes.  This new development seemed to greatly upset Pat Mullins, chairman of the state party, who took to the stage and in a gruff voice shouted for an end to the paper airplanes, stating that that these projectiles could damage the three $50,000 screens behind him.  However, perhaps given the chairman’s demeanor, unconvinced that these planes could cause much harm to anything or anyone, or simply irritated by the continued waiting, the paper began to fly from the rafters again a short while later.  For those of us seated on or around the floor, we simply watched as the handful of airplanes glided and fluttered to the ground.

To poke a bit of fun at the whole situation, especially given that Chairman Mullins’ words seemed to fit the stereotypical angry old man motif exceedingly well, I couldn’t help but imagining him uttering these words while I was at the convention.

jra4a1.jpg Enjoy a little humor for your Wednesday afternoon!

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On Monday morning, I received a call from WHSV TV-3.  As part of the Board of Directors for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, they asked if I would speak to them regarding mounting protests opposing the heavy-handed tactics employed by the IRS against the tea party.  Naturally, I agreed and, about an hour later, I found myself chatting with a reporter in front of the Artful Dodger in downtown Harrisonburg.

Click on this link to read the article and to watch the segment for yourself.

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Shortly before 7 AM, a multitude of local Republicans gathered outside of the Harrisonburg GOP headquarters to depart for the 2013 state convention in Richmond.  The Obenshain campaign organized this gathering.  I led one of the two buses of 49 other activists.  We left around 7:15 with the second bus stopping in Staunton to pick up additional supporters.

IMG_1886About two hours later we arrived outside the Coliseum.  The scene that greeted us was daunting.  On both the left and right sides of the entrance, long lines stretched seemingly forever.  Outside, most of the campaigns had a table underneath a tent handing out materials.  The one exception was the Davis campaign which merely had a yard sign where one would expect to find her people.  This development did not bode well for the Davis campaign, which I had previously assumed would survive at least to the second ballot.  In addition, there were a fair number of protesters in pink shirts from Planned Parenthood deriding the candidacy of Ken Cuccinelli.

Inside of the building each of the campaigns had an additional informational table, as did a multitude of other organizations such as The Leadership Institute, Middle Resolution PAC, and others.

IMG_1900In the auditorium itself, each delegate was grouped according to the city or county from which he or she came.  This year, the placement of each locality depended upon the percentage of their delegates who paid the voluntary $35 fee.  This change resulted in Harrisonburg city holding the choicest spot on the convention floor, front and center.  Delegates from Rockingham and Augusta Counties, regions whose delegates also strongly supported Senator Mark Obenshain, flanked Harrisonburg.

After many lengthy speeches from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ken Cuccinelli, and the various candidates running for the Republican nomination, voting could begin.  Although announced ahead of time, it was interesting that neither Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell nor Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended Saturday’s convention.  As an additional note, former Representative Allen West spoke on behalf of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Ollie North encouraged delegates to support Pete Snyder.

Voting on the first ballot began about 1 PM or so, but the results were not announced until almost four hours later due to either technical difficulties or a recount requested by the Snyder campaign if the rumors circulating were true.  Although the official tallies were not released due to Delegate Rob Bell’s request to withdraw his candidacy, Senator Mark Obenshain became the official nominee for attorney general.  On the race for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson captured an early lead, winning 3,732 votes, about twice as many votes as his closest rival, Susan Stimpson.  Corey Stewart finished third, followed by Pete Snyder, Scott Lingamfelter, Jeannemarie Davis, and finally Steve Martin.  As no candidate received a majority of the votes, Martin and Davis were eliminated and delegates voted again.  Unfortunately, the official numbers for the first ballot were not announced until after many delegates had already cast their second ballot, which likely skewed the next results as we were erroneously led to believe that Stewart placed second instead of Stimpson.  Behind the scenes, the Davis campaign encouraged her supporters to rally behind Jackson.

About two hours later, voting from the second ballot was announced.  Jackson increased his totals to 4,558.38, while Snyder jumped to second with 2066.89.  Stewart finished third while Stimpson and Lingamfelter, with the two lowest totals, were eliminated.  Lingamfelter cast his favor to Snyder while the Stimpson campaign did not recommend any particular candidate.

SOThe results for the third ballot came one hour and forty-five minutes later.  Jackson’s vote total again expanded to 5,934.69 with Snyder second with 3,652.97.  At this point, E.W. Jackson had over 49% of the vote and thus his election on the next ballot was a virtual lock.  The Snyder campaign passed out fliers declaring that Corey Stewart had endorsed Snyder as had Mark Obenshain.  The latter revelation came as a complete shock given that Obenshain had remained silent in this race up until now, coupled with the fact that such an endorsement would be particularly foolhardy given that Jackson’s victory was all but a certainty.  I spoke with both Chris Leavitt, Obenshain’s campaign manager, as well as Suzanne Obenshain, his wife, who denied any endorsement.  In addition, Corey Stewart appeared and walked around the floor with Jackson with raised hands.  It was terribly unfortunate that in a desperate bid to win the Snyder campaign would resort to such dirty and dishonest tactics, ploys that were all too common in the closing days of the campaign.

Update:  Bearing Drift reports the following regarding the actions of the Stewart campaign.

A little after 10 PM, Pete Snyder withdrew his candidacy and thus E.W. Jackson was declared the victor.  With voting finally concluded, we returned to the bus and headed back west to our home across the mountain.

On a personal note, unlike many of the delegates, as I did not have a favorite candidate, I ended voting for three different LG candidates over the course of the day.  I intended to cast my final vote for Pete, but, after his campaign spread their misinformation, I couldn’t reward deception and thus proudly cast my vote for E.W. Jackson.

All in all, it was an exciting and tiring day that went much longer than needed.  However, it was filled with a bunch of surprises and uncertainty, regrettably marred by technical difficulties, a bit of misinformation, and a splash of deceit.

Given that the state central committee has selected a convention in 2014 to choose the Republican candidate for Senate, we’ll do it all again next year.  Hope to see you then!

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